Is Your Emotional Intelligence Authentic, or Self-Serving?

Kittiyut Phornphibul/EyeEm/Getty Images

It’s possible to fake emotional intelligence. Similar to knockoffs of luxury watches or handbags, there are emotions and actions that look like the real thing but really aren’t. With the best of intentions, I’ve seen smart leaders charge into sensitive interactions armed with what they believed was a combination of deep empathy, attuned listening, and self-awareness but was, in fact, a way to serve their own emotional needs. It’s important to learn to spot these forgeries, especially if you’re the forger.

Plenty of research has documented manipulative misuses of emotional intelligence — the intentionally subtle regulating of one’s emotions to engineer responses from others that might not be in their best interest. Given that most people aren’t sociopaths, in my experience, the more common misuses of emotional intelligence are subconscious. To safeguard against inadvertently falling prey to them, we need deeper levels of self-examination. Here are three

Continue reading "Is Your Emotional Intelligence Authentic, or Self-Serving?"

After a Merger, Don’t Let “Us vs. Them” Thinking Ruin the Company

John Gichigi/Getty Images

More and more companies are relying on mergers & acquisitions (M&A) as a competitive growth strategy. Since 2012, M&A activity has increased dramatically in both number of deals and size of transaction, with the yearly value of global M&A deals tracking above $4.5 trillion for the past four years. These are heady numbers and 2018 is expected to continue apace. Yet when mergers are not done correctly, the end result can be at best uncomfortable, and at worst devastating to both companies.

As part of my consulting work on mergers and acquisitions, I created a playbook that defines the best practices for optimizing the human side of M&A. To uncover the human facets and the consistent challenges of M&A, I interviewed 55 executives from multinational to small- to medium-size companies all over the world. The interviewees, who were in the process of an M&A deal or

Continue reading "After a Merger, Don’t Let “Us vs. Them” Thinking Ruin the Company"

Employees Who Use Social Media for Work Are More Engaged — but Also More Likely to Leave Their Jobs

Henrik Sorensen/Getty Images

Social media can be a powerful communication tool for employees, helping them to collaborate, share ideas and solve problems. Research has shown that 82% of employees think that social media can improve work relationships and 60% believe social media support decision-making processes. These beliefs contribute to a majority of workers connecting with colleagues on social media, even during work hours.

Employers typically worry that social media is a productivity killer; more than half of U.S. employers reportedly block access to social media at work. In my research with 277 employees of a healthcare organization I found these concerns to be misguided. Social media doesn’t reduce productivity nearly as much as it kills employee retention.

In the first part of the study I surveyed the employees about why and how they used platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Respondents were then asked about their work behaviors,

Continue reading "Employees Who Use Social Media for Work Are More Engaged — but Also More Likely to Leave Their Jobs"

How VC John Doerr Sets (and Achieves) Goals

HBR Staff/Steve Jennings / Stringer/Getty Images

Since joining Kleiner Perkins in 1980, venture capitalist John Doerr has helped fund Intuit, Amazon, Google, Twitter, and a host of other well-known tech companies. Many of them utilize a goal-setting system Doerr calls “OKR,” for “objectives” and “key results.” His new book, Measure What Matters, contains his explanation for how and why the system works, as well as case studies by leaders who’ve adopted it — including Bill Gates, Larry Page, and Bono. Doerr stopped by HBR to talk about his passion for setting and reaching goals. Edited excerpts of that conversation follow:

HBR: Why did you write this book?

DOERR: I came to Silicon Valley in the mid-1970s and got a job at Intel. It was a very vibrant time in the company’s life.  They had just invented the microchip, which became the basis of the personal computer. I

Continue reading "How VC John Doerr Sets (and Achieves) Goals"

How Managers Can Be Fair About Flexibility for Parents and Non-Parents Alike

Jorg Greuel/Getty Images

Bias against parents — and especially mothers — has been well documented. We call it the “Maternal Wall,” and we’ve been studying it for years, researching how women who have always been successful at work sometimes find their competence questioned when they take maternity leave or ask for a flexible work schedule. We know now that this bias can affect fathers, too, when they seek even modest accommodations for caregiving. For example, a consultant in one study reported that he was harassed for taking two weeks of paternity leave — but applauded for taking a three-week vacation to an exotic locale. Parents, studies consistently show, face extra scrutiny.

