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What Everyone Should Know About Managing Up

Photo by Andrew Nguyen Having a healthy, positive relationship with your boss makes your work life much easier — it’s also good for your job satisfaction and your career. But some managers don’t make it easy. Bad bosses are the stuff of legend. And too many managers are overextended, overwhelmed, or downright incompetent — a topic that HBR has covered extensively over the years. Even if your boss has some serious shortcomings, it’s in your best interest, and it’s your responsibility, to make the relationship work. HBR recently ran a special series on managing up, asking experts to provide their best practical advice for navigating this important dynamic. Together, these pieces provide a good primer on how to maintain an effective, productive working relationship with your own boss. To start, cons....
3 Ways Businesses Are Addressing Inequality in Emerging Markets

Last year, the World Bank added a new mission to its original goal of reducing poverty: boosting shared prosperity. The change reflects the state of today’s world: the fraction of the global population in extreme poverty, defined as those earning less than $1.25 per day, has dropped to 12% from 36% in 1990. Yet income inequality is more pronounced than ever. According to a report released by Oxfam International on Monday, the richest 80 individuals in the world hold as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion. World Bank President Jim Kim has called this reality a “stain on our collective conscience,” explaining that boosting shared prosperity is the best way to fight inequality. We agree wholeheartedly with that approach. And we believe businesses must play a large role in making it happen. Unlike extreme poverty remedia....
How to Conduct an Effective Job Interview

The virtual stack of resumes in your inbox is winnowed and certain candidates have passed the phone screen. Next step: in-person interviews. How should you use the relatively brief time to get to know — and assess — a near stranger? How many people at your firm should be involved? How can you tell if a candidate will be a good fit? And finally, should you really ask questions like: “What’s your greatest weakness?” What the Experts Say As the employment market improves and candidates have more options, hiring the right person for the job has become increasingly difficult. “Pipelines are depleted and more companies are competing for top talent,” says Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, a senior adviser at global executive search firm Egon Zehnder and author of It’s Not the How or the What but ....
What Is a Business Model?

In The New, New Thing, Michael Lewis refers to the phrase business model as “a term of art.”  And like art itself, it’s one of those things many people feel they can recognize when they see it (especially a particularly clever or terrible one) but can’t quite define. That’s less surprising than it seems because how people define the term really depends on how they’re using it. Lewis, for example, offers up the simplest of definitions — “All it really meant was how you planned to make money” — to make a simple point about the dot.com bubble, obvious now, but fairly prescient when he was writing at its height, in the fall of 1999.  The term, he says dismissively, was “central to the Internet boom; it glorified all manner of half-baked plans … The “....
An Exercise to Get Your Team Thinking Differently About the Future

Thinking about the future is hard, mainly because we are glued to the present. Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, observed that decision makers get stuck in a memory loop and can only predict the future as a reflection of the past. He labels this dynamic the “narrative fallacy” – you see the future as merely a slight variation on yesterday’s news. A way around this fallacy, we’ve found, is a speed-dating version of scenario planning, one that takes hours rather than months. Consider the experiment we recently ran with an expert panel to jump-start fresh thinking about the future. Our guinea pigs consisted of life sciences executives from big pharma, biotech entrepreneurs, and academics. The question we asked: How might a shortage of science, technical, e....
A Working from Home Experiment Shows High Performers Like It Better

Marissa Mayer’s move to ban working from home at Yahoo in 2013 caused a media firestorm over the costs and benefits of this rapidly growing practice. People lined up to defend both sides of the argument: Do work-from-home (WFH) policies encourage employees to “shirk from home” or are they an essential way to make our modern work lives actually work? To answer the question systematically and scientifically, we and two of our students ran an experiment with Ctrip, China’s largest travel agent. Ctrip wanted to test a WFH policy both to reduce office costs (which were becoming an increasingly high percentage of total costs due to rising rents at the firm’s Shanghai base) and to reduce the firm’s high annual rate of staff turnover (50%). Ctrip management was concerned, however, that allowing employees to wo....
What Netflix and Starbucks Know About Cash Flow

