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Rank #15 in Management category

Business
Careers
Management

Dear HBR:

Updated 6 days ago

Rank #15 in Management category

Business
Careers
Management
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Work can be frustrating. How can you get along with that maddening coworker? Figure out what your unapproachable boss really wants? Motivate your demoralized team? "Dear HBR:" is here to help. With empathy, experience, and humor, veteran Harvard Business Review editors and co-hosts Alison Beard and Dan McGinn explore solutions to your workplace dilemmas. Bolstered by insights from guests and academic research, they help you navigate thorny situations to find a better way forward.

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Work can be frustrating. How can you get along with that maddening coworker? Figure out what your unapproachable boss really wants? Motivate your demoralized team? "Dear HBR:" is here to help. With empathy, experience, and humor, veteran Harvard Business Review editors and co-hosts Alison Beard and Dan McGinn explore solutions to your workplace dilemmas. Bolstered by insights from guests and academic research, they help you navigate thorny situations to find a better way forward.

iTunes Ratings

558 Ratings
Average Ratings
445
57
16
9
31

Time well spent

By frenchie frier - Dec 07 2019
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I always find this thought provoking.

These are awesome

By Bhumi010 - Mar 06 2019
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So practical and so much fun to listen. Why didn’t I find them earlier..😉

iTunes Ratings

558 Ratings
Average Ratings
445
57
16
9
31

Time well spent

By frenchie frier - Dec 07 2019
Read more
I always find this thought provoking.

These are awesome

By Bhumi010 - Mar 06 2019
Read more
So practical and so much fun to listen. Why didn’t I find them earlier..😉
Cover image of Dear HBR:

Dear HBR:

Latest release on Jan 09, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 6 days ago

Rank #1: Difficult People

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Do you work with a jerk? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Stanford management professor Bob Sutton, an expert in dealing with difficult co-workers. They talk through what to do when your colleague is a bully, when your boss never takes the blame, and when your direct report gets on everyone’s bad side — but still brings in the money.

Send in your questions about workplace dilemmas by emailing Dan and Alison at dearhbr@hbr.org.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list:

HBR: An Antidote to Incivility by Christine Porath — “If you’ve dealt with a rude colleague, you probably know how hard it can be to get over it. Perhaps no feeling is more difficult to overcome than a sense of injustice. Neuroscientists have shown that memories attached to strong emotions are easier to access and more likely to be replayed, and ruminating on an incident prevents you from putting it behind you. This can cause greater insecurity, lower self-esteem, and a heightened sense of helplessness.”

HBR: How to Help Someone Develop Emotional Intelligence by Annie McKee — “If one of these socially awkward or downright nasty people works directly for you, it is indeed your job to do something. They ruin work teams and destroy productivity, not to mention morale. They’re little time bombs that go off when you least expect it — sucking up your time and draining everyone’s energy. They need to change, or they need to leave.”

HBR: Make Your Enemies Your Allies by Brian Uzzi and Shannon Dunlap — “Because rivalries can be so destructive, it’s not enough to simply ignore, sidestep, or attempt to contain them. Instead, effective leaders turn rivals into collaborators—strengthening their positions, their networks, and their careers in the process. Think of these relationships not as chronic illnesses you have to endure but as wounds that must be treated in order for you to lead a healthy work life.”

Book: The Asshole Survival Guide by Bob Sutton — “A study by Professor Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik found that when bullied employees banded together to fight back, authorities punished 58% of the abusers and none of the bullied employees were fired. But when employees battled alone, only 27% of the bullies were punished and 20% of the bullied employees were fired.”

Feb 22 2018

36mins

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Rank #2: Heavy Workloads

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Do you or your team have way too much to do? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Amy Jen Su, an executive coach and the author of The Leader You Want to Be. They talk through what to do when you’re struggling to get things done at a new job, a coworker is stressed about their work, or you and your team disagree about whether they’re overworked.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list:

HBR: Make Time for the Work That Matters by Julian Birkinshaw and Jordan Cohen— “More hours in the day. It’s one thing everyone wants, and yet it’s impossible to attain. But what if you could free up significant time—maybe as much as 20% of your workday—to focus on the responsibilities that really matter?”

Book: The Leader You Want to Be: Five Essential Principles for Bringing Out Your Best Self—Every Day by Amy Jen Su — “Many of us face the constant quandary of wanting to do more, advance and complete our initiatives, expand our impact in new and exciting ways, and be the best versions of ourselves we can be. But we’re all limited by the finite hours in any given day. Our challenge is figuring out how to get everything done within that set framework—and without sacrificing too many of the things that make life meaningful outside work, such as time with family and friends, personal interests, and exercise.”

