There’s that project you’ve left on the backburner – the one with the deadline that’s growing uncomfortably near. And there’s the client whose phone call you really should return – the one that does nothing but complain and eat up your valuable time.
Why is it that between 25% and 50% of people report feeling overwhelmed or burned out at work? It’s not just the number of hours we’re working, but also the fact that we spend too many continuous hours juggling too many things at the same time.
Why don’t successful people and organizations automatically become very successful? One important explanation is due to what I call “the clarity paradox,” which can be summed up in four predictable phases: Phase 1: When we really have clarity of purpose, it leads to success.
We all know the story. A team creates a groundbreaking new innovation only to see it mired in internal debates. When it is eventually launched in the market, there is an initial flurry of sales to early adopters, but then sales cycles become sluggish.
Every person is at least 75% responsible for how others treat them. Our verbal and nonverbal actions limit or expand the options of others.
My father-in-law grew up eating blood soup. He hated it, whether because of the taste or the humiliation, I never knew. His alcoholic father regularly drank up the family wage, and the family was often short on food money. They were evicted from apartment after apartment.
We all know that job satisfaction often hinges on the quality of the relationships we have with our bosses. Yet in today’s rapidly evolving, 24/7 workplaces, it’s not always clear what managers should do to create the most satisfying work experiences and the happiest employees.
Managers want employees to put in long days, respond to their emails at all hours, and willingly donate their off-hours — nights, weekends, vacation — without complaining.
Over the course of a typical workday, negative and positive things inevitably happen to you. If you’re like most people, you tend to focus mainly, or even exclusively, on negative experiences.
The world is full of people with opinions. Television, radio, and other media are brimming over with commentators making suggestions and offering seemingly authoritative advice to government officials and corporate executives about what they ought to do.
After sending out hundreds of copies of my résumé to dozens of companies over the last year, I realized that I was getting nowhere because my approach was wrong. What I had failed to do was ask myself some of the tough and honest questions early on.
In a recent strategy meeting we attended with the leaders of a Fortune-500 company, the word “culture” came up 27 times in 90 minutes. Business leaders believe a strong organizational culture is critical to success, yet culture tends to feel like some magic force that few know how to control.
So much depends upon managers. For example, a Gallup study found that at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores is driven by who the boss is. This is disconcerting because the same research found that about 70% of people in management roles are not well equipped for the job.
Everyone aspires to have purpose or meaning in their career but how do you actually do that? What practical steps can you take today or this month to make sure you’re not just toiling away at your desk but you’re doing something you genuinely care about?
Nobody loves meetings. But they can be especially taxing for people who crave a quieter setting for brainstorming or thinking through issues, or who struggle to have their voices heard in a room full of loud-talkers.
It can be tough enough to manage your own stress. But how can you, as a manager, help the members of your team handle their feelings of stress, burnout, or disengagement?
The research is clear: when we choose humble, unassuming people as our leaders, the world around us becomes a better place. Humble leaders improve the performance of a company in the long run because they create more collaborative environments.
A few years ago, a CEO assured me that his company was the market leader. “Clients will not leave for competitors,” he added. “It costs too much for them to switch.” Within weeks, the manufacturing giant Procter & Gamble elected not to renew its contract with the firm.
As professionals around the world feel increasingly pressed for time, they’re giving up on things that matter to them. A recent HBR article noted that in surveys, most people “could name several activities, such as pursuing a hobby, that they’d like to have time for.”
I’m convinced that the ingredient for the effective use of data and analytics that is in shortest supply is managers’ understanding of what is possible. Data, hardware, and software are available in droves, but human comprehension of the possibilities they enable is much less common.
Each year, HBR asks 10 stars in fields outside business — whether it’s politics, sports, the arts, or competitive chess —to offer wisdom on topics of interest to our readers. Here are the highlights from the class of 2015:
It is quiet and dark. The theater is hushed. James Bond skirts along the edge of a building as his enemy takes aim. Here in the audience, heart rates increase and palms sweat. I know this to be true because instead of enjoying the movie myself, I am measuring the brain activity of a dozen viewers.
I used to wake up, stumble over to my phone, and immediately get lost in a stream of pointless notifications. This digital haze continued throughout the day, keeping me from accomplishing important tasks. I was distracted, anxious, and ineffective as a leader.
I first started working for Apple on the PR agency side at Porter Novelli in Sydney, Australia in 1997. Steve Jobs had just returned to the company and the product line was a shamble of computers with confusing names, printers, scanners, and a curious, yet ill-conceived PDA called the Newton.
At some point in their careers, most leaders have either consciously — or, more likely, unwittingly — based (or justified) their approach to motivation on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
When web designer Ben Blumenfeld was working for a major TV network, he was responsible for creating websites for mainstream shows. One day, he made a breakthrough that led to a significant uptake on a show, but the success struck Ben in a way he had not expected.
Each year, companies are spending nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars in an effort to improve employee engagement — yet you’ll get wildly inconsistent answers if you ask managers what that means. Academics, consultants, and leaders have been grappling with that question for decades.
