Today's Management Thought

Subscribe to Today's Management Thought feed Today's Management Thought
Quick, practical management tips and ideas from
Updated: 20 hours 30 min ago

Don’t Let Resentment Build for High Performers on Your Team

Mon, 2017-09-18 11:30

Everyone wants star employees on their team. But research shows that high performers can create resentment among peers, especially if they garner more resources than others. As the manager, it’s your job to reduce tension and assuage concerns. Emphasize how having high performers on the team is good for everyone — their expertise, experiences, and connections often translate into better team reputation, goal accomplishment, and overall performance. And consider positioning the stars as mentors. Encourage them to act selflessly toward their peers. When high performers have others’ best interests at heart, they become less likely to hoard credit and dismiss team contributions, reducing their chances of being perceived as a threat.

Adapted from “When One Person’s High Performance Creates Resentment in Your Team,” by Hui Liao et al.

Before Your Next Job Interview, Rehearse in Character

Fri, 2017-09-15 11:30

“Be yourself” is horrible advice for someone going on a job interview. That’s because you are literally auditioning for a new role. Take the time to craft your “job interview character” by making a list of the qualities a successful candidate should convey. And then rehearse. For example, if you tend to be shy, expand your range of expression (and what you’re comfortable doing) by practicing what might feel like an exaggerated performance, using hand gestures and passion. And try to reframe your perspective. Instead of performing as a person who is trying really hard to get the job, perform as someone who wants to have a great conversation with the interviewer. Ask open-ended questions and be prepared to tell stories.

Adapted from “To Ace Your Job Interview, Get into Character and Rehearse,” by Cathy Salit

Use Ratings Carefully in Your Performance Reviews

Thu, 2017-09-14 11:30

More and more organizations are ditching ratings and forced distributions in performance reviews. Of course, if you’re required to rate your direct reports, do as your organization dictates, but don’t let the static number speak for itself. Some employees may be disappointed with a 3 out of 5 rating, for example, thinking it means they’re merely average. So combine your rating with specific comments and feedback that give the employee a clear understanding of why they got their rating and how their performance is (or isn’t) aligning with their goals. If there isn’t space on your organization’s evaluation form, add a page to allow yourself room to explain the logic behind the rating, and discuss your rating during the meeting. Your employee will find your comments, observations, and qualitative examples valuable for their growth and development.

Adapted from the HBR Guide to Performance Management

To Get Out of a Creativity Rut, Change Your Habits

Wed, 2017-09-13 11:30

Creativity can fade when you get bored or discouraged at work. To get your creative juices flowing again, change your habits: Make an effort to try something new every month. Meet new people at work. Talk to new clients. Look for intersections — places where your department’s work overlaps with another’s. Volunteer for a cross-functional activity. And seek out obstacles as opportunities for research and analysis. (Why is it there? Whom does it serve? What are its effects? What are other ways of getting the results you’re looking for?) Start by selecting obstacles you can change, and continue on from there. Find ways to share what you know with others — write an article, lead a training session, or mentor a young upstart.

Adapted from “How to Spark Creativity When You’re in a Rut,” by Priscilla Claman

Don’t Rely on Your Boss to Resolve Every Conflict

Tue, 2017-09-12 11:30

It’s tempting to escalate conflicts to the boss. Can’t agree on how to prioritize projects or on which deadlines need to shift? Ask the team leader to step in and make the call. But it’s better for everyone — you, your teammates, and your boss — if you can solve issues without always involving the higher-ups. Treat conflict not as an annoyance that leads to anxiety and alienation but as an opportunity for growth. Ask everyone on your team to commit to discussing any differences openly — and then model the right behavior. Calmly share your ideas with the group, even when they clash with a coworker’s, and refuse to point fingers when a disagreement arises.

