University of Maine News
Have you ever emailed a carefully crafted message over the weekend to your boss touting your accomplishments on a project?
Niclas Erhardt, assistant professor of human resources in the Maine Business School at the University of Maine, researched this employee self-promotion tactic, as well as ensuing responses from managers.
Whereas office impressions used to be predominantly determined by face-to-face interaction, Erhardt says they’re increasingly shaped by communication technologies — including email. He studied the interplay of impression management, communication technologies and opposing tensions between managers and their subordinates.
Bosses and subordinates can have competing goals, he says, which results in office friction in knowledge-based work, such as that done in consumer health, insurance and engineering firms. This results in managers and employees engaging in an interactive tug of war to manage impressions.
Erhardt says the push-and-pull tactics can help maintain balance in workplaces and allow for opposing goals to be met, which supports the idea that tension can be productive for a business. Managers, he says, should recognize that competing and legitimate goals exist and find creative ways for themselves and subordinates to achieve their differing goals, as well as the common ones.
Erhardt found three related sets of communication tactics and countertactics that signify fundamental tensions in manager-subordinate relationships: dodging response versus exerting social pressure; multicommunicating versus singular communicating; and promoting oneself versus giving credit to all.
In the promoting oneself versus giving credit to all dialectic, Erhardt found that subordinates used email to enhance their personal reputation and visibility. They might send emails late on a weeknight, on a weekend or when on vacation to demonstrate their dedication and commitment and gain “face time” with the boss.
Bosses also used email as a countertactic. Some responded to an employee’s self-promoting email by forwarding the original email from the employee after they had added their kudos for the contributions of other project members (giving credit to all).
Erhardt says managers use a tactic — a dodging response — to save time and face. Bosses inundated with multiple employee emails asking questions and requesting input may not immediately respond to the emails or selectively choose certain questions to answer. This tactic allows them to avoid being accountable or pinned down on a particular stance or topic while still maintaining a solid working relationship with subordinates.
As a countertactic, Erhardt says subordinates apply added pressure to get a timely response. They might go directly to the manager’s office to get an answer face-to-face, or send follow-up emails, texts and phone calls to push for a reply. They also might recruit co-workers to exert similar pressure on the boss.
Another tension in organizations arises when managers want employees’ undivided attention at meetings but employees wish to multitask. Erhardt refers to the ensuing impression management tactic as “multicommunicating versus singular communicating.”
Due to pressures on subordinates’ time, Erhardt says some attend meetings by teleconference and simultaneously use smartphones and laptops to complete other work-related tasks and personal chores. All the while they still strive to create the impression of being an involved team player to stay in good standing with the manager.
Managers who prefer to have employees’ undivided attention during meetings may respond by encouraging subordinates to attend meetings in person and by noting their frustration when communication devices interfere with and interrupt the productivity of the meeting.
Jennifer Gibbs, associate professor in the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University, joined Erhardt for the study.
Erhardt and Gibbs conducted the study with six consumer health, insurance and engineering firms in the United States and Sweden. The authors of the study encouraged additional research be done to better understand how impression management tactics operate with a broader array of media, including Facebook and LinkedIn.
The study, “The Dialectical Nature of Impression Management in Knowledge Work: Unpacking Tensions in Media Use Between Managers and Subordinates” is in the May 2014 issue of Management Communication Quarterly.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
WVII (Channel 7) reported members of the Senior Skull Honor Society at the University of Maine are hosting a 1K race — the Groove Mile — during Maine Day. More than 500 participants are expected to run, jog or dance the 0.6 mile course to support the Ronald McDonald House. “The Ronald McDonald has been a sponsor of ours for a while,” said UMaine student and Senior Skull member Dylan Bousquet-Smith. “We’ve worked philanthropically with them but we’ve never had an event, so we really wanted to branch out this year and grow and allow the Ronald McDonald House to get the benefits of the University of Maine.”
University of Maine’s Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Robert Dana was interviewed by the Portland Press Herald for the article, “Sex assaults at Maine colleges come out of hiding.” UMaine, with more than 10,000 students, reported five sexual assaults in 2012, down from nine in 2010, according to the article. Dana said UMaine’s numbers will go up as a result of increased education and reporting efforts that began in March 2013 when President Paul Ferguson ordered a full review of sexual assault policies and named Elizabeth Lavoie as the Title IX and sexual assault and violence prevention coordinator. “We launched a full-scale comprehensive program. We feel like we’re in the right place,” Dana said.