Urban planners the world over yearn to replicate the success of Silicon Valley: witness Thames Valley (England) and Silicon Oasis (Dubai), to name just two of these attempts. Invariably, these well-intentioned efforts fail for the simple reason that they’re trying to replicate the wrong model.
Some people’s careers take off, while others’ take longer — or even stall out. Common wisdom says that the former attend elite MBA programs, land high-powered jobs right out of school at prestigious firms, and climb the ladder straight to the top, carefully avoiding risky moves.
There are three popular explanations for the clear under-representation of women in management, namely: (1) they are not capable; (2) they are not interested; (3) they are both interested and capable but unable to break the glass-ceiling: an invisible career barrier, based on prejudiced stereotypes,
Ping! Something needs your attention. Is it an email? A tweet? A text? A reminder on your phone? A calendar invite? Ping! Another one. Ping! There’s that sound again. Or maybe it’s a visual cue, an ever-ascending ticker count on your app icons or inbox.
A rising young executive found herself strategically ousted in an internal power play. Jill had all the chops to rise to the corner office: consistent top 10% performer, hardworking, intelligent, personable, driven, multilingual, an MBA from a top-tier school.
This was not your best week. Something didn’t go right. Let’s say it was a negotiation that didn’t play out your way. What do you do afterward? You might go to a bar with friends, talk to your spouse, or call your mom. But those are just delay tactics. Soon the ruminating will begin.
When individual contributors are tapped to manage large-scale projects, oversee direct reports, or participate in strategic planning, they need to develop new skill sets on the fly — skills such as interpersonal dexterity, emotional agility, and communication savvy.
While the popular press talks of stress as a negative to be avoided, seasoned managers know better. If you’re trying to drum up new business, get a customer’s order out on time, or hit your numbers for the quarter, a little stress goes a long way.
We are told the winter holidays are supposed to be a magical time of deep connection with loved ones, good meals, warm fires, and gift-giving.
Politics is a dirty word. But office politics are unavoidable; as Aristotle noted, “man is by nature a political animal.” Whether you participate in them or not, politics have a big influence on what happens to you, your projects, and your team, so it’s hard to be indifferent to them.
According to a recent Harvard Business Review cover story, it’s rarely useful to give feedback to colleagues. The authors argue that constructive criticism won’t help people excel and that, when you highlight someone’s shortcomings, you actually hinder their learning.
It’s not uncommon to meet a lawyer who’d like to work in renewable energy, or an app developer who’d like to write a novel, or an editor who fantasizes about becoming a landscape designer. Maybe you also dream about switching to a career that’s drastically different from your current job.
Esther is a well-liked manager of a small team. Kind and respectful, she is sensitive to the needs of others. She is a problem solver; she tends to see setbacks as opportunities. She’s always engaged and is a source of calm to her colleagues.
We have a problem—and the odd thing is we not only know about it, we’re celebrating it. Just today, someone boasted to me that she was so busy she’s averaged four hours of sleep a night for the last two weeks. She wasn’t complaining; she was proud of the fact. She is not alone.
Since we now expect learning to be as simple and compelling as watching YouTube, hundreds of video-based content providers and MOOCs offer free bite-sized content for us to consume on our phones while sitting in the coffee shop or standing in the subway.
Recent cases highlighted in the media suggest that executives, in a desperate quest to quench the market’s unquenchable thirst for growth, are ignoring reason and dictating growth targets so insurmountable that their employees are turning to unethical and perhaps illegal means to achieve their goa
Face-to-face interactions and positive relationships have long been seen as beneficial, but the digital world of social media may be having the opposite effect.
Scale isn’t what it used to be. It’s never been easier to start a company, and as a result new entrants are unbundling incumbents’ businesses and chipping away at their advantage.
When you join an organization, you have a short window of time to adapt to its culture. It’s the old 90-day rule. And we know too many talented individuals who have stumbled in their new company because they failed to read the cultural tea leaves.
Conflicting with your superiors may not be a daily occurrence, but there are times when it’s necessary. Here’s some tips on how to go about it.
I recently worked my way through Edmund Morris’s first two Teddy Roosevelt biographies, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt and Theodore Rex. Roosevelt wasn’t without flaws, but he was by nearly all accounts fascinating and intellectually voracious.
The year 1995 was heralded as the beginning of the “New Economy.” Digital communication was set to upend markets and change everything. But economists by and large didn’t buy into the hype. It wasn’t that we didn’t recognize that something changed.
We’ve all been in the awkward situation of meeting someone new and having to build rapport quickly — at networking events, industry conferences, charity events, dinner parties, and other social-professional situations.
In a world where the average employee sends and receives 122 emails per day and attends an average of 62 meetings per month, your boss or HR leadership simply doesn’t have the time or bandwidth to properly think through how best to deploy your talents moving forward.
In today’s busy world, convenience seems to outweigh consequence, especially with how people use their mobile devices. Using free public Wi-Fi networks, for example, comes with any number of serious security risks, yet surveys show that the overwhelming majority of Americans do it anyway.