Adapted from “How Self-Managed Teams Can Resolve Conflict,” by Amit Maimon

Ask Your Employees More Questions

Mon, 2017-09-11 11:30

As you move up in an organization, people increasingly look to you for answers. But the best leaders don’t provide all of the solutions — they inspire curiosity, creativity, and deeper thinking in their employees. And that starts with asking the right questions. Encourage your employees to slow down and explain what they’re proposing in more detail by saying something simple and to-the-point, like “Wait, what?” You could also use phrases like “I wonder why…” to encourage curiosity. And then follow up with “I wonder if things could be done differently.” Another question to try: “How can I help?” This question forces your colleague to define the problem, which is the first step toward owning and solving it.

Adapted from “5 Questions Leaders Should Be Asking All the Time,” by James E. Ryan

Don’t React Right Away When You Get Feedback You Disagree With

Fri, 2017-09-08 11:30

Maybe it’s your performance review. Or advice (solicited or otherwise) from a colleague. Whatever the feedback was, it was wrong — that person doesn’t understand the situation! They don’t really know what you do. And besides, their advice wouldn’t even work. Getting feedback you disagree with can be maddening, and while you might be tempted to launch into a well-reasoned rebuttal, it’s better not to react right away. Give yourself time to understand what the person is trying to convey. Ask clarifying questions such as “When you say ‘creative,’ can you tell me more about what you mean?” You might also ask a trusted friend (but not someone who only tells you what you want to hear) whether the feedback rings true. Once you fully understand the message and have taken the time to consider it, then you can decide how to respond.

Adapted from “Responding to Feedback You Disagree With,” by Sheila Heen and Debbie Goldstein

Choose the Right Place to Have a Sensitive Discussion

Thu, 2017-09-07 11:30

When you’re trying to resolve a conflict with a colleague, the venue will have an effect on whether you both feel able to speak freely, express any emotions, and reach a resolution. Select a location where you’ll both be comfortable. Ideally, you want the conversation to happen face-to-face and in private. Maybe you’ll meet in a neutral conference room or at a nearby coffee shop. Or you might take a walk outside together for a change of scenery. Avoid choosing a place that gives you or your coworker an advantage. Inviting someone into your office puts you in a power position, for example, because it’s your space and you’re the one sitting behind a desk. And when choosing a conference room, think about who’s in the adjacent rooms. Sometimes walls are thinner than you think.

Adapted from the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict, by Amy Gallo

Put Limits on How Much You Use Your Phone

Wed, 2017-09-06 11:30

We carry our phones around everywhere, but always being connected has costs: In one survey 82% of people said smartphones have hurt their ability to converse with others and 89% said their devices have resulted in chronic physical pain. It’s important to set boundaries around technology — and you don’t have to go on an all-out “digital detox” to do it. Try small experiments: Leave your phone behind when you go to lunch or take a walk. Set a time limit for how long you’ll scroll through Instagram or Twitter, especially at bedtime. And when the time’s up, put your phone away — not on your bedside table but a short walk away from your bed or even in the other room. Giving yourself these needed breaks away from screens will help you see that you don’t need your phone with you, regardless of how much it may feel that way.

Adapted from “Device-Free Time Is as Important as Work-Life Balance,” by Charlotte Lieberman

Seek Social Support If You Feel Ostracized at Work

Tue, 2017-09-05 11:30

Anyone who has been ostracized at work — left out of meetings or important email threads, looked over for a committee position, or ignored when making suggestions — knows how painful it can be. Don’t ruminate alone about the situation; that will only make you feel worse. Reach out to people. Talk to trusted coworkers who know the situation. Perhaps there’s an explanation: For example, maybe you weren’t invited to that meeting simply because you’re low on the totem pole. Consider whether there’s anyone else that is also getting the cold shoulder (does Joan tend to ignore Alejandro in meetings too?). Talk to them and see if your stories match up. You’ll feel validated if they do, and you may realize that the issue lies more with Joan than with you. Lastly, find people who do value your contributions and spend more time with them. Positive social interactions go a long way toward repairing your self-worth and confidence.

Adapted from “What to Do When a Colleague Excludes You,” by Sandra L. Robinson and Kira Schabram

Go to top