By Kate BrumleyMay 29, 2018 13:01:10When you buy a new book, it’s not necessarily that the book will give you more power or influence in the workplace.
Instead, the purchase will give your employer the chance to evaluate your skills and personality.
In a recent study, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when people read books they think will be positive, they were actually less likely to take on the work of a manager, and were less likely than people who read books that they think were neutral.
The research, published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, found that the more the book praised someone’s work ethic and dedication, the more likely they were to take the role of manager.
This kind of evaluation, however, is not always helpful, said co-author Jennifer Cottrell, a professor of organizational behavior at Michigan State University.
“The key to success in our culture is not getting the book you buy into your brain, but it’s getting the information that will get you there,” she said.
The takeaway from the study was that managers may be tempted to promote a person based on their book, even when they know the person isn’t likely to be a good fit for the job.
“They’re not actually thinking about the book’s merits or weaknesses, they’re just thinking about their own job,” Cottrel said.
This is an area that has been discussed recently by several studies, including one published last month by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), which showed that if you want to get a job, you need to think about the books you read.
The study also found that managers might be more likely to overlook someone who was in their personal circle because they were already working in the field they were applying to.
“This suggests that employers are looking at books, and not people, as they look for candidates,” said EPI researcher Emily Smith.
“But it’s also important to remember that we’re talking about individuals here, and we’re not looking at jobs in the same way.”
The study found that it was not just managers who felt this way, but employees as well.
“The authors found that employees who read positive books were more likely than those who read negative books to report higher levels of confidence and willingness to collaborate,” Smith said.
“It’s interesting that we find people who have high levels of trust and confidence in their own abilities and ability to lead and manage a team, but low levels of collaboration and interpersonal trust,” Smith continued.
“They feel like they can do the job, but they don’t know if they can or they can’t.”
If you are looking to get promoted, don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions.
“We’re looking at individual differences, but also social and cultural differences,” Smith added.
For example, while a book may make a person more likable, this doesn’t mean a book will help them get promoted.
People who read a book about how to be good with kids or how to make a good first impression are likely to do better than people whose books focus on how to talk to women or how they can be a better parent.
“People can be more motivated to work for someone they trust and who is more likely do the same work that they are doing,” Smith explained.
The takeaway here is to think carefully about your book’s recommendations before you buy it, she said, and to ask yourself:Are you the type of person who is going to be the right person to get the job?
Read more about the study here