There’s an exciting area of psychology that helps us to understand that much of what we learn occurs without us even realising that we have learnt it.

There is no conscious effort involved in this learning – it just happens through exposure, such as by spending lots of time with another person who is skilled in an area that we are not.

This type of learning is called Implicit Learning, which simply means learning that occurs outside of our conscious awareness.

It’s that time of year again: performance review time…argh!!! Nobody seems to look forward to doing these, not the HR people who have to hassle managers to do them, not the managers who have to conduct them, and certainly not the employees who can stress about their review for weeks in advance.

And what a tangled web of complexity we’ve made the performance review process, with tortuous online systems, endless lists of behaviours to be rated on 5 or 10 point Likert scales, and written responses to question after question. Hard copy systems can be 10 pages long.

There are so many things a manager has to be on top of, so many important things! If you’re a manager, you may need to manage budgets, roster staff, organise promotions, put out communications, attend meetings, deal with problem staff, and meet with clients. It’s an endless list of “important things”. Add to that list, providing employees with direction and feedback. Now here’s the thing. We all know that providing employees with performance feedback is important, but it’s an important thing to do amongst an endless list of important things to do. 

I’ve been working in Human Resources for more than 20 years, many of those years as a Human Resource Manager, in a broad range of industries including government, manufacturing, logistics, and pharmacy. I don’t love everything about the profession I have chosen, but one of the aspects I do love is that almost daily I have managers confide in me about what they think about the people that work for them. They tell me what they like about their star performers and they whinge to me about the people they are having problems with.

I have a background in psychology and for many years I’ve been interested in what psychology research can tell me about motivation. I’ve thought about this topic a great deal, researched it, and written about it. I’m interested in how the research can help me get to the bottom of questions like: how can I motivate myself to achieve something I really want to achieve? How can I motivate a sports team to train harder, to try harder? How can I motivate a work team to achieve higher levels of performance?

We’ve all heard about the wage underpayments that occurred at the 7-Eleven franchise. The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) was receiving complaints about this franchise for years, but it all seemed to explode in 2014, when the FWO conducted audits of twenty 7-Eleven stores. The FWO found breaches in 19 of the stores, and serious wage underpayments occurring in 7 of the 20 stores. After that, it seemed every week we were hearing about wage underpayments.

We had a query from a frustrated manager:  Why is it so hard to find good staff? I have had so many bad experiences. Most recently, I interviewed someone for a retail sales position. She came across really well in the interview, bubbly, had all the right answers to questions. And the two reference checks I did for her were both positive. But after she started, I soon realised it was a recruitment failure. She would often come in late, or call in sick on a Monday, our busiest day. When she was working, she would always do the minimal and I was always finding work left unfinished.