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Can we use humor at work?

Can we use humor at work?

In this time of “cool attitude” at work, making jokes sounds welcome to reduce stress, attract attention and reinforce proximity to our counterparts. All the more so since authenticity is valued: if you are funny, why should you refrain from making it known?

In reality, it is not that simple. A team from the University of Arizona studied the positive and negative effects of humor in the workplace. It turns out that these effects depend, of course, from the type of humor, but also largely from who is behind it.

We notably discover that humor tends to reinforce stereotypes. Thus, a sarcastic touch of humor will more often be considered funny if it comes from a Caucasian person, and more often interpreted as aggressive if it comes from an Afro-American. Similarly, a humorous man is perceived as more competent, whereas a woman who jokes sees the perception of her competency degrade. Being funny, yes, but with caution…

Source: Gender and the Evaluation of Humor at Work, Jonathan B. Evans, Jerel E. Slaughter, Aleksander P. J. Ellis, Jessi M. Rivin, Journal of Applied Psychology, February 2019.

Is the company mission clear?

Is the company mission clear?

Companies nowadays question their corporate social contribution. Many thus publish a “raison d’être” — or purpose — which is supposed to give meaning to all the teams. But these missions are still frequently viewed as theoretical and disconnected from daily life. The authors of the book Net Positive propose to reinforce the link between the company mission and its strategy, and offer a very useful self diagnostic analysis grid:

• Does our mission contribute to generating growth and profits immediately?

• Does our mission significantly influence the strategic decisions and investments?

• Is our mission at the heart of the design of our value proposition?

• Does our mission condition the way we manage our teams and our organization?

• Is our mission regularly discussed during our management committee meetings?

Source: Net positive, Paul Polman, Andrew Winston, Harvard Business Review Press, 2021.

Guard against success self-deception

Guard against success self-deception

Do you know the “positive results bias”? This is a very common cognitive bias, which pushes us to believe that good results are necessarily the outcome of good decisions or of a superior performance.

Rasmus Ankersen alerts us on this form of blindness using the example of soccerclub Newcastle United. He shows how one season’s good performance led the management to want to replicate its “winning” configurations the next one. The disappointment was great! Indeed, the management had insufficiently analyzed the reasons of the success and totally underestimated the role that luck had played. A very common mistake.

Thus, let’s not satisfy ourselves with post-mortem returns of experience! We need to analyze our successes with as much rigor and critical mind as we do our failures…

Source: How to outthink your competition — with a lesson from sports, Rasmus Ankersen, TEDxManchester, October 2022.

Inspiring confidence to your customers

Inspiring confidence to your customers

Even if consumers are increasingly “volatile”, it can be noted that brands that benefit from a strong confidence capital enjoy high rates of loyalty. There iseven a protecting effect: customers with a high level of confidence towards a brand are three times more likely to forgive it for an error and to remain loyal, despite setbacks.

How can you create and consolidate this confidence? Deloitte Digital investigated it in its study HX TrustID Customer Survey. Covering more than 200,000 responses, focusing on 500 brands, it allowed it to identify four pillars of trust:

• The humanity of the brand: does it treat its customers with fairness and empathy?

• Transparency: does the brand openly share information, its choices, its motivations?

• Competence: does the brand produce quality products?

• Reliability: does the brand consistently keep its promises?

Improving its scores on each of these tracks has enabled the Wall Street Journal, for example, to significantly increase the level of confidence of its customers. A checklist to remember for your next marketing studies?

Source: 4 Questions to Measure—and Boost—Customer Trust, Ashley Reichheld, Amelia Dunlop, Harvard Business Review, November 2022.

Gender diversity: defusing the impostor syndrome

Gender diversity: defusing the impostor syndrome

Gender diversity has strongly progressed in businesses over the past few years. Yet, strong disparities remain in management positions. Whilst the willingness is clearly displayed, and even when sincere, female candidates to fill the required profile are still missing. How can you break this persisting glass ceiling?

One of the action tracks proposed in this study is cultural. Women are more numerous than men to suffer from the “impostor syndrome”, this propension to under-evaluate one’s competences despite success. This is how they often wait until they tick all the criteria requested to become candidates to a position, whereas men consider it normal to master some competences whilst needing to develop others. Furthermore, “women tend to evaluate themselves one to two levels below an equivalent position,” Laurence Batlle, President of Foncia ADB, underlines.

Sensitizing men and women to the need of correcting the perception that women have of their own competences and aptitudes is thus indispensable to restore a balance. The women will also gain by being accompanied by a colleague playing the role of sparring partner, by a mentor or a coach to help them seize the opportunities that emerge, and thus accelerate their professional track.

Source: Trajectoires de carrière au féminin - Qu’est-ce qui éloigne encore les femmes des postes de direction en entreprise en 2022 ? [Women’s professional tracks—What still keeps women away from business management positions in 2022?], Grandes Écoles au Féminin/Roland Berger, November 2022.

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