rows of green vine stitched into the ground
an unsteady wind hollows out bones
leaving them ringing a cold fear
the grey undercoat of a Peugeot sedan sparkles in blunt sunlight
as it rides a rail of intention, reaction
through a countryside freeze-dried by revolution
light, blocky, its capillaries stretch to wick up
moisture from the backs of beasts who pass through it
its verdancy sticking to hulking bodies like a fresh pollen
like marrow extracted through centrifugal force
and spread over the smooth elbow of a baguette
forward, another dawn in Tunisia
How does an unemployed youth — disenfranchised under a corrupt dictatorship — find voice and purpose in the months after a popular revolt? What does a community learn about itself – and those around it – as it engages in direct and honest conversation for the first time? How does a government negotiate letting its citizens speak their mind, and create a stable and functioning society?
In the wake of the Arab world’s first successful overthrow of a dictator, and through the personal narratives of strangers I have yet to meet, I’ve arrived in Tunisia to find out. Over the next three months I hope to share a few stories from the wake of the Arab Spring — that hot, foggy space between revolutions and institutions.
Also filed on Twitter under #arabsummer.
Finding a strong correlation between “job satisfaction” and “employee performance” has been called the Holy Grail of managerial psychology. While correlation does not necessarily establish causation, it’s a strong hint thereof and would help give credence to a mantra echoed by an industry of consultancies, authors, and career coaches, namely that the more you enjoy your work, the better you’ll do for yourself and for your employer. The road to proving this phenomenon, however, has been long and trying.
In his book The Social Psychology of Everyday Life, English researcher Michael Argyle offers a historical overview of efforts to find a strong correlation between job satisfaction and various aspects of employee performance. In the first major study – an analysis of the link between job satisfaction and employee productivity – researchers Brayfield and Crockett analyzed 26 experiments only to find a weak correlation of +0.15 (1955). A later meta-analysis of 74 studies found a similar correlation of +0.15 (Iaffaldano & Muchinsky, 1985). What about other metrics of employee performance such as absenteeism? A low -0.09 in one meta-analysis (Hackett & Guion, 1985) and -0.22 in another (McShane, 1983). Turnover? -0.23 according to Carsten & Spector (1987). So where does that leave us? Do these studies undermine the notion that if you like your job, success will follow?
Historical research has relied on a flawed measure, argues Marcus Buckingham, former Senior Researcher at Gallup and best-selling author of First, Break All the Rules. Not only is “job satisfaction” too high level a measure to be useful, but to observe a strong correlation with employee performance what’s far more important is to study an employee’s level of “engagement.” To measure employee engagement Marcus created Q12, a survey of twelve questions that he believes get to the root of this phenomenon. Within the Q12, three questions have been shown to have the strongest statistical significance: 1: Do I know what’s expected of me at work?; 2: At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?; 3: Are my coworkers committed to doing quality work?
Marcus’ “employee engagement” measure has shown promising results. In a recent Gallup Study of 955,905 people working in 152 organizations across 44 industries, correlation between employee engagement and quality of work was found to be 0.6; safety on the job (say in a manufacturing environment) 0.49; and absenteeism -0.37. In short a more engaged employee produces higher quality work, is safer, and misses work less often. A smaller although statistically significant correlation is also seen with metrics such as productivity, the organization’s profitability, and employee turnover.
With Marcus’s new metric, perhaps the workplace consulting industry gains increased legitimacy or, more accurately, is refocused on the discrete and powerful levers that create better outcomes for employees and the organizations for which they work. And what does this all mean for people who are trying to find the perfect job or entrepreneurs who wish to create the optimal work environment? According to Marcus’ research, create an environment where you know what’s expected of you, do work that taps into your strengths, and surround yourself with people who are committed to the quality of their output. If you can put those in place for yourself or your employees, performance will follow. Here’s to more engaging – and inspired – careers.
// As published in the MIT Entrepreneurship Review.
For fellow ethnographers (and design enthusiasts in general), one of the best design references I’ve seen. A bootleg of Stanford d.school‘s “Design Bootcamp,” a course which serves as the foundation of their curriculum. A great overview of design thinking and related exercises, as published (click here) by the d.school itself under the Creative Commons license.
This summer, while driving from Pennsylvania to California, I spent some time searching for people who have taken a risk to turn a passion into a career. From an export merchant turned baker in Chicago, to an electrical engineer turned pastor in Tulsa, I found stories that changed my perspective on both the benefits – and challenges – of entrusting in a motto I’ve long held dear, “behind every passion lies a business model.”
In a recent survey conducted by Manpower International, five out of six Americans intend to seek a new job in the coming year. If you are among those who’d like your new job to be rooted in a deep passion of yours, I hope the candid perspectives captured in this mini documentary may help you to make a more informed – and inspired – choice.
For more info on my work around passion, I invite you to visit www.passioneconomy.net.
Amazon’s recent decision to pull Wikileaks from of its servers has sparked a heated debate. I think one of the main points that’s been confused is Amazon’s legal versus ethical obligations. Here’s my attempt to sort these out:
Legally the argument is simple. Amazon forbids the hosting of documents that a client does not “own or otherwise control all of the rights to.” Wikileaks did not (or so let’s hope) write the Department of State diplomatic cables and so they’ve clearly violated the Terms of Service (TOS) to which they agreed when they signed up for an account. A clear TOS violation. Suspend the account. End of story.
Ethically the argument falls into a gray area, and I think your opinion on the matter is intrinsically tied to the value you put on the cables. If you consider the cables nothing more than someone’s stolen personal property, then again Amazon is right not to be an accessory to theft. On the other hand, if you consider the cables as information that’s illuminating a greater social injustice, then the argument gets trickier.
Say, for example, a North Korean soldier leaks stolen government documents detailing a network of heretofore unknown hard labor camps, and posts these docs on Amazon’s server. Some would argue that for Amazon to take down his site out of respect for the property rights of the North Korean regime would be at best, ethically questionable and at worst, aiding and abetting a large social injustice.
Now whether you believe the Wikileaks documents illuminate any social injustice well, that opinion’s yours to form ;)
Have a friend or family member who’s nervous about an interview? I’ve got just the video.
A video StoryCard for a laugh and perspective. Shot mostly in Union Square, New York City. Thanks to Pieter Heineken and Jared Lander for help and support, as well as the kind folks who contributed their stories.