I’ve always been obsessed with change and the perception of change by individuals, groups and organizations. As I begin writing this page, I am reminded of my old master’s degree application in Social-Organizational Psychology. I think it does a good job summarizing my unquenchable thirst for the greatest constant of all: change. Although I’ve successfully dealt with most of my demons, I hope this will paint a good picture of how I started in this field. Enjoy!
Master’s degree application in Social-Organizational Psychology:
I have a confession. I was once defeated by Learned Helplessness. I met her at work. I started noticing her after my last promotion. Initially, I did not pay much attention to her and kept focused on resolving my daily issues. As the challenges and pressures of my role increased, I found it harder to ignore her tightening grip, limiting my thoughts and creativity. Her goal was to enslave me and paralyze my decision making skills. In the end, I could no longer withstand her powerful grip; I quit my job thinking this was the only way to free myself and regain control. The defeat was short-lived however; I quickly realized that I was defeated by my attitude towards work, not by the work itself. And so I write this application to Teachers College, Columbia University to tell you that I am interested in gaining expertise on helping others in similar situations in the workplace.
“…it is important to realize that even the technical problems of modern industry are not technical in the sense of gadgeteering but are primarily problems of human organization for a technical end” – Peter F. Drucker, Concept of the Corporation.
As an Information Technology and Management Consultant for most of my career, I’ve come to realize that my biggest challenges were not technical issues, but people issues. My interest in applied psychology is to gain a better understanding of people issues in the workplace and how to solve them.
I am motivated to fully understand how to keep employee attitude positive, particularly during times of change. The morale of employees can be extremely volatile when a company is in the process of changing a procedure or a tool to which workers have become accustomed. Many employees fight to resist change because they are being pushed out of their comfort zone. I wish to learn how to appease such discomforts and aid employees in accepting change.
I am also interested in learning the application of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in the workplace. I am interested in this topic because it will give me an additional tool in the process of predicting individual and group performance in a working environment. Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ was my first encounter with the concept of EI. I was so impressed with this book that I continued my research with the book titled Self Science: The emotional Intelligence Curriculum. This book contains a curriculum on social-emotional learning for early-age development.
I have extensive experience in management consulting, particularly in the area of change and evolution of technology tools. My experiences in organizing people and implementing new and existing processes and procedures have provided me with many opportunities to observe and shape behavior. My most challenging moment was during the development phase of a high-profile customized application for the provincial government. It became clear to me that two team members required to work together disliked each other. My role in this situation was to appease their negativity and guide their progress and behaviors to ensure the successful completion of their deliverable. Although I found this situation overwhelming at first, it has made me realize that issues are not as difficult to resolve as they seem when the correct attitude is adopted. “It’s having the right attitude that is hard” – Robert E. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It is experiences like these that prompted me to consider continuing my education of psychology in the workplace so that I can help others be successful in similar situations.
My career objectives include (a) researching the variables that make the working environment enjoyable and (b) becoming a registered I/O psychologist, specializing in organizational change. Through continuously sharing ideas with I/O psychology experts, I hope to ultimately be in the position to help companies gauge their ability to implement change and appropriately align corporate culture with business goals.
An M.A. in Organizational Psychology will give me the research experience and knowledge required to continue with my career objectives and attain my long-term goals. I am truly excited about the possibility of joining and adding to the Organization and Leadership department at Teachers College, Columbia University.
When I wrote this, I was clearly in my early twenties – those rebellious years without any real responsibilities. Much of my outlook changed as I matured, accumulated life experiences, and started owning meaningful responsibilities (like taking care of family and loved ones). I started to truly understand my purpose in life and I realized that the small problems on which I was focused were really just that – small.
My master’s degree in Social-Organizational Psychology helped me put things into perspective when it came to facing issues within organizations. The best way I can summarize my education is that it helped me understand the more subtle, or shall I say “invisible”, aspects of organizations – such as the groupthink phenomenon where no one will sacrifice group cohesion to avoid catastrophe and Fiedler’s contingency model where leaders would rather replace their direct reports than change their leadership style. Since the completion of my degree, I’ve returned to the workforce with the opportunity to incorporate my own company and provide consulting services for large-scale change initiatives. I am blessed to have now experienced change from many perspectives – positive and negative, good and bad, controller and receiver. I believe that my unique combination of work opportunities and education has enabled me to experience, study and observe change from all angles.
So there you have it. You now know more about me than I intended to share, but I think that is the point of a blog – to share a bit of your soul with others and hope for some readers to feel the same and make a true connection. The other day, my wife told me about a quote that seems pretty fitting for the end of this page:
Trust in our truth. Faith in ourselves. And a little bit of surrender (Tiny Buddha)
I think it’s that little bit of surrender that will help me make a connection with my readers and fellow bloggers. And so let’s begin this journey of change together.