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Performance or Popularity: What Drives Your Team?

Performance or Popularity: What Drives Your Team?

An old, cynical workplace adage reads thusly: “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” While most executives like to believe that their workplace judges performance and offers promotions based solely on merit, a recent study suggests otherwise. The study delved into the similarity between discrimination and favouritism.

Discrimination produces a negative outcome for those one doesn’t favour and favouritism produces a positive outcome for those one does favour. While these mechanisms both result in someone being favoured over another based on something other than merit, there are subtle differences.

The Study

The study involved the judging of work done by close to 1,500 people. Some of the judges were informed of the nationality and gender of participants while some were not informed. Judges displayed a statistical tendency to show favouritism to those who were of their nationality. The study showed no tendency toward gender bias.

The Kellogg Study

Studies showing tendencies toward favouritism are not news to many; a study conducted by the Kellogg Institute in 2010 resulted in the identification of 7 different ways to flatter superiors into preferential treatment. These included flattery disguised as advice seeking, complimenting superiors to those likely to inform the superior and going so far as to publicly adopt opinions held by the superior.

Directors and managers with backgrounds in sales, law or politics are more likely to use flattery to curry favouritism. Those with upper-class backgrounds were found to be more clever at ingratiation than those of the middle or working class. Ingratiation was found to be one of the most effective ways to ensure seats on the boards of larger corporations.

How to Ensure Merit-Based Promotions

At Integral Development, we believe that the Integral Approach, based on Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory, is the best method of creating a corporate environment where everyone feels they have a fair opportunity to advance within the company based on their performance.

The Integral Approach, like Integral Theory, is based on holistic development of individuals to produce integral leaders who create a corporate culture of cooperation. This produces great places to work and ensures a merit-based standard of performance assessment.

For more information about our leadership development program, call our Perth office: 1300 176 789.

Ron Cacioppe

Ron Cacioppe is the Managing Director of Integral Development and holds a BSc, an MBA and a PhD. He has taught in the Graduate School of Management at Macquarie University, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia.

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