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Everyone’s Network Should Provide Two Things

Marion Barraud for HBR When I interviewed people for a university research project 23 years ago about networking, many people weren’t familiar with the term. I explained it as “multiperson mentoring.” Evoking the millennia-old concept of mentors and protégés, that description made it clear to everyone that networks included people who could provide you with advice and support. In its ideal form, a network, like a mentor, offers two very different types of support. The first is instrumental support, the ideas, advice, and assistance offered by people trying to help you achieve your goals. The second is psychosocial support, the support your network gives you to help you survive and thrive as a person. Great networks provide both, but the people I studied back in 1993 tended to focus on ....
To Succeed as a First-Time Leader, Relax

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. As important as these leadership skills are, just as important to the leadership transition is learning to let go of old ways of thinking, and relaxing into the role. This transition can be stressful, but a structured and evidence-based process can help new managers both acquire new skills and let go of old habits. Here’s the process I use in my executive coaching practice: Mindset shifts. A successful leadership transition depends on substantial cognitive restructuring. Many newly appointed managers, as they assume unf....
The Case Against Pay Transparency

Calls for pay transparency as a cure for pay discrimination are abundant. As the argument goes, if everyone knows everyone else’s pay level, patterns of discrimination will be broadcast, so pressure to remedy them will mount. But the claims of pay transparency’s beneficial powers go far beyond remedying pay discrimination, extending to boosting an organization’s overall morale and performance. Far from a panacea, pay transparency is a double-edged sword, capable of doing as much — or more — damage as good. Broadcasting pay is as likely to demoralize as it is to motivate. While pay transparency may accelerate attention being paid to remedying pay discrimination, managers should consider moves toward transparency with their eyes wide open. Pay transparency does provide more information with....
Every Manager Needs to Practice Two Types of Coaching

Performance reviews haven’t disappeared quite yet. “Despite all the buzz about abolishing formal performance reviews, the vast majority of organizations continue to employ traditional vehicles for sharing performance-related information,” reported a recent study by Human Resource Executive. A similar WorldatWork investigation, of practices like ratingless reviews and crowdsourced feedback, discovered that, in spite of all the chatter, these newfangled techniques are actually being used by only a fraction of large organizations. If the traditional performance appraisal still rules, what has changed? There’s demand for more-frequent conversations. Both studies discovered that companies are putting far more emphasis on increasing the quality and frequency of the feedback managers are providing their employees. “....
Why More American Men Feel Discriminated Against

American men today earn about 20% more than their female counterparts and hold 96% of Fortune 500 CEO positions. They constitute more than 80% of the House and the Senate, and have an unrivaled 44-0 streak in winning the presidency. But in 2016 American men are also increasingly likely to say that they’re the ones facing discrimination. In the 2012 American National Election Study, 9% of Republican men said that men faced “a great deal” or “a lot” of discrimination in America. In 2016 that figure is 18%. Perceptions of gender discrimination against men also rose slightly among independent men, but fell among Democratic men. If we add in those men who say that men face “a moderate amount” of discrimination, 41% of Republican men now say that men are being discriminated against. Overall, about one-....
The Explainer: Core Competence

What does your company do better than any other firm?
Investors Today Prefer Companies with Fewer Physical Assets

Having physical stuff just isn’t as great as it used to be. At home, we’re Marie Kondo–ing our way to minimalism, buying experiences rather than things, and using services — Netflix, Spotify, Uber — rather than owning assets such as movies, music, and cars. The companies that provide those services and enable us to share what we have (insights, relationships, assets) with others not only are valued more highly by investors but also are relatively asset-light themselves. Amazon has only a handful of brick-and-mortar stores, Uber doesn’t manage a fleet of cars, and Ebay doesn’t manage a supply chain. This is quite a shift. Since the industrial revolution, companies have raced to accumulate the most raw materials, properties, plants, and equipment, believing that owning and having more was....
Develop Deep Knowledge in Your Organization — and Keep It

The best leaders understand that the current success of their business, and any future innovation, depends upon the “deep smarts” of their employees — the business-critical, experience-based knowledge that employees carry with them. Leaders with a passion for developing employees’ skills, and those who understand the need to transfer knowledge among generations of workers, know how important it is to link in-house education to strategic planning. Take architectural and engineering firm EYP as an example. Leila Kamal, vice president for design and expertise, not only reports to the CEO but also is a member of the board. An architect herself, she brings great credibility and visibility to programs of learning and knowledge exchange. An early in-house program called A16 treated 16 junior architects to 16 weeks o....
Macromanagement Is Just as Bad as Micromanagement

Tanya Menon, associate professor at Fisher College of Management, Ohio State University, explains how to recognize if your management style is too hands off. She’s the co-author of Stop Spending, Start Managing: Strategies to Transform Wasteful Habits. Download this podcast
Traveling for Work? You’re a Prime Target for Hackers

