Sunday, September 8, 2013

Make Your Knowledge Workers More Productive

Julian Birkinshaw and Jordan Cohen - HBR Blog 

With scarcely any help from management, knowledge workers can increase their productivity by 20%.  If that's what your team can achieve without you, just imagine what they might do with your support.

Yet here is the challenge you face as a senior executive: You cannot manage your knowledge workers in the traditional and intrusive way you might have done with manual workers. Knowledge workers own the means of production — their brains. So large-scale re-engineering programs, productivity drives, and changes to the incentive system are unlikely to work: they can easily be resisted, ignored or gamed. But just letting your knowledge workers figure things out for themselves isn't a good model either — it is an abrogation of your responsibilities as a manager, and it allows people to either shirk their duties or lose focus chasing too many priorities.  You need to find the middle ground: judicious interventions that allow knowledge workers to help themselves. Our research and work with companies suggest three broad approaches you can try, each with its own pros and cons:

·        Enact a sharp "decree" to force a specific change in behavior.

·        Build smart support systems.

·        Lead by example.  ß J

Should Evaluations of Corporate Trustworthiness be Trusted?


Year after year, organizations release lists of the top trustworthy companies in business. But how reliable are the methodologies used to measure whether these companies really are trustworthy and practice strong ethics?


How Mark Pincus Is Turning Gaming Addiction To Social Good

Fast Company

At Zynga, it's game--and give--on. Not only can you outmaneuver and outscore your friends but you can also outgive. Bragging rights included. Mark Pincus, founder of this online gaming company, hopes the friendly battles will help make the world a better place.

As an entrepreneur creating online consumer products and services, Pincus says he strives to create an Internet treasure, “a service people can’t remember life before and can’t remember life without.” Whether he will succeed still remains to be seen; however, he has already made a positive dent by enabling gamers to donate money to organizations and generating a unique revenue stream for nonprofits.

“The dream for me and a lot of my peers is to actually be able to see the products we create directly deliver good in the world. And even more powerful than that is to be a platform for other people to make positive change in the world,” Pincus says.


16 Practices that Reignite Momentum

Leadership Freak

You lost momentum because you did the right thing too long.  Momentum never changes until something changes. Igniting momentum requires shifts in attitudes, behaviors, methods, and results.

A few from the list:

·        Narrow focus. Achieve one or two objectives. Do less.

·        Send teams to conferences or seminars. Charge them to connect with successful leaders, not just listen to speakers.

·        Evaluate through customers’ eyes, not your own.

·        Explore key success factors. How are others succeeding? What causes turnarounds?

·        Explain what you’re really doing, constantly. Rise above completing tasks; fulfill shared vision.


How to Make People Feel Powerful

Leadership Freak

Dominant, controlling leaders complain about helpless followers. They say things like, “No one takes initiative.”

The more control you exercise,

the less power they feel.


The more you say, “No,”

the more helpless they feel.


The more you rein in

the less initiative they take.


Five words you never want to hear, “What I do doesn’t matter.” How are you giving authority and control while expecting results?

Feeling Powerful:

1.      Give control; expect results.

2.      Think focus not control. How can you focus energy, talent, and resources on what matters now? Establish focal points. Sideways energy – people pulling in different directions – frustrates and contributes to feelings of helplessness.

3.      Propagate happiness. Sadness and discouragement fuel helplessness. Happy people feel powerful.


Michael A. Morell: Winning the Talent War

WSJ Blog

Make no mistake, the war for talent is real. With business booming, finding the right talent on the busy battlefield that is the hiring market can be a challenge whether you’re searching in the United States or further afield.

The key is to be both deliberate and creative to nab the most in-demand developers and engineering talent. It’s also important to take a step back and consider whether a potential hire is really the best fit; make sure this is the case by specifically defining what you’re looking for in advance.

Consider these five tips to attract top talent anywhere in the world:

·        Declare Your Unique Culture

·        Narrow Your Focus

·        Do Things Differently

·        Be Humble, But Sell the Dream

·        Show ‘Em the Money


How and Why to Be a Leader (Not a Wannabe)

HBR  ß Recommended

It's often said that leaders "inspire". But that's only half the story. Leaders inspire us because they bring out the best in us. They evoke in us our fuller, better, truer, nobler selves. And that is why we love them — not merely because they paint portraits of a better lives, but because they impel us to be the creators of our own.

We need a new generation of leaders. And we need it now.

We're in the midst of a Great Dereliction — a historic failure of leadership, precisely when we need it most. Hence it's difficult, looking around, to even remember what leadership is. We're surrounded by people who are expert at winning — elections, deals, titles, bonuses, bailouts, profit. And often, we're told: they're the ones we should look up to — because it's the spoils and loot that really matter.

But you know and I know: mere winners are not true leaders — not just because gaming broken systems is nothing but an empty charade of living; but because life is not a game. It isn't about what you have, and how much — but what you do, and why — if you're to live a life that matters.

Leadership — true leadership —is a lost art. Leaders lead us not to a place — but to a different kind of destination: to our better, truer selves. It is an act of love in the face of an uncertain world.

