Nurses have no time for compassion

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Mike the Psych's Blog

On the one hand the idea that all nurses are compassionate creatures was never true. I say that as someone with 20 plus years experience working in the NHS and more recently as a patient.

That’s not to say some, maybe most, nurses aren’t. I particularly remember one who held my hand throughout an uncomfortable 2-hour eye operation carried out under local anaesthetic and another who rubbed my back during an endoscopy examination.

But according to a recent study of professional values there is “a moral vacuum at the heart of nursing”.

Nurses are so ground down that they end up as “robots going through the motions” with a focus on clinical skills driving compassion from the job“. Yet compassion is part of the UK’s Nursing Vision.

Eight out of ten say their work conflicts with their personal values much of the time. The study concluded that it…

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Women not going for top graduate jobs

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_DSC0291Women outnumber men, and outperform them, at university but don’t bother applying for top graduate jobs.

According to the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) – which looked at 170 employers and 22,000 graduates last year – women usually perform better on such programmes but men dominate those run by major employers and in the highest paying sectors.

Banking, Accountancy, construction, professional services and consultancy businesses all hired more men than women last year. The exception being law.

The association wants employers to work to combat negative stereotypes in some sectors which may put off female graduates.

Most employers still insist on a 2.1 degree but some have relaxed entry requirements completely (considering grade inflation probably a good idea. Who knows what a degree is actually worthy these days?).

Capgemini has rewritten job descriptions in the light of research which suggests women will only apply for jobs when they think they meet all the criteria, unlike men who will bullshit their way through even if they only match 60% of them. (From my experience as a career management consultant this is very true).

The Chief Executive of  the AGR said “Despite investment to develop a more diverse graduate workforce there remains considerable barriers. Improving gender diversity is less about changing selection processes and is largely an attraction challenge. many female students don’t apply“.

As graduates, especially women, increasingly seek safe places and avoid micro-aggressions I wonder if they are simply put off by the thought of having to enter the real world and face a possibly challenging working environment?

Well bred dimwits get best jobs and more gongs

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green_stick_figure_stand_out_crowd_1600_wht_1832An analysis of the latest honours list shows how well public school educated men do in being awarded honours.

Research last year also showed that low achievers from an affluent background are 35% more likely to be higher earners when they grow up than bright children from poor backgrounds.

A girl who scores poorly on an IQ test at age 5 doubles her chances of earning high wages if she goes to a private school rather than a comprehensive school. A boy who scores low at the same age is 18% more likely to be in the top fifth of earners at age 42 if he goes to a private school.

It helps if your parents have a degree. It boosts boys’ earning prospects by12% and girls’ by 17% if they’re high attainers i.e. in the top 40%. For low attainers i.e. in the bottom 40%, it boosts girls’ prospects by 100% and boys’ by 69%. Children from better-off families score higher on cognitive tests e.g. IQ tests, than those from poorer backgrounds as they have better nurturing. There is even a correlation between the social background of a child’s grandfather and their career prospects.

So much for social mobility. The affluent classes have pulled up the drawbridge behind them when it comes to career opportunities.

Alan Milburn, chairman of the Social Mobility & Child Poverty Commission (SMCPC)  said there was a glass floor as much as a glass ceiling holding people back. The commission published a report last June called Social Mobility, Opportunity Hoarding and the Glass Floor

He said “No one should criticise parents for doing their best for their children. But Britain is a long way from being a meritocratic society when the less able can do better than the more able”

The report warns that while it is politically palatable to improve the chances of bright disadvantaged people it is less so for them to accept that the better off might lose out.

When there is limited room at the top you can’t improve social mobility unless it goes both ways.  And as the Labour Force survey I posted about in November shows, there is still a class gap in earnings depending on your background.

Milburn wants the disadvantaged to be given the “support, advice and development opportunities” that better-off middle class families take for granted. He also wants to reduce what the report calls “opportunity hoarding” for example by urging employers to ensure that “internships aren’t reserved for those with the right social contacts. It’s a social scandal that all too often some demography is destiny in Britain”

Face up to it – you’ve either got it or you haven’t

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ThumbsUp-maleScientists are claiming that seeing someone’s face for less than 100 milliseconds is enough to create an impression of your trustworthiness, aggressiveness, and attractiveness.

Your personality traits, your leadership abilities and your potential criminality can also be deduced from your facial appearance.

