Managers in an up-or-out organization are expected to advance. Those who don’t are fired, at worst; at best they’re relegated to the outskirts of the organization or placed in stagnant roles. This sort of environment breeds constant pressure to compete with colleagues for the best assignments and promotion opportunities. Many employers (including ours, the U.S. Army) ratchet up the intensity with a competitive evaluation framework, rating people against one another to separate the highest performers from the rest.
Of course, this approach has its flaws: it can cause people to self-promote, burn out, focus on individual performance at the expense of unit performance, and even deliberately undermine their peers. That’s why some in the Army are considering a change in its up-or-out policy. It’s why companies like Colorcon and Deloitte are giving their performance management systems an overhaul. But in the meantime, what can you do in an up-or-out environment to build your career without inflicting collateral damage?
As mid-level managers of separate companies (groups of 140 to 210 people) within the same Army Brigade over the past two years, we were evaluated against each other. If we had viewed each other strictly as competitors, we might have been inclined to guard our successes, hide our shortcomings,...
Remote communication isn’t always easy. Do you recognize yourself in any of these examples?
At 10 p.m., a corporate lawyer gets a text from a colleague and wonders (not for the first time) if there’s a protocol about work-related texts after a certain hour.
After a long and liquid client dinner, an advertising executive opens an email from his boss reminding him to submit his expenses on time. Annoyed by this micromanagement, he immediately responds with his uncensored thoughts.
On the weekly team conference call, a remote team member is confused about whether her colleague is really “on mute” when she delays a response to a question or if she’s just not paying attention and is using this as an excuse.
When it’s possible to be set off by a phone’s mute button, it’s safe to say that we’re living in challenging times. The digital era has ushered in a revolution in communication that’s equivalent to the one surrounding the invention of the printing press. It’s changing how we speak — often in bullet points. And it’s affecting what we hear, as the jumble of information coming at us can lead to frequent misunderstandings and confusion.
People who work on remote teams face these challenges consistently. According to recent estimates...
Some health care leaders view with trepidation the new, disruptive health care alliance formed by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase. But I’m excited because disruption is all about delivering a new level of value for consumers. If this trio can disrupt the United States’ health care system into consistently delivering high-value care, we will all owe them our gratitude.
First, their leaders — Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway, and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase — must think deeply about what “value” actually means for the companies and individuals they will serve and for the people and organizations they will engage to deliver care.
Then they need to consider how they will bridge the divergent interpretations of value. It turns out one reason there’s been such little progress in creating a value-based system is that the stakeholders in the U.S. health care system — patients, providers, hospitals, insurers, employee benefit providers, and policy makers — have no common definition of value and don’t agree on the mix of elements composing it (quality? service? cost? outcomes? access?).
That’s the big takeaway of University of Utah Health’s The State of Value in U.S. Health Care survey. We asked more than 5,000 patients, more than 600 physicians, and more than 500 employers who provide medical benefits across the nation...
From the Women at Work podcast:
Do you earn the same salary as your male coworkers? How certain are you? For women, the wage gap is a common concern, for good reason: the average, college-educated woman starts out earning close to what her male peers do, but over a lifetime, the pay gap widens. Even for women who graduate from college, get an MBA, and take a job at a high-paying firm — 10 or 15 years into our careers, we’re earning only 60 percent of what men are.
There are a lot of complex factors that go into creating the wage gap — race, education, industry — but in this episode, we do a deep dive into one that doesn’t get as much attention: age. What’s going on in our careers that causes us to earn so much less as we get older? Guests: Claudia Goldin and Margaret Gullette.
Claudia Goldin is the Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard University and director of the Development of the American Economy program at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Margaret Gullette is a scholar at Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center. Her most recent book is Ending Ageism, or How Not to Shoot Old People.
As biotech companies race toward the opportunities in Japan, no life sciences sector has received more attention, government support, and regulatory reform than the important field of regenerative medicine.