As if the stresses and headaches of business travel weren’t enough, there’s one more thing to worry about while traveling in unfamiliar places: the security of your email. Thanks to the rapid ascent of spymail — email that secretly reveals a recipient’s location and behavior when it is opened — criminals can invade an out-of-office executive’s inbox to steal confidential information. According to an FBI public service announcement issued in June, there has been a 1,300% increase in losses tied to “business email compromise” since January 2015. Although any company is at risk, these attacks are most likely to target firms that regularly send money overseas or those that have access to sensitive information, such as medical companies, attorneys, and accountants. To date, i....
Air Pollution Is Making Office Workers Less Productive

Businesses invest a great deal of time and money in interventions that claim to increase workers’ productivity through on-the-job training, new protocols, advice from consultants, and so on. Recent research suggests that there’s a surprising input into productivity that no one ever thinks about: clean air. We all know that air pollution is bad for our health, and researchers continue to find evidence of pollution’s negative effects. But recent research has gone further, starting to catalog how pollution might affect our productivity. Several studies have demonstrated that pollution reduces the output of both farm workers and factory workers. When pollution levels — namely outdoor ozone and indoor particulate matter — increase, physical laborers can’t help but slow down. But what about the producti....
Even a 14-Cent Food Tax Could Lead to Healthier Choices

More than one-third (37.7%, or 91.4 million) of U.S. adults are considered obese, which is among the highest obesity rates in the world. The condition shows a marked socioeconomic gradient, with significantly higher rates among minorities and the poor, and is associated with an increased risk of preventable chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes. Estimates of the annual medical costs of obesity range from $147–$210 billion, approximately 40% of which is financed by Medicare and Medicaid. Given these serious personal and economic consequences, what can be done from a policy perspective? Currently, the primary policy tool being used is what’s known as an information provision — think education programs and nutrition labels on products and restaurant menus, including the recent FDA decisi....
Your Writing Isn’t as Good as You Think It Is

You have to write from time to time as part of your job. You probably think you’re fine at it, even as you notice the poor quality of the writing that reaches your screen from others. As I found when I surveyed 547 people who write as part of their job, there is a central problem here: We all think that problems of writing quality are somebody else’s fault. I conducted my survey in the first three months of 2016. To qualify, respondents had to write, primarily in English, at least two hours per week in addition to the time they spent writing email. My survey reached not just writers and editors but also managers, directors, supervisors, executives, analysts, and consultants. They write website copy, memos, reports, blogs, marketing materials, and social media posts. One simple question revealed our se....
Connect Your Firm’s Strategy to Its Identity

Leaders know they need to outperform their competitors to succeed — not by hitting the target with just one or two products, but by winning consistently across their businesses, time after time. To accomplish this, one must have clear answers to some basic strategic questions about the enterprise and its identity: Who are we? What makes our company unique? What is the basis of our advantage? What value do we create, and for whom? Most companies, however, don’t have answers to these questions. We studied 14 exemplary companies that can answer them effortlessly, including Ikea, Apple, Natura, and Haier. The research led to the development of the Strategy That Works profiler, an online tool that can help you see how well your company is answering these fundamental questions. In completing the survey, you will find out how....
We Need to Expand Our Definition of Entrepreneurship

The great entrepreneurs of the last century — folks like Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, and Thomas Edison — spawned huge companies that were designed around a model of scalable efficiency. In that model the job of workers was to fit into their roles and perform tightly specified and standardized tasks in a highly reliable and predictable way. The employee society was born. Enormous wealth was created for the entrepreneurs who pioneered this way of organizing business, and enormous value was delivered to the marketplace. And most of us became employees. But the very model of organizing a business is becoming increasingly challenged by what I call the Big Shift — long-term forces, such as the rise of digital technology infrastructures, that are reshaping the global business landscape. For evidence of the ....
What It Will Take to Keep Women from Leaving STEM

A recent survey showed that STEM degrees are among the most lucrative for graduates. When you look at the gender breakdown of students entering these fields, it’s about 60% male and 40% female, and at the PhD level the numbers are closer. But what happens as people’s career trajectories progress? Over time, those talented women with their PhD in STEM start to drop out of technical and industrial careers. By the time careers reach leadership levels, as few as 15% of those talented women remain, according to some estimates. There are a number of reasons these women are dropping out of the workforce. Sexism in STEM fields takes many forms, including derogatory comments, stereotyping and harassment, opportunity gaps, and  biases about what women should look like. What’s more, women in these fields are pa....
How the Best CEOs Get the Important Work Done

HBR STAFF If you’re a chief executive officer, your job is to execute. It’s written right into your title. But what does it mean, in terms of daily tasks, to be the company’s top “executer?” After all, CEOs don’t actually build factories or sell products. It’s tempting, therefore, to view the CEO as primarily a thinker; someone who mulls and shapes strategy. That is a part of the CEO’s job, of course. But the best CEOs know that strategy is just theory unless it’s actually translated into frontline routines―unless the rest of the company actually is executing the strategy. The CEO’s job is to make sure that happens. The best CEOs focus primarily on four things: communication, communication, communication, and overseeing resource allocation to ensure that the priorities ....
Computers Create Jobs and Inequality at the Same Time

