Managing Your Career

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Please Go Away (and Spend More Time Somewhere Else)

  • Opinion & Analysis
  • Read Time: 2 min 

Rapid changes at all levels of society and technology are upon us. Seemingly stable business and social environments aren’t immune. Whether it’s technology, policy, or broader socioeconomic forces, the transformation of your organization and your role in it are all but inevitable. One suggestion for responding: Get outside your standard routine and engage with the changes.

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Executive Assistants for Everyone

Smartphones and cloud technology work in tandem to provide a prized perk to managers lower on the corporate ladder: The ability to pass repetitive, tedious scheduling tasks off to someone (or in this case, something) else. As digital agents become ubiquitous, their input will greatly enhance collaboration.

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The Three New Skills Managers Need

As digital technologies evolve, managers and employees will need to learn three important skills: partnering with new digital “colleagues,” creating a mindful relationship with omnipresent digital technologies, and developing empathy for the varying technology preferences of their human coworkers. Organizations, for their part, will need to design processes to support these efforts, and managers will need to be both flexible and thoughtful in how they respond.

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Stop Jumping to Solutions!

When presented with complex decisions, many executives turn to the tried-and-true decision matrix, spelling out the pros and cons of various options. One flaw in this method, however, is that executives don’t take the time to thoroughly frame the decision and explore the full scope of options. But the matrix’s real value is when it is also used as a process tool that helps executives expand their set of options and criteria.

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The Lost Art of Thinking in Large Organizations

Making the transition from management to leadership requires managers to exercise skills in strategic thinking — skills they don’t often get to practice in the action-oriented environment they know best. Managers moving into senior leadership must learn to embrace ambiguity and uncertainty and learn the importance of taking time to think things through.

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What Makes Work Meaningful — Or Meaningless

When employees find their work meaningful, there are myriad benefits for their productivity — and for their employers. Managers who support meaningful work are more likely to attract, retain, and motivate the talent they need to ensure future growth. But can companies ensure this experience for their employees? A groundbreaking study identifies five factors that support meaningful work — and the seven management sins that can destroy it.

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Leading by the Numbers

It can be difficult for finance professionals to transition to broader leadership roles. Leadership development, it turns out, is different for people from finance backgrounds. But five changes in how they approach their job can help them succeed when taking on broader roles in an organization. Those changes include transitioning from being the expert to being someone who leverages expertise, and being able to unleash their thinking to see that a problem can have multiple plausible solutions.

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How to Reconnect for Maximum Impact

Reconnecting with people from previous chapters of one’s life (such as former colleagues, old friends, and other associates) is as valuable, if not more so, than connecting with currently active ties. But some reconnections are more beneficial than others. The challenge: selecting the best ones. The most valuable reconnections often turn out to be people who provide novelty, which can mean reaching out to reconnect with higher-status people or to people you didn’t know very well to begin with.

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What Companies Should Learn About Social Media From American Politics

The race for the U.S. presidential nomination is highlighting the increased fragmentation and polarization in American public life. An unprecedented number of candidates continue to stay in the race despite single-digit poll numbers. One reason may be that social media is giving candidates and their supporters an unrealistically optimistic perception of their chances of success — a situation with important implications for business.

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Has Your Office Become a Lonely Place?

With increasing amounts of work getting done outside the traditional corporate office — for example, through employees working at home — those left in the office may face a lonelier, and even less productive, office environment. In fact, working remotely may be contagious, because if many people on a team aren’t in the office much, coming into the office has less benefit for the remaining employees. “Once a certain number of individuals are working offsite, everyone is isolated,” write researchers.

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Assembling Your Personal Board of Advisors

The notion that one mentor can meet all of an individual’s developmental needs is increasingly outdated. Instead, many people now draw from a “personal board of advisors,” which can encompass a range of individuals, from friends or family who provide emotional support to role models the person may not personally know. The authors identify six types of personal advisors who, together, provide a broad combination of psychosocial support and career support.

