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Do Your Company’s Incentives Reward Bad Behavior?

The current lull in the sparring between General Motors and Congress provides a great opportunity to look at what wasn’t discussed in the furor over the company’s recent recalls and its admitted slip-ups in auto safety: namely, rewards and punishments. For example, during CEO Mary Barra’s testimony in Washington, few lawmakers seemed interested in exactly how GM plans to change its processes, and Barra, while acknowledging that the company needs to improve safety procedures, made it clear that the company won’t share the data from its internal investigation of ignition-switch defects. But Barra, as well as Congress and everyone who drives a GM vehicle, should be more curious about which behaviors in the deepest layers of the company are being rewarded and punished. A report by former federal prosecutor Anton R. Valukas provid....
Curiosity Is as Important as Intelligence

There seems to be wide support for the idea that we are living in an “age of complexity”, which implies that the world has never been more intricate. This idea is based on the rapid pace of technological changes, and the vast amount of information that we are generating (the two are related). Yet consider that philosophers like Leibniz (17th century) and Diderot (18th century) were already complaining about information overload. The “horrible mass of books” they referred to may have represented only a tiny portion of what we know today, but much of what we know today will be equally insignificant to future generations. In any event, the relative complexity of different eras is of little matter to the person who is simply struggling to cope with it in everyday life. So perhaps the right question is not “Is this era more comp....
Who’s Being Left Out on Your Team?

Feeling left out or ignored at work can have tremendously negative effects on workers’ well-being. In a recent survey, researchers at the University of Ottawa found that workplace ostracism does greater harm to employees’ happiness than outright harassment. But what does feeling “included” at work even mean? And how can managers foster an environment where all employees — regardless of age, race, gender, or personality type — feel valued? What the Experts Say Creating a workplace where employees feel included is directly connected to worker retention and growth, says Jeanine Prime, leader of the Catalyst Research Center for Advancing Leader Effectiveness. Yet many corporate diversity programs focus more on creating a diverse workforce, and too little on the harder job of fostering inclusion. Prime’s organization recen....
The Problem with Using Personality Tests for Hiring

A decade ago, researchers discovered something that should have opened eyes and raised red flags in the business world. Sara Rynes, Amy Colbert, and Kenneth Brown conducted a study in 2002 to determine whether the beliefs of HR professionals were consistent with established research findings on the effectiveness of various HR practices. They surveyed 1,000 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) members — HR Managers, Directors, and VPs — with an average of 14 years’ experience. The results? The area of greatest disconnect was in staffing— one of the lynchpins of HR. This was particularly prevalent in the area of hiring assessments, where more than 50% of respondents were unfamiliar with prevailing research findings. Several studies since have explored why these research findings have seemingly failed to transfer to H....
The Power of the Odd Price Ending in Assuaging Buyers’ Guilt

When two equally functioning laptops — one visually attractive, the other less so — were priced at $600, research participants were pretty much evenly split over which to choose; but when the computers were priced at $599, 85% chose the attractive one, says a team led by Jungsil Choi of Cleveland State University in Ohio. The apparent reason is that a price ending in “99” conveys a discount image, which assuages buyers’ anticipated monetary guilt over making a purchase that would feel good as well as be useful.
Unpredictable Work Hours Are Stressing Too Many People Out

In the modern workforce, control over your time is a valuable form of currency: for many, it’s an equal aspiration to getting rich (if it’s any proof ,“control your time” has almost 200,000,000 more mentions on Google than “make more money”). And yet as jobs become ever more dependent on online connectivity and technology, more of us are losing control over our time. Workers at the top and bottom of the economic spectrum feel the loss of control dearly, and technology is often the culprit. Whether it’s a buzzing smartphone or software that tracks our whereabouts, the more hard to predict our schedules become, the less real flexibility many of us have. Researchers, company executives, and advocates fought for decades to increase workplace flexibility. I remember my own initial experience of it: my Blackberry and VPN didn....
The Best HR Departments Don’t Just Focus on People

Over the past decade or so, the talent paradigm has gained considerable momentum in the HR field. Think of all the books out there on the subject, all the talent management consulting practices that have proliferated, and all the talent-management functions now operating within HR departments—not to mention the HR departments that have renamed themselves to focus on talent. The trouble is that “talent” focuses on optimizing individual contributions, and the more we emphasize individuals over the organizations, the more HR will lose the very impact it’s taken 25 years to build—as a strategic enabler of organizational performance. Among the many brilliant insights in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations is that economic organizations come into existence because of their ability to coordinate labor to make the whole greater than t....
Put the Company’s Interests Ahead of Your Unit’s

