The Water Cooler
A blog of fresh ideas and findings from organizational leaders and researchers on how they’re making work better, shared regularly.
Have you ever been congratulated at work but felt you didn't deserve it? Do you worry that you got hired accidentally and will be fired if discovered? You may be experiencing “impostor syndrome,” but don’t worry, you’re not alone.
To become our better selves it helps to visualize our best selves. Research shows that by reflecting on the type of people we want to be, we wind up feeling more psychological safety and elevating not only our own performance, but that of our entire team.
The idea of using behavioral science to help government agencies more effectively serve their constituents sounds great. But how do you build a high-impact, science-based organization within the government when you have no budget and no formal authority?
The way MBAs learn HR management hasn’t changed in decades. Whether it’s lectures, case discussions, or sophisticated simulations, students make a recommendation based on intuition, not data. Business schools need a different script to teach HR.
Mentoring a colleague who needs help. Doing an extra candidate interview. Celebrating a coworker’s birthday. Some call these things "going above and beyond," others think they’re simply the right things to do. Academic researchers call them "organizational citizenship behaviors."
Who are the best citizens in your organization and who are the most toxic? Research shows that they might actually be the very same people, like workplace Jekylls and Hydes. And the cause is likely not schizophrenic employees but perhaps the perception of abusive supervision.
Incivility is like being trapped inside a fog. Even if we're just witnesses, it can put us in a cloud of negativity and have profound effects on our mindset, attentiveness, and performance.
All the data in the world won’t help you make decisions if you can’t use it to influence decision makers. Whether you’re a scientist or an HR analyst, knowing how to communicate and tell stories using data is key.
The personalities on Saturday Night Live’s first season seem like they could have been a disastrous team. But SNL not only had a great first season, it’s also become a successful institution despite constant cast changes. So how did they do it?
When Google set out to understand what makes for an effective team, the researchers thought team composition would be most important. But it turned out that how a team interacts is far more important than who is on the team.
Speaking up at work can be difficult. People worry that their boss or colleagues won’t like what they have to say. As a result, people hold back on everything from good ideas to great questions. But by fostering psychological safety, all employees can feel safe to speak up.
From Olympic hockey teams to presidential cabinets, we tend to focus on the individuals when trying to predict team performance. But research shows that measuring collective intelligence is a far better indicator of success than any individual's performance.
When trying to get creative with a team of creatives, how does Hollywood brainstorm? Wendy Calhoun, who has written for Empire, Justified, Nashville, and more, explains the creative process that happens in writers’ rooms.
The Justice League has it wrong. The best teams aren’t necessarily all the superstar (or superhero) performers. They are the ones with the most diversity, research shows.
Think your office is crowded? Imagine being locked in a four-bedroom house with six of your colleagues for TWO AND A HALF years. That’s what getting to Mars will take and it will require a lot of teamwork.
Is it possible to make people act more ethically? Dr. Sreedhari Desai, assistant professor at UNC, has been researching how small behavioral nudges can increase ethical behavior in the workplace, from auto shops to office spaces.
You’re working on a report and the ping of an inbound email pulls you away. Soon, you find yourself checking your social feeds, the weather, and the news. Sound familiar? Research shows that our attention span for digital tasks is only 40 seconds.
“If you can’t afford crazy, you can’t afford brilliant.” Astro Teller, a “culture engineer” and the captain of Alphabet's moonshot factory, described how a culture that rewards teams for failure can support world-changing innovation.
Google’s “moonshot factory” is inspiring and ambitious, but there’s a less talked-about route to many of Google’s great achievements -- the consistent, short-term, incremental “roofshots” that make our products better year after year.
Collaborative teams do much of the work at organizations everywhere, but what makes a team effective? Google’s People Analytics group set out to answer this question and it turns out the how matters more than who.