How the computer skills gap drives the wage gap.
The Solution to the Skills Gap Could Already Be Inside Your Company

Is the developed world on the verge of a skills crisis? The challenge is obvious: the quickening pace of technological change has shrunk the shelf life of skills acquired by today’s university graduates to just a few years. In a 2013 Deloitte survey of executives at large companies, 39% said they were either “barely able” or “unable” to meet their needs for talent. And we’re all now fairly used to seeing news headlines about large companies replacing thousands of employees with more digitally skilled workers. Cathy Benko, a vice chairman at Deloitte, has been studying the various ways companies are working to prevent a skills crisis while transforming for the digital world. In a recent article with AT&T’s chief strategy officer and group president, John Donovan, she describes how AT&T is ....
When Networking, Being Yourself Really Does Work

Imagine you’re hanging out at a job fair, and you’ve identified a few key recruiters you’d like to approach. Or maybe you are attending your company’s annual retreat and are interested in talking to senior colleagues who are potential mentors who could provide support throughout your career. Or suppose you’re in front of your computer, scanning LinkedIn profiles of executives with whom you’d like to connect. Across all these situations, one thing is likely to be the same: You probably feel anxious and uncertain about how best to add these people to your network. It’s common to feel uncertain about how to nurture new business relationships. We know we need to make a good first impression. Making a positive impression during an early encounter affects important long-term outcomes, such as whether w....
Identifying Leaders Who Could Bypass the Typical Promotion Path

A few years ago, when we were searching for a successor to lead one of Cisco’s highest-growth regions, we elected to elevate a younger, local leader with less experience than the other candidates. Why take the risk? He had a close connection to evolving customers, shrewd instincts about how the market was developing, and a keen sense of the disruption that was needed in the region. In other words, he had the right mindset. Today, companies must correct course fast, fend off insurgent competitors, and have an intense customer focus. These, among other everyday realities, require leaders to think on their feet. Increasingly, they need to be comfortable admitting that they don’t have every answer. Their ability to act with limited information in a complex environment is perhaps their greatest asset. As a result, CEOs and boards ....
The Right and Wrong Ways to Help Pregnant Workers

According to a 2015 report by the Pew Research Center, working while pregnant is becoming increasingly common. In the late 1960s, about 40% of women worked full-time during their first pregnancies; by 2008 that figure rose to almost 60%. The report also found that eight in ten women (82%) worked until they were within one month of their due date. Women now represent close to half of all workers. They are a key part of any organization’s talented workforce. Yet, pregnancy in the workplace can put women in a tough position. Pregnant women can be stigmatized at work; they are viewed as less competent and capable, and more irrational than their non-pregnant peers. This finding is consistent with research on working mothers, who are stereotyped as “warm” but “incompetent.”  Pregnant women are also discrimina....
Should You Talk About Politics at Work?

When politics is as heated as it has been in the U.S. this election cycle, it’s hard to resist the desire to talk about what’s going on with your coworkers. But is the office the right place to discuss whether you are a Clinton or Trump fan? Or whether you’re happy and furious about Brexit? What’s the most tactful way to go about it? And what should you do about the coworker who can’t tamp his enthusiasm and relentlessly talks about politics? What the Experts Say Talking about politics at work is tricky business. “Politics is very personal, and we tend to hold our beliefs extremely strongly,” says Liane Davey, cofounder of 3COze Inc. and author of You First: Inspire Your Team to Grow Up, Get Along, and Get Stuff Done. “No matter how much others try to influence us, we’re not....
Applying Game Theory to the Supreme Court Confirmation Fight

HBR STAFF “Politics is not a game,” Winston Churchill once said. “It is an earnest business.” And yet like any business, politics is rife with strategic challenges and opportunities that game theory can help elucidate. With that in mind, let us turn our attention to the latest glaring example of political business not getting done: the still-unfilled seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. First, a quick reminder of how we got here. The death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February set off a political stalemate that has served as a sidebar to the presidential election campaign. Under the U.S. Constitution, the president nominates justices “by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.” Yet within hours of Scalia’s passing, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell vowed not to consider any no....
The False Premise of the Shareholder Value Debate

Though never dormant for long, the debate about shareholder value maximization is having another flare-up. That discussion is a good thing, I think. However, it feels to me that all of the argumentation contains an unhelpfully false premise. Proponents of shareholder value maximization got a crucial logical boost in the late 1970s when Mike Jensen, a friend of mine and a great scholar, made the argument that the only way a corporation can make intelligent decisions is if it has a single goal that it seeks to maximize because it is impossible to optimize two (or more) things at once. “Stakeholder theory” or “triple-bottom-line thinking” will just leave management dazed and confused because it is unclear how these multiple objectives should be traded off. In contrast, seeking to maximize shareholder value creates a ....

TECHNALINK HIGHLIGHTS
The OM Factor received the prestigious honor of the Bronze Medal from The Axiom Business Book Awards as one of the best business books of 2016.
  

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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