HBR: What to Do If Your Team Is Too Busy to Take On New Work by Dutta Satadip — “A perennial management challenge is figuring out how to minimize the amount of time employees spend on low-value tasks — the repetitive, transactional tasks that have to get done, but often seem to take up an inordinate amount of time. It’s not possible to eliminate all transactional tasks, but by diving into the details of existing processes, leaders can challenge the status quo and help simplify processes that reduce these tasks.”

HBR: How to Tell Your Boss You Have Too Much Work by Rebecca Knight — “These days it seems like most people have too much on their plate. Everyone complains about feeling overworked. So how do you tell your boss you simply have too much to do? No one wants to come across as lazy, uncommitted, or not a team player. How can you protect your image as a hard worker while saying uncle?”

Oct 31 2019

34mins

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Rank #3: Leaving Comfort Zones

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How do you feel when you have to do something new or difficult? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Andy Molinsky, a professor at Brandeis International Business School and the author of Reach. They talk through what to do when you’re terrified of giving presentations, big changes at work make you uneasy about the future, or your voice quakes when you deal with conflict.

 From Alison and Dan’s reading list:

HBR: If You’re Not Outside Your Comfort Zone, You Won’t Learn Anything by Andy Molinsky — “Start with small steps. Instead of jumping right into speaking at an industry event, sign up for a public speaking class. Instead of speaking up in the boardroom, in front of your most senior colleagues, start by speaking up in smaller meetings with peers to see how it feels. And while you’re at it, see if you can recruit a close friend or colleague to offer advice and encouragement in advance of a challenging situation.”

Book: Psyched Up: How the Science of Mental Preparation Can Help You Succeed by Dan McGinn — “There’s a reasonable body of evidence that doing a routinized set of pre-performance activities—ritualized, superstitious, or not—really can help someone perform better.”

HBR: When Was the Last Time You Took On a New Challenge? by Karen Firestone — “Other research has shown that learning something hard can help expand our creativity. And although it seems unlikely that swimming an open water race or learning to paint would help in one’s job of writing software or managing employees, the broader benefits of pushing ourselves may be positive for colleague relationships, productivity, and task comprehension. Plus, acquiring new skills is enjoyable..”

HBR: How to Handle Stress in the Moment by Rebecca Knight — “You hear a lot of advice about how to reduce stress at work. But most of it is about what to do over the long term — take up yoga, eat a healthy diet, keep a journal, or get more sleep. But what do you do when you’re overcome with stress in the moment — at your desk, say, or in a meeting? Perhaps you’ve heard bad news from a client or were assigned yet another project. How can you regain control?”

Oct 17 2019

27mins

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Rank #4: Ineffective Leaders

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Does your organization lack quality leadership? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Peter Bregman, a leadership expert. They talk through what to do when your leaders are indecisive, unprofessional, or value the wrong things.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list:

HBR: If Your Boss Could Do Your Job, You’re More Likely to Be Happy at Work by Benjamin Artz, Amanda Goodall, and Andrew J. Oswald — “Although we found that many factors can matter for happiness at work – type of occupation, level of education, tenure, and industry are also significant, for instance – they don’t even come close to mattering as much as the boss’s technical competence. Moreover, we saw that when employees stayed in the same job but got a new boss, if the new boss was technically competent, the employees’ job satisfaction subsequently rose.”

HBR: Great Leaders Are Confident, Connected, Committed, and Courageous by Peter Bregman — “No matter your age, your role, your position, your title, your profession, or your status, to get your most important work done, you have to have hard conversations, create accountability, and inspire action.”

HBR: Find the Reverse Leaders in Your Midst by Scott Edinger — “Reverse leaders lead through influence, not authority, and they gain that influence by making strong interpersonal connections. To do that they must be self-aware enough to understand the effect their words and actions have on other people. As more and more knowledge work requires people to work effectively with peers, the example of the way these people treat their team members becomes increasingly important to organizational effectiveness for all leaders, formal and informal.”

HBR: What You Can Do If You Have a Gossiping Boss by Joseph Grenny — “And finally, gossip is, by definition, a notoriously inaccurate source of social data. The most accurate judgments about others’ motives, competence, or actions are judgments that have been exposed to broad and open examination. Dialogue is the best vehicle for establishing social truths; gossip protects its messages from this kind of scrupulous examination. There is no integrity in a process with no accountability.”

Sep 06 2018

35mins

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Rank #5: Regaining Confidence

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Are you struggling to recover from a setback? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Neil Pasricha, a former Walmart executive and the author of You Are Awesome. They talk through what to do when your confidence is shattered by bad reviews, you’re in a difficult situation that you don’t know how to navigate, or you want to be a high achiever again after plateauing for a while.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list:

HBR: How to Build Confidence by Amy Gallo — “Very few people succeed in business without a degree of confidence. Yet everyone, from young people in their first real jobs to seasoned leaders in the upper ranks of organizations, have moments — or days, months, or even years — when they are unsure of their ability to tackle challenges. No one is immune to these bouts of insecurity at work, but they don’t have to hold you back.”

