Talent Management

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Let Your Mind Wander

Leisure time does two important jobs for us. Recharging is the obvious one. But it can also heighten our powers of creativity, given the cognitive benefits associated with letting our minds wander — and that gives us an edge over AI in the battle for jobs. Kellogg professor Adam Waytz makes this research-based argument in “Leisure Is Our Killer App,” the lead article in MIT SMR’s package on talent in a digital age. Check it out, along with the other pieces, in the fall issue of the magazine.

A New Era for Culture, Change, and Leadership

Renowned social psychologist Edgar Schein and his colleagues defined how we thought about organizations and leadership in the 1950s. But in the digital era, Schein — working with his son, Silicon Valley executive Peter Schein — has developed a new perspective, one that advocates combining culture, change, and leadership into an integrated process, rather than viewing them as three separate topics of importance.

NFL Pass Blocking Is Even More Important Than You Think

Though the QB gets most of the spotlight, a new analysis from ESPN shows that every NFL team lives and dies by the skills and teamwork of players at the tackle, guard, and center positions in the offensive line. Counterpoints looks at the burgeoning field of O-Line analytics with ESPN’s Seth Walder.

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?

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Leisure Is Our Killer App

How can we avoid being automated out of our jobs? When recommending areas for development, experts tend to focus on two broad classes of skills that distinguish people from machines: sociability and variability. But homing in on those areas can lead to burnout, leaving us even more vulnerable to obsolescence. Leisure can mitigate these effects. Beyond reducing burnout, leisure is a uniquely human activity that robots cannot perform, and it might actually make us better thinkers and workers.

Second-Grade Soccer Superstars

Elite soccer is a multibillion-dollar business, and top clubs are constantly looking for the next promising young player that they can develop into a superstar. Youth academies are one way for clubs to do this, but they have to find the players with potential before they can work with them. Counterpoints talks with Chelsea Football Club’s head of research and innovation, Ben Smith, who is on an analytics-driven hunt for star material.

Buyer Beware! MLB Free Agents Underperform Their Contracts

What happens when a free-agent player with a hot hand and great stats gets signed to a big, long-term contract, only to perform at a mediocre level? Counterpoints examines the problem of “shirking” in professional sports by looking at the data with Richard Paulsen, who presented his paper, “New Evidence in the Study of Shirking in Major League Baseball,” at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

The Plight of the Graying Tech Worker

High-skilled immigration is dramatically transforming the tech sector in the United States. U.S. tech workers over age 40 have good reasons to be concerned. In addition to competing with greater numbers of skilled foreign workers, older tech workers are now also more likely than younger workers to lose their jobs when technical work moves overseas.

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Revisiting the Jobs Artificial Intelligence Will Create

It can be easy to get caught up in all the uncertainty and speculation around the future of automation, but when we focus on the future, we may fail to see what’s happening right in front of us. In this audio interview, MIT SMR editor in chief Paul Michelman revisits the work of Accenture researchers Paul Daugherty and H. James Wilson to discuss what’s changed in the AI landscape and what leaders should be thinking about next.

How Managers Can Best Support a Gig Workforce

The rise of digital giants in the gig economy has brought new scrutiny to how companies should manage contingent workers. This new landscape offers new flexibility and opportunity, but workers also face unpredictability, with inconsistent incomes and scant benefits. Companies and managers can take three practical measures to help support these workers in the future.

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.

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Rebooting Work for a Digital Era

Until recently, IBM’s performance management system followed a traditional approach that revolved around yearlong cycles, ratings, and annual reviews. This case study explores how, after recognizing that the model was holding back the organization, IBM reimagined its performance management system with a model that favors speed and innovation and cultivates a high-performance culture.

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.

Can We Really Test People for Potential?

A good psychometric test can easily outperform a résumé scan and interview at predicting job performance and retention. Yet personality testing and other ways of analyzing potential present some significant challenges: For instance, not all assessments pass the sniff test, and people’s personalities vary from moment to moment, often depending on the challenge at hand. We need a finer-grained understanding of human potential.

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