CEBMa Newsletter August 2015

Dear reader

Welcome to our August 2015 newsletter. We hope the end of summer is finding you all well! In this issue, Rob and Jeff, our regular column writers, take you to the wonderful world of leadership and performance management. In addition, we have two interviews, a research flash and a new paper to share.

 And, hey, we won an award!

Happy reading!

Eric Barends, Managing Director

Denise Rousseau, Chair, Academic Board

CEBMa Team Wins Best Professional Workshop Award!

The workshop “Change The World, Teach Evidence-Based Management”, organized by Sara Rynes, Denise Rousseau, Rob Briner and Eric Barends, has won the Management Education and Development Division award for the best workshop at the 2015 Academy of Management annual convention in Vancouver.

 The workshop featured several key aspects of teaching evidence-based management, such as

The workshop featured several key aspects of teaching evidence-based management, such as

• teaching evidence-based skills to undergraduates (Barbara Janssen)

• teaching systematic review skills to master students (Neil Walshe)

• teaching evidence-based skills through case-competions (Tina Saksida)

• the use of online teaching modules on EBMgt in class (Eric Barends)


You can view all the presentations from the workshop here >> 

Rob's column: What's the Evidence For... Performance Management?

In his third column in HR Magazine, Rob Briner, CEBMa's Scientific Director, puts performance management under the microscope. How evidence-based is it? Read Rob's column to find out…

Performance management? Sounds great. What’s not to like?  So let’s just do it – and to the max! Right?

But like all classic HR ‘no brainers’ it turns out that performance management is a ‘yes brainer’. It’s not rocket science but it isn’t not rocket science either. Mindlessly throwing various performance management techniques of unknown effectiveness at a bunch of undefined performance problems almost guarantees performance mismanagement.

Is this too harsh? Perhaps. But let’s take just one example. It is surely the very bluntest of all the very blunt tools in the HR toolbox. Yet, each year, we drag ourselves through the soul-destroying ritualistic charade that is the annual performance appraisal. This is not thoughtful or considered performance management. Let’s just not do it. 

What’s the problem it aims to fix?

One essential of evidence-based practice is defining the problem. In the case of performance management the underlying problem is presumably that employee performance could and should be improved.

This assumption seems obvious. With just a bit more thought so too is the possibility that employee performance is fine or good enough, or that the benefits of raising performance may not outweigh the costs involved.

There is also evidence that increasing individual employee performance does not necessarily improve organisational performance. So why bother anyway?


Continue reading Rob's column here >>


Evidence Masterclass for Charity Leaders (30 September 2015)

The Alliance for Useful Evidence and CEBMa have joined forces in developing a masterclass on evidence-based policy.

The first one was held in July and was led by Jonathan Breckon (Head of the Alliance) and CEBMa's Rob Briner.

The second masterclass will take place on 30 September in London and will be aimed at charity leaders. Dr Tony Munton, managing director at The Right To Know and member of CEBMa’s board, will be one of the speakers.

The masterclass is one of a series of Evidence Masterclasses being held across the UK and aimed at non-specialists who wish to learn how to use academic research to inform their policy-making and practice. Learning outcomes include:

• Increased confidence in assessing research quality and trustworthiness,

• Better ability to make strategic decisions based on the evidence,

• Better ability to implement evidence in 'real world' scenarios faced by charities.


This is a free masterclass. Read more here >>

We Need Volunteers To Test Our Online Course Module on Critical Appraisal!

In our last newsletter we announced that we had completed our first online course module (Evidence-Based Practice: The Basic Principles). We now are working on our second module, which concerns the critical appraisal of scientific studies. The beta version of this second module is already available through Carnegie Mellon's Open Learning Initiative website, but we need volunteers to try out the module, critically evaluate its content and see if it stands up to academic scrutiny.

If you’re interested in testing the module and willing to provide feedback, 

please contact us >>

Organizational Evidence at Shell, an Interview with Esther Bongenaar.

An important source of evidence is the organization itself. When it comes to analyzing business data (such as productivity levels, sales increase, margin, customer satisfaction repeat business, etc) and HR data (such as tenure, background, seniority, educational level, absenteeism, performance rating, etc), CEBMa sometimes enlists the help of two experts on predictive HR analytics, Luk Smeyers and Jeroen Delmotte from iNostix.

