Communication

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Radical Candor for Today’s Teams

  • Video | Runtime: 1:01:31

Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor, discusses how to give feedback and direction in today’s environment of data-driven performance management, AI-fueled PM tools, and sensitivities around diversity and inclusion.

The Best of This Week

  • Read Time: 2 min 

This week’s must-reads for managing in a digital age: just because companies recognize re-skilling and upskilling is critical doesn’t mean they’re doing it right. Also, how to choose charts everyone understands, where blockchain is headed in the enterprise, and words of wisdom for managing your career in an age of uncertainty.

Choose Charts Everyone Understands

  • Read Time: 6 min 

Complex charts are good for aggregating data and then digging into it, especially if users can click on sections to find additional material or generate custom data sets. But interactive data visualizations aren’t always necessary — and sometimes, they’re just too complicated. While complex charts are good for exploring data, a classic bar chart, line chart, or pie chart is often best for communicating information.

It’s Time to Tackle Your Team’s Undiscussables

When leadership teams struggle with undiscussables, symptoms range from unresolved conflicts and uneven participation in meetings to destructive groupthink and employee disengagement. The more undiscussables there are, the more difficult it is for the team to function. Ignoring them results in strained relationships and bad decisions. Here’s how leaders can bring the four types of undiscussables to light, improving team learning, problem-solving, and performance.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Customer Participation

Even though frontline employees are committed to advancing the objectives of the business, they sometimes see themselves as caught between representing the views of customers and what they think is reasonable. To preserve morale, businesses must keep employees engaged and confident that management has their backs.

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Older and Wiser? How Management Style Varies With Age

The starting point for managing age diversity is to develop a basic understanding of cross-age differences in working style. The authors found that management style varied more with age than with any other characteristic in their survey. Younger managers prefer narrower approaches to management, while older ones tend to work through others and focus on the big picture. Being attuned to style differences can make it easier for individuals to navigate their working relationships effectively.

Does AI-Flavored Feedback Require a Human Touch?

With customized and continuous data-driven feedback becoming a new normal, managers are revisiting the role they should play in delivering, facilitating, and curating face-to-face employee feedback. Does direct managerial involvement complement or compete with data-determined performance reviews?

The Top MIT SMR Articles of 2018

  • Read Time: 2 min 

In 2018, MIT Sloan Management Review readers gravitated toward new articles that will help them prepare for the future of work, including topics as varied as skills needed in the age of AI and digital communication tools for virtual teams. The most popular article of the year focused on an area high on the list of most CEOs’ agendas: how to transform your organization successfully.

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How to Get Others to Adopt Your Recommendation

When a business is growing fast, decisions can get lost in the fray — especially if it’s unclear that a decision even needs to be made. People in the workplace bring recommendations to four audiences: a manager or top executive (those who approve a recommendation), and peers or a broader set of stakeholders (those who execute a recommendation). To sell an idea and get others to take action, you have to understand what your particular audience needs to hear.

The Uncertain Status of Gig Work

Many workers value the flexibility and income that gig work provides; customers like being able to find people to do things they want done. However, the extent to which gig workers, typically self-employed individuals, should be afforded the legal rights of employees has yet to be fully resolved in many jurisdictions.

The Truth About Behavioral Change

In this article drawn from his new book, How Behavior Spreads, UPenn professor Damon Centola explains how the thinking about social networks is changing. Recent research reveals that depending on long-established concepts such as “weak ties” and “long bridges” to drive the adoption of new innovations and organizational change can be a prescription for failure.

Using Digital Communication to Drive Digital Change

  • Read Time: 7 min 

Leaders trying to get their organizations to adopt new technologies or ways of thinking tend to kick things off with inspirational speeches, but then communication grinds to a halt. The lack of information leads to doubt, cynicism, and anxiety — emotions that quickly become obstacles to change. To fix this problem, leaders should model the behaviors they want to see, using digital tools to deliver a steady stream of messages to employees and gathering and responding to feedback.

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Consider Culture When Implementing Agile Practices

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 13 min 

Adopting agile development practices helps organizations bring their products and services to market quickly and respond nimbly to market changes. In an increasingly global business landscape, taking the time to address cultural differences when implementing agile is crucial for project success.

Need Motivation at Work? Try Giving Advice

  • Read Time: 3 min 

Research shows that giving advice is key to restoring confidence and motivation, which are two important factors for achieving long-term goals. So, instead of having struggling employees seek advice, it’s helpful to have them give it to others.

When Communication Should Be Formal

Formal communication channels, such as protocol-guided meetings, are often eschewed by today’s managers and employees, who prefer the ease of email and apps. But informal avenues can lead to oversights and inefficiencies that hurt performance. That’s the central finding of research from IE Business School on manufacturers of high-tech machinery. Fortunately, formal communication protocols can be designed to both maximize performance and overcome people’s resistance to adopting them.

Five Ways to Improve Communication in Virtual Teams

If you think sophisticated communication technologies are the ticket to your virtual team’s success, think again. It’s not the tech that matters — it’s how people use it. New research reveals five strategies for conquering distance and improving communication and performance in dispersed teams. The same strategies can help colocated teams, which depend increasingly on virtual collaboration tools to get work done.

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