Saturday, March 30, 2013

Why Smart People Make Lousy Teams

It happens all too often: Put a bunch of really smart people in a room, tell them to solve a problem, and watch as they dissolve into blathering idiocy.

Okay, maybe it's not all that bad. But we've all seen groups of supposedly smart people who just can't work well together. That's because, according to recent research from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon, and Union College, raw smarts doesn't have much to do with team performance.

The researchers placed nearly 700 people into groups of between two and five, then gave them problems to solve, such as visual puzzles, games, negotiations, and logical analysis. Here's what they found:

  • Individual smarts doesn't affect performance. The average intelligence of team members wasn't related to team performance. So if you've got a team that's struggling, putting a couple of really smart people on it isn't going to help.
  • EQ--emotional intelligence-- is more important than IQ. Good communication and good coordination make teams function well. To get that, you need people who are good at reading and responding to other peoples' emotions. Teams that included even one person with superior skills in this regard had better performance.
  • A 'strong' personality hurts performance. Groups where one person dominated the conversation or the decision-making, or where people didn't do as well taking turns, had worse performance. This correlates well with other research that shows 'stronger' leaders are often less effective than those who perceive themselves to be less powerful.
The Key to Creating "Emotionally Intelligent" Teams

The researchers found one fairly simple answer: Add women.

Women are often perceived to be more socially sensitive, and more communally-minded, than men. To the extent that's true, it's easy to see how it could be helpful in a team context. And in the experiments, the researchers found that teams that included women were more socially-sensitive, and better performing, than then all-male teams. (No word on the performance of all-female teams. I've reached out to the researchers about that, and will update if I hear back.)

In business, it's not always easy to change the composition of a team, and just because a team is all-male shouldn't give it license to be socially inept. Writing for Psychology Today, Heidi Grant Halvorson suggests a number of ways any team can become more socially aware, and therefore, higher performing:

Create opportunities for team members to express their feelings, and for others to respond to them. Encourage face-time whenever possible (emotions are difficult to read on the phone, and nearly impossible over email). Cultivating a work environment where team members' experiences are acknowledged and understood will create teams that are smarter, happier, and far more successful.
I don't know how the 'express your feelings' bit would have gone over at some of the places I've worked--although if "creating opportunities to express feelings" simply means putting an end to some of the macho teasing I've seen, I'm all for it. But as the researchers found, you don't have to break out the hankies to reap the benefits of social sensitivity. Just try taking turns.

What do you think makes teams function well? Or not?

Is a Co-Worker Undermining Your Work? Blame the Boss, Study Says

Why does a seemingly 'normal' employee sabotage the work of his or her co-workers? New research from the University of Minnesota, the University of British Columbia, Clemson University and Georgia State University suggests that managers have a bigger role to play in getting everyone to 'play nice' than you might expect. The researchers found that envy alone isn't enough to get one employee to undermine another. Instead, it's a combination of envy and a sense of being 'out of the loop' that does the trick--and managers can surely do something about the latter.

The researchers conducted two studies to figure out when employees were most likely to sabotage each other.

Bad behavior in hospitals and on campus
In the first experiment, researchers conducted two surveys of 160 workers at an American hospital. The first survey asked about the workers' perceptions of envy, their connections with their colleagues, and their comfort level with acts that might be considered subversive. The second survey, taken eight months later, asked about specific things the workers might have done to make life more difficult for their colleagues. The results:

  • Envy isn't enough. Connections matter. People who felt envious were significantly more likely to act on those feelings when their relationships with their co-workers were weak.
  • Strong connections reduce sabotage. Those who felt envious but who had strong relationships with their co-workers were less likely to undermine other employees.
The second experiment was similar, but used 247 business school students as participants. The students are divided into work groups for the year, and these workgroups often become quite close. During a single semester, they answered a series of surveys designed to determine how close they were to the other students in their workgroup, how envious they were of others, and if they had done anything to sabotage other students in their group. The results:
  • Workplace culture is important. The researchers found that some workgroups were relatively tolerant of students who sabotaged others, while others didn't permit it. Not surprisingly, those workgroups that seemed to sanction sabotage saw a whole lot more of it. But someone who didn't feel any envy was extremely unlikely to sabotage someone else, even if they were disconnected from the group and the group turned a blind eye to bad behavior.
Karl Aquino, one of the study's co-authors and a professor at UBC Sauder School of Business, says that weak connections with one's co-workers can easily foster so-called 'moral disengagement:'
We often hear that people who feel envious of their colleagues try to bring them down by spreading negative rumors, withholding useful information, or secretly sabotaging their work... The match is not struck unless employees experience what psychologists call 'moral disengagement'-a way of thinking that allows people to rationalize or justify harming others.
The paper, titled A Social Context Model of Envy and Social Undermining, will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Academy of Management Journal.

Has a co-worker ever sabotaged or undermined your work? To what extent do you think your boss or your company's culture was played a role?

Ukranian Model Valeria Lukyanova Lovely New Pictures

Friday, March 29, 2013

How Landing A Job Is Like Dating: 15 Tips To Make Them Want You

It's basic psychology. Interacting with people, whether it's a significant other or a potential employer, requires careful relationship management.

And there are a surprising amount of dating tips that can be applied professionally.

Think that's total crap?

In February, Roy Cohen, a career counselor and executive coach who previously handled outplacement for Goldman Sachs, told Forbes that the best book for job-seekers is The Rules: Time Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right.

Then there's, a site that monetizes this concept. The self-proclaimed "eHarmony of the employment industry" combines the best of employment sites with the best of online dating and has raised $9.5 million in funding.

If you really want to kill two birds with one stone, brush up on your dating tips -- it could help you land your dream relationship, and your dream job.

Finding an opportunity is like finding a suitor

1. Present yourself appropriately

2. Get out there and meet people

3. Everybody wants what they can't have, so make yourself desirable

4. Open yourself up to new possibilities

5. Don't be fooled; do your research

1. Present yourself appropriately

This includes cleaning up social network profiles and dressing appropriately for an interview.

According to, "In job-hunting, first impressions are critical. Remember, you are marketing a product -- yourself -- to a potential employer, and the first thing the employer sees when greeting you is your attire."

Likewise, claims something similar about dating first impressions: "According to a new study, a person's physical appearance allows others to form surprisingly accurate first impressions. So you may want to think twice about what kind of image you're projecting."

2. Get out there and meet people

Most job hires are from someone's current professional network or recommendations from friends and colleagues. Submitting blindly online is often trumped by a pre-existing, trusted relationship.

Shake those first-encounter jitters and attend networking events to broaden your list of contacts.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that people who use many job search methods find jobs faster than people who use only one or two. First on their list of suggested tactics is reaching out to personal contacts.

Bill Jeffries, a senior career consultant concurs: "You need what we call a 'warm contact,' someone you can call to have lunch or coffee, even if they don't do anything close to what you do. That person can put you in touch with someone they know, and then your network will start to build."

Riki Markowitz, a former reporter, research editor and writer at Maxim, Lucky, and The Knot, writes this dating advice for men: "Widen your social circle because nearly 26 percent of newly married couples met through a friend or relative."

3. Everybody wants what they can't have, so make yourself desirable

It is much easier to land a job when you're already employed. Having multiple options can give you leverage with salary, benefits, and it will give you some of the power in the process.

When looking for a job, career counselor Roy Cohen tells, "You need to create desirability and attractiveness. You do that by appearing slightly unavailable."

Dating coach and author David Wygant offers this tip to men, "If you have plans with a friend, keep those plans even if the woman you're dating asks you to do something that night. Women don't want men who are like a 7-Eleven -- convenient and ready 24/7."