Netflix just announced its best quarter ever. Its subscriber count went up 13 million worldwide, and investors are enthused. Its U.S. business ended 2014 with 39.1 million subscribers, not far off our 2012 prediction that there were at least 40 million U.S. households who seemed likely to sign up for its streaming video service. The success Netflix is enjoying was far from certain if you recall the summer of 2011. That’s when the company suffered through the Quikster controversy and a protest over its price increase. I was in the minority when I wrote that the price increase was a good thing. I wrote that not as a growth strategist, but as a loyal, happy Netflix consumer. I was very pleased with my decade-long relationship with Netflix. I trusted the brand. I knew my demand for streaming would go up over time. And I felt certain th....
Evaluate Your Leadership Development Program

Despite studies showing that succession is an essential part of strategic planning, many companies ignore leadership development to focus on more immediate challenges. But your organization’s future success depends on identifying and developing the next generation of its leaders. According to a 2014 survey from Deloitte, 86% of business leaders know that their organizations’ future depends on the effectiveness of their leadership pipelines — but a survey of 2,200 global HR leaders found that only 13% are confident in their succession plans, with 54% reporting damage to their businesses due to talent shortages. To improve your leadership development strategy, look at the criteria you’re using to identify potential leaders, what you’re doing to assist with their development, and how you’re meas....
Why a Messy Workspace Undermines Your Persistence

The disorganized accumulation of papers and coffee cups scattered across your desk may help you project the impression that you’re working at full throttle, but in fact it’s probably dragging you down. We’ve found that people sitting at messy desks are less efficient, less persistent, and more frustrated and weary than those at neat desks. But wait, you may say. No one who has worked in a busy office for more than a week can possibly keep a neat desk — the work comes at you too fast. Or you may say that you like your mess, that it’s as comforting as a little nest. To which we say yes, it can be challenging to keep a desk neat. And yes, a mess can be comforting, even freeing, in a sense: You don’t have to worry about things becoming disordered, because they’re already disordered. But look at the d....
An Approach to Ending Poverty That Works

Ending extreme poverty by 2030 is the BHAG – the big, hairy audacious goal – of our generation. While skepticism abounds, momentum is on our side, with poverty rates falling in every region of world. Unfortunately, these trends still have little to no impact on the lives of a critical and chronically marginalized subset of the extreme poor around the world, those living on less than 60 to 70 cents per day. At BRAC, where I work, we call this subset the “ultra-poor.” Microfinance and other market-based interventions don’t generally reach them. Predominantly women, they face chronic food insecurity, malnutrition, gender discrimination and often abuse. They also bear the brunt of climate change— especially in rural areas where inclement weather and the increasing frequency of storms can hurt agr....
99% of Networking Is a Waste of Time

Building the right relationships — networking — is critical in business. It may be an overstatement to say that relationships are everything, but not a huge one. The people we spend time with largely determine the opportunities that are available to us. As venture capitalist and entrepreneur Rich Stromback told me in a series of interviews, “Opportunities do not float like clouds in the sky. They are attached to people.” To say Stromback is a great networker is an understatement: he was introduced to me as “Mr.Davos” for good reason. He has spent the last ten years attending the Mecca of networking events  — held by the World Economic Forum every year in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. The New York Times described him as the “unofficial expert on the Davos party scene.” Every year, ....
How the U.S. and India Can Strengthen Their Business Ties

Barack Obama is the first American President to visit India twice while still in office. When he leaves New Delhi on January 27, the bilateral benefits of the time invested might flow for a decade or longer—but it will depend on how well both sides manage some of the barriers that have kept the two giant countries from working together well in the past. As executives with deep experience in both countries, we see at least three ways that the President—and anyone developing business in India—can improve the mutual understanding between the two countries. Focus on Relationships: Business relationships between Indians and Americans, like political alliances, develop over time. Trust cannot be won quickly. While this might seem obvious let us look at the reality on the ground. Many large American corporations send expa....
Who Has Paid Sick Leave, Who Doesn’t, and What’s Changing

