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Wellington Daily News - Wellington, KS
Author Stephen Balzac offers ways businesses can increase revenue and attract more clients.
The Final Frontier
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About this blog
By Stephen Balzac
Author Stephen Balzac offers ways businesses can increase revenue and attract more clients with his 7 Steps Ahead philosophy. Whether you're trying to hire the right people or get your team on track, this is the place for accurate, useful ...
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Author Stephen Balzac offers ways businesses can increase revenue and attract more clients with his 7 Steps Ahead philosophy. Whether you're trying to hire the right people or get your team on track, this is the place for accurate, useful information. Stephen is an expert on leadership and organizational development, a consultant and professional speaker, and author of \x34The 36-Hour Course in Organizational Development,\x34 published by McGraw-Hill, and a contributing author to volume one of \x34Ethics and Game Design: Teaching Values Through Play.\x34 Contact Steve at steve@7stepsahead.com.
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This is an excerpt from my new book, Organizational Psychology for Managers.

 

“Space, the final frontier.”

-          Captain James T. Kirk

 

To be fair, Captain Kirk was talking about a different kind of space than what concerns us here. It may seem a little odd that a book on organizational psychology would be concerned with space; fundamentally, however, we are creatures of our environment. We respond to what is around us and how we perceive the space we are in can affect our moods, our creativity, even our perceptions that our team is worth our time. How people feel about the space they are in can influence whether or not they believe a leader is authentic!

Imagine that you are going to rent an office: you approach the building and see peeling paint and dead trees outside. How does that shape your impression of the building? What will your clients think when they see it? What if you were going to visit a doctor whose office was in that building? Perhaps you’re already beginning to have doubts. Sure, she has great recommendations, but could someone competent really work out of a building like that? Of course, once you step inside you might find a brightly lit, professional office, but first you have to get that far.

Well known psychologist Martin Seligman once observed that as the chair of the psychology department at the University of Pennsylvania, he interviewed many people who went on to become quite famous in the field of psychology… somewhere else. Why were none of the candidates accepted? Reviewing the applications, he and the rest of the faculty found something wrong with each candidate and consistently felt that their strengths just weren’t strong enough. Eventually, Seligman noticed that they were holding all their candidate reviews in a gray, windowless, conference room. When he tried holding the meetings in a brightly lit, colorful space, suddenly the candidates’ flaws didn’t seem so bad and their strengths were considerably more obvious.

Our moods and our environment feed off one another. It’s hard to be discouraged on a bright, summer day, and hard to be excited when it’s cold and gray outside. Similarly, when our work environment is gray or boring, we tend to be less trusting, less creative, less open to new ideas, and less cooperative. We spend more of our mental energy just trying to be vaguely cheerful, and less on actually getting the work done. Conversely, when we are in open, brightly lit spaces, we tend to be more willing to trust and cooperate with others, happier, more energetic, more creative, and considerably more open to new ideas and experiences. If successful innovation and brainstorming requires that we suspend disbelief and open ourselves to off-the-wall ideas – and that is exactly what they do require – then we need to construct our environment to encourage that mindset.



“…[Organizational Psychology for Managers] should be required reading in MBA programs, military leadership courses, and needs to be on the bookshelf of every Fortune 1000 VP of Human Resources.  Steve Balzac is the 21st century’s Tom Peters.”

- Stephen R Guendert, PhD, CMG Director of Publications

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