Book: You Are Awesome: How to Navigate Change, Wrestle with Failure, and Live an Intentional Life by Neil Pasricha — “Because resilience is a skill we now have in very short supply. Not many of us have been through famines or wars or, let’s be honest, any form of true scarcity. We have it all! And the side effect is that we no longer have the tools to handle failure or even perceived failure.”

HBR: Overcome the Eight Barriers to Confidence by Rosabeth Moss Kanter — “Confidence is an expectation of a positive outcome. It is not a personality trait; it is an assessment of a situation that sparks motivation. If you have confidence, you’re motivated to put in the effort, to invest the time and resources, and to persist in reaching the goal. It’s not confidence itself that produces success; it’s the investment and the effort. Without enough confidence, it’s too easy to give up prematurely or not get started at all. Hopelessness and despair prevent positive action.”

HBR: 2 Ways to Regain Your Boss’s Trust by David DeSteno — “If your competence is in question, be prepared for a longer slog. Competence isn’t based on motivations, and therefore can’t be altered as readily. Put simply, competence is skill-based, and if your manager doesn’t believe you possess skills you ought to have, it will take much effort to remedy.”

Oct 03 2019

36mins

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Rank #6: Poor Communicators

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Is miscommunication a constant problem at your workplace? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Holly Weeks, a lecturer at Harvard University. They talk through what to do when your coworker won’t stop talking, your boss overcommunicates with everyone on a project, or a leader keeps changing what you’re supposed to do.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list:

Book: Failure to Communicate by Holly Weeks — “It helps to think of a tough conversation as a landscape through which we and our counterpart move. If we look at a landscape expecting to see a battlefield, that’s how we will see it. But the landscapes of difficult conversations don’t have to be battlefields.”

HBR: How to Tell a Coworker They’re Annoying You by Caroline Webb — “The trick here is to pick one specific incident and describe what I call the ‘true facts’: the things you know for sure, stripped of emotion, interpretation, or generalization. For me, that meant not saying things like ‘Your edits suck’ or ‘You’re not giving me enough space.’ These statements are debatable, because the other person can say ‘That’s not true.’ And because they’re so broadly critical, they’re more likely to put your colleague’s brain on the defensive—meaning they won’t be at their most expansive and generous as they respond. Instead, aim for something that feels more like ‘What I noticed was [fact, fact, fact].’ Be as precise and concrete as you can, even if you think there’s a big issue at stake.”

HBR: Managing 3 Types of Bad Bosses by Vineet Nayar — “Omniscient leaders will challenge you and mire your ideas in discussions about the pros and cons if you present them as prescriptions. However, they love spotting great ideas themselves. Try presenting your ideas as if they are half-baked, or as though you’re unsure of their efficacy and need to hone them. That will ensure immediate buy-in by your supervisor, and rapid decisions.”

HBR: When Your Boss Is Terrible at Leading Meetings by Paul Axtell — “Stepping up and offering to do something will usually be appreciated and respected. However, we all know that our ability to speak frankly with our boss is determined by the level of trust and respect that exists between us. If your boss values what you bring to the group, you can be straightforward: ‘Sam, I think we can raise the quality of our meetings by doing a couple of things differently. If you agree, I would be willing to do the following…’”

Aug 09 2018

38mins

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Rank #7: Hard Conversations

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Are you dreading a work discussion? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Leslie John, a professor at Harvard Business School. They talk through what to do when you need to set your boss straight, meet with a direct report who wanted your new job, or hash things out with a negative team member.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list:

HBR: Taking the Stress Out of Stressful Conversations by Holly Weeks — “Stressful conversations are unavoidable in life, and in business they can run the gamut from firing a subordinate to, curiously enough, receiving praise. But whatever the context, stressful conversations differ from other conversations because of the emotional loads they carry.”

HBR: When to Skip a Difficult Conversation by Deborah Grayson Riegel — “In a 2013 Globis survey of more than 200 professionals on the topic of difficult conversations, 97% of respondents said they were concerned about the associated levels of stress for the other person, 94% were worried about damaging the other person’s self-esteem, and 92% were fearful of causing upset.”

HBR: How to Have Difficult Conversations When You Don’t Like Conflict by Joel Garfinkle — “Lean into the conversation with an open attitude and a genuine desire to learn. Start from a place of curiosity and respect — for both yourself and the other person. Genuine respect and vulnerability typically produce more of the same: mutual respect and shared vulnerability. Even when the subject matter is difficult, conversations can remain mutually supportive.”