For decades, whether you can call in sick and still get paid has been determined by where you work. Because of this, millions of Americans — 43 million private-sector workers, as President Obama reminded us in the State of the Union — are out of luck, forced to make tough choices about whether to work when they — or their children or parents — have the flu. An initial glance at the private sector looks as though access to sick leave has improved. While the percentage of workers with access to holiday and vacation days has stayed the same or decreased over the last 20 years, those with paid sick, personal, and paid leave has jumped: And the cost of sick time as percentage of total compensation has remained the same. So it’s not costing companies any more than it did in the early 1990s. Good ne....
Companies with a Formal Sales Process Generate More Revenue

How well is your company managing its sales pipeline? Research conducted by Vantage Point Performance and the Sales Management Association revealed that 44% of executives think their organization is ineffective at managing theirs. (The survey included 62 B2B companies, 39% of which have revenue greater than $1 billion and 37% of which have revenue greater than $250 million.) This statistic is discouraging because there is a direct correlation between effective pipeline management and strong revenue growth. In our survey of B2B companies, executives were asked to rate their company’s year-over-year change in revenue on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 representing “drastically decreased revenue” and 7 representing “drastically increased revenue.” Executives were also asked to rate their company’s effectiveness....
How to Craft an Agile Marketing Campaign

Meticulously designed marketing campaigns are a relic. As research on disruption and market transitions suggests, you’re better off these days if you can quickly identify and adapt to changes in your environment. Sure, you can anticipate multiple outcomes, with branching if-then plans and hypothetical scenarios — but those plans are only as effective as events are predictable. It’s extremely difficult to say how long current trends will remain significant — innovative technologies are popping up faster than we can forecast — and it’s impossible to tell which new trends could emerge during your campaign and thwart your efforts. So marketers must develop the same mind-set and skills that allow agile tech and product-development teams to manage complex projects with many unknowns and moving parts. He....
Dysfunctional Products Come from Dysfunctional Organizations

Producing great products isn’t just about creativity and execution. It’s also about organizational alignment. Let me tell you a quick story. One of my alumni, Eli, recently finished a contract with a government transportation agency. She had been tasked with spending time with the agency’s customers – regular citizens – to identify usability issues in their mobile app. She had quickly discovered that the app was basically a trainwreck. People couldn’t understand how to use it, frequently lost money during the ticket purchasing process, and often got frustrated attempting to pay bus fare with an electronic ticket. Eli presented her work to executives and product owners in a two hour meeting. As the meeting progressed, the lead product owner got more and more agitated, and eventually exclaimed,....
When It Comes to Digital Innovation, Less Action, More Thought

A few years ago, we had an idea for a new business opportunity. One of our colleagues owned a restaurant and was complaining about the amount of money he lost because expensive bottles of liquor often went missing (the industry calls this “shrinkage”). This is a problem affecting tens of thousands of restaurants — an attractive target market. So, like good innovators, we began working on a solution to our colleague’s problem by building an automatic liquor inventory-management system. We partnered with a company in a Singapore that had expertise in RFID technology, and began to put together a solution involving tags on bottles, a customized storage unit that could read the tags, and a software management system. The system would give owners real-time inventory information, which would help them to identify shrinka....
Stop Playing the Victim with Your Time

It’s just not fair. There’s always too much to do. Everyone just keeps piling more work on me. I feel so helpless. Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. Many people feel like they have a crushing number of requests coming at them from every side that make them a victim to their circumstances. They see forces outside themselves as the reason that they don’t have time to exercise, can’t leave work at a reasonable time, or just generally struggle to get everything done. Although there are occasionally situations that are outside of your control — that recent bout with the flu, for example — most aren’t. And even though it can feel gratifying in the short term to blame others for your situation, this attitude toward your time investment will leave you truly powerless in the long run. When yo....
Robert Reich on Redefining Full-Time Work, Obamacare, and Employer Benefits