AltEnergyMag and North American Windpower previewed the sixth annual Maine Wind Blade Challenge to be held May 2 at the University of Maine. Developed by Maine Composites Alliance, in partnership with the Maine Ocean & Wind Industry Initiative, the contest matches high school teams with Maine-based advanced composites manufacturers to research, design and manufacture model wind blades. In addition to giving presentations, 38 high school teams from all around Maine will compete to generate the most energy over two minutes. The Maine Wind Blade Challenge was designed to inspire student exploration of alternative energy and advanced materials by participating in a hands-on STEM application.
WABI (Channel 5) spoke with Susan Lizzotte, head swim coach at the University of Maine, about former UMaine student and swimmer Erin Woolley in advance of the second annual Erin’s Run 5K Road Race held in her honor. “Erin was certainly one of a kind; always dancing and always happy,” said Lizzotte of Woolley, who passed away from cancer in 2010. Proceeds from the May 3 race in Bangor will support the UMaine swimming and diving team and Spruce Run, an organization dedicated to serving those affected by domestic abuse.
Fred Knight, former director and dean of the University of Maine School of Forest Resources, passed away Feb. 25, 2014 at 88 years old. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, May 2, at All Souls Congregational Church, 10 Broadway in Bangor. The memorial service announcement and Knight’s obituary are online.
Rick Wahle, a University of Maine research professor at the Darling Marine Center, and Bob Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine, gave interviews about the steady decline in the number of baby lobsters settling off the coast of Maine and how the decrease could put an end to recent record catches. Wahle told WVII (Channel 7) there is no clear reason for the decline in baby lobsters, but cites a change in weather patterns as a possible cause. He added having an early warning is important, and one of the key benefits of the UMaine research is to allow the industry and coastal economy to prepare for change. Bayer told CBC News it takes about eight years for baby lobsters to be big enough to harvest, meaning it’s likely the end to the United State’s unprecedented catches. “We were going along a 20 million pound harvest for many, many years. Now this last year we’re up over 120 million pounds. This probably isn’t a sustainable level,” he said.
Gov. Paul LePage signed three bond proposals for research and development, sending the measures to voters this November, the Associated Press reported. The $21 million in bonds approved by LePage is part of a $50 million borrowing package lawmakers passed as they wrapped up the session. One bill would provide $8 million to renovate and improve a University of Maine Cooperative Extension lab that assists farmers and foresters and identifies pests, as well as plant and animal diseases. The Portland Press Herald and SFGate carried the AP report.
A University of Maine School of Economics study on the state’s golf industry was cited in a Portland Press Herald article about course officials saying the worst spring turf conditions in years are hurting income, forcing repairs and frustrating golfers. The study found that in 2011, Maine’s golf industry generated $269.5 million in revenue. It also accounted for 4,935 full- or part-time jobs producing $90.4 million in income.
The Associated Press reported the state’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will receive $600,000 to support research on specialty crops such as blueberries and potatoes. The agency is accepting proposals for the grant money to be used on agricultural research. University of Maine; Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; and private industry research will be supported by the Specialty Crop Block Grants, the article states. The Portland Press Herald and seattlepi.com carried the AP report.
The Grower: Production Strategies for Commercial Growers reported on the introduction of two potato varieties developed by the University of Maine in partnership with the Maine Potato Board. The new varieties — the Easton and the Sebec — were developed over the past several growing seasons and are targeted for the french fry and potato chip industries, although both can be used for fresh market consumption.
Supervisors, friends, family and co-workers of retiring University of Maine faculty and staff are invited to join President Paul Ferguson and senior administrators as they celebrate the commitment and dedication of this year’s retirees during the annual Retirement Recognition Banquet on Wednesday, May 14.
The reception begins at 6 p.m. with the banquet and program starting at 6:30 p.m. in the McIntire Room of the Buchanan Alumni House on campus.
Seats are available for $25 per person. RSVP by April 29 to Rowena Clukey at email@example.com or 207.581.1580. The meal will be a split plate of beef and haddock, with a vegetarian/vegan option. Dietary restrictions should be indicated when submitting the RSVP.
A list of the 2104 retirees is online.