HBR: Choose the Right Words in an Argument by Amy Gallo — “Instead of thinking about what you want to say, consider what you want to learn. This will help you get to the root cause of the conflict and set you up to resolve it. You can ask questions like, ‘Why did that upset you?’ or ‘How are you seeing this situation?’ Use phrases that make you appear more receptive to a genuine dialogue.”

Jan 10 2019

32mins

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Rank #8: Career Transitions

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Do you want to shake up your career? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Whitney Johnson, the author of Disrupt Yourself. They talk through what to do when you’ve trained for one career and long for another, when you reenter the workforce after a long gap, and when you want to move into management.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list:

HBS Working Knowledge: Nine Unconventional Strategies For Reinventing Your Career by Herminia Ibarra — “Major career transitions take three to five years. The big ‘turning point,’ if there is one, tends to come late in the story. In the interim, make use of anything as a trigger. Don’t wait for a catalyst. What you make of events is more important than the events themselves. Take advantage of whatever life sends your way to revise, or at least reconsider, your story.”

HBR: How Stay-at-Home Parents Can Transition Back to Work by Dorie Clark — “If you want to return to the workforce, you have to manage and overcome the unspoken assumptions about who you are and what you’re capable of. By making it clear that your skills are current, networking assiduously, showing that you’re motivated, and demonstrating that your caregiving experience is actually a strength, you can go a long way in combatting pernicious stereotypes and re-entering professional life on your own terms.”

HBR: Convincing Your Boss to Make You a Manager by Anna Ranieri — “Lay out very clearly what you have learned about managing, inside or outside of a professional setting. State the additional management skills that you look forward to learning, and your plan to learn them. Make the pitch, and demonstrate that you are the upcoming management talent that the organization needs.”

HBR: Disrupt Yourself by Whitney Johnson — “Current stakeholders in your life and career will probably encourage you to avoid disruption. For many of us, though, holding steady really means slipping—as we ignore the threat of competition from younger, more agile innovators, bypass opportunities for greater reward, and sacrifice personal growth.”

Apr 05 2018

35mins

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Rank #9: Overcoming Negativity

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Do you ruminate endlessly on difficult work situations? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of David DeSteno, a psychologist at Northeastern University. They talk through what to do when your boss constantly criticizes you, you’ve been fired unexpectedly, or your coworkers complain about you to your boss.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list:

Book: Emotional Success: The Power of Gratitude, Compassion, and Pride by David DeSteno — “In truth, emotions are among the most powerful and efficient mechanisms we have to guide good decisions. They’re the first such mechanisms we developed, too. Emotional responses existed long before we acquired the cognitive abilities to plan ahead… The trick to success, then, comes in understanding that emotions don’t only happen to us; we can use them to help achieve our goals — if we develop the wisdom to call upon the right emotions to meet the challenges at hand.”

HBR: How to Bounce Back from Adversity by Joshua D. Margolis and Paul Stoltz— “So how do you react? Are you angry and disappointed, ranting and raving to anyone who will listen? Do you feel dejected and victimized, resigned to the situation even as you deny the cold reality of it? Or do you experience a rush of excitement—perhaps tinged with fear—because you sense an opportunity to develop your skills and talents in ways you’d never imagined? The truth is, you’ve probably reacted in all those ways when confronted with a challenge—maybe even cycling through multiple emotional states in the course of dealing with one really big mess.”

HBR: 3 Ways to Better Understand Your Emotions by Susan David — “There are a variety of reasons why this is so difficult: We’ve been trained to believe that strong emotions should be suppressed. We have certain (sometimes unspoken) societal and organizational rules against expressing them. Or we’ve never learned a language to accurately describe our emotions.”

HBR: How to Respond to Negativity by Peter Bregman — “Countering someone’s negativity with your positivity doesn’t work because it’s argumentative. People don’t like to be emotionally contradicted and if you try to convince them that they shouldn’t feel something, they’ll only feel it more stubbornly. And if you’re a leader trying to be positive, it comes off even worse because you’ll appear out of touch and aloof to the reality that people are experiencing.”

Apr 04 2019

30mins

Play

Rank #10: Bad Bosses

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Is your boss making your life miserable? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Moshe Cohen, a senior lecturer at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. They talk through what to do when your boss is a jerk, a workaholic, or simply incompetent.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list:

HBR: Do You Hate Your Boss? by Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries — “Frequently cited grievances include micromanaging, bullying, avoiding conflict, ducking decisions, stealing credit, shifting blame, hoarding information, failing to listen, setting a poor example, slacking, and not developing staff. Such dysfunctional behavior would make anyone unhappy and unproductive. However, whatever sins your boss commits, managing your relationship with him or her is a critical part of your job.”