Regeneratives are pharmaceutical cell therapy products that replace or restore cells and tissues lost to disease or aging. Some regenerative medicines stimulate our bodies to regrow or repair, so the field can include the use of stem cells for tissue engineering. Japan’s rapidly aging population creates a perfect test kitchen for such regeneratives, especially as the aging trend expands to Europe and North America. Meanwhile, regenerative medicine is at the forefront of scores of research partnerships between private biotech companies and Japanese universities.
“The Japanese want to be the regenerative medicine center of the world,” said Colin Lee Novick, managing director of the CJ Partners biotech consulting firm in Tokyo. “To be able to do that, they need to entice companies to come to Japan, and they need to entice their own pharmaceutical companies to license in and obtain the best.”
The “regen” boom in...
Building trust with customers can be challenging – that’s especially true online, and it’s especially true if you are trying to launch a new venture that doesn’t have an existing track record of success. If you’re trying to get your Internet-based side venture off the ground, how can you build trust right away?
In the course of researching my new book Entrepreneurial You, I discovered three strategies that allowed leading online marketers to build trusting, respect-based relationships with their customers. I was intrigued by these stories because Internet marketers are often derided by critics due to some practitioners’ scammy tactics. But the professionals I spoke with had learned to differentiate themselves from the snake oil salesmen, and establish the credibility necessary to build online businesses that endured. Their lessons can provide a useful framework for anyone trying to launch an Internet-based side hustle, and gain credibility — and earn real money — from it.
Embrace transparency. When Pat Flynn, who now runs a successful blog and podcast called Smart Passive Income, first started researching internet marketing, he told me, “I felt kind of disgusted by being on the other end of their emails. I felt like everybody was holding back some information; they wanted me to pay money to get the rest of it.” Unlike the hucksters he...
Are academic journals impartial? While many would suggest that academic journals work for the advancement of knowledge and science, we show this is not always the case. In a recent study, we find that two international relations (IR) journals favor articles written by authors who share the journal’s institutional affiliation. We term this phenomenon “academic in-group bias.”
In-group bias is a well-known phenomenon that is widely documented in the psychological literature. People tend to favor their group, whether it is their close family, their hometown, their ethnic group, or any other group affiliation. Before our study, the evidence regarding academic in-group bias was scarce, with only one study finding academic in-group bias in law journals. Studies from economics found mixed results. Our paper provides evidence of academic in-group bias in IR journals, showing that this phenomenon is not specific to law. We also provide tentative evidence which could potentially resolve the conflict in economics, suggesting that these journals might also exhibit in-group bias. In short, we show that academic in-group bias is general in nature, even if not necessarily large in scope.
To test the possibility of academic in-group bias, we examined four of the leading academic journals in international relations: World Politics, International...
“We learned to take the long view, mostly because we didn’t have any other choice,” says Kate, now in her sixties and busy investing in the next generation of entrepreneurs. “Both sticking to our full-time corporate jobs or one of us becoming a full-time parent weren’t attractive options to us. We wanted to change the model, not just flip it.”
Kate and her husband, Matthew, were a classic dual career couple. They met in business school, married, and settled into two demanding corporate jobs. But Kate quickly saw that there were too many layers to get to the top anytime soon in her firm. Matthew had a quicker route in his flatter organization. When the couple decided to have children, they sat down and strategized together. How could they design two careers that could give them both what they wanted: meaningful work, financial security, and a great family?
One of their innovations was to plan a lifetime family career – together. Most of us well-meaningly want to support our partner and their careers. But thinking about two careers individually and then trying to marry them together is often a design challenge. Matthew and Kate started with designing a life, and retrofitted to identify careers that might deliver it. They devised a...