Imagine that you’re running retail banking for a large, diversified financial services firm. You are focused on and rewarded for building the retail business. You’re a tremendous success. The CEO makes you part of the senior executive team. You’re still heading up retail, of course, and you have a few team members who are vital to making your numbers. But they might also help another division land some big accounts that will make a bigger difference to the enterprise as a whole over the long run. As the leader of the retail business, you are, naturally, reluctant to give away a resource. Would you consider handing off a member of your team, and allow your unit to fall short, to benefit the greater good? If you would, you fit the definition of an “enterprise leader,” the rare boss who has the insight and discipline to make d....
Who Pays Corporate Taxes? Possibly You

Who pays corporate income taxes? Just one thing’s for sure: it’s not corporations. This is because, as Mitt Romney famously put it, “corporations are people, my friend.” They also sell to people, buy from people, and are owned by people. Yes, sometimes you have to dig through layers of other corporations, pension funds, foundations, and the like to get to these people. But they’re there somewhere, trying to avoid getting smacked by corporate taxes. In econospeak, where the burden lands is called tax incidence. “The cardinal rule of incidence analysis,” UC Berkeley economist Alan Auerbach once said, “is you do not talk about incidence analysis.”  Actually, no, he didn’t say that — although this does seem to be the rule that most journalists, politicians, corporate executives, and even economists writing for mai....
Women Surpass Men as Kickstarter Fundraisers

Women may be heavily underrepresented in the start-up world, but they’re doing well on Kickstarter. In one study, two-thirds of technology ventures led by women reached their fundraising goals on the crowdfunding site, compared with 30% of those led by men, according to the Wall Street Journal. Female-founded start-ups attract support from women who are activists and want to help other women, the researchers say.
Embargoes Work – Just Not the Way We’d Hope

In 1986, Mikhail Gorbachev became the only Soviet leader to grace the pages of Harvard Business Review when a speech he made to members of the U.S.–U.S.S.R. Trade and Economic Council was reprinted under the unassuming title, “Remarks on US-USSR Trade.” It had been 14 years since President Nixon’s historic trip to Moscow marked the beginnings of détente between the two superpowers.  And yet Gorbachev was still able to say, “The volume of U.S. imports to the U.S.S.R. is roughly equal to what your country imports from the Republic of the Ivory Coast.” Such was the remarkable power of the trade embargo the U.S. had imposed 37 years earlier. Perhaps no embargo has received greater scrutiny than the 1949 Export Control Act, which was imposed by the U.S. on the Soviet bloc at the dawn of the Cold War. As the U.S. and EU lob e....
What Can a Robot Bellhop Do That a Human Can’t?

Years ago, I worked briefly as a hotel bellhop, greeting guests, bringing luggage up to their rooms, and helping them haul it back down again when they checked out. It was social and dexterous work — hoisting skis, snowboards, bags of all sizes; navigating narrow hallways; making small talk and angling for a tip. In other words, the kind of thing that is supposedly hard to automate. So I was intrigued to read last week about a robotic “butler” being tested at Starwood Hotels’ Aloft line, at its Cupertino location. The “Botlr” can deliver toothbrushes, razors, and similar items to guests’ rooms, replacing the need for human staff to do so. I reached out to Aloft, and spoke with Brian McGuinness, Aloft’s global brand leader, to hear about the motivation behind the pilot. I expected the ....
You Can’t Do Strategy Without Input from Sales

One of the best books ever written about selling is David Dorsey’s The Force. Dorsey turns a year in a Xerox sales district in Cleveland into a riveting drama about people, accounts, the operatic highs and lows of the sales cycle, and the triumph of making quota. Dorsey focuses on Fred Thomas and his sales team and the sometimes strange but effective motivational techniques of his district manager, Frank Pacetta. It’s a great ethnographic study of B2B selling for capital goods. But even as Thomas and Pacetta make their sales, Xerox is missing the larger strategic point, although the facts are staring at them in every office where Thomas and his team make sales calls: more and more copies are being handled by printers linked to personal computers, not by copiers. Thomas is doing his best to maintain Xerox’s share in copiers. But....
Recruiting Data Scientists to Do Social Good

