We have two good reasons for thinking that we need to pay more attention to the issue of responsibility in the workplace. First, an experiment from the 1960s involving electric shocks makes clear just how bad things can get if people don’t take responsibility for their actions (it’s far worse than most of us might think!). Second, it’s more difficult to display the right kind of responsibility than we might think because responsibility can be inspired by at least three figures: children, bureaucrats and leaders. The challenge, then, is to figure out which of these types of responsibility we want employees to display in the workplace.
Even before it became stale and overused, the glass half full/glass half empty metaphor was a terrible way to think about optimism. The problem: it disguises the very feature that makes optimism so powerful in our workplaces (and elsewhere for that matter).
Knowing how to identify the traits of the perfect employee is the holy grail of HR but, like finding the grail, this challenge is not for the faint of heart. Of course, everyone has an opinion on the matter: a quick Google search reveals an overwhelming plethora of lists of desirable employee traits. Unfortunately, all of these lists differ in the details, leaving us in the dark about which employee traits are really the most important. So in this post, I turn to another approach to find an answer: I turn to the wisdom of the crowd.