On February 13, 2018, the New York Times reported that Uber is planning an IPO. Uber’s value is estimated between $48 and $70 billion, despite reporting losses over the last two years. Twitter reported a loss of $79 million before its IPO, yet it commanded a valuation of $24 billion on its IPO date in 2013. For the next four years, it continued to report losses. Similarly, Microsoft paid $26 billion for loss-making LinkedIn in 2016, and Facebook paid $19 billion for WhatsApp in 2014 when it had no revenues or profits. In contrast, industrial giant GE’s stock price has declined by 44% over the last year, as news emerged about its first losses in last 50 years.
Why do investors react negatively to financial statement losses for an industrial firm but disregard such losses for a digital firm?
In the 2016 book The End of Accounting, NYU Stern Professor Baruch Lev claimed that over the last 100 years or so, financial reports have become less useful in capital market decisions. Recent research lets us make an even bolder claim: accounting earnings are practically irrelevant for digital companies. Our current financial accounting model cannot capture the principle value creator for digital companies: increasing...
It’s nice to have a friend at work who cares about you and looks out for your best interests. Research has even shown that it contributes to your engagement. The benefits of having a friend at work are clear, but what about the downsides? What happens when your friend starts to let things slip? How do you handle it when you notice they aren’t keeping up? Should you cover for them?
As with most difficult situations at work, there isn’t one right answer. The approach you take depends on a variety of factors. First, how worrisome are the slips? Will they create significant problems for your team, or even your customer? Next, how self-aware is your friend about their harmful behavior and the impact it’s having? Finally, how is your friend’s manager handling the situation? Is anyone other than you noticing the problem? The answers to these questions will help you decide when to intervene and how quickly to escalate from one of the following steps to the next.
The first couple of times your friend drops the ball, it’s perfectly acceptable to cover for them. When I say “cover,” I don’t mean hide the issue. I mean you can jump in and do the task yourself. For example, if your friend was supposed to guide...
Top leaders tend to focus more on status updates than on contingency planning. They devote far more time to internal execution and competitive risks than to external risks that can change the playing field. This means that many emerging market risks get cut from the senior leadership agenda.
At Frontier Strategy Group, we observed that in 2017, executives and boards paid the most attention to risks that dominated global headlines: Brexit, the Trump administration’s trade policy, cybersecurity, and, more recently, North Korea. They did not spend as much time thinking about local events that have implications for their emerging market operations.
Each year, FSG evaluates more than 100 scenarios that could disrupt our economic forecasts for 73 countries. We identified three emerging market risks that are top multinational leaders should be paying more attention to this year:
If these events occur, they would severely disrupt multinationals’ market strategies, supply chains, and exchange-rate assumptions.Latin America: Potential Populist Backlash in Mexico and Brazil
Latin American subsidiaries are being held to more-aggressive sales and profitability targets in 2018, given a rebounding 2.7% real GDP...
Working as a senior executive can be a lonely job. You have to deliver tough messages. You can’t always be transparent about your own challenges. And you must keep key decisions confidential until the timing is right.
There’s no way to escape the necessary burdens of authority. And, from time to time, you may develop a friendship with someone in your organization. It’s one thing to have a peer-to-peer friendship at work, but another to have a power imbalance with your friend. Can you be friends with someone who works for you, especially when your role requires you to harbor secrets from them?
Consider this example: Mariah and Einat became friends over a dozen years ago after they discovered their shared love of outdoor activities. They’ve hiked and backpacked and taken long bike rides together. Together they have survived some sharp rocks, literally and figuratively, in their friendship.
But Mariah and Einat started out in a different relationship. Mariah was a vice president of their company and Einat’s skip-level boss. Einat was a senior director in Mariah’s group. Clearly any manager-employee friendship is fraught with traps. You might damage either the friendship or the working relationship. Other staff may withhold valuable feedback about the employee if they sense you’re friends. You could lose...
We’ve all heard of the No-Fly List. Managed by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the list bans people on it from boarding commercial aircraft within, into, or out of the United States. The No-Fly List is only one tactic that the U.S. uses in its fight against terrorism, but since its inception there haven’t been any plane-based attacks within U.S. borders. Although the list is certainly not perfect — it has been criticized for profiling and false positives, among other things — its effectiveness makes this type of intelligence-based defense worthy of consideration by all organizations that are regularly targeted by cyberthreats.