Frank Drummond, an entomology specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and a UMaine professor of insect ecology, was quoted in Associated Press and Portland Press Herald articles about Maine beekeepers assessing their hives after the long winter. Drummond said some beekeepers have experienced considerable losses while others have not. “It seems to be all over the place. I expect it will be one of those winters that wasn’t great for the bees but also wasn’t catastrophic,” he said. Boston Herald and The Republic of Indiana carried the AP report.
WABI (Channel 5) reported on the “Nets for Pets” basketball tournament held at the New Balance Student Recreation Center to benefit the Bangor Humane Society. The MBS Corps, the Maine Business School’s community outreach organization, organized the tournament and took donations such as pet toys, treats and blankets for the animal shelter. UMaine business students Zach Nguyen and Kevin Leary spoke about the event they helped organize. Nguyen called the event a success and a great way to get students involved while supporting a good cause. “It’s all about the animals. We love our pets. I mean, they’re our second family,” Leary said. “We’re all out here to have a good time and support the Humane Society.”
The Associated Press advanced the University of Maine spring symposium, “In and Out of Place: Finding Home in Franco America.” UMaine’s Franco-American Centre and Franco American Studies program hosted the series of free events on the Orono campus. The symposium featured readings from acclaimed writers, panel discussions by scholars from New England and Canada, and a screening of the film “Le grand Jack (Jack Kerouac’s Road: A Franco-American Odyssey)” directed by Herménégilde Chiasson. The Maine Public Broadcasting Network and the Houston Chronicle carried the AP report.
WLBZ (Channel 2) and WABI (Channel 5) reported on the Family Weapon Safety and Range Day held at the Orrington Rod and Gun Club and organized by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the University of Maine student veterans group. Families were invited to learn the proper way to handle different types of firearms and how to keep guns safe in the household. “Familiarization is key,” Christopher Phinney, VFW senior vice commander and treasurer of the UMaine group, told WLBZ. “If people are familiar with the weapons — how they work, how the safeties work — then if they come across the weapon in any situation, they can understand how to operate it or leave it alone safely.”
WABI (Channel 5) covered the University of Maine Alumni Association’s Black Bear Business Conference “Making it in Maine: Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology in the 21st Century.” The conference aimed to bring Maine’s small-business owners and entrepreneurs together with UMaine faculty, economic development staff, business students and successful Maine business leaders to share ideas, strategies and techniques that promote growth. UMaine student Daniel Kaepplinger, who helped organize the event said he thinks a lot of future business deals and partnerships will result from the event. “There’s a lot of learning that’s going on here today. A lot of business cards that are going to be traded,” he said. UMaine student Chuck Hastings said organizing and attending the event was a great learning experience.
A University of Maine ROTC training exercise was featured on WABI (Channel 5). Freshmen and sophomore ROTC cadets were flown to Plymouth, Mass. by Black Hawk helicopters as part of a spring training mission with the Army National Guard. The cadets have been training all semester for the exercise. Cadets Ashley Anderson and Thomas Fontaine spoke about their excitement for the challenging off-campus drill.
The Lidral Duo will perform the final show in their “Chamber Jazz Afternoon Concert Series” on Monday, April 28. The farewell performance will be held from 4:15 to 5 p.m. outside of Union Central in the Memorial Union. The jazz duo includes retiring University of Maine associate professor of music Karel Lidral on soprano saxophone and Terry Lidral on piano. This is the group’s 19th — and last — continuous semester-long concert series presented in the Union. The duo is moving to the western United States after Karel Lidral retires this year. The concert is free and open to the public.
The Associated Press reported three University of Maine research scientists will receive funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Saltonstall-Kennedy (S-K) Grant Program to pursue studies that will benefit the U.S. fishing industry. Aquaculture professor Heather Hamlin will receive $249,516 for a project that seeks to determine if rising ocean temperature is a cause of the lobster population decline in southern New England. Fisheries population professor Yong Chen will get $229,326 for a project that aims to improve the survivability of cusk and Atlantic cod bycatch discarded in the Gulf of Maine lobster trap fishery. Marine science professor Paul Rawson and collaborators at the University of Maine at Machias and Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., will receive $373,088 to develop technology to cost-effectively produce mussel seed. The Washington Times, SFGate, WLBZ (Channel 2) and the Maine Public Broadcasting Network carried the AP report.