Managing Your Career

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Free Reading Spree to Kick Off Spring

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MIT SMR is dropping its paywall on March 5 and 6; all content will be freely available to visitors online. The open site is one way to thank our readers and our authors. By periodically providing free access to leading-edge insights and research, we can help spread the ideas far and wide — which means more managers can use them to run their organizations and teams more effectively.

Career Management Isn’t Just the Employee’s Job

Now that companies have replaced rigid hierarchies with flatter, more fluid structures to promote agile ways of working, they have also made it harder for employees to chart a path for growth and advancement. This challenge is also a concern for employers, who must — for the sake of engagement and retention — show high performers how they can progress within the organization. Analytics can help highlight opportunities for getting ahead.

Self-Reports Spur Self-Reflection

The disadvantages of asking people to rate themselves are obvious. For instance: You could fake your way to a higher score, or you might lack self-awareness. But self-report surveys have advantages, too. They make data collection efficient, and nobody but you has 24-7 access to your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. And here’s another benefit many people don’t consider: The act of answering the questions can promote greater self-awareness, which opens the door to self-development.

What to Do When Industry Disruption Threatens Your Career

Volatility in an industry should concern not only the companies within it but also the people who work for them. To stay ahead of developments that may disrupt your professional life, you must make two evidence-based diagnoses: How volatile is your industry? And what explains the volatility? The answers will equip you to disrupt your own career preemptively.

Leadership Lessons From Your Inner Child

Examining childhood traits such as boldness, experimentation, and resilience may help leaders access these qualities in service of their leadership roles. Rather than trying to learn how to be more creative or innovative, learning how not to lose the innate creativity and curiosity within us is more effective.

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It’s Time to Make Paternity Leave Work

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Longer life spans are the new normal, and many people alive today will live to be 100 years old. How will we use that time? One option: Rather than working full time for decades and then spending our later years with our grandchildren, we could redistribute some of that projected time from our 60s and 70s into our earlier decades and spend more of it with our children. For fathers in particular, this would be a radical life decision.

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.

MIT SMR Summer Must-Reads

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The most popular articles from the MIT SMR archive reflect the depth and range of management challenges our readers face in areas such as innovation, leadership, strategy, and technology. Authors of these “must reads” include MIT Sloan faculty Nelson Repenning and Donald Sull, plus Clayton Christensen, Albert Segars, Michael Schrage, Sam Ransbotham, David Kiron, Philipp Gerbert, and Martin Reeves.

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The Challenge of Scaling Soft Skills

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We understand a lot about how to develop the “hard skills” of analysis, decision-making, and analytical judgment, but we know a great deal less about the genesis of “soft skills” like empathy, context sensing, collaboration, and creative thinking, which are becoming increasingly valuable in the workplace. Understanding the obstacles to developing these soft skills and then addressing those barriers is crucial for our schools, homes, and workplaces.

The Mindsets of a Leader

Researchers have identified six distinct mindsets that contribute to leaders’ portfolio of leadership styles by asking one simple question: Whom do the leaders serve? Identifying these mindsets can help companies recognize how the leader’s styles are helping — or hurting — their performance.

Managing the Distraction-Focus Paradox

The seductive clamor of social media is a workplace reality from which there’s no retreat. Those who’ll succeed in this distraction-filled world as managers and innovators must combine two seemingly opposing traits: They must to be able to absorb information from many sources and to focus intensely. Together, these apparently contradictory qualities comprise the skill set for managing your most valuable personal resource — your attention — in a hyper-connected age.

The Time for Retraining Is Now

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None of us know how our technological future will unfold. But whether there will be a net increase or decrease in jobs overall, it’s clear that these will be different jobs, requiring different skill sets. We need to act now to enable current employers and employees to gain the skills they are going to need in the brave world of AI technology.

How Leaders Face the Future of Work

Some leaders have failed to realize that the daily lives of those who work in their organizations will inevitably be transformed over the coming decades. But it’s the responsibility of leaders to create clarity about the future of work. That means being engaged with creating a narrative about the future of jobs, actively championing the learning agenda, and role modeling work flexibility — for instance, by taking paternity leave or working from home.

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The Long Journey to Understanding Intangible Assets

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The “intangible assets” people bring to their jobs are valuable — but challenging to quantify. Understanding the complexities of assets such as a person’s capacity to continue to learn new skills and ability to manage the stress of work and home life can help organizations get a better handle on alternate ways of sustaining employees. Understanding the notion of intangible assets can also help individuals think more concretely about how they allocate their time and energy.

The 20 Most Popular MIT Sloan Management Review Articles of 2017

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The impact of artificial intelligence on the future of work and organizations was an especially popular topic on MIT Sloan Management Review’s website in 2017. But AI wasn’t the only subject on readers’ minds. Other widely read pieces of new content addressed timely issues like digital transformation and design thinking — as well as perennially important topics such as innovation, strategy execution, problem formulation, and negative emotions in the workplace.

Could AI Be the Cure for Workplace Gender Inequality?

Artificial intelligence is beginning to replace many of the workplace roles that men dominate. The parts of those jobs that will have staying power are those that rely more heavily on emotional intelligence, abilities such as empathy, persuasion, and inspiration — skills in which women typically excel. In the AI economy, men won’t be as successful as women unless they embrace these differentiator skills.

Surviving a Day Without Smartphones

For young adults accustomed to continually checking their cellphones, even a single day without access to them can be anxiety-producing. What are the implications for executives about managing this constantly connected generation – and their devices – in the workplace?

Don’t Get Caught in the Middle

There was once a time when middlemen were indispensable. Intermediaries facilitated transactions between makers and buyers; they closed the gaps between disconnected entities that required one another for survival; and, within organizations, they interpreted high-level corporate strategy and connected it to front-line execution. But one by one, such intermediaries are being made obsolete by technology.

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