4. Open yourself up to new possibilities

Come out of your comfort zone and consider all the options for your skill set. Take calculated risks and broaden your job search while keeping the opportunity within reach. advises, "Don't limit your search by only applying to positions that meet your exact criteria. Instead, having an open mind (remember, you won't know exactly what the job entails until you interview) when reviewing the job ads will increase your applications and increase your chances for getting an interview."

Similarly, tells readers that taking more chances can help them meet boyfriends.
"Sign up for a cooking class, take a trip abroad...When you live so that you’re always looking for new experiences, you’ll always find them." 

5. Don't be fooled, do your research

Dream jobs and employers aren't always what they seem. Do your research to make sure you don't

In that same vein, employers like to see that you've done your homework before an interview.

"When meeting candidates at job fairs, I like to see that they've done their research," Louis Dennis, a human resources representative for State Farm Insurance Companies, tells

She says, "Folks who can sit down with me already knowing something about the company and the types of jobs they're interested in are very impressive to me."

Barbara Brooks, a New York-based professional matchmaker with 16 years of experience offers similar advice to women hunting for boyfriends. "Look beyond his good looks," she suggests. "Don't be dazzled by a handsome face. Is this guy worthy of winning your heart? How does he treat his mother?" If the person is simply eye candy, Brooks advises her clients to take heed.
wind up in a Devil Wears Prada situation.

Handle an interview like you would a first date

6. Know the difference between persistence and annoyance

7. Let the organizer lead the conversation

8. Communicate and listen

9. Be honest and tell them how you feel

10. Make sure you click

11. Make them feel special

6. Know the difference between persistence and annoyance

You can and should follow up on resume submission or job listings that piques your interest. But
beware: There is a fine line between showing you're interested and being obnoxious.

"I only hire people I'd be comfortable sitting next to on a plane across the country," one source tells us.

Read the employer's signs and check in without pestering. Emailing about once a month should suffice, according to

David DeAngelo, a Relationship Correspondent for warns, "If you focus too much energy and time on a woman [at the beginning], it can creep them out and make them want nothing to do with you... If you call the next day, be cool about it. Don't try to be too suave or set up another date immediately."

7. Let the organizer lead the conversation

Cohen suggests a reworked version of The Rules No. 2 dating tip, "don't talk to a man first," for the interview process -- follow the hiring manager's lead.

He tells Forbes, "Let him or her set the tone. But if you sit down and an awkward silence ensues, break the ice by saying something like, 'It's great to be here, thank you so much for spending time with me.' While you don't want to dominate the conversation, you do want to appear socially skilled."

8. Communicate and listen

Absorb information about the company and contribute to the conversation by asking questions. This
will show an employer you care about the job and came prepared.

In her book, Basic Black, Hearst Chairman Cathie Black recalls dismissing a potential hire because she caught them reading the latest issue while waiting for their interview.

Show off what you can contribute, but learn the information ahead of time. offers this piece of advice: "During the job interview, try to relax and stay as calm possible. Take a moment to regroup. Listen to the entire question before you answer and pay attention - you will be embarrassed if you forget the question!"

Yahoo Personals also tells men to listen if they want to land a lady:

"In order to have good conversation and bond with a woman, you need to listen to what she says. If you listen to her, you will know what to say next. It's called a conversation for a reason. A lot of men always think about what to say next, or they have a script in their head about what to say next. That's not a conversation -- that's a bad screenplay."

9. Be honest and tell them you're interested

Tell an employer you really want the position. When an offer is on the line, don't play games. Be
candid about your interest in the job. offers this tip: "Close the interview by telling the interviewer(s) that you want the job and asking about the next step in the process. (Some experts even say you should close the interview by asking for the job.)" dating blogger Bethany Heitman writes that hiding emotions, when dating, can backfire. "Guys, like women, actually feel pumped up when their partner fawns over them," she insists. "Plus, if you hide how you feel, he is going to think you're indifferent and may look for someone who is clearly into him."

10. Make sure you click

During an interview, make sure you like your potential boss and team members. Team chemistry can
make or break job experiences.

