“Other People Matter” at Work, says recent Meta-Analysis

woman_tattoo_smilingDo you like the people you´re working with? Do you identify strongly with that group of human beings? Do you even feel that you belong to the larger system of the organization you´re working for? If the answer is yes: Good for you! Because most likely, this will be beneficial for your psychological and physiological health in the long run.

A recent meta-analysis by Niklas K. Steffens (University of Queensland, Brisbane) and colleagues concludes that

both workgroup and organizational identification are associated with individuals’ experience of reduced strain and burnout as well as greater health and well-being.

In short, liking the people we work with on the immediate level (our team) as well as the macro level (the organization as a whole) and experiencing a sense of belonging helps us to stay healthy and sane. From a Positive Psychology point of view, it´s interesting to see that social bonds do help to prevent stress, but even more so, foster the experience of positive outcomes:

Social identification feeds more strongly into the promotion of what is “good for us” than into the prevention of what is “bad for us”. These findings support previous work which has made the point that the absence of stress is not equivalent to the presence of well-being. More specifically, findings are consistent with a psychological conception of positive human health and phenomenological accounts of social identification which suggest that increases in identification capture increases in positive experiences and are therefore related particularly strongly to positive forms of well-being.

Here´s to you, Chris Peterson!

Does Coaching really work? Yes, it does! And here´s some sound Scientific Evidence…

I´ve been working as coach for almost six years now. Now obviously, I should be convinced that I´m good at what I do. I should be convinced that what I do matters. And I should be convinced that coaching does work in general. And I am. And so are (most of) my clients. It is immensely exhilarating when a client gives you a call after some months to tell you that you played a small part in changing his/her career, relationship, or life per se for the better. It feels so good that sometimes it also feels kind of weird that, on top, I´m being paid for what I do. However, all of that is what scientists call anecdotal evidence. It´s nice to have, but does not really prove anything in the terms of psychological science.

Luckily, there are scientists out there who really want to get to the bottom of things (and are willing to be engaged in some high-class bean counting…). The most sophisticated way to get to the bottom of a psychological phenomenon is to conduct a meta-analysis. It´s a technique to aggregate the results of already existing empirical studies, thereby increasing the underlying sample size, which in turn leads to more reliable results.

Now this is exactly what Tim Theeboom, Bianca Beersma, and Annelies E.M. van Vianen from the University of Amsterdam have done – pertaining to the effectiveness of coaching in an organizational context. After screening +100 existing studies on the effectiveness of coaching, they included 18 studies in their meta-analysis (typically, a lot of the extant studies can not be included because of a lack of scientific rigor).

What they´ve found is good news – for me as well as the ‘coaching profession’: Coaching does work! Specifically, it is associated with the following positive outcomes:

  • Higher job-related performance of the coachee.
  • Increase of self-regulation skills (a.k.a. ‘self-management’).
  • Increase of coping skills (e.g., handling work-related pressure).
  • Increase of positive job attitudes (e.g., job satisfaction).
  • Increase of overall well-being.

Now does this prove the effectiveness of coaching once and for all? Obviously, it does not. But it´s a very good starting point.*

 

* And it should also help to convince skeptical HR people – who typically have a say on the implementation of coaching in their corporation.