HBR: Managing Your Boss by John J. Gabarro and John P. Kotter — “You are not going to change either your basic personality structure or that of your boss. But you can become aware of what it is about you that impedes or facilitates working with your boss and, with that awareness, take actions that make the relationship more effective.”

HBR: Research: Shifting the Power Balance with an Abusive Boss by Hui Liao, Elijah Wee, and Dong Liu — “Targets of abuse can flip the script, shifting the balance of power in their favor when bosses make life miserable. As subordinates gain leverage over time, they can strategically influence supervisors to stop abuse and even motivate them to mend strained relationships.”

HBR: How to Work for a Workaholic by Rebecca Knight — “Some people just can’t seem to get enough of work. They stay late at the office, check their email at all hours, and even put in time on the weekends. If your manager keeps this sort of schedule, do you have to also? How do you set the right expectations and boundaries? What can you do to make sure you don’t look like a slacker in comparison?”

Apr 20 2018

37mins

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Rank #11: Critical Feedback

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Do you need to get better at giving and receiving feedback? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of consultant Ben Dattner. They talk through what to do when your employee wants to give you feedback, your feedback to others doesn’t seem to make a difference, or someone who isn’t your boss comments about your performance.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list:

HBR: The Right Way to Respond to Negative Feedback by Tasha Eurich — “While critical feedback can frequently be given objectively and with the purest of motives, it can also be inaccurate and/or nefarious in nature: a coworker who wants to throw us off our game; a boss who has completely unachievable expectations; an employee who is scared to speak truth to power; a friend who projects her own issues onto us. It’s hard to know what is real and what should be filtered out.”

HBR: In Performance Appraisals, Make Context Count by Ben Dattner — “Organizations could achieve greater accuracy in evaluating employee performance by considering both the person and the situation. However, this is rarely done. Consider a call center where the performance of employees is assessed based on the volume of sales or the dollar amount of charitable donations. It may be the case that two employees sitting in adjacent work spaces are assigned different geographic regions, or different populations of potential customers or donors.”

HBR: The Feedback Fallacy by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall — “The first problem with feedback is that humans are unreliable raters of other humans. Over the past 40 years psychometricians have shown in study after study that people don’t have the objectivity to hold in their heads a stable definition of an abstract quality, such as business acumen or assertiveness, and then accurately evaluate someone else on it. Our evaluations are deeply colored by our own understanding of what we’re rating others on, our own sense of what good looks like for a particular competency, our harshness or leniency as raters, and our own inherent and unconscious biases.”

HBR: How Leaders Can Get Honest, Productive Feedback by Jennifer Porter — “Sharing feedback is often interpersonally risky. To increase the likelihood of your colleagues taking that risk with you, show them that their honesty won’t be met with negative repercussions. You can do this before you ask for feedback by being curious, rewarding candor, and showing vulnerability. Being curious starts with having the right mindset, or believing that you have something useful to learn.”

Feb 21 2019

33mins

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Rank #12: Toxic Workplaces

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If your workplace is toxic, can you change it? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Nicholas Pearce, an associate professor at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. They talk through how to transform a toxic culture, whether you’re a junior employee, a manager, or in charge.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list:

HBR: Recognizing Employees Is the Simplest Way to Improve Morale by David Novak — “One question I loved to ask is, ‘What would you do if you had my job?’ Maybe the response will be a useful suggestion, in which case you should acknowledge it and implement it if possible, to prove that these conversations aren’t just for show. Even if you don’t get any great ideas, such discussions can still have a huge impact, as long as your staff sees that you really thought about their suggestions.”

HBR: Changing Company Culture Requires a Movement, Not a Mandate by Bryan Walker and Sarah A. Soule — “The dominant culture and structure of today’s organizations are perfectly designed to produce their current behaviors and outcomes, regardless of whether those outcomes are the ones you want. If your hope is for individuals to act differently, it helps to change their surrounding conditions to be more supportive of the new behaviors, particularly when they are antithetical to the dominant culture.”

HBR: Manage Your Emotional Culture by Sigal Barsade and Olivia A. O’Neill — “In our interviews with executives and employees, some people have told us that their organizations lack emotion altogether. But every organization has an emotional culture, even if it’s one of suppression. By not only allowing emotions into the workplace, but also understanding and consciously shaping them, leaders can better motivate their employees.”

HBR: The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture by Boris Groysberg, Jeremiah Lee, Jesse Price, and J. Yo-Jud Cheng — “Much like defining a new strategy, creating a new culture should begin with an analysis of the current one, using a framework that can be openly discussed throughout the organization. Leaders must understand what outcomes the culture produces and how it does or doesn’t align with current and anticipated market and business conditions.”

