Cognitive Dissonance is one of the key (but often overlooked) factors in average-poor employee performance especially during the first few years of an employee life-cycle.
Considering it takes 1-2 years for an employee to acclimate to his/her new role within an organisation, reducing cognitive dissonance, or internal conflict/confusion within the human psyche, will reduce the amount of training time it takes for an individual to perform his/her required tasks optimally, elevates levels of fulfilment and connection within the workplace lowering turnover rates, while also decreasing turnaround time for tasks and projects.
What is cognitive dissonance:
- Cognitive dissonance is the appearance of multiple streams of thought, value, emotions, beliefs, and behaviours that conflict with each other within the human psyche. This can occur within the individual’s human psyche as in two values or goals conflict with one another, or within the individual and the company he/she is working within, a value conflicts with company values etc.
How to spot cognitive dissonance:
- Cognitive dissonance can easily be spotted by the following factors:
- Emotional Discontentedness: feelings of upsetness, anxiety, frustration, confusion, doubt, fear, depression
- Lack of Action, Analysis Paralysis
- Overthinking, Doubting, Worrying, Overplanning
- Effortful Actions: actions that take longer than necessary, actions that drain all of an individual’s energy
- Misaligned actions: actions that don’t provide the desired outcome or result intended
How cognitive dissonance effects the workspace:
- When an individual is in a high magnitude of cognitive dissonance, emotions are heightened, and Heightened emotions can cause a lack of optimum decision making
- They can follow the incorrect psyche and make decisions based upon unimportant factors creating results that are far below optimal
- Analysis paralysis. When an individual feels discontented, they can tell that their personal values or beliefs, or potential outcomes of the situation are muddled, so they can easily fall prey/ victim to analysis paralysis and delay decision making time which results in extended turnaround times, and millions left on the table
Addressing Cognitive Dissonance in the workplace to improve employee performance:
Rather than having daily, or weekly performance reviews where you tell your employees what they are doing wrong, or areas for improvement, focus these evaluations/ discussions on helping your employees identify the cognitive dissonance between their current thought and behaviour patterns versus the thought and behaviour patterns expected of them in their role.
Cognitive Dissonance is one of the most overlooked reasons for poor employee performance and slow growth within the workplace, and when it is addressed it dramatically decreases learning times, increases retention rates, and improves overall performance.
The most effective way for you to help members of your team to identify it’s own cognitive dissonance, or inconsistent/misaligned patterns of thought, emotions, and behaviours, is to take your employees through inquisitive questioning (I typically recommend once per week as individuals and once per month as a team unit depending on the size of the company)
Inquisitive Questioning to Identify & Reprogram the Cognitive Dissonance within your Employees for Improved Performance:
- Get them to reflect and evaluate their performance honestly: How do you believe your performance was last week? What was 1 thing you excelled at last week, and 1 thing you could have improved?
- Get them to think deeper and analyse WHY their week was so: Why do you believe your performance was so? Did something negative occur in your life or the workplace? Or did you improve something in your life/ workplace that caused an improved performance?
- Get them thinking how they can maintain/improve their performance: How can we reduce that negative influence, or increase that positive influence for next week
- Strengthen their commitment to improved performance: Why will doing this, changing this thing, or continuing this thing improve your life and work?