Organization Development : Theory and Practice

For too long and in too many quarters, organization development has been considered an extension of the psychological sideshows reported so dramatically in the popular press. The encounter movement permits people— or their employers—to pay for the privilege of enduring abusive indictments of their social and sexual selves. These days learning for adults seems to require getting “grounded” as the guru-for-the-day intones sonorously, “Now relax, and let your buttocks really feel the floor.”

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This mentality has distorted OD the way it tainted another valuable—and valid—educational technique. Is any¬one buying T-groups this year? Of course not. Because T-groups in the late sixties and the seventies weren’t the same educational medium spawned by Kurt Lewin and developed by Lee Bradford and a group of educators in the late forties. Continue reading

Misconceptions about Motivation

What motivates people?” No question about human behavior is more frequently asked nor more perplexing to answer. Yet knowing what moti¬vates another person is basic to establishing and maintaining effective rlations with others. It is absolutely fundamental to the practice of management— the art of getting things done through people.

Our folklore in general—and especially in the world of training and employee development— abounds with contradictory maxims offered as descriptions of human nature and behavior. We say on the one hand, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”; but we also point to the “Pygmalion Effect,” which demonstrates that our expectations about others can change-their behavior in significant ways. The weight of the evidence, in fact, inclines toward the latter view of behavior.

What follows are 10 “truisms” about motivation— and my explanations of why all are false. Continue reading

Adult Training and Learning Style

How do adults learn? On their own mostly, or so suggests Alien Tough, professor of adult education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto. In an adult learning research review that appeared in a recent issue of Adult Education, Tough suggests that most adults are a) continually involved in some sort of a major learning project and b) involved alone.

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Managerial Achievement Quotient

One of the largest correlational studies of managers and management has recently been concluded and reported by Dr. Jay Hall and colleagues of Teleometrics International, a Woodlands, TX-based publisher and developer of psychological learning instruments. Hall’s study— actually a series of studies—compared test answers from a total of 16,000 high-, medium- and low-achieving managers on seven of TI’s test instruments.

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Designing Fast Track Career Plan

Fast-tracking high potential management and technical talent is a strategy many organizations are using to ensure that the good people they are able to attract are properly developed, effectively utilized and retained. The scenario goes like this: Sammy Starr is top dog of his MBA class at Famous University. Before “B” school, Sammy was a Phi Beta Kappa and swim team captain. From 650 Fortune 500 job offers, Sammy finally accepts an offer from Big City Bank.

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Principles of Behavior Modeling

Behavior modeling or imitation learning was a virtually unresearched and unknown topic prior to the 1941 publication of Social Learning and Imitation by Miller and Dollard. Their studies lead them to view imitation learning as a special form of the behavioral conditioning process.

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Essentially, the trainer must provide a sample of the behavior, the learner must respond in a way that matches the sample, and the imitation must be positively reinforced. In Bollard’s and Miller’s view, the “model” simply informs the learner where to go or how to behave for reinforcement. The learner does not acquire new, previously unexhibited behavior from the model. Though much of Miller’s and Bollard’s interpretation of results and theorizing has been questioned recently, they deserve credit for prim-ing the pump, for beginning to re¬search the question, “How and what do people learn simply by watching others?” Continue reading

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