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Developing Engagement, Wellbeing and Performance of Leaders and People at Work Paul Atkins & Robert Styles Centre for Career Development ANU.

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Presentation on theme: "Developing Engagement, Wellbeing and Performance of Leaders and People at Work Paul Atkins & Robert Styles Centre for Career Development ANU."— Presentation transcript:

1 Developing Engagement, Wellbeing and Performance of Leaders and People at Work Paul Atkins & Robert Styles Centre for Career Development ANU

2 Aims for Today Briefly discuss current context for ANU developing a unique approach to staff development. Discuss the nature of psychological flexibility and why it is increasingly being seen as critical. Present research method and results.

3 A unique approach to staff development Centred on developing a bigger, more flexible repertoire of chosen responses to all situations. Targeting the following core capabilities: –self-awareness –self-regulatory capability –perspective taking capability, and –dialogue skills.

4 This is unique because... Psychological flexibility (PF) is at the core of all our work. How can we respond flexibly and more effectively to life situations? Answer: –a) by being aware of our own automatic sense-making and emotional reactivity, –b) being able to self-regulate to choose from a range of possible responses, and –c) choosing to act in the direction of that which is most helpful in the moment to realise chosen values.

5 We emphasise the importance of qualities of receptivity, not just agency BEING – not only DOING –(although DOING is still important).

6 openawareengaged

7 Psychological Flexibility is... the capacity to be aware of one’s own automatic reactions to the present moment (whether positive, negative or neutral) and being able to act in a way that will bring about what is good for you in the long run.

8 openawareengaged mindfulness values directed action

9 Some examples... Decision Making - Choosing what to do each moment of each day. Conflict – stepping back from assumptions and perspective to listen to the other. Persistence on Difficult Tasks – writing a paper even when judgmental. Leading with courage, presence and authenticity rather than defensively and reactively.

10 Evidence that psychological flexibility is important... There is considerable evidence for the positive impacts of psychological flexibility upon work-related dependent variables such as: mental health (Flaxman & Bond, 2010a, 2010b; Kashdan & Rottenberg, 2010), performance (Bond & Bunce, 2003), physical well-being (Donaldson-Feilder & Bond, 2004), a propensity to innovate (Bond & Bunce, 2000), social and emotional functioning (McCracken & Yang, 2008), and a capacity to thrive under conditions of greater autonomy (Bond et al., 2008).

11 ... mindfulness is important... There is also strong evidence that mindfulness interventions can have positive consequences for individuals, including: increased empathy (Block-Lerner, Adair, Plumb, Rhatigan, & Orsillo, 2007; Shapiro, Schwartz, & Bonner, 1998), reduced burnout and increased life satisfaction (Mackenzie, Poulin, & Seidman-Carlson, 2006), improved mental health (Williams, 2006), greater attentional performance and cognitive flexibility (Moore & Malinowski, 2009), improved performance (Shao & Skarlicki, 2009), and higher autonomous motivation and vitality (Brown & Ryan, 2003). There has also been increasing research demonstrating that mindfulness improves: decision making, reduces likelihood of errors, enhances resilience to stress at work and improves concentration and attention (Brown, Ryan, & Creswell, 2007; Glomb, Duffy, Bono, & Yang, 2012; Ortner, 2007; Shapiro, Astin, Bishop, & Cordova, 2005; Shapiro et al., 1998; Walach et al., 2007).

12 The benefits of mindfulness include... Improved physical health Reduced psychological illness Enhanced well-being Changed brain structures Changed brain activity, and … Improved Cognition and Motivation –Creativity, Performance and Engagement

13 and identifying and acting in line with values is important... The entire empowerment movement within management is based upon the idea of helping people act in a way that is self-determining. There is a huge and growing literature showing the power of intrinsic motivation for improving performance in workplaces requiring discretionary effort. And there is a huge and growing literature on the power of goal setting for enhancing direction, effort and persistence.

14 Now psychological flexibility does not develop by talking about it... It needs practice! Noticing one’s own meaning making and cognitive/emotional reactivity. Practicing suspending reactivity and more consciously choosing. Identifying, prioritising and repeatedly asking “What is most important here?”