But while the data is clear that parents are more likely to face bias at work, sometimes we also hear about a different problem: that people without children find that their managers are more understanding of

Continue reading "How Managers Can Be Fair About Flexibility for Parents and Non-Parents Alike"

To Reduce Sexual Misconduct, Help People Understand How Their Advances Might Be Received

pbombaert/Getty Images

The revelations of the #MeToo movement seem to have caught many men by surprise. Comedian Aziz Ansari was “surprised and concerned,” believing his encounter with a woman to be “by all indications completely consensual.” Well-known actor Richard Dreyfus was “bewildered to discover” an incident wasn’t consensual, leading him to “reassess every relationship I have ever thought was playful and mutual.”

Although there are numerous explanations for the widespread sexual harassment and assault allegations that have recently come to light across various industries, in our research we have identified one potential contributor related to the psychology of avowed unwitting perpetrators: a cognitive blind spot that makes them oblivious to how trapped their unwanted advances can make their targets feel.

In two studies soon to be published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, we found that romantic suitors generally underestimate the discomfort

Continue reading "To Reduce Sexual Misconduct, Help People Understand How Their Advances Might Be Received"

How to Manage an Insecure Employee

hamzaturkkol/Getty Images

When employees lack self-confidence, it can be hard to get them to perform at their best. So how can you help them excel at their job? What kind of coaching should you provide? What’s the best way to boost their self-esteem? And how do you deal with your own frustration around their insecure behavior?

What the Experts Say
Insecure employees are “hard to evaluate, hard to coach, and hard to develop,” says Ethan Burris, an associate professor at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, Austin. “The challenge is that insecure people are so concerned with how they look and how they are perceived that they either fail to solicit critical feedback or completely ignore it when it’s given. And this robs them of the opportunity to improve.” Your interpersonal relationships with insecure employees also tend to be more complicated, says Mary Shapiro, a professor at Simmons College

Continue reading "How to Manage an Insecure Employee"

The Painful Cycle of Employee Loneliness, and How It Hurts Companies

Keiichi Ichikawa/EyeEm/Getty Images

Loneliness is a painful and pernicious emotion. Defined as “a complex set of feelings that occurs when intimate and social needs are not adequately met,” loneliness is different from depression, being alone, or feelings of solitude. It has more to do with a person’s quality of social relationships rather than their quantity.

Loneliness has been long studied in psychological literature when it comes to family, romantic, or social lives. But there is very little research on how the experience of being lonely plays out in the workplace. As awareness about loneliness increases — British Prime Minister Teresa May appointed a minister for loneliness earlier this year, and former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy wrote about the topic for HBR in 2017 — it’s important to understand exactly how people experience loneliness in their jobs. How does it affect their work? How does it shape their relationships

Continue reading "The Painful Cycle of Employee Loneliness, and How It Hurts Companies"

How to Get People to Accept a Tough Decision

Colormos/Getty Images

Imagine this: You’re a general manager for a manufacturing company and orders are up. You know you should be celebrating, but instead, you feel gut punched. Your plants are facing severe capacity and material constraints and you know you can’t fill these orders. Now you have to decide which ones to fill, which to delay, and which to turn away.

Your decision will favor winners and losers: desperate customers, angry sales reps, and frustrated factory employees. And, if you don’t get it right, your reputation with all of these stakeholders will take a serious hit.

Here’s another tough decision scenario: You were just told that you’ve been laid off. It’s not entirely surprising since your company — and the community you live in — has been struggling. Do you stay in your depressed community where your kids go to school? Or do you move to another state where

Continue reading "How to Get People to Accept a Tough Decision"

Why Great Networkers Are Sometimes Bad for Creative Projects

Laura Schneider for HBR

Imagine you are putting together a team for an important project. You have two candidates for the last slot. First, there’s Tess. She has not only a lot of relevant experience but also a wide network in the industry. She seems to know all about the emerging trends; her colleagues marvel at her creativity. Then there’s Cyril, who is competent and has deep skills and knowledge, but does not have Tess’s broad network. You can only choose one.