We know that data scientists are a hot commodity. Businesses can’t get enough of them. That’s great for tech companies that attract talent with stock and benefits, but less so for social initiatives and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who could use their talent too. Short of asking nonprofits to drain their coffers to make expensive hires, can we find a way to staff their projects? I think so, if we can create a better mechanism to connect people to opportunities. The going rate for data scientists has obviously soared. It’s a far cry from the labor market in place when I first got hooked on data some 20 years ago. When I arrived in Boulder Colorado as a 21-year old computer science exchange student from East Germany, I had one overstuffed suitcase to my name and a place on the dorm room waiting list. Email was virtually ....
Employers Aren’t Just Whining – the “Skills Gap” Is Real

Every year, the Manpower Group, a human resources consultancy, conducts a worldwide “Talent Shortage Survey.” Last year, 35% of 38,000 employers reported difficulty filling jobs due to lack of available talent; in the U.S., 39% of employers did. But the idea of a “skills gap” as identified in this and other surveys has been widely criticized. Peter Cappelli asks whether these studies are just a sign of “employer whining;” Paul Krugman calls the skills gap a “zombie idea” that “that should have been killed by evidence, but refuses to die.” The New York Times asserts that it is “mostly a corporate fiction, based in part on self-interest and a misreading of government data.” According to the Times, the survey responses are an effort by executives to get “the government to take on more of the costs of training w....
Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified

You’ve probably heard the following statistic: Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. The finding comes from a Hewlett Packard internal report, and has been quoted in Lean In, The Confidence Code and dozens of articles. It’s usually invoked as evidence that women need more confidence. As one Forbes article put it, “Men are confident about their ability at 60%, but women don’t feel confident until they’ve checked off each item on the list.” The advice: women need to have more faith in themselves. I was skeptical, because the times I had decided not to apply for a job because I didn’t meet all the qualifications, faith myself wasn’t exactly the issue. I suspected I wasn’t alone. So I surveyed over a thousand men and women, predominantly Americ....
Different Kinds of Cuteness Affect Us in Different Ways

At an on-campus taste test, research participants who used a cute scoop designed to look like a smiling adult female served themselves about 30% more ice cream than those who used a plain scoop, say Gergana Y. Nenkov of Boston College and Maura L. Scott of Florida State University. This and other experiments demonstrate that exposure to cute, whimsical images increases consumers’ indulgent consumption, as long as the particular form of cuteness doesn’t stimulate thoughts of babies; past research has shown that images of babies prompt careful, caretaking behavior.
Why Saving Work for Tomorrow Doesn’t Work

Do you frequently tell yourself that you’ll do better “next time” and then don’t change when the time comes? Do you often decide to do something “later” only to find that it never gets done? If you answered “yes” to either one of these questions, you’re probably ignoring the fact that your behavior today is a strong indicator of your behavior tomorrow. You’re not alone. In The Willpower Instinct, Kelly McGonigal shares how, in a research study, participants were much less likely to exert willpower in making healthy choices when they thought they would have another opportunity the following week. Given the option of a fat-free yogurt versus a Mrs. Field’s cookie, 83% of those who thought they’d have another opportunity the following week chose the cookie. In addition, 67% thought they would pick y....
How Watson Changed IBM

Remember when IBM’s “Watson” computer competed on the TV game show “Jeopardy” and won? Most people probably thought “Wow, that’s cool,” or perhaps were briefly reminded of the legend of John Henry and the ongoing contest between man and machine. Beyond the media splash it caused, though, the event was viewed as a breakthrough on many fronts. Watson demonstrated that machines could understand and interact in a natural language, question-and-answer format and learn from their mistakes. This meant that machines could deal with the exploding growth of non-numeric information that is getting hard for humans to keep track of: to name two prominent and crucially important examples, keeping up with all of the knowledge coming out of human genome research, or keeping track of all the medical information in patient records. So ....
Is the Future of Shopping No Shopping at All?