The Transportation Security Administration’s machines, checkpoints, and rules are analogous to many of the security devices that enterprises use, which include network monitoring tools, firewalls, and endpoint management systems. Like air travel, enterprise networks play host to millions of “passengers” each day, in the form of information packets. Companies enforce rules such as “Watch for multiple failed login attempts” to reduce the odds of being compromised. These measures work some of the time, but often can’t distinguish between risky traffic and good traffic, especially when risky traffic follows the rules. To address these shortcomings, enterprises require additional intelligence regarding the reputation, history, and context of the traffic on...
Samar Minallah Khan, the feminist Pakistani anthropologist and filmmaker, was enraged. Local tribal leaders were trading little girls as compensation for their male family members’ crimes.
These leaders, responsible for settling legal disputes in their villages, act as local judges. A longstanding practice was to address major crimes by “compensating” a harmed family with a daughter of the family doing the harm. The guilty father or uncle was then considered “free” and the village was told this issue was “resolved.” Samar thought this tradition, called swara, was horrendous — it forever changed a young girl’s life, through no fault of her own. But although she was angry, she realized she’d never get to the outcome she wanted if she led with that anger.
So she tried something else. First, she listened more than she talked. She listened to the religious (male) leaders explain the use of swara, and its benefits, and she asked how that tradition would have been interpreted by the Prophet Mohammad. She listened to the fathers and uncles who allowed their crimes to be expiated this way. And by listening, Samar learned so much that it enabled her to bridge a seemingly unbridgeable chasm of difference.
Samar had first assumed that the fathers whose crimes were being forgiven this way were...
It is clear from some of its recent moves that Amazon sees the 18% of U.S. GDP dedicated to health care as fertile ground for expansion. Consider its decision to pursue the market for pharmaceutical distribution, or the recent announcement that it will be teaming up with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase to create joint solutions for reducing the health care spending of more than 1 million employees and their families.
This latest move has engendered robust debate. Proponents liberally term it “disruptive,” seeing a natural diversification opportunity for the company that has aspired to be “earth’s most customer-centric company.” Meanwhile, skeptics highlight Amazon’s lack of expertise in health care, a sector that many deem curiously resistant to the competitive forces that characterize the retail and web services markets in which Amazon has thrived. Given this state of affairs, it is worth thinking about Amazon’s efforts in a conditional manner: If Amazon succeeds in changing health care, how might it do so? (Disclosure: I own a very small number of Amazon shares.)
While Amazon’s collaboration with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase would obviously leverage the purchasing power of three massive employers and could lead to innovative insurance models, it seems that the bigger opportunity would be in improving how care is delivered to patients. At...
Managers have hard jobs. They coordinate the work of their teams, align this work with company goals, serve as a primary source of professional development for their employees, deliver results, and many other critical tasks (all while keeping people engaged). We’ve previously written about what great managers do differently, but even great managers are not fully aware of how their work habits can impact those they supervise. Our latest research allows us to begin quantifying how these habits can cause significant — and often undesirable — ripple effects.
The transition from individual contributor to manager expands the influence of a person’s work habits. The more senior they become, the more this influence is amplified. Unfortunately, managers typically have very limited visibility into what their own behaviors may be signaling to their team and how the team might be reacting. Microsoft Workplace Analytics allows us to analyze the digital signals from anonymized and aggregated data from meetings, email, HR, and other data sources to better understand these impacts. We’ve used this technology to study the behaviors of tens of thousands of managers in several large companies and found some consistent patterns.
This article outlines two common signals that manager work habits unintentionally send to their teams, their impact, and recommendations for lessening...
