Group Dynamics and the Public Sphere

Psychology in the Workplace

What are some dos and don’ts for employees?

Drawing from the research literature, here is a list of survival tips for employees:

  • Remember you are part of a system. You do not exist in isolation; you are part of a large network that exists to serve the interests of the organization, whether that be making widgets, serving meals, or cutting hair. Your behavior affects other people just as their behavior affects you.
  • Understand what is expected of you and do it to the best of your ability. This may seem obvious but it is surprisingly easy to forget.
  • If there is a problem with completing your responsibilities, let your supervisor know. Don’t hide your deficits out of fear of looking bad. Most supervisors will be willing to work with you if you need extra support or education, or if there’s a problem in the system that interferes with your job. But no one likes unnecessary surprises.
  • Try to see situations from other points of view. This will reduce conflict with co-workers and supervisors.
  • Address your needs, preferences, and complaints from the point of view of a member of a system. You need X, Y, or Z in order to do your job and be a productive member of the group. Do not say you need them because you’re you, you’re special, or you’re smarter than everybody else.
  • Address conflict in behavioral terms. “When you don’t return my e-mails, I am unable to complete my assignments on time.” Try not to personalize, scapegoat, or practice character assassination. Just the facts, Ma’am.
  • Try to keep conflict between you and the co-worker in question or take it to your supervisor. Try not to triangulate in your buddies so you can all make snide comments about your new enemy.
  • In the face of office politics, try to separate out the temporary noise from your job responsibilities. If you stick to doing your job, you will most likely end up all right.


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