Psychology Gone Wild | A New Organisational Tyranny?

Psychology Gone Wild | A New Organisational Tyranny?

I recently saw two things that made me angry. And made me better understand the ills of the modern organisational environment.

The first thing I saw was this chart from Stephen P. Robbins' book, Organizational Behaviour (2005, Prentice Hall).

This provides a classic overview of the contributory disciplines of OB.

It's organised so that the disciplines that contribute to understanding group behaviour and organisational systems are placed together. You can quickly see sociology has 10 sub-disciplines contributing to group behaviour (6) and organisational systems (4).

And so on through social psychology, anthropology and political science. They are arranged top to bottom in relation to their number of contributory sub-disciplines and whether they contribute to both group behaviour and organisational systems.

At the bottom right sits psychology, which is the sole contributory discipline towards understanding the individual. It's an important inclusion because it ensures the system is balanced by a need to understand and respect the health of the individual. But it is necessarily separated from the rest because it doesn't contribute towards the understanding of groups or systems.

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The Psychology of Engagement

The Psychology of Engagement

Do you love and hate your job?

It's a simple question. Not either/or. Both/and.

If you answer the latter, you are ambivalent. Not indifferent. Ambivalent. No, it's not the same thing.

Ambi = both. Valent = strength. You have contradictory strong feelings and/or thoughts about work.

Why am I asking this question? Because employee engagement is about how we manage these contradictory feelings. The more love we feel, the more we engage with work. The more hate we feel, the more we disengage. The fundamental claims of the engagement movement.

Somehow, we've becomes stuck in a belief system that sees us as being either/or. Not both/and. Despite nearly all of us identifying with the latter.

How and why did we get to this state of affairs? Develop a system of measurement for feelings and thoughts that doesn't relate to how we actually feel and think. And does this mismatch result in unnecessary emotional and psychological stress?

It's a complex story. It's dramatic. Full of blind ambition. Ethically dodgy practices. Backstabbing politics. Sex and violence. And death.

With all good stories, the best place to start is the beginning.

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