Weekly Recap

The Best of This Week

The week’s must-reads for managing in the digital age, curated by the MIT SMR editors.

So Your CEO Was Fired. What Next?

You don’t have to look far back in the headlines for examples of sudden ousters of high-profile CEOs: WeWork, Renault, Juul, and — just this week — McDonald’s. These departures have been attention-grabbing but are also part of a larger rising turnover rate for the top job within companies. These shakeups can signal fear and uncertainty within the ranks, and often managers and employees feel a lack of direction for moving forward. To mitigate risk, organizations must take steps to prepare for uncertainty.

Resisting the Lure of 'So-So' Technology

Automation anxiety is nothing new — as workers have been disrupted by new technologies for centuries. Historically, new technology has allowed displaced workers to develop new skills and move into new roles, according to economics researchers Daron Acemoglu of MIT and Pascual Restrepo of Boston University. We’re now entering an age of automation with a new problem: “so-so technologies.” These technologies are poised to disrupt labor and replace workers without offering strong benefits, so organizations need to consider implementation carefully.

Should We All Stop Flying?

From Prince Harry to soccer star David Beckham to CEOs heading to Davos, people are being asked how they can say they care about carbon emissions and still climb aboard an aircraft. So should businesses stop flying their people places if they want to fight climate change? The answer is a definitive “maybe.” There are good reasons to keep flying, especially in the service of tackling climate change, and for deeper reasons like connecting humankind when we need global cooperation.

11 Ways Managers Can Make Work Less Stressful for Employees

It’s no surprise that excessive stress and burnout can have major negative impacts on employee well-being. Beyond the obvious health hazard, burnout is also bad for business — stress makes people more likely to leave their jobs, affects strategic decisions, and stifles creative thinking. This article from Harvard Business Review offers 11 tips for managers to combat these harmful effects.

Companies Need to Question AI

Companies across industries are feeling the pressure to adopt AI before their competitors move ahead with cognitive technologies, but doing so without thinking through the why and how can be catastrophic. As Ayanna Howard, professor and director of Human-Automation Systems (HumAnS) Lab at Georgia Tech, writes in her latest column for MIT Sloan Management Review, “the metaphor that comes to mind is a fish lured to the next shiny bauble, only to realize too late that the hook will be its last meal.”

When Do Brands Need to Take a Political Stand?

“In an online environment that often seems to traffic in outrage, companies may feel like they are operating with a target on their back,” writes Samantha Eyler-Driscoll for Kellogg Insight. According to Brayden King, professor of management and operations at Kellogg, it’s never been more important for companies to take the time to understand the core beliefs of their brand and their stakeholders. By engaging with customers and their communities, companies can strike the right tone in a politically polarized time.

Quote of the Week

“One thing we now know after more than a quarter-century of research is that emotions are not noise — rather, they are data. They reveal not just how people feel, but also what they think and how they will behave. Emotions are sometimes perceived as illegitimate in the context of work. This is not only unrealistic, it’s a loss for both managers and employees in that they are missing an important lever for improving employee satisfaction and productivity.”

— Sigal Barsade, in the interview “Employee Emotions Aren’t Noise — They’re Data