How to Make the Most of Your Workplace

'Investing in individual growth improves the mindset, behaviour and motivations of your staff' says Cape Town-based work psychologist Justine Jackson-Fraser

Are you struggling to reach your potential in the workplace? Do you find it difficult to motivate your staff? Do you feel that your intentions in the workplace are misunderstood? The workplace is where you spend the majority of your week but an environment that should leave you happy and fulfilled can often leave you feeling dissatisfied and stressed. With roots in social and organisational psychology work psychologists identify how behaviours and practices can be improved via a number of hiring practices, training programs and feedback systems.

Justine Jackson-Fraser, of Psychology at Work in Cape Town, started off in clinical psychology and psychometrics (personality and cognitive assessments) in the corporate environment but moved to work psychology when she saw the positive impact it had on teams and organisations when they understood how to shift their behaviour. I chatted to Justine for an insight into the practice and her top tips for making the workplace a positive environment.

CTMag: Can you give us a general overview of the services you offer?

Justine: "We offer psychometric assessments as well as a 360 assessment which involves asking other individuals in the workplace what they think of that person and collating the results into a report. We offer individual development including mind shift where individuals are given the skills to change their own head space in order to combat symptoms of stress and behaviour shift which equips individuals with the skills to change their behaviour (for example, somebody who is unassertive will be given the skills to become more assertive). We also offer organisational culture shift in which organisations as a whole may change the way they think and behave."

CTMag: What kinds of individuals and organisations can benefit from it?

Justine: "Any individual who needs to shift, change or grow and organisations that understand the value of people, teams and cultures within their organisation and are keen to focus on individual development."

CTMag: What are the main psychological barriers facing individual employees and companies as a whole?

Justine: "Not understanding where somebody is coming from, when communication strategies aren't clear enough and when people use assumptions rather than direct communication."

CTMag: What are your top tips for getting more out of your organisation?

Justine: "I would recommend an interpersonal intelligence program whereby teams are taught how to behave at the most optimum level to help the company to achieve."

CTMag: What are your top tips for motivating staff in the workplace?

Justine: "You have to invest in their growth as individuals, develop clear lines of communication, give individuals the opportunity to learn how to motivate themselves and learn how to change mindsets and behaviour. The key is to be internally, rather than externally motivated."

CTMag: What makes a good team leader?

Justine: "Somebody with good emotional and interpersonal intelligence as well as knowing how to put their own ego aside."

CTMag: How should a company ensure that they hire the best person for the job?

Justine: "It's essential to perform a psychometric assessment so that the company is able to understand the person that they are hiring. Somebody with emotional maturity who can handle stress is desirable but this depends on what job you are hiring for. For example, a librarian's job tends to be less stressful than most."

CTMag: How should employees behave when faced with conflict in the workplace?

Justine: "The individual should put their own egos aside, focus on the real issues and be very direct in the way that they communicate."

CTMag: How can individuals be more productive in the workplace and realise their potential?

Justine: "By maintaining a positive mindset and high levels of collaborative and interactive behaviour."

CTMag: When you are frustrated with your position or company what is the best thing to do?

Justine: "Communicate your frustrations with a proposed plan of solution clearly and directly."

CTMag: Can you give me a couple of examples where you have successfully implemented work psychology?

Justine: "Scientific organisations tend not to be big communicators so we have helped to find personalities suited to particular science projects. For individuals whose intentions are great but come across as domineering we help with changing the subtleties such as the angling of the head, so that people will go along with the individual, as opposed to against them."

South Africa has high ethical standards for how psychology can be utilised and anybody practising must be registered with regulatory body the Health Professions Council South Africa (HPCSA) to ensure that practices are legal and correct as well as to limit instances of being taken to court. For more information contact Justine Jackson-Fraser at Psychology at Work on: +27 (0)21 975 2710 or +27 (0)82 753 7101.

By Lisa Nevitt

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