Psychologists have argued about this for some time but new evidence from Rollins College in Florida suggests it might be true.

Marc Fetscherin, a professor at the International Business School found a correlation between company profits and the shape of the Chief Executive’s face.

51ZfQfM8obL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_In his new book, CEO Branding, he describes how successful business leaders tend to have broader faces than average meaning others view them as more dominant and successful.

He said “Facial width to height ratio correlates with real world measures of aggressive and ambitious behaviour and is associated with a psychological sense of power. It is therefore possible that it could predict leadership performance“.

Similar results were found by researchers at Sussex University where they analysed the faces of FTSE100 Chief Executives.

The researchers there thought underpinning this was a high level of testosterone which is associated with aggression and pursuit of dominance and which also influences the growth of muscle and bone.

Research from Finland among military personnel suggests that this view of wide-faced men being leaders might not be universally applicable in different kinds of organisations however.

With regard to personality traits there is also evidence that up to 10% of CEOs in the UK, USA and Australia have psychopathic or narcissistic tendencies – the dark side of leadership.

It’s also been known for centuries that tall, attractive people were more likely to be in leadership positions. For one thing good-looking people tend to be brighter and being well-nourished in times past probably meant you came from a privileged background – always a good starting point.

The idea that we can read people just by looking at them for 1/10th of a second has been around for a long time and was associated with physiognomy and eugenics which became disreputable. 

Today however it is still relevant when it comes to career progression. Apart from the research on CEOs, which is based predominantly on men, the research on women suggests that you can be too good-looking to get an interview.

Despite that many women, and increasingly men, are boosting their looks artificially in order to enhance their erotic capital.

From Rags to Riches and an early grave

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competition_corporate_ladder_1600_wht_6915The struggle to climb out of the gutter extracts a toll on your health according to a recent American study.

Researchers from Northwestern University studied around 300 rural African-American teenagers. Those from low-income families who exhibited high levels of self-control, and were thus more likely to achieve their goals, had immune cells that were biologically much oder than their actual age.

Rapid ageing of these cells has been linked to premature death and its thought to be due to long-term high levels of stress hormone.

To achieve upward mobility these youths must overcome multiple obstacles and often do so with limited support from their schools, peers, and families. Even if they succeed, these youths may go on to experience alienation in university and work-place settings and discrimination if they are African-American”

“Collectively these experiences seem likely to cause persistent activation of stress response systems”

Professor Greg Miller went on to say “For low-income youths, self-control may act as a double-edged sword facilitating academic success and psychological adjustment while at the same time undermining physical health”

In the research those with high self-control were able to focus better on long-term rather than short-term goals. were less depressed, used substances less frequently, and were less aggressive – regardless of their gender, family income or education

In addition those from low-income families were more likely to have the ageing immune cells.

Previous studies have shown that poorer children with better self-control were also at greater risk of heart disease because of their obesity, high blood pressure and levels of stress hormones in their blood.

The researchers add “These patterns suggest that for low-income youth resilience is a skin deep phenomenon wherein outward indicators of success can mask emerging problems with health”

They also think that providers of “character-building programmes” should include health education to help the youth mitigate health problems that stop them achieving their full potential. Low-income youths who do well in school and stay out of trouble are thought to have overcome disadvantage but it’s only half the full story it seems.

It would be interesting to know if these findings translate into other cultures and countries or whether they are only applicable to African-Americans from poor backgrounds.

Creating the best workplace on earth

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business_go_huddle_500_wht_12067According to Rob Goffee, from the London Business School, and Gareth Jones, from the IE Business School in Madrid, it boils down to six things:

  1. A place where you can be yourself
  2. Where you’re told what’s really going on
  3. Where your strengths are magnified
  4. The company stands for something meaningful
  5. Where your daily work is rewarding
  6. Where stupid rules don’t exist

These findings are based on asking hundreds of executives over 3 years about their ideal organisation.

They all said they wanted to work for an authentic leader but to do that they had to work for an authentic organisation.

The six common imperatives they found are those listed above.

Do yourself a favour and read the entire article in the May 2013 issue of the HBR

What influences your job preferences?

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one_on_on_interview_clip_1600_wht_6951According to research by OPP it comes down to age and personality.

Older workers are different from younger ones preferring jobs with role clarity with an emphasis on loyalty and independence.