One of the U.S. Congress’s first acts of 2015? Trying to redefine what counts as full-time work, from 30 hours a week up to 40. It’s part of the latest attempt by Republicans to alter Obama’s signature healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act, and has already passed the House of Representatives. But it has also had the perhaps unexpected effect of putting the divide between full- and part-time workers front and center in American politics. I asked former Clinton Labor Secretary and UC Berkeley professor Robert Reich about the debate, and what it means for employers, employees, and the future of American work. An edited version of our conversation follows. The House has voted to change the definition of full-time work. It seems like the Senate may as well, and Obama has threatened to veto it. Why does the definition ....
Why Target’s Canadian Expansion Failed

It was a brief stint for Target in Canada. Less than two years after opening there, Target announced last week that it would close its 133 Canadian stores. Some Canadian Target customers responded emotionally to the news on Target Canada’s Facebook website (“totally heartbroken,” “please don’t go,” “good riddance,” “you obviously don’t understand Canadians”). Target CEO Brian Cornell decided to close the stores after determining that they would not become profitable until at least 2021. The market exit will stop Target’s continued losses in Canada and help the company focus on its strategic initiatives in the U.S. such as smaller stores in urban places, mobile and online, and its cheap chic merchandising focus—to “be cool again,” as Cornell told Tar....
The Flaws in Obama’s Cybersecurity Initiative

President Obama’s new raft of proposals aim to address the growing concern that America is not taking tough-enough action against the increasing cybersecurity problem of nation-states and criminals (usually criminal gangs) attacking U.S. consumers and organizations. The evildoers’ motivation for doing so is most often money, but intellectual property is also being filched, and the internet is also being used for anything from identity theft to illicit political objectives. The cornerstones of the proposal are to: Prohibit the sale of botnets and similar tools Give the courts the power to shut down networks assembled for cybercrime such as those involved in “distributed denial of service” (DDOS) attacks Protect companies that share information with the government about computer threats from liability He also call....
The Best Digital Business Models Put Evolution Before Revolution

What, another clarion call urging executives to fundamentally rethink their business models through digital technology? The business media have had no shortage of these. Many such bulletins focus on radically changing the nature of competition in an industry, as Apple did for music and Uber did for taxis. While there is certainly merit in questioning your business model, revolutionary business model transformation remains elusive despite the buzz. In our survey research, a mere 7% of executives said that their company’s digital initiatives were helping them to launch new businesses. And only 15% said digital was helping them to create new business models. Why is that? Business model innovation is hard. But managers make it harder when they think about it only as radical industry reinvention. While revolutionary business m....
The Productivity Challenge of an Aging Global Workforce

The world is aging, and that matters for growth. In the past, an abundant and growing labor pool was a powerful engine of the world economy; today, the number of workers is starting to decline in many countries. This leaves no alternative but for companies, individuals, and governments to work in smarter ways. In an era of profound demographic change, another productivity revolution is a necessity. Without an acceleration in productivity growth, the rate of global GDP growth is set to decline by 40% from 3.6% a year between 1964 and 2012 to only 2.1% over the next 50 years. It would take 80% faster productivity growth to fully compensate for the projected decline. Is it feasible for the global economy to achieve such a large acceleration in productivity growth from an already rapid rate? New research we conducted at the McKinsey Global I....
Research: Love-Hate Relationships at Work Might Be Good for You

Workplace relationships are complex. Colleagues compete as well as cooperate with you for bonuses. Friends at work who are trusted confidantes may then gossip about you. Co-workers who encourage you may also disparage you in front of others. You might call these people “frenemies”. But researchers like us label these kinds of connections “ambivalent relationships”. Ambivalent relationships are characterized by tension and conflict and involve both positive and negative feelings towards the other person. These love-hate relationships are also widespread, comprising close to half of important social network members. Research conducted in families shows that people tend to view their parents, in-laws, and significant others with more ambivalence than their friends. Why? It’s relatively easy to stop calling....

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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