Here's a review of the most recent findings on the psychology of work communities!

Where do you get the most up-to-date researched and verified information on your field? From books? From magazines in the field? No – the latest evidence-based information comes from professional conferences, for the use of work communities and service providers alike. They bring together scientists in the field and industry representatives to network and share the latest research information. At conferences you’ll hear about research results that have either just been published or are about to be published. It takes time before the same information becomes available in English-language articles, and even longer to make it into Finnish-language books. Here's a review of the most recent findings on the psychology of work communities!

The 18th conference of the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology was held on May 17–20 at University College Dublin. There were almost 1,700 participants this year. Evidence-based understanding of occupational psychology and phenomena affecting work communities is expanding rapidly, and the working-life orientation of the field ensures that the research findings are very practical and applicable. Once again the range of topics covered by the conference was broad, and I will present only a fraction of the most exciting findings related to leadership, the negative aspects of human personality, information technology in job interviews, and online time-wasting in the workplace.

Increasingly many cases of the dark triad in leadership roles

Leadership during change and the dark side of human personality are fascinating to researchers and practitioners alike. Research findings confirm that an above average proportion of people in leadership and management roles exhibit the so-called dark triad of character traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. In light of current understandings, this affects not only individuals but also the organization. Uncertainty, for example, in times of change, creates conditions that often require strong leadership. In such circumstances, the organization itself can become a fertile ground for Machiavellians, who on the face of it give a goal-oriented and decisive impression, or for hiring a leader with a self-confident outer shell for a supervisory position.

Pitfalls of choosing leaders and managers

Among the ways in which narcissistic character traits are manifested are attention seeking, a grandiose self-perception, and self-centeredness. Machiavellianism is characterized by manipulative power-seeking and the unscrupulous pursuit of personal gain. Psychopathic orientation is characterized by lack of remorse and lack of respect for the feelings or wellbeing of others. A disproportionately large number of people in leadership and managerial positions exhibit the dark side of leadership behavior. This behavior is negatively reflected in diminished trust at the workplace, a negative working atmosphere, diminished wellbeing at work. Recent research suggests that this state of affairs also harms work performance. Subordinates most positively evaluate leaders who do not act selfishly in pursuit of their own interests, and people also work to a higher standard under the authority of such a person. How can we pinpoint the dark triad of personality traits in leaders and managers in order to be able to avoid the pitfalls of selecting leaders? Without a deeper understanding of behavior at work and skilled analysis and assessment of methods of personnel selection, these recruiting nightmares, who typically give a very good impression of themselves in hiring processes, will continue to win over recruiters during job interviews.

Online time-wasting eats up working time

Information technology is often seen as making work processes more effective and efficient. However, it also creates opportunities for activities that hinder work performance. 

Did you know that according to recent research results, 89% of employees spend working hours online without actually doing work.  Up to 30% of employees waste 10% of their daily working time on the internet.

This tendency is most strongly present in individuals who exhibit a high degree of excitement seeking, coupled with boredom at work. The time-wasting tendency is least common among people who are highly conscientious and are emotionally stable.  Information technology is also used in recruitment processes. One study presented at EAWOP compared a human interview with a computerized (avatar) interviewer.  The experience of the applicants who were interviewed by computer was considered less pleasant, more vague, less fair, and less accepted as a legitimate selection method.  This finding result naturally reflects the current situation, and the situation is likely to change as new generations enter working life. So let’s continue to keep up to date with the latest research-based knowledge!      

References: De Vries, R., Den Hartog, D., Langer, M., Ones, D. 2017. Oral presentations at EAWOP, Dublin.