They also prefer to work where everyone knows each other, is from a variety of backgrounds, and is treated as individuals with unique skills.

They are less comfortable in insecure jobs even though there might be opportunities for high pay. This might reflect family responsibilities or concerns about affording retirement.

In terms of personality factors emotional stability, rule consciousness, and self-reliance, increase with age but factors like liveliness, abstractedness, apprehension, and tension decrease.

These findings were reported by Gulko and Deakin in a report “Age and Work Characteristics: The role of Personality” at a British Psychological Society conference in Brighton.The authors said that given the ageing workforce this knowledge “can help employees with (the) attraction, selection, and retention of employees”.

Fellow psychologist Malcolm Starkey has directed me to some research at the University of Antwerp that looks at generation differences in relation to motivation and finds that older workers are not less motivated – just motivated by different things.

Fathers get an easier ride at work

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images-1Research in America about how working mothers fare at work (not very well it seems – see stats at end) also looked at how working fathers were treated.

It appears that working dads are held to lower performance and punctuality standards and yet more likely to be promoted than childless men with identical qualifications.

Potential clients were asked to rate their impressions of fictitious male and female McKinsey consultants some of whom were parents. The father was the only one rated as warm and competent and the mother the only one considered warm but less competent than her childless peers.

I wrote about European research on the warm v competent dimensions a few posts ago and this has similar results. So not just an American phenomenon.

However the picture changes dramatically when the American dads take time off for child care. A number of studies show that men are penalised through lower performance ratings and fewer recommendations for rewards even after taking only a short break.

Being a father doesn’t hinder career prospects until you want to play a more active role in being a dad when your career may suffer.

Men are subject to a range of sanctions such as being passed over for promotion, having people doubt their competence behind their backs, and openly being mocked about taking time off.

And those stats on working mothers: chance of being hired in first place falls by 79%, and they are 50% less likely to be promoted than a childless woman.

It seem the image of the male breadwinner is alive and well.

Source: HBR September 2012

Psychologists of the world unite………….”so how do you feel about that?”

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I appreciate the thought and promise not to make any more children cry!

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)


This is for my close friend and colleague who has come through a difficult year – sorry, but I couldn’t resist……………………..

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Your partner’s personality adds value

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business_man_and_woman_1600_wht_5662Successful people are more likely to have a partner with certain personality traits according to a 5-year study at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri.

These traits, which help their partners to be advance their careers are: conscientiousness, reliability, and diligence.

These are the traits commonly found in successful executives with conscientiousness linked to success in life generally i.e. you do what you say you’ll do.

The study examined 5,000 married couples aged between 19 and 80 years of age and tracked them over 5 years to see how well they did at work. They also asked them to describe their partners.

Those who progressed the most in their chosen occupation had a spouse who scored high in conscientiousness, regardless of sex.

The author of the study, Joshua Jackson, talking about the results said “ It is not only your own personality that influences the experiences that lead to greater occupational success, but that your spouse’s personality matters too”.

He said it’s not just about your spouse encouraging you to ask for a pay rise or promotion but the influence of your spouse’s daily behaviour which influences you over time.

Conscientiousness can mean a spouse sharing the domestic chores or emulating the other person’s personality traits making them reliable and diligent employees.

This is where HR has been getting it wrong! Instead of using personality questionnaires to assess the applicant they should be inviting the applicants’ spouses in for assessment as well. Of course that doesn’t help if the applicant doesn’t have one – unless they borrow one for the occasion from a successful friend.

A Little Light Humour to Start the Day……………………….

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Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

Sadly for many graduates today this is a little too near the truth. In the UK very few (about 7%) of psychology graduates become professional psychologists, a fact which often comes as a shock to undergraduates. In the past few years Psychology Degree courses have grown in number faster than any other subject and the market is now flooded with psychology graduates. Some courses are not even accredited by the BPS which has major ramifications for anyone wanting to train as a psychologist.

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Do you want a good work-life balance?

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Do you want a good work-life balance? Then go and live in Denmark. That’s the place to work if you want to achieve work-life-balance (WLB) according to the OECD which has recently included it as a factor in its Better Life Initiative.

The OECD has used 3 indicators: the amount of time devoted to personal activities, the employment rate of women with children age 6 to 14, and the number of employees working over 50 hours a week. FYI research shows that 50 hours seems to be the point wh … Read More

via SGandA on Management & Leadership with permission