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Article
Publication date: 12 July 2011

Cristina de MelloeSouza Wildermuth and Mel O. Wildermuth

During a typical diversity program, participants are encouraged to recognize, evaluate, and appreciate differences. The purpose of this paper is to explore the rationale

Abstract

Purpose

During a typical diversity program, participants are encouraged to recognize, evaluate, and appreciate differences. The purpose of this paper is to explore the rationale for “Conversity®”: an alternative approach to diversity training that is based on connections.

Design/methodology approach

The paper is based on a review of the literature on “traditional” diversity training paradigms, the impact of diversity on the brain, and basic social psychology concepts such as categorization and social affiliation. The authors relate literature review findings to their experiences conducting “connections‐based” (“Conversity”) diversity training.

Findings

The human brain is already wired to perceive differences. Further, human beings tend to prefer others who share their group affiliations. Possible consequences of “typical” diversity training programs may include a “backlash” against diversity, an increase in participants' fears, and a reinforcement of inter‐group divisions.

Practical implications

This paper offers practitioners an alternative paradigm for diversity training design including alternative categorization (i.e. emphasis on non‐traditional diversity categories such as personality or team color) and an intentional search for connections between participants.

Originality/value

Historically, diversity training programs have focused on the value of differences rather than on the power of common ground.

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Article
Publication date: 18 April 2008

Cristina de Mello e Souza Wildermuth and Patrick David Pauken

The purpose of this two‐part article is to introduce engagement and review key research on engagement‐related factors.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this two‐part article is to introduce engagement and review key research on engagement‐related factors.

Design/methodology/approach

The author conducted a literature search on employee engagement and pilot interviews with ten professionals.

Findings

Environment, leadership, job, and individual factors are connected to employee engagement. Environmental engagement factors include congruency between organizational and individual values, the quality of the workplace relationships, and work‐life balance. Leadership engagement factors include vision and integrity. Job engagement factors include the meaningfulness of the job, itsw level of challenge, and the amount of control the employee has on the job. Finally, individual factors related to engagement include resilience, locus of control, active coping style, self‐esteem, neuroticism, and extraversion. The author suggests that the connections (or the match) between organizational, leadership, job, and individual characteristics is particularly relevant for engagement.

Research limitations/implications

The article includes a preliminary investigation of engagement. Further research is needed connecting environmental, leadership, job, and individual engagement factors, and confieming the importance of the “match” for engagement.

Practical implications

The implications are that leaders should be educated on engagement, that career development opportunities are particularly important, that performance improvement professional should champion work‐life balance, and that initiatives enhancing workplace relationships are likely useful to increase engagement.

Originality/value

This paper connects research on various engagement factors, making it easier for performance improvement professional to gain an introductory yet holistic view of the topic.

Details

Industrial and Commercial Training, vol. 40 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0019-7858

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 13 June 2008

Cristina de Mello e Souza Wildermuth and Patrick David Pauken

Part I of this paper addressed the environmental and leadership factors that contribute to employee engagement. Next, the purpose of this paper is to add the job and

Abstract

Purpose

Part I of this paper addressed the environmental and leadership factors that contribute to employee engagement. Next, the purpose of this paper is to add the job and person to the engagement equation.

Design/methodology/approach

Summarizes the characteristics of engaging jobs. Then, reviews individual personality traits that engaged individuals are more likely to exhibit: hardiness, internal locus of control, active coping style, high self esteem, low neuroticism, and high extraversion. Finally, discusses the importance of a “match” between the employee's preferences and the general work conditions and offers performance improvement implications.

Findings

Engagement is a complex topic and a challenging goal. An engagement‐friendly culture values the diversity of talents employees bring to the table, respects individual needs, and inspires all employees to pursue a common and exciting vision of the future. Logically, engagement will not be impacted by a single training program, regardless of its quality. Enhancing engagement is a long‐term proposition.

Originality/value

Individuals are unlikely to become engaged because someone told them they should. Engagement occurs naturally, when the conditions are right, when the leaders are inspiring, when individuals find the ideal place in which to apply their strengths. If this is true, performance improvement professionals might consider the following interventions: educate the leaders; focus on career development; champion work‐life balance; encourage relationships.

Details

Industrial and Commercial Training, vol. 40 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0019-7858

Keywords

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