Layoff Victims Won’t Hold A Grudge If Treated Fairly

By Dori Meinert Nov 1, 2012

1112cover.gifLaid-off workers who understand how layoff decisions were made and believe that they were treated fairly are more likely to recommend their former employer to others. They also are more willing to return to work for them, Temple University researchers have found.

In fact, 45 percent of the mostly college-educated layoff victims responding to the survey said they would return to work for their former employers, if given a chance.

Researchers say the findings emphasize the importance of fair and transparent layoff decisions. The treatment of downsized employees affects layoff survivors, the company's reputation and the company's ability to attract candidates once the economy recovers.

"Employers have a vested interest in ensuring the process of deciding who goes and who doesn't is perceived as a fair one," especially when angry former employees can vent publicly via social media, says the study's lead author, Gary J. Blau, a human resource management professor at Temple University.

When layoff victims relay their mistreatment, layoff survivors may expect the same or even worse treatment. The remaining employees are left with lower trust, motivation and commitment, the authors wrote.

A 2009 study by Right Management found that 18 percent of laid-off workers were rehired by their former employer.

Of the 382 respondents to the Temple University survey, 69 percent earned more than $75,000 a year and 79 percent had at least a college degree. Sixty-five percent were out of work for at least 27 weeks, and another 23 percent were unemployed for more than two years. The study appears online in the journal of Career Development International.

Collaboration Stifled by Idea 'Ownership'

Good ideas often emerge after they are refined in response to suggestions from others.

But having a strong psychological bond to an idea can make such collaboration difficult, according to researchers at Washington University in St. Louis.

"When you feel an idea is yours, you are very selective about adopting others' suggestions for change," says Markus Baer, an associate professor of organizational behavior at Washington University's Olin Business School. "While you may not mind others adding to your idea, when they take things away from it, you get very upset."

In two experiments with 190 college students in Singapore and Canada, the researchers sought to determine why people sometimes embrace change and other times reject it. Students were given a restaurant proposal. Some students were able to add their ideas to the proposal, creating a sense of ownership; the other group could only retype it. Then, both groups were given controlled feedback and were allowed to take or reject suggestions. The students accepted the suggestions that built on their ideas but rejected those that did not.

While psychological ownership of an idea generally causes people to invest more energy and care into their work, employers need employees to be open to feedback, Baer says. It's not always beneficial to keep working on an idea. It's "important to figure out what not to do and what to let go," he says.

To counter this overprotective tendency, managers can foster a culture where ideas are not considered to be individual properties but rather collective possessions, Baer suggests. They can encourage collective responsibility for the overall project, he says.

The study appeared in the May issue of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

Personality Traits May Derail Career Advancement

Personality traits that help individuals become business-unit leaders may actually hinder their progression to the top job of chief executive officer, according to research by PDI Ninth House released in August.

Business-unit leaders scored the highest in competitiveness and intimidation and the lowest in being considerate. In contrast, CEOs scored highest in showing consideration for others, displaying influence and taking charge, and were the least likely to be intimidating.

While leaders who are competitive and intimidating may advance to a certain point, those progressing to the top job use influence rather than intimidation to direct in a positive way, the research suggests.

"The leadership ladder is shaped like a pyramid, with leaders vying for fewer and fewer spots as they advance in an organization, and this can breed competition," says Stu Crandell, a senior vice president at PDI Ninth House. "However, at the senior executive level, these traits become derailing behaviors, so it's critical for leaders to let go of these tendencies and emphasize the right positive traits, or they run the risk of eliminating themselves from consideration for these roles."

Researchers analyzed data from 37,398 leaders at 1,340 companies in 147 countries over the past 12 years, comparing leaders from different points in their leadership climb.

The top three traits of successful leaders are:

  • The ability to influence others.
  • High energy levels.
  • A take-charge approach.

Leaders may find it difficult to advance to C-suite roles without shedding certain previously rewarded personality traits. They must let go of the following traits:

  • Going along with others to avoid conflict.
  • Micromanaging. Leaders should think in strategic terms.
  • Manipulating. Instead of using a hidden agenda to get others to take action, leaders should be transparent and lead by influence.

Diplomacy Ranks as Top Negotiating Style

Dirty dealing and intimidation won't fly in most organizations anymore. Good negotiating skills are critical to achieving a company's objectives.

Assessing 750 negotiators who participated in an online self-assessment over the past four years, analysts discovered that they fell into four key categories:

The Diplomat. This most common style describes 48 percent of negotiators. They are sharp-witted, level-headed individuals with good social skills.

The Tactician. Some 36 percent of negotiators come armed with information to back their positions or rebut their opponents' arguments. Known for empathy, perspective and integrity, they remain cool and calculated.

The Peacekeeper. Just 9 percent fall into this category of negotiators, who have a knack for gaining people's trust and work hard to understand opponents' needs.

The Placater.

The least popular style with just 7 percent, these folks lack assertiveness to go against tougher negotiators. They prefer to placate opponents and are more intent on losing as little as possible than they are on winning.

"It's all about people skills in the negotiating world," says Ilona Jerabek, president of "Good social insight, persuasion, and the ability to problem-solve and resolve conflict. This is where top negotiators separated themselves."


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