Glassdoor career expert Hank Stringer tells prospective hires to reflect on this: "How you are treated on day one can be a reflection of what your future interactions may be like socially. Consider how social you like to be at work and what helps you get the most enjoyment and be the most productive in your job."

Chemistry is also is often the difference between a friendship and a committed relationship when dating.

Dr. Neil Clark Warren, Founder of warns, "There must be an ember of initial attraction to build from. Without any chemistry, you're better off as friends."

11. Make them feel special

Send thank you emails or gifts to let employers know you're serious about the opportunity. Going an
extra step can make all the difference. suggests, "Email or mail a thank-you note within 24 hours...The follow-up is one more chance to remind the interviewer of all the valuable traits you bring to the job, and you don't want to miss this last chance to market yourself."

"When I've met someone promising, I'm looking for them to follow up," Louis Dennis, a human resources representative for State Farm Insurance Companies, tells "If they do, that's a sign of serious interest."

Patti Stanger, the Millionaire Matchmaker shares the same words of wisdom for daters: "You're not living in the movie Swingers where you're supposed to wait X amount of days to call back," she insists. "Busy men don't like rude girls—and there's plenty of fish in the sea besides you!"

Accepting an offer; making a commitment

13. Don't be desperate

14. Know when to commit

15. Look ahead to the future
12. Realize that there's going to be a lot of rejection



12. There is going to be a lot of rejection

Emails lost in the abyss, calls sent to voicemail, messages left with a secretary, LinkedIn declines -
there are a million ways to be rejected in the job market. Finding the right opportunity takes time.

Kathy Lord, a romantic coach and author offers advice one how someone should lick their dating wounds: "Not everyone will want to buy what you are selling, but if you have a good product, you'll be able to find customers if you look in the right places. Make sure you believe in your product(you!) and that your product is ready for market."

13. Don't be desperate

Don't accept the offer just because a suitor is eager. You should take a job opportunity because it
advances your career, not to escape a current situation.

"Just like dating," career counselor Roy Cohen tells Forbes, "if an employer is pushing too hard to get you to accept an offer, you can afford to push back."

According to a study by UC Berkeley, the average American spends an estimated 2,088 hours each year at work. With that much time at stake, you don't want to settle for any old job.

Cosmopolitan Magazine says the same thing about relationships: "The fear of spending your whole life without someone can consume you and drive you to make a decision to stay and stick it out in a bad relationship. Or, it can lead you to choose to be in a relationship with someone totally wrong for you...Learn to be happy solo and take care of your health—and that includes being in a relationship that you want and derive true happiness from."

14. Know when to commit

Trust your gut. You can usually tell if it's time to look for a new job opportunity. At the same time, if an offer doesn't feel right, there's probably a reason.

US News And World Report gives this advice to people who have just been offered a position: "If something doesn't feel right, or you experience inexplicable dread when you imagine yourself in the job, pay attention. Your subconscious is probably picking up on danger signs."

Dating site The Frisky's Judy McGuire writes about trusting first inclinations: "A recent story in New Scientist [suggests] that because our emotions emerge from our unconscious mind, they tend to reflect more information than our rational mind. Translation: our gut instinct can save us from a lot of grief."

15. Look ahead to the future

Can you see yourself at the new company for a while? Is it a stepping stone towards your ultimate
career goal?

Make sure the job is one that will help you achieve your professional aspirations and not steer you off course. elaborates: "There's nothing worse for your career than getting stuck in a dead-end job. While a so-so role may be fine in the short term, holding a position that does not allow for advancement for an extended period of time can take a toll on your health and happiness."

The same goes for dating. Once you reach a certain age, anyone you date is potential marriage material. From iVillage:

"When you're getting to know someone, ask yourself if you and he have the same core values," says Dr. Neil Clark Warren, Founder of eHarmony. "Think money, intelligence, lifestyle and sense of humor," he says. "And think really hard if your major life goals mix well."