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The New World of Work

Advanced digital technologies are swiftly changing the kinds of skills that jobs require. Researchers Frank MacCrory, George Westerman and Erik Brynjolfsson from the MIT Sloan School of Management and Yousef Alhammadi of the Masdar Institute studied the changes in skill requirements over the 2006-2014 time period. While demand has clearly grown for computer skills, it has grown for interpersonal skills, too. The authors advise people in all lines of work to be flexible about acquiring new talents.

Image courtesy of Flickr user chris riebschlager. https://www.flickr.com/photos/riebschlager/343600611

Beware the Winning Streak

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 2 min 

How well do people factor past performance into their expectations for the future? Not very. In one study, for instance, students playing darts who did well in the first round bet that they would beat the improvement goals of those who did worse. They generally were wrong: the better the participants’ score in the first round, the less likely they were to improve as much as other participants in the second.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Keoni Cabral. https://www.flickr.com/photos/keoni101/7221666136

Does Deciding to Seek Advice Signal Weakness?

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 2 min 

It’s common for people to worry that reaching out for advice will make them appear less competent, according to research from Harvard Business School and the Wharton School. But if the task is seen as difficult, the advice-seeker is actually viewed as more competent. In addition to establishing a connection between people’s willingness to ask for advice and others’ perceptions of their competence, the authors found that whom people ask for advice makes a difference in how they are viewed.

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The Dark Side of Information Technology

All of our wonderful mobile devices don’t always make us good at managing what we do with them. Handling information flows can take a toll on employee well-being, with some employees experiencing “technostress” from the pressure to multitask and to respond to Emails quickly. But there are steps executives can take to counter the negative effects of IT use. These steps encourage employees to step back and examine their personal relationships with IT.

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Image courtesy of Flickr user Rik Panganiban. https://www.flickr.com/photos/rikomatic/7508427970

Would You Wear Red Sneakers to Work? Should You?

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 3 min 

Being a little quirky in clothing choices leads to positive inferences of status, confidence and competence — when observers think the choices are made with deliberateness. From a psychological standpoint, intentional deviance can signal that one has the autonomy to act according to one’s own inclinations, write the authors, who are all affiliated with Harvard Business School. On the other hand, nonconformists do risk not having a comfort zone and “the benefits of following the crowd.”

Image courtesy of Flickr user taaalia.

Own Your Time, Boost Your Productivity

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 2 min 

MIT Sloan’s Robert Pozen has an array of strategies to make work time more productive. In a session on “Maximizing Your Personal Productivity” at MIT Sloan Executive Education, Pozen explained that people often don’t articulate their biggest goals and don’t have the right tools to make them true priorities. “You’re unlikely to achieve your top goals if you haven’t written them down,” said Pozen. “If they’re vague and in your head, you haven’t crystallized things.”

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The Surprising Benefits of Nonconformity

New research finds that under certain circumstances, people who deviate from a dress code or other norms in appearance are perceived as having higher status and greater competence. Studies found that nonconformity leads to positive inferences when it is associated with deliberateness and intentionality. On the other hand, nonconformance due to lack of awareness does not lead to positive inferences from others. And nonconformance is risky: It comes at the cost of abandoning a comfort zone.

Image from an 1864 manual of gymnastic exercises for the school-room and the parlor courtesy of Flickr user CircaSassy.

How to Build More Personal Power

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 3 min 

Executives who find themselves experiencing a power deficit have two strategies for overcoming it: they can either play the existing game more effectively or they can change the game. “Career counselors often advise people to shore up weaknesses, but the secret to becoming indispensable is consolidating strengths,” write Jean-Louis Barsoux and Cyril Bouquet.

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How to Overcome a Power Deficit

Many factors can cause a talented executive to be ignored or sidelined within an organization. “The fact that I was right didn’t matter,” said one manager whose recommendations went unheeded. “What I hadn’t done was build sufficient internal credibility.” Fortunately, power deficits in legitimacy, critical resources and/or networks can almost always be overcome. Research looking at 179 executives found two basic strategies that worked: “playing the game” more effectively or ”changing the game.”

Showing 1-20 of 49