It seems like a no-brainer. Decades of research have explained why people like Tess can come up with creative insights: Their connections expose them to different ideas from groups of people who normally don’t talk with each other. These “hubs” absorb information from different professional communities and recombine them in creative ways. They certainly benefit from having connections. But is it a two-way street? Do the people who

Continue reading "Why Great Networkers Are Sometimes Bad for Creative Projects"

How to Welcome an Employee Back from Medical Leave

Marion Barraud for HBR

Employees take leaves of absence for all sorts of reasons, from dealing with a cancer diagnosis to caring for a sick child. In one survey, 13% of U.S. employees reported taking time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act in the past 12 months.

When the employee comes back to the office, of course, there is often a sense of relief, both because your colleague has returned from a difficult time and because the extra work absorbed by coworkers can now be handed back. But leaders sometimes forget that there are many steps that must occur before employees can return to full capacity. Here are some specific actions that will help ensure a smooth transition for your employee and you.

Remember to Check In During the Leave

During a typical week, managers meet with their teams for check-ins. Similarly, plan to check in periodically with your team member on

Continue reading "How to Welcome an Employee Back from Medical Leave"

The Most Common Type of Incompetent Leader

Jakub Domerecki/EyeEm/Getty Images

A young friend recently remarked that the worst boss he ever had would provide him with feedback that always consisted of “You’re doing a great job.” But they both knew it wasn’t true — the organization was in disarray, turnover was excessive, and customers were not happy. My friend was giving it his all, but he needed more support and better feedback than he received. He wanted a leader who would be around when he needed them, and who would give him substantive advice, not platitudes. As a measure of his frustration, he said, “I would rather have had a boss who yelled at me or made unrealistic demands than this one, who provided empty praise.”

Researchers have studied managerial derailment — or the dark side of leadership — for many years. The key derailment characteristics of bad managers are well documented and fall into three

Continue reading "The Most Common Type of Incompetent Leader"

How to Manage an Employee Who Cries Easily

Hayon Thapaliya for HBR

Most managers feel uncomfortable when employees cry during business conversations. Many of us may recall a time we’ve cried at work, but for some people it’s not a rare occurrence. Some individuals seem to react excessively to disappointment or challenge, with repeated bouts of apparent sadness or fear accompanied by tears, shaking, or reddening. If you manage someone who tears up easily, you may find yourself leaving important topics or issues unaddressed to avoid upsetting them.

Some employees are quick to cry because they lack strong self-management skills; they may be embarrassed by their own emotionalism, and grateful for any advice you can offer on keeping a more even keel. Some cry as a form of deflection or manipulation; I’ve worked with a handful of people whose frequent crying served as a first line of defense against criticism. Of course, they may also be handling a

Continue reading "How to Manage an Employee Who Cries Easily"

America’s Loneliest Workers, According to Research

Dave Wheeler for HBR

A hundred fifty years ago, poet Emily Dickinson described loneliness as “the horror not to be surveyed, but skirted in the dark.” Had she been running a modern company, she might have felt differently. Loneliness should be as important to managers, CFOs, and CEOs as it is to therapists. The last half-decade of research has demonstrated that loneliness threatens not only our physical health and well-being, but also our livelihood.  Research shows that loneliness has the same effect as 15 cigarettes a day in terms of health care outcomes and health care costs. Yet we are often blind to this hidden drain on health and revenue. Lonelier workers perform more poorly, quit more often, and feel less satisfied with their jobs — costing employers upwards of £2.5 billion ($3.5 billion U.S.) in the United Kingdom alone. The U.K.

Continue reading "America’s Loneliest Workers, According to Research"

Engaging Employees Starts with Remembering What Your Company Stands For

HBR STAFF/Caiaimage/Robert Daly/Getty Images

Organizations spend over $100 billion annually to improve employee engagement. Yet according to Gallup, only 13% of employees are engaged — and disengaged employees cost U.S. companies $450 billion to $550 billion per year in lost productivity.