15 Our programs emphasise practice in different ways... Mindfulness: emphasises core capabilities of awareness and openness (non-defensive curiosity) situated in the person’s whole of life, without an explicit work outcome. CDP’s: emphasise improving performance through values clarification and skill building. Leadership: emphasise improving leadership through self-regulatory capability and relationship skills.

16 So what are we researching... Work Engagement Work Engagement Wellbeing Self-Determination/ Intrinsic Motivation Work Performance Psychological Flexibility Psychological Flexibility Managerial Autonomy Support

17 Managerial autonomy support assesses the degree to which a person feels empowered by their line manager. Psychological flexibility consists of scales designed to measure aspects of mindfulness, values clarity and capacity to act in a valued direction.

18 “Self-determination” is the degree to which people endorse their actions as freely chosen. It is equivalent to being ‘intrinsically motivated’. For work engagement - Vigour reflects high levels of energy. Dedication reflects a strong sense of involvement, meaning, enthusiasm and pride. Absorption reflects a state of concentration, and positive preoccupation with the task.

19 Wellbeing can be either about... Positive or negative emotions (hedonic) Meaningfulness and life satisfaction (eudaimonic) We measure both

20 Performance measurement... At the moment we only assess self-ratings of performance in different work domains (research, teaching etc) and overall.

21 RESULTS SO FAR

22 These are the people starting the research... ProgramNAge% Female% Doctorate % Academic MeanSD Career Development Program 4239.08.048%88%100% Mindfulness for Living and Working Well 6344.511.677%15%27% Leadership1244.210.858%50%58% We frequently have up to a 50% dropout rate by time 3.

23 There are two main ways to analyse the data... Cross-sectionally at time 1 to look at existing relationships between variables. Longitudinally to look at effects of programs.

24 Recall the overall model... Work Engagement Work Engagement Wellbeing Self-Determination/ Intrinsic Motivation Work Performance Psychological Flexibility Psychological Flexibility Managerial Autonomy Support

25 UWES: All PANAS: Negative IMI:ALL Self-rated Performance FFMQ: Awareness Managerial Autonomy Support For academics, these are significant relationships FFMQ: Non- React FFMQ: Non- Judge AAQ: Experiential Acceptance IMI: Research Only IMI: Teaching Only UWES: Vigour UWES: Dedication UWES: Absorption SWLS PANAS: Positive PANAS: Overall

26 UWES: Overall IMI: Primary Role FFMQ: Awareness Managerial Autonomy Support And for professional staff... FFMQ: Non- React FFMQ: Non- Judge AAQ: Experiential Acceptance IMI: Overall UWES: Vigour UWES: Dedication UWES: Absorption PANAS: Negative Self-rated Performance SWLS PANAS: Positive PANAS: Overall

27 So what? The overall model receives broad support! –This provides justification for this as a training strategy –Building work engagement and overall wellbeing does affect at least self-rated performance –And if we improve management, self-awareness and self-regulatory capability we are likely to positive impact work engagement, intrinsic motivation, wellbeing and performance. –And we are most likely the only university in the world to have shown this. Within that, the model demonstrates that there are two very different populations with different drivers. –Perhaps our training needs to take those drivers more into account. –Where should resources be targeted? Managerial autonomy support appears not to be important for academics. Why? Should it be important? Flexible responding in the face of difficulties is an important determinant of work engagement for academics, again providing strong support for our approach.

28 However... Analysis is ongoing Data collection is ongoing – we are restricted in the forms of analysis we can do at the moment due to inadequate sample size. We need better measures of performance.

29 Now lets look at the effects of the programs...

30 We appear to be impacting that which we want to impact... e.g. mindfulness

31 And not that which we might not expect to be impacted...

32 We are positively impacting work engagement, particularly vigour and dedication...

33 And our programs are helping people to have more positive emotions and fewer negative emotions... Long term!

34 As well as being more satisfied with their lives...

35 But the impact upon how well staff feel they are performing is mixed...

36 So what? Mindfulness program is situated in the participants own life. It involves continuous contextually relevant practice. This may well be an important part of ongoing practice. There is room to increase the impacts of all the programs. We now have baseline data that allows us to do that.

37 Paul Atkins and Robert Styles Centre for Career Development ANU Thank you


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