May 03 2018

38mins

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Rank #13: Leading Small Teams

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Do you have a hard time managing team dynamics? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Facebook executive Julie Zhuo. They talk through what to do when your subordinate is bossing around others on the team, a star performer you’ve hired threatens your status, or you want to help an underperforming team member.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list:

HBR: Make Sure Everyone on Your Team Sees Learning as Part of Their Job by Kristi Hedges — “A good starting point is simply to talk about your own development. When managers open up about their personal areas for improvement, it becomes more acceptable for everyone else to do the same. Ask yourself: What skills are you most excited to develop? What areas do you need to grow the most in? What insights have you found helpful in accomplishing these goals? Then share your answers with the rest of your team.”

Book: The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo — “Running a team is hard because it ultimately boils down to people, and all of us are multifaceted and complex beings. Just like how there is no one way to go about being a person, there is no one way to go about managing a group of people. And yet, working together in teams is how the world moves forward. We can create things far grander and more ambitious than anything we could have done alone.”

HBR: How to Manage Your Former Peers by Amy Gallo — “Becoming the boss is an exciting transition, but it can also be a nerve-wracking one. This is especially true if you are now managing people who used to be your peers. You need to establish your credibility and authority, without acting like the promotion’s gone to your head.”

HBR: How to Manage Your Star Employee by Rebecca Knight — “Superstars can generate team tension. Perhaps they expect performance equal to theirs from others, or peers are jealous of their abilities and treat them differently than everyone else. You can’t control others’ emotions, but you do have a say in the way they act.”

May 02 2019

32mins

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Rank #14: Performance Reviews

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Do performance reviews fill you with anxiety? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. They talk through how to handle performance reviews that have mixed messages, extreme criticism, or not enough helpful feedback.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list:

HBR: What to Do When You Think Your Performance Review Is Wrong by Dick Grote — “Challenging a boss’s appraisal, even in a clear-cut case of bad data, is always a ticklish matter. Be cautious. It’s not easy to say to your boss, in whatever words you choose to use, ‘You’re wrong.’ Don’t lose sight of the fact that your boss probably has a significant investment in the appraisal you’ve decided to challenge.”

HBR: How to Ask for Feedback That Will Actually Help You by Peter Bregman — “Being good at receiving feedback is especially important at work, because your colleagues are less likely to push past your defensiveness and more willing to write you off if they have a hard time working with you. If that happens, you’ll never know why — since you won’t have heard the feedback — so you’ll keep repeating the same mistakes.”

HBR: What to Do After a Bad Performance Review by Carolyn O’Hara — “But research suggests that letting something simmer can make things worse, for several reasons. When we’re stressed, our brain tends to mount a defensive ‘fight-flight-or-freeze’ response—during which there’s reduced activity in brain areas responsible for reasoning, self-control, and forward thinking. And trying to suppress our irritation has been found to make our brain’s defensive response more pronounced rather than less.”

HBR: Let’s Not Kill Performance Evaluations Yet by Lori Goler, Janelle Gale, and Adam Grant — “The long march to the boss’s office to get evaluated—it’s a moment we all dread. Performance reviews are awkward. They’re biased. They stick us in boxes and leave us waiting far too long for feedback. It’s no surprise that by the end of 2015, at least 30 of the Fortune 500 companies had ditched performance evaluations altogether.”

Jun 29 2018

36mins

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Rank #15: Building Trust

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Could your workplace be more trusting? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of organizational psychologist Liane Davey. They talk through what to do when your new boss doesn’t trust you yet, you want to earn the trust of your subordinates, or company leaders have made employees afraid to speak up.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list:

HBR: Want Your Employees to Trust You? Show You Trust Them by Holly Henderson Brower, Scott Wayne Lester, and M. Audrey Korsgaard — “In short, trust begets trust. When people are trusted, they tend to trust in return. But people must feel trusted to reciprocate trust. Managers have to do more than trust employees; they need to show it. Based on our research work and time spent in companies studying trust, we’ve identified some of the most important ways managers erode trust and how they can signal it more clearly to their teams.”

HBR: Cultivating Everyday Courage by Jim Detert — “Competently courageous people also work to earn the trust of those who see them as their champions. They invest in those relationships, too—engaging with people individually, taking the time to empathize with them, and helping them develop professionally.”

HBR: The 3 Elements of Trust by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman — “As a leader, you want the people in your organization to trust you. And with good reason. In our coaching with leaders, we often see that trust is a leading indicator of whether others evaluate them positively or negatively. But creating that trust or, perhaps more importantly, reestablishing it when you’ve lost it isn’t always that straightforward.”

