What Goldilocks Can Teach You About Management

Running a classroom and running a business have interesting parallels for what works best to cultivate intrinsic motivation, effective productivity, and successful performance. Whether we’re students or employees, we need supportive conditions to achieve know-how and expertise.

On the education front, Dr. MaryEllen Vogt has examined the effect of how teachers’ perception of their students’ aptitude influenced their classroom approach. She found that when students were perceived as high performers, teachers:

  • talked less and encouraged more interactions among students,
  • allowed for more creative and generative approaches to learning,
  • offered opportunities for independent work,
  • had warmer and more personal relationships with students, and
  • spent little time on behavior or classroom management issues.

When teachers saw their students as low performers, they:

  • prepared more structured lessons,
  • allowed fewer opportunities for student creativity,
  • covered less content,
  • rewarded students for “trying hard” rather than for “good thinking,”
  • spent a significant amount of time on behavior and management issues, and
  • had less congenial relationships with students due to their heavy emphasis on discipline.Source: Karen Tankersley, Literacy Strategies for Grades 4-12

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How the Power-Happiness Connection Matters at Work

People who feel powerful are happier, according to a recent study published in Psychological Science.

Researchers found that authenticity is what connects that relationship between power and “subjective well-being” (happiness, basically). When you have power, your behavior can align more closely with your desires and values so that you are free to be more authentic. And when you can go about your day being more true to yourself, you feel happier.

“[B]y leading people to be true to their desires and inclinations — to be authentic — power leads individuals to experience greater happiness,” the study authors note. What’s especially interesting is that dispositional power, or your sense of power, is a strong predictor of happiness, so your perception matters.

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How Luc Levesque Leads TravelPod & TripAdvisor to Focus on Being the Best

Transparent communication is a theme running through Luc Levesque’s career, from his 1997 founding of Travelpod, the first travel blogging website where people could share their adventures, to his current practice of handing new employees a boss blueprint.  Luc is currently a General Manager at TripAdvisor, responsible for its global SEO efforts and TravelPod’s business unit. We talked with Luc about how he communicates with his team and how frequent feedback is vital to great performance.

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Clayton Christensen on What Management Isn’t

Many think of management as cutting deals and laying people off and hiring people and buying and selling companies. That’s not management, that’s dealmaking. Management is the opportunity to help people become better people. Practiced that way, it’s a magnificent profession.

Clayton Christensen in Wired, “Clayton Christensen Wants to Transform Capitalism

The Struggles of Managing the Invisible

The peculiar challenge of knowledge work is that so much of it takes place in our heads and out of sight. In contrast to the era of factory work, knowledge work is nowhere near as visible. You can’t discern the state of progress by looking at tangible output or product.

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This poses a particular problem for managers, whose job it is to support their employees and enable progress. You can’t properly manage what you can’t see. Otherwise the result is directives and orders that don’t make sense, veering toward irrelevance and away from the reality of the situation. Leading blindly without understanding the status of projects and the context in which people are working makes as much sense as managing a production line without seeing the state and quality of a product as it is being assembled.

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8 Expensive Lessons in Project Management, for Free!

When it comes to project management, it’s so much cheaper to learn from someone else’s mistakes. So here are a few of mine!

I’ve been running projects for my whole adult life. I started with computer games at IG. After ten years I switched to marketing and copywriting projects at Articulate Marketing, which I still run. On top of that, I’m now also CEO of Turbine, an online app for purchases, expenses, time off management and HR record-keeping.

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Photo: Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig

Project management is the art, craft and science of getting stuff done by teams. And it’s also like walking through a minefield. These tips – based on my own experience over 20 years – will help you find your way through it.

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The Business Perks of Traveling Back to the Future

Sometimes the sheer clarity of hindsight is like life’s annoying way of saying, “I told you so!” Looking in the rearview mirror to see what went wrong is integral to learning from our mistakes, but we often wish for hindsight’s clear vision when we’re forging our way forward.

Research psychologist Gary Klein has a startling prescription for that feeling:  imagine your plan’s death.

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According to Klein, one way to tap into the power of hindsight is a practice called the premortem. In the more familiar postmortem, you analyze an unsuccessful event after it has occurred to figure out what went wrong.

In the premortem, the analysis faces the event head-on while presuming it has failed to generate plausible reasons for the failure. Performing premortems can help identify problems in advance and tune you into early warning signs because you know what to watch out for.

These are the basic steps for conducting a premortem:

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Dr. David Posen on Treating Workplace Stress

As a manager, you need to know who’s wilting under the pace or workload… Ask people what they need, what resources would be helpful. And be a good role model… Give people permission to slow down.

Dr. David Posen, author of the forthcoming book, Is Work Killing You? A Doctor’s Prescription for Treating Workplace Stress in a Q&A with the WSJ At Work blog.

Dr. Posen breaks down three main causes of workplace stress: volume, velocity, and abuse. There are longer hours and faster paces in the modern workplace.

And then there’s the abuse:

Abuse is bullying, harassment, and all the politics people play. It’s amazing how one abusive person can create stress for dozens of people. It’s become a bigger problem because people have less freedom to say ‘I don’t want this job’ and go somewhere else. So people aren’t quitting and they’re not even complaining because they don’t want to seem like troublemakers.

Are breaks and reasonable hours enough to combat this type of workplace negativity? Dear readers, tell us about your experiences with what Posen calls workplace abuse or some ways to address abuse in organizations!

Women, Toot Your Own Horn or Get Left Behind

Women face tough challenges in accessing leadership opportunities. Just look at the numbers. While women make up 51.4% of middle managers, they account for a mere 4.2% of Fortune 500 CEOs.

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During law school, I participated in a clinical program where students work in the field while receiving practical training and guidance. While discussing a self-evaluation written after a client interview exercise, I noted that I’d been pretty hard on myself, commenting lightly, “Well, who thinks they do everything great?”

“Plenty of people do,” my supervising professor replied. “And they’ll say so, even when they’re not.”

While the extremes of egotism can be awfully distasteful, there is something to tooting your own horn. Among the complex reasons for the self-promotion paradox that women face, including harmful gender stereotypes and perceptions, is a lack of confidence in communicating achievements, in saying so even when they actually are awesome at what they do.

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The Best of iDoneThis: Management and Leadership

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Happy holidays, Happy days off work, Happy eating, catching up, and slowing down! We’re sharing the greatest hits and bestest bits of the iDoneThis blog this year. On today’s menu: management and leadership at work.

Silicon Valley’s Productivity Secret

The Art of Getting Stuff Done Without Bossing Around

The Manager’s Oath

Peter Thiel’s Unorthodox Management Philosophy of Extreme Focus

The Awkward Leader