Archive: Management Tip of the Day

Stop Bankrolling Carbon-Intensive Projects

The current fiscal crisis on Wall Street reveals what can happen when long-term risk is ignored in the interest of short-term gain. Like subprime mortgages, climate change present far-reaching hidden dangers, and the financial industry should be paying attention. If...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | May 27, 2009; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Are You a Leader in Denial?

More than 10 percent of U.S. companies disappear annually -- often owing to their leaders' denial that consumer needs are changing. Henry Ford failed to notice in the late 1920s that consumers wanted more from a car than transportation; theywanted...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | May 22, 2009; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Become an Authentic Speaker

You rehearse your speeches thoroughly--including mastering body language. But when you deliver your presentations, your listeners seem unmoved. Why? You're probably coming across as inauthentic. That's because when speakers rehearse body-language elements, they use them after speaking the associated words...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | May 20, 2009; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Make Innovation Business as Usual

To grow, a company must constantly create new offerings. But for many large corporations, innovation is an unnatural act. Why? Resistance stifles new ideas, and silos block the cross-functional cooperation needed to commercialize innovations. One way to dismantle these boundaries...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | May 18, 2009; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Start Innovation Efforts the Right Way

Do you start innovation efforts by assembling a group of people and telling them, "It's innovation time!"? If so, your vagueness may be setting them up for failure. Instead, begin by establishing a goal for five years from now: Will...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | May 15, 2009; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Ask Candidates About Their Failures, Too

When evaluating candidates for important roles in your unit, do you seek a litany of accomplishments demonstrating sound judgment? Do you consider failure radioactive? If so, you're not alone. But you may be making a mistake. Failure, more than success,...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | May 13, 2009; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Get Your People Unstuck

In these times of high uncertainty, your employees are at risk of becoming stuck. Too often they're sitting on their hands and waiting for more information. How can you get them moving again? Don't let your own feeling of being...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | March 2, 2009; 09:20 AM ET | Comments (0)

Teaching Leadership Skills

One of your most crucial jobs as a manager is to help develop your direct reports' leadership capabilities. Action learning can help. Through action learning, individuals work through actual business problems and apply lessons learned to new challenges. How it...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | December 19, 2008; 10:42 AM ET | Comments (0)

Drive Your Own Development as a Leader

Many top-performing companies are investing in "pull" (self-directed) leadership-development approaches. In "pull" approaches, people have extensive choice and flexibility and take more responsibility for enhancing their leadership talents. How to fully exploit "pull" approaches? One way is to focus on...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | December 18, 2008; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

Combat Prejudice to Get the Promotion You Want

Are you being kept from advancing to more senior roles because of your race or gender? Ascending the corporate ladder is tough for all contenders, but women and minorities often face especially great challenges. One strategy is to look beyond...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | December 17, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

To Serve Customers Better, Get to Know Them Better

How to build a devoted clientele? Use technology to deeply mine your customer database. By slicing information into ever-finer segments, you get to know your customers better and can enhance the benefits they get by choosing you over rivals. One...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | November 11, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Foster Creativity -- Even Under Pressure

Your company's ability to develop the products and services of tomorrow depends on the highest levels of creativity among employees. But time pressure can erode creativity. Nevertheless, in some organizations, creativity thrives despite brutal deadlines. How? Managers minimize time pressure's...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | November 10, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Add Major Innovations to Your Product Portfolio

Incremental innovations (small, safe changes to your firm's offerings) make up 85 to 90 percent of companies' development portfolios. But "little i" projects rarely produce competitive advantage. For that, you need "Big I" innovations--offerings new to your organization or the...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | November 6, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Make Sure Your Negotiations Deliver as Promised

Why do so many deals that looked great on paper end up in tatters? Negotiators focus