HBR: The Simplest Way to Build Trust by David DeSteno — “Try it in your next negotiation. Find and emphasize something – anything – that will cause your partner to see a link between the two of you, which will form a sense of affiliation. And from that sense of affiliation — whether or not it’s objectively meaningful – comes a greater likelihood of trustworthy behavior.”

Mar 07 2019

34mins

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Rank #16: Executive Ambitions

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Do you want the corner office someday? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Mike Troiano, a venture capitalist and former executive. They talk through what to do when you’re falling off the executive track, you’re moving up but don’t believe in the company’s strategy, or you have a rival who could block your path to the C-suite.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list:

HBR: What Makes an Effective Executive by Peter Drucker — “An effective executive does not need to be a leader in the sense that the term is now most commonly used. Harry Truman did not have one ounce of charisma, for example, yet he was among the most effective chief executives in U.S. history. Similarly, some of the best business and nonprofit CEOs I’ve worked with over a 65-year consulting career were not stereotypical leaders.”

Medium: How To Be An Executive by Mike Troiano — “Back in the day you became an executive over time, carefully cultivated in the corporate hierarchy like a meat-eating houseplant. But that’s all changed now. Corporate hierarchy ain’t what it used to be, and if you go off and start a company, you get the title overnight.”

HBR: How to Get on the Shortlist for the C-Suite by Cassandra Frangos — “Rotating around the organization gives you a balance of experience. It also pressure-tests you in multiple environments and delivers a broader perspective. At Cisco, we prepare candidates for top slots by using executive assessments to identify strengths and development areas and by giving individuals strategic assignments to fill experience voids and provide greater exposure opportunities.”

HBR: What Sets Successful CEOs Apart by Elena Lytkina Botelho, Kim Rosenkoetter Powell, Stephen Kincaid, and Dina Wang— “Typically we see ‘take no prisoners’ CEOs last only as long as the company has no choice but to submit to shock therapy. These CEOs often get ousted as soon as the business emerges from crisis mode—they lose the support of their teams or of board members who’ve grown tired of the collateral damage. It’s no coincidence that the careers of turnaround CEOs are frequently a series of lucrative two- to three-year stints; they put out the fires and then move on to the next assignment.”

May 16 2019

33mins

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Rank #17: Troublesome Teammates

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Is a coworker getting on your nerves? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Amy Gallo, the author of the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict. They talk through what to do when a coworker acts like their responsibilities are beneath them, a colleague you referred to the team is being aggressive and sneaky, or a fellow team member is coasting while you’re putting in long hours.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list:

HBR: Strategies for Working Smoothly with Your Peers by Rebecca Newton — “The goal is not to reduce the frequency with which we disagree with peers, or with which they disagree with us. The goal is to change how we feel about these conversations. Ironically, it’s by stepping further into the uncomfortable – through having courageous conversations, carving out seemingly impossible time to think, and being more willing to say and hear a variety of opinions – that we increase our comfort and confidence with peers.”

Book: HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict by Amy Gallo — “Luckily, however, when handled well, conflict can have positive outcomes. It can help you be more creative, spark new ideas, and even strengthen bonds with your coworkers.”

HBR: How to Deal with a Slacker Coworker by Carolyn O’Hara — “We’ve all worked with someone who doesn’t pull his own weight — a colleague who checks Facebook all day, takes two-hour lunch breaks, and never meets a deadline. But as irritating as it can be, you shouldn’t become the behavior police unless their slacking is materially affecting your work.”

HBR: The Best Teams Hold Themselves Accountable by Joseph Grenny — “The role of the boss should not be to settle problems or constantly monitor your team, it should be to create a team culture where peers address concerns immediately, directly and respectfully with each other. Yes, this takes time up front. But the return on investment happens fast as you regain lost time and see problems solved both better and faster.”

Sep 19 2019

35mins

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Rank #18: Career Crossroads

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Are you weighing the trade-offs of a big career decision? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, a senior adviser at the executive search firm Egon Zehnder. They talk through what to do when you want to transition from individual contributor to management, you’re mulling over a more senior role at a smaller organization, or you’re having doubts about staying on a high-pressure career track.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list:

HBR: Make Peace with Your Unlived Life by Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries— “Tina was at a crossroads. Her daughter had recently left for college, and her husband had his own pursuits. And although she’d once enjoyed banking, she now bore little interest in her work. For some time, she had been asking herself whether she should quit. But what would her colleagues and bosses think of her?”

HBR: The Key to Career Growth: Surround Yourself with People Who Will Push You by Claudio Fernández-Aráoz — “Don’t hesitate to ask the truly big questions. What shall I do with my life? What really motivates me? What am I doing that I really don’t like to do? While pondering these questions, in addition to checking my capability, connectivity and credibility, I also engage my friends in conversation about three other Cs: contemplation (Am I in touch with my inner compass?), compassion (Do I show it for myself and others?), and companions (Who else might inspire me to new growth?)”