The Future Will Be Charged to Your Credit CardShopping Made Psychic The New York TimesIn a survey on what he terms "predictive shopping," Harvard Law professor Cass Sustein found that 41% of people would "enroll in a program in which the seller sent you books that it knew you would purchase, and billed your credit card." That number went down to 29% if the company didn't ask for your consent first. But what if the products and services were different, like a sensor that knew you were almost out of dish detergent? Without consent, were people willing to have a company charge their account and send them more detergent? Most people (61%) weren't. But the results were a bit more interesting when Sustein did a similar survey among university students. While most still weren't into being charged automatically for books they might like, "....
Great Leadership Isn’t About You

The year 1777 was not a particularly good time for America’s newly formed revolutionary army. Under General George Washington’s command, some 11,000 soldiers made their way to Valley Forge. Following the latest defeat in a string of battles that left Philadelphia in the hands of British forces, these tired, demoralized, and poorly equipped early American heroes knew they now faced another devastating winter. Yet history clearly records that despite the harsh conditions and lack of equipment that left sentries to stand on their hats to prevent frostbite to their feet, the men who emerged from this terrible winter never gave up. Why? Largely because of the inspiring and selfless example of their leader, George Washington. He didn’t ask the members of his army to do anything he wouldn’t do. If they were cold, he was cold. If the....
Your Content Strategy Is Also a Recruiting Strategy

I recently asked a friend in California about the drought. “Nothing has changed,” he said. “There may be an emergency, but we’re still watering our lawns.” There’s a similar crisis in the private sector, and plenty of leaders are approaching it with the same mentality as my friend. But this time, it’s not the lawns that are drying up; it’s the talent pool. Much like the drought, there are several factors contributing to this crisis. The first is generational. As Boomers retire, they’re leaving behind vacancies that younger workers aren’t equipped to fill. The second is the recession. At its height, 60 percent of the workforce planned to seek new employment once the economy bounced back. After it did, 54 percent of companies lost top talent within just six months. These free agents are demanding unique work culture....
Universities Cater to a New Demographic: Boomers

During his years at the University of Virginia, Jerry Reid was, for the most part, a typical busy member of the Class of 2014. He worked hard in his classes, joined a fraternity, was a member of the debating society, played flag football, and cheered for school sports teams. But in one significant way, Reid was far from typical:  He enrolled in college at the age of 66, receiving his bachelor’s degree this spring at 70. “I have become the man that I always wanted to be,” the triumphant new graduate told CBS News. While few of his peers are likely to replicate Reid’s traditional college journey, a growing number of older Americans are arriving on campuses around the country. Their goal is not to turn back the clock but rather to get help navigating what is fast becoming one of life’s most significant transitions: moving fr....
Sometimes, Employees Are Right to Worry About Taking Vacation

According to one study, 13% of managers are less likely to promote workers who take all of their vacation time; according to another, employees who take less than their full vacations earn 2.8% more in the subsequent year than their peers who took all of their allotted days, reports the Wall Street Journal. Thus it’s not surprising that 15% of U.S. employees who are entitled to paid vacation time haven’t used any of it in the past year.
The Conversation We Should Be Having About Corporate Taxes

The corporate inversion — when a U.S. company takes on the legal identity of foreign subsidiary, usually in order to reduce its taxes — has become about as controversial as corporate finance topics get. President Obama has called such transactions “unpatriotic.” Others have defended them as a way for American companies to stay competitive in the face of a uniquely intrusive tax code. Harvard Business School’s Mihir Desai and Bill George both fall mostly in the second camp, but with some surprising twists that came out when I spoke with them recently. Desai is a professor at Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School who has done a lot of research on corporate taxes, and wrote the July-August 2012 HBR article “A Better Way to Tax U.S. Businesses.” George is a professor at HBS and the former CEO of Medtronic, which ha....

TECHNALINK HIGHLIGHTS
  

In celebration of women role models in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), STEMconnectortm unveils in hard copy and online its inaugural 100 Women Leaders in STEM publicatin. The heroines included in 100 Women Leaders in STEM share stories about their commitment to serving as mentors and sponsors of those who are next in the stem jobs pipline.
           
Mclean, VA - Technalink, Inc. is excited to announce that Alka Dhillon, Founder & Chief Executive Officer has been selected as a winner for the 2012 BRAVA! Women Business Achievement Award Presented by SmartCEO.
    
Alka Dhillon, Founder and CEO, Technalink (McLean,VA) Recognized as one of the leading female CEOs in the Washington, DC, area, Ms. Dhillon is known for her irrepressible entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for giving back to the community.

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