Perhaps, then, that's why there's so little leadership around: because we're afraid to even say the word love — let alone to feel it, weigh it, measure it, allow it, admit it, believe it, and so be transformed by it.


The Future of Work


Opening a recent panel on the “Future of Work” at SXSW V2V, Maynard Webb asked everyone in the room “How many of you have been at your current company for more than five years?” Only a couple of hands went up.

How many people do you know who have been at their jobs longer than five years? That is a long time-horizon today. I heard Tom Malone of MIT say recently: “My dad had one job, I'll have 7 jobs, and my kids will have 7 jobs at once.” The fact that the way we work is changing is irrefutable.

Here are 10 tips to help professionals step up to the future of work:

1.      Be entrepreneurial

2.      View change as an opportunity

3.      Start small, explore options, and gain experience as you go

4.      Cultivate your network

5.      Remember this: you lose 100% of the opportunities you don’t pursue

6.      Along the way, try what you love

7.      Build your personal brand

8.      Be a lifelong learner

9.      Give yourself a break

10.   Finally, if opportunities don’t present themselves, make them


The Benefits Of Being A Social Leader For Today’s Organizations

Tanveer Naseer

With the maturation of the major social media networks (Twitter turned 7 this year, while Facebook and LinkedIn are 9 and 10 years old respectively), social media has not only become a regular fixture in our everyday digital lives, but it’s also changed the way we communicate in terms of what we share, and how ideas move to the forefront of our collective social conscience.

Ironically, despite the reality that social media has become ingrained in the daily lives of both current employees and future workers, organizational leaders continue to overlook these important communication channels to connect, learn, and engage with those under their care. A recent study has found that less than a third of Fortune 500 CEOs are active on any given social media platform

Three important skills leaders can learn and develop from being active on social media; skills that social leaders have demonstrated as being critical to their organization’s success in today’s highly competitive and interconnected global economy.

1.      Social leaders focus on the message, not the medium

2.      Social leaders attentively listen to others to learn and engage

3.      Social leaders praise in public and criticize in private



What Kind of Feedback is Best

Psychology Today

Whether delivered by a boss regarding a work goal, by a coach regarding an athletic performance, or by a trusted reader regarding the quality of a rough draft, the feedback we get often powerfully influences our ability to succeed. Yet significant controversy exists in the scientific literature about which type of feedback, positive or negative, is most effective. As researcher Ayelet Fishbach explains: "Several motivation theories attest that positive feedback is more effective for motivating goal pursuit than negative feedback because it increases outcome expectancy of the goal and perceived self-efficacy of the pursuer. According to this theoretical approach, positive feedback increases people’s confidence that they are able to pursue their goals, leading people to expect successful goal attainment. Negative feedback, in contrast, undermines people’s confidence in their ability to pursue their goals and their expectations of success."

So which type of feedback is best? In her article "How Positive and Negative Feedback Motivate Goal Pursuit" Fishbach argues the answer is that it depends.


Two Questions to Check Your Assumptions

Driving Results through Culture

What do you believe about others?

Do you think most people do their best and apply themselves more often than not?

Or, are you on the other end of the spectrum: maybe you believe people avoid hard work and taking responsibility, and have to be forced to do what is required in their job.

Or, are your beliefs somewhere in between these extremes?

These “polar opposite” beliefs are also known as Theory Y and Theory X. Influential social psychologist Douglas McGregor described them in his classic 1960 management book, The Human Side of Enterprise.

If you’re like many global inhabitants, you act in accordance with your beliefs. Your beliefs drive your behaviors.

That’s all well and good – if your assumptions, your beliefs, are built upon solid ground.

Some of our assumptions are dusty – or rusty – having been in our heads and hearts for so long that we don’t even think about them!

With flawed assumptions, one ends up behaving badly simply because he or she so thoroughly trusted their beliefs.

Understanding one’s beliefs helps one assess the effectiveness of his or her plans, decisions, and actions.

So, how does one test the fundamental accuracy of one’s beliefs? It takes character and willingness to first examine those beliefs and then to “refine and align” them based upon what one learns.


Is Silence a Leadership Skill?

Chatsworth Consulting

“If everybody thought before they spoke, the silence would be deafening.” ~George Barzan -  

“poker mouth” – the ability to not say everything that comes into your head, and instead to be Thoughtful and intentional, so that you say the things that are more likely to get you the results you want. Because sometimes we all, and some of us more than others, speak before we think – and run the risk of upsetting those around us, or of inflaming an already tough situation. In the heat of the moment, in a fit of anger or frustration, many of us lose the ability to stop and think before we react to what someone else has said or done. We blurt out a retort, not mindful (and often not caring) of how it will land on the other person. We speak and then think through whether or not that was the best thing to say, if we think through that at all. If we stopped and thought before we opened our mouth and voiced our opinions we might find a better way to say what we feel needs to be said. We might, in fact, find that saying nothing at all would be more effective – for the situation and the relationship in the long run. The silence might be deafening, but the silence might also be golden.