HBR: How to Stay Stuck in the Wrong Career by Herminia Ibarra — “We like to think that the key to a successful career change is knowing what we want to do next, then using that knowledge to guide our actions. But studying people in the throes of the career change process (as opposed to afterward, when hindsight is always 20/20) led me to a startling conclusion: Change actually happens the other way around. Doing comes first, knowing second.”

HBR: How Star Women Build Portable Skills by Boris Groysberg — “After studying the fortunes of more than 1,000 star stock analysts, we found that when a star switches companies, not only does his performance plunge, but so does the market value of his new company. What’s more, these players don’t tend to stay with their new organizations for very long, despite the generous pay packages that lured them in. Everybody loses out.”

Jul 11 2019

52mins

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Rank #19: Bored and Disengaged

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Have you checked out at work? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Dan Cable, a professor at London Business School. They talk through what to do when you aren’t excited about your organization, new assignments don’t hold your interest, or all the best projects go to more senior employees.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list for this episode:

HBR: Why People Lose Motivation — and What Managers Can Do to Help by Dan Cable — “Philosophers have been telling us for millennia that people have an innate drive to show others who they really are, yet somehow organizational life often runs afoul of the human desire for self-expression. Even today, when we extol the virtues of creativity and innovation, we still see bureaucratic job titles, inflexible roles, and standardized evaluation systems that generate anxiety instead of excitement and self-expression.”

HBR: Ten Charts That Show We’ve All Got a Case of the Mondays by Gretchen Gavett — “If you’re in a workplace in America right now, chances are most of the people around you are pretty checked out. You might even be plodding through the day yourself, counting down the hours until you can fly out the door. Or you’re doing your very best to make your unhappiness known to anyone within earshot.”

HBR: Managing Yourself: Turn the Job You Have into the Job You Want by Amy Wrzesniewski, Justin M. Berg, and Jane E. Dutton — “Job crafting is a simple visual framework that can help you make meaningful and lasting changes in your job—in good economies and bad. But it all has to start with taking a step back from the daily grind and realizing that you actually have the ability to reconfigure the elements of your work.”

HBR: How to Fall Back in Love with Your Job by Carolyn O’Hara — “Our work relationships have a profound effect on how we perceive our jobs. And since passion can often be contagious, surrounding yourself with energetic people, whether at the office or in professional networking groups, can help revive a sagging interest in work. Attend professional networking events and mixers in order to meet peers. Meeting new people committed to their careers and explaining your own goals and passions to them can help renew your sense of mission and expose you to aspects of your job that you may not have previously appreciated.”

Dec 27 2018

29mins

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Rank #20: Personal Rebranding

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Do you need a career makeover? Dan and Alison answer your questions with the help of Dorie Clark, the author of Reinventing You. They talk through how to change your coworkers’ perception of you, transition to a role outside your area of expertise, or be seen as a leader.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list:

HBR: Reinventing Your Personal Brand by Dorie Clark — “Especially in the internet era, traces of your old brand will never completely disappear—and as long as you’re thoughtful about what you’ve learned along the way, that’s OK. The challenge is to be strategic about identifying how you wish to be perceived, developing a compelling story that explains your evolution, and then spreading that message.”

HBR: Be Seen as a Leader by Adam Galinsky and Gavin Kilduff — “Research tells us there are certain ‘competence cues,’ such as speaking up, taking the initiative, and expressing confidence, that suggest leadership potential. These proactive behaviors can be good indications that a person has useful expertise and experience, or they might simply reflect deep-seated personality traits such as extroversion and dominance. However, there’s increasing evidence that people can propel themselves into proactivity by temporarily shifting their psychological frame of mind.”

HBR: A Second Chance to Make the Right Impression by Heidi Grant — “If you started off on the wrong foot and need to overcome a bad impression, the evidence will have to be plentiful and attention-getting in order to activate phase two thinking. Keep piling it on until your perceiver can no longer tune it out, and make sure that the information you’re presenting is clearly inconsistent with the existing ideas about you.”

HBR: Rebounding from Career Setbacks by Mitchell Lee Marks, Philip Mirvis, and Ron Ashkenas — “Admittedly, this can be a little frightening, especially if you’re venturing into unknown career territory. Reimagining your professional identity is one thing; bringing it to life is another. Remember, though, that you haven’t left your skills and experience behind with your last job, and you’ll also bring with you the lessons learned from the setback. You may also have productively revised your definition of success.”

Nov 29 2018

31mins

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