Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Power of the social environment

I am a Graduate Assistant (GA) this semester; major tasks involve helping lecturers with filing, typing, copying, and just about anything they need assistants with. Some times we may be required to help the Office Specialist as well. On Friday I had my informal orientation should in case I am co-opted to help with some of the Office Specialist duties. During the orientation reflective mode kicked in, as it always does. I felt happy and welcomed in the department and I was well motivated to do any task assigned to me. This feeling differed so much from how I felt working with the team lead I had for my internship. I felt she did not expect me to succeed and the constant tension between us drained my energy. It was one of those situations that it made no sense to pretend as that made it worst. It was obvious that she was not fond of me.

I compared my send off with that of her beloved Co-Op before me and there was an obvious difference with just how she and some other members of the team responded among other things. When he was leaving everybody hugged him only a few embraced me. Which I was fine with, even though some may argue that if I was ok with it I would not be blogging about it…oh well. These non-verbal messages that I received are often referred to as microinequities. Micro-inequities speak more volume than words as they represent people’s often unconscious and involuntary expressions of true emotions.

The social environment as it’s often referred to in education or the working environment in corporate world is often overlooked. However, this plays an integral role. If workers are not happy or motivated, even the most skilled worker or most intelligent student can under perform. I was shocked with how I responded to my team lead’s behavior as well as the fact that I did not 'gel' with some members of the team. I began to question my competence and personality. It’s a good thing I had two years experience where I performed well and I currently have a good relationship with my very supportive lecturers. What made me survive were very supportive peers who I got along well with. I also had a very good rapport with some members of the team as well as other members of the organization.

Indeed no man is an Island, and no man stands alone. How does your company facilitate a healthy working environment? Have you ever been in a working environment or school environment where the social environment was unhealthy? How did you deal with it?

Back to School

I am back from home where the golden sun warms my body to Southern Illinois where the bitter cold cramps my bones. I just completed 1 week of school got exposed to all my classes and I am excited. I will be graduating in August so I have started thinking about my Final project, which I want to be a performance improvement initiative. My father has a very small company that is currently experiencing a plethora of problems so I am going to see how my new knowledge can be applied to fill the gaps.

One of my courses is an Industrial Organization Psychology course titled Work Motivation and Leadership. I hope I can get some knowledge and skills from this course to help my father as a Manager as well as with his Human Resource Development. The assignments are very practical and balance between traditional quiz/test and authentic alternative assessment. One of the Assessments requires us to prepare a workshop for a group of student leaders on a selected topic. So I am super excited....I will surely keep you informed.