You can often predict which meetings will be unproductive from the moment you receive the invitation. There’s the “team update” where you spend two hours listening to a rundown of how everyone spent their week, or the “planning meeting” where you hash out picayune details that should have been handled elsewhere, or the “brainstorming session” where extroverts shout out random ideas.
Some of these you can dodge, but others are much harder to escape — especially if the invitation comes from your boss, a key client, or an influential colleague. Here are five ways to get out of a meeting that you know will be unproductive, or at least to limit the collateral damage to your productivity and schedule.
First, get clear on which meetings really are important to attend. The list is short: The most essential meetings are the ones in which decisions will be made. If your team is choosing to launch either Project A or Project B, you can’t make a high-stakes decision over email – you need everyone to share their viewpoint, air their concerns, and coalesce around a solution. That’s best done in person, or least during a teleconference.
A related category that’s worth attending is any meeting that provides an overall strategic direction for your company or team. It...
When I worked as a management consultant, I had a client that I thought of as difficult. Let’s call her Marguerite. She and I didn’t see eye to eye on much. I disagreed with the direction she was taking our project, the people she chose to involve, and the pace at which she thought we should do our work (why did she need to go so slow?). But because she was the client, and I was just starting out in my career, I didn’t think it was my place to openly disagree with her. Instead, I forwarded every email she sent me to one of my colleagues and complained about how Marguerite was making bad decisions and not heeding my vague, and likely passive-aggressive, suggestions that we try different approaches.
One day, instead of forwarding the email, I hit reply. I thought I was complaining to my coworker but I was actually sending Marguerite a direct email about what a pain I felt she was. About 15 seconds after I pressed send, I realized what I had done and thought, “I’m going to be fired.” Thinking it’d be better to get it over with quickly, I walked over to my boss’s desk and fessed up. To my surprise, he didn’t get...
“Bureaucracy” has become a catchall term for the many ways in which organizations squander workers’ potential. From needless paperwork to delusional project timelines, administrative overhead can prevent workers from doing the meaningful tasks that contribute to the organization’s bottom line. Employees perceive bureaucracy to be an immovable beast, blocking their path toward efficient, satisfying work lives.
And yet excising these bureaucratic elements from organizations would be nearly impossible. Projects that involve complex technical work must be tracked and coordinated across departments; budgets must be accounted for; and costs must be kept in line. While some organizations do a better job than others of protecting their expert workers from the detrimental effects of documentation, schedules, expense accounting, and budget statements (the list could go on), managers can only do so much.
In our research, originally published in Administrative Science Quarterly, we compared two contrasting production settings: film sets and a semiconductor equipment manufacturing firm. In both situations we found plentiful evidence of bureaucracy. And in both situations employees managed to fulfill these bureaucratic expectations with a minimum of complaining or disillusionment. We find that in these organizations, the experts have figured out how to make bureaucracy work for them.
Why? One reason is that experts in both settings recognized that making bureaucracy work allowed them and their colleagues to maintain...
If you find yourself having to purge your refrigerator’s crisper bin every few weeks, imagine what goes on at a grocery store. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers estimates that annually between a third and a half of all food produced is wasted worldwide. According to the Guardian, approximately 45% of all fruits and vegetables, 35% of fish and seafood, 30% of cereals, and 20% of meat and dairy products are wasted by suppliers, retailers, and consumers every year.
This waste is growing alongside a growing world population. The United Nations reports that the world population is expected to grow from 7.6 billion to 9.8 billion people by 2050, which makes food security a more pressing issue. Growing food requires water, seeds, labor, machinery, energy, and fertilizer. Letting food go to waste, then, is a frivolous use of natural resources that drives up costs, inflates food prices, and weakens the food supply chain.
Large food retailers such as Kroger, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Carrefour, and Wal-Mart stand in a unique position to address this global food issue. Because of their direct links with farmers, processors, and consumers, they have the power to influence every facet of the supply chain. And because the traditional supermarket industry is highly concentrated (for example, in...