Much of human behavior is glorious--think random acts of kindness or epic flash mobs. But, there's another side to it all and some of what people do goes past bizarre and into the downright weird. In reviewing the following, you'll be well-armed to combat each of them moving forward.
1. Ethics by the clock
Research led by Maryam Kouchaki of Harvard and Isaac H. Smith of the University of Utah found that people are less likely to be truthful in the afternoon. Psychologists attribute this to the theory of psychological depletion, which just means it gets harder for you to resist temptation as fatigue grows and you encounter more stressors.
Applying to business: Sure, there are going to be people who perk up after lunch (we've heard they exist), but in general, try to schedule your most ethically challenging meetings, questions, and problems for the beginning of the day. Afternoon teamwork might foster accountability.
2. The bystander effect
People are less likely to take action in an emergency if they are in a large group, with everyone waiting for everyone else to take initiative.
Applying to business: Develop a contingency plan that designates exactly who will take on specific duties and in what order -- for example, if you're in e-commerce and your site suddenly goes down on the weekend, establish a definitive chain of command on who is supposed to attack what.
Alternatively, if you want more feedback, ideas, or project leadership, make those announcements or requests in small groups, not in a mass setting.
3. Distance doesn't defeat stress
American drone pilots have been found to suffer high rates of combat sensations and operational stress, just like those out on the front lines. Experts think the pilots experience the distress in part because they are forced into pre-mission surveillance and have a full understanding well ahead of time about what they have to do.
Applying to business: Don't assume that employees are OK just because some of the dilemmas your company might face are towns, states, or even countries away. Provide psychological support at all levels/locations and look out for back-end workers -- even if that support comes in a form of more '1 on 1' meetings, it could make all the difference in providing a safe outlet for someone in need.
Psychologists are discovering more about the mind and group behavior every day. You have the power to magnify the good and protect your team and business. It just takes a little proactivity.