A few weeks ago, Luk and Jeroen met with Esther Bongenaar, Lead HR Analytics at Shell International, to interview her.

Esther, can you introduce yourself please?

I am leading the HR Analytics team of Shell International B.V.. We are four staff responsible for predictive analytics for HR in Shell. My education and professional career focusses on applied mathematics. I have degrees in Operations Research and Mathematics for Industry. Most of my professional career was in the statistics team of Shell where I was involved in refinery optimisations, teaching basic statistics to engineers and modelling long-term energy demand for Shell Scenarios.

When and why did you start working with HR analytics and why did you choose to move to HR within Shell?

I joined HR one year ago and I surprised many people, including myself, with that move. Why join the soft side? The decision was made when I realized the impact I can make. HR is sitting on a vast pool of underutilised data and it is an exciting opportunity to build a team that unravels some of Shell’s challenges. Thomas Rasmussen (VP HR Data & Analytics at Shell) recruited me; he is knowledgeable and very inspiring. He convinced me that I am the right person for this job: building the HR analytics capability in Shell.

Continue reading the interview here >>

Research Newsflash: Linking EBMgt with Business Intelligence and Data Analytics

Carnegie Mellon's Heinz College has developed an executive program on Business Intelligence and Data Analytics for UPMC, a $10 billion global health enterprise with more than 62,000 employees and 21 hospitals with over 5,100 beds. To date, six cohorts ranging from 12 to 20 UPMC analysts and managers have participated.

As part of its commitment to evidence-based practice, the Heinz College is assessing the impact of the program on short-term and longer-term indicators. The study seeks to answer the question “What effects are the training program and its participants having on UPMC’s information use and decision-making?’ Using a quasi-experimental design, the study combines interviews with key leaders with surveys of program participants, their managers, and a comparison group of coworkers who did not participate in the training program

Read more about the research here >>

Jeff's Column: Donald Trump's Leadership Lessons

In his Fortune column Jeffrey Pfeffer, member of CEBMa’s academic board, takes an evidence-based look at Donald Trump, American real-estate developer, business leader, television personality, and Republican presidential candidate.


We may say we disapprove of Trump’s self-promotion, disdain for facts, and unapologetic persona. But these are the very qualities that allow leaders to succeed.

In the spring of 2014, I turned in a book manuscript about leadership that, because of the turmoil within the publishing industry, will only be published next month. In the index for that book: entries for Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina.

I wish I could say I was prescient about the unfolding race for the Republican nomination, but I wasn’t even thinking about this ever-entertaining spectacle. Instead, I was trying to address a topic that’s vitally important to individuals who want to thrive in today’s intensely competitive work world: the enormous disconnect between the leadership prescriptions regularly offered to an unsuspecting public by the enormous leadership industry and what social science and everyday observation suggest is the best path to individual success. For the most part, real-world success comes from behaviors that are precisely the opposite of typical leadership prescriptions.

So, no, you don’t have to look to angry, disaffected voters to explain the Trump phenomenon. Trump actually embodies many of the leadership qualities that cause people to succeed—albeit they are pretty much the opposite of what leadership experts tout. Here are a few examples.


 Continue reading Jeff's column here >> 

Teaching Evidence-Based Management:  

A Conversation with Gary Latham 

Uncle Gary” Latham has been a staunch supporter of the evidence-based management movement for decades. Known for his gregarious personality and his ability to captivate a room with his rapier wit, he has the remarkable ability to take scientific research findings and make them relevant and interesting to a student audience.  

This interview outlines Latham’s philosophy on teaching from an EBMgt perspective, including tips on how to engage skeptical students on the first day of class, as well as his thoughts on how to translate research evidence and terminology for a broader audience. Latham’s advice should prove meaningful to business school instructors who are looking to better incorporate the EBMgt perspective into their own courses.


You can read the interview with Gary here >> 

Open Executive Program on EB Decision Making: Places Still Available

There are still some places left on our 3-day open executive program “Improving Decision-Making Through Evidence-Based Management” at the University of Bath School of Management.

The program is directly relevant to any manager or director who would like to improve the quality and outcome of their decision-making. Many of the examples provided in the program will focus on HR, but the principles of evidence-based management apply equally to all areas of management.

The program will be held from November 9th (Monday) to November 11th (Wednesday).


You can read more about the program here >>

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