The reason why most engagement efforts fall short is that they’re designed to cultivate employees’ commitment in generic, general ways. They attempt to make people feel that they’re working for a responsible company or that the company’s leaders care about them. A more precise, robust approach is employee brand engagement, which establishes a critical link between employees and customers.

Employee brand engagement is achieved when employees are aligned and involved with the organization’s brand. It requires the company to have a clearly articulated brand identity and its leaders to cultivate a positive, multidimensional connection between employees and that brand identity. The goal is to make sure employees

Continue reading "Engaging Employees Starts with Remembering What Your Company Stands For"

Why People Lose Motivation — and What Managers Can Do to Help

Brandon Lyon/Getty Images

At some point, every leader has dealt with a person — or, worse, a group of people — who has lost motivation. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? As much as we’ve been there ourselves, sometimes it’s hard to sympathize with others who are disengaged from work and unproductive as a result. Sometimes, we view their unhappiness as a bug in their mental makeup — and, therefore, we think they should be able to suck it up and snap out of it.

Although it’s easy to fall into this mindset as a leader, this type of thinking is counterproductive and it ignores the underlying reasons why people lose their passion for what they do (or never find it to begin with).

In order to get at the crux of the problem, it’s crucial to understand that as humans we want to feel motivated and to find meaning in the things

Continue reading "Why People Lose Motivation — and What Managers Can Do to Help"

When Empowering Employees Works, and When It Doesn’t

maodesign/Getty Images

Research has regularly demonstrated that when employees feel empowered at work, it is associated with stronger job performance, job satisfaction, and commitment to the organization.

Many leaders today often try to empower their employees by delegating authority and decision-making, sharing information, and asking for their input. But our recent research found that this style of leadership works best in motivating certain types of performance and certain types of employees. “Empowering” leaders should know when they can be most effective.

We conducted a meta-analysis of all available field experiments on leaders empowering subordinates – examining the results of 105 studies, which included data from more than 30,000 employees from 30 countries. Our paper was published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior. We looked at whether an empowering leadership style was linked to improved job performance, and we tested whether this was true of different types of performance, such as

Continue reading "When Empowering Employees Works, and When It Doesn’t"

Disney Defines Its Corporate Culture by the Actions of Its Leaders – SPONSOR CONTENT FROM DISNEY INSTITUTE

disney article image 6

Photo Credit: Disney Institute

Everyone has heard the phrase “Actions speak louder than words.” But did you know that this idea can be your key to establishing the thriving organizational culture you desire?

While corporate culture is often defined as the shared values and beliefs of the people who make up an organization, leaders sometimes overlook how that culture is effectively communicated through behavior and actions.  

Leaders must be intentional, proactive, and authentic when it comes to fostering an environment that supports the

Continue reading "Disney Defines Its Corporate Culture by the Actions of Its Leaders – SPONSOR CONTENT FROM DISNEY INSTITUTE"

How Disney Empowers Its Employees to Deliver Exceptional Customer Service – SPONSOR CONTENT FROM DISNEY INSTITUTE

disney image #5- empowering people

Photo Credit: Disney Institute

What would Walt Disney Parks and Resorts be without its Cast Members and the extraordinary level of service delivery they strive for each day? Clearly, this is critical to our continued growth and success as a business. Because of this success, we are constantly asked, “How do you do it?” And the even more interesting question may be ”How do you sustain it?”

From the start, Walt Disney knew how important it was to empower his Cast Members at Disneyland to strive for excellence and deliver outstanding service to each and every guest. In fact, Walt Disney once said, “You can dream, create, design, and build the most wonderful place in the world … but it requires people to make the dream a reality.”

How Disney Works to Eliminate the Words “That’s Not My Job” from Its Organization – SPONSOR CONTENT FROM DISNEY INSTITUTE

disney article 4 image-not my job!

Photo Credit: Disney Institute

There are few phrases that change the dynamics of a conversation more than That’s not my job. As managers, we have probably all heard this phrase before—whether from a team member whom we’ve asked for something or, worse, from someone we work with who says this to a customer.

The phrase “That’s not my job” is typically a symptom of a deeper issue that must be addressed. Why? Because whether it’s coming from one person or many, it is probably an issue with your organization’s culture.