„Organizations need to create a culture of security“
10 Jan, 2018
Attachment theory tells a lot about the relationship between parents and children and also about being related in a romantic relationship. But how do our bonding experiences affect our work and our organizations? Mario Mikulincer, Israelian Professor of Psychology, made a pioneering contribution to understanding the mental activation of the “attachment behavioral system” in adulthood. Gabriel Fehrenbach: Mario, you work with attachment theory in the context of adulthood. How is bonding related to organizations? Mario Mikulincer: We need to talk about three different levels: One is the relation between peers in the organization, the second is the relationship between the manager and the workers, and the third is the relationship with the organization itself and its environment. If we take the worker/manager relationship, we can conceptualize this relationship as an attachment relationship, not mainly from the emotional side, but more from the two other functions of an attachment relationship: the safe haven and the secure base. As a safe haven, the manager provides a calm atmosphere, acceptance, and assurance for the workers in times of threat and challenges. If the manager is a secure base, the worker can receive some confidence from the manager that he can take risks, do things, work creatively and that the manager will be there if there are some problems in work. Several of our studies are showing that if the manager accomplishes those two functions, the worker can be more productive, more creative, more engaged and more committed to the working set and the organization. The second level is the peer relation. The group itself can be symbolically a source of protection and secure base. We know that the more cohesive the groups are and the more the people within the group feel that the group protects them and accept them you will see more work engagement, more identification, and less burnout in the workers. And then if you have those kinds of provision of security within the organization, a good manager will create an organizational climate so that the organization itself can be a source of protection and secure base. Workers will feel accepted, understood, and cared for, and they can grow within this organization. And then the manager or the owner of the organization can demand. Is self-organization without leadership possible if the team take over the role of a manager? Probably, yes. It can be if the organization allows these kinds of self-guided groups and the group can promote the organization itself without a manager. In communitarian action, you see groups of people that work together in creating change and the leaders are more informal leaders within the group. The group cohesion and morale provide this source of security and create the platform for making changes. If you have an organization that does not foster a secure base, what happens to the culture, what happens to the people? There will be a lot of emotional burnout, a lot of doubts about belongingness to the organization, lower identification with, and then lower commitment to the goals of the organization. These negative effects occur especially in cases of crisis or in times where people need to make extra efforts for the organization How can I shape leadership and culture? Through awareness, education, and training. People need to receive some workshop on what it means to be a security-promoting leader or manager. They need to be more secure within themselves and to receive reassurances that they are good managers. You need to feel secure to provide security. So supervisors and owners need to create a culture of security that goes from the top of the organization to all the workers. It is a matter of training, and it is a matter of personality. Some people go into the organization with very insecure styles or orientation, and they can be very destructive. So an organization is a place where people can change their attachment style? Change is a complex matter, and the question is what kind of change you are asking for. If you are asking for a personality change, this cannot be done only through corrective experiences and only in organizational settings. But if you are asking for a change in attachment within organizational settings, it is possible. It’s possible for managers and workers, it’s also possible for children. For example, a child can come from a very insecure family and can enter a classroom where the teacher is very accepting, very understanding, and providing a lot of protection and security. This child can grow within this classroom and feel securely attached to this teacher. But when he returns home he still feels insecure at home. How this change in attachment within school or attachment within an organization will create a more profound change in personality, we do not know. It depends on the meaning and the importance of the experience that people have. Change is not only a matter of what is happening in the environment but also what is happening in myself. So it might be that than within the organization you feel more secure, you go home and begin to disclose yourself and realize that people accept you. It increases your security more and more, and some change will be created at the personality level. But it also can be that this person returns at home and discloses himself because he felt more secure at the organization, but his partner is not a real source of security and will continue to criticize him or reject him. Then what happens in the organization, belongs to the organizations and what happens at home, belongs at home. If you think of organizations that are facing change, what should they take care of? When an organization is going through change, it creates a lot of worries, anxieties, and doubts in the workers. People have to deal with uncertainty and uncertainty is an extreme trigger for the attachment system. For this, people need some protection that will allow them to explore and to adapt themselves to the new circumstances. For a change in an organization, one needs to train the supervisors and managers to provide this kind of security so the change will be accepted and people can adapt themselves to the change. How does your research help us by consulting and mentoring people? Normally a client asks for consulting in a moment of confusion or a situation of problems, and the first thing is that he wants to be sure whether he can trust me or not. Yes, this is what the implications of attachment theory mean for mentorship, consulting, psychotherapy, counseling, and supervision. In those kinds of relationships, you can be part of the chain of security. At the moment that you are providing security for the manager as a consultant and he trusts you, he can be more open and more competent to provide security to his worker. In the end, the whole organization will be full of this sense of security. How is trust built? It is a matter of sensitivity. And it is all, like Daniel Segal says, about connect and redirect. You need to connect, be available for the other person, be sensitive to what has happened, to what he needs and then respond in a way that you can help him to redirect and to reorganize. You should be authentic in your way of responding to him so that he feels that you are not doing something fake. What can I do if he is triggering me and I am not able to secure myself? You need to regulate yourself, and for regulating yourself, you can use in your mind other sources of security that you have in a very conscious way. In cases where you do not have, and you do not find those internal sources, you will search for supervision. MARIO MIKULINCER is Professor of Psychology and Founder Dean of Baruch Ivcher School of Psychology at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, Israel. His primary scientific interest and focus on research activities is the understanding and analysis of attachment-related processes in adulthood. In his studies, Mikulincer transforms the study of attachment processes in adulthood from a narrow framework for explaining romantic relationships to a broader context that can describe a wide range of human emotions, cognitions, and behaviors in both the interpersonal and intrapersonal domains. Homepage
MEHREN STATT ZEHREN-Basiskurs
Die Welt ist in Aufruhr und es bleibt wenig Zeit, um einen Wandel herbeizuführen. Um mitzugestalten statt gestaltet zu werden. Du willst etwas bewege....
Der Umbau des Sinnlosen
Wie wir Organisationen befreien können Tagtäglich zerstören wir unsere Org....21 November, 2019 - Gabriel Fehrenbach
Wie wir Entscheidungen richtig gestalten
Wenn über das Grundsätzliche keine Einigkeit besteht, ist es sinnlos, miteinan....16 Oktober, 2019 - Gabriel Fehrenbach
Machen wir uns die Demokratie zu eigen!
Wie der Weg zu einer neuen Gesellschaft ausschaut. Seien wir ehrlich: Pol....18 September, 2019 - Gabriel Fehrenbach
Unsere nächsten Veranstaltungen
Wie nehmen wir dem Geld die Macht?
Geld ist für uns so alltäglich, dass wir es nicht hinterfragen. Und es hat eine enorme Macht. Dabei können wir Geld anders gestalten. Und unsere We....
07.02.2020 - 09.02.2020