Is cognitive dissonance ever good for an organization? For an individual?

As we learned this week in our reading, cognitive dissonance is the discomfort that arises when something that we believe is challenged.

  • Is cognitive dissonance ever good for an organization?  For an individual?
  • Based on this information, what are three specific things that a leader can do to minimize the impact/leverage the effect of cultural dissonance within an organization?   Include how leaders can assist both themselves and their employees in changing their behaviors.  How can the three questions related to changing behaviors impact the employees in a positive way? What approach can a leader take if he/she receives opposition related to changing behaviors?
  •  Is cognitive dissonance ever good for an organization?  For an individual?
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  • Cognitive dissonance cannot be good for any organization ever. It happens when beliefs, ideas or behaviors contradict each other (Psychology Today, n.d.). But in an organization where this exists, a culturally intelligent manager can recognize cognitive dissonance and then take appropriate measures. But, if cognitive dissonance gets undetected and if it continues then the organization will have problems.
  •             For an individual, I believe there would be cognitive dissonance, and it won’t be good. We often grow up with some stereotyping and generalizations in our minds and that might come out as cognitive dissonance later in life at work. In a homogeneous work environment cognitive dissonance might not come out but if the person encounters something or someone who threatens his ideas or perceptions then it will not be good at all.
  •             But organizations or any person when encounter cognitive dissonance, they can implement and develop cultural intelligence, recognizing the reason behind the issue. For organizations, it is really important to take reactive measures so that they do not face such issues in the future.
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  • Based on this information, what are three specific things that a leader can do to minimize the impact/leverage the effect of cultural dissonance within an organization?  
  •             In any organization where people from different values, beliefs or backgrounds come to work, the dissonance might occur since their values, beliefs may contract or vary. The differences arise because of generation differences, race or gender inequity, religion, disability or ability etc. So, there are many things leaders can do so employees can work on the differences when they face dissonance.
  •             Firstly, leaders need to recognize their blind spots first. One the leader understand her self-concept then the leader can help others recognize theirs. Leaders need to discuss the dissonance employees’ face. So employees can comfortably discuss the differences. Instead of feeling uncomfortable with diversity they can embrace the diversity and differences.
  •             2nd, Acknowledging the fact that there is a blind spot, then working on recognizing those and turning those dissonances into learning opportunities should be leaders’ priority. The leader should be aware that employees will try to stick to their own self-concept, beliefs. But the leader needs to get the employees to help to develop cultural intelligence. So the employees actually understand coworkers from a different background, believe better.
  •             3rd, leaders should develop a framework in their organization where every employee will be trained and made aware of their differences and they will be helped to improve their cultural intelligence. So that while they maintain their self-concept but does not feel threated by someone else’s self-concept.
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  •   Include how leaders can assist both themselves and their employees in changing their behaviors. 
  •             Leaders need to change their behaviors first and start with something small. Small incremental changes lead to bigger changes.  But, leaders first need a reason to make the change. That is identifying blind spots is critical. Leaders and employees will have to let negative behavior go and replace that with positive behavior. Once blind spots are identified the leaders would understand why the change is needed, then they need to figure out what needs to be changed. The final evaluation would be about who loses what.
  •             Leaders will do the same for employees too. Help them find their blind spots, and tell what why they need the change. Then tell them what needs to change and who will lose what due to change. So, everyone’s expectations are well managed.
  •  How can the three questions related to changing behaviors impact the employees in a positive way?
  • First question – What is changing? Before implementing the change in the cultural intelligence one needs to be absolutely certain and understand what is not working. That will be the biggest motivation behind the change. And once it is understood what the change is, the person will have the conviction too
  • The second question is “what will be different because of the change?” Changing could be hard, but once something is changed, going back to the previous form might not be easy too. Hence leaders need to know what is going to be different. The outcome of the change becomes very important. Moreover, this can work as a goal too for the leaders so they get motivated to implement the change.
  •             The third question is” Who will lose what?” – Leaders should evaluate first that because of the change, how the belief will change or what behavior has to change and what those changes would mean for everyone. This would mean leader would be able to anticipate and prepare for the new changed scenario.
  • What approach can a leader take if he/she receives opposition related to changing behaviors?
  •             Leadership is not just about leading but about implementing changes too. And change often causes people to resist (Quast,2012). Moreover, in an organization the culture is developed based on goals, roles, values attitudes, practices, and assumptions, hence changing something is a really difficult challenge for leadership(Denning, 2011). Knowing this, I feel if or when leadership faces resistance, they should never feel that their authority is being challenged or worse, they should not lose confidence. Instead, they should directly talk to employees who are putting up the resistance. Chances are those employees are scared of the change or suffering from uncertainty. As leaders, it is our responsibility to assure those employees, give them more information about, why the change is necessary, what will change and because of the change what are the things the organization will have to let go. Depending on the change they may or may not agree with everything, but one thing for sure that they will have certainty with the information, and with some pursuance and time the resistance might fade away and get replaced with acceptance too.
  • So in a nutshell, the leader should be open and transparent, providing as much as information possible, answering questions, clearing doubts and explaining why the change is required, what will change, who will lose out and why. Finally the end goal and benefits is very important so everyone sees the reason of their temporary sacrifices or the reason they will have to let go of somethings. 

References-

Psychology Today. Retrieved on 10/15/2018. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/cognitive-dissonance

Quast Lisa (November, 2012). Overcome The 5 Main Reasons People Resist Change. Retrieve from https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2012/11/26/overcome-the-5-main-reasons-people-resist-change/#6c7b00843efd

Denning, Steve (July,2011). How Do You Change An Organizational Culture? Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2011/07/23/how-do-you-change-an-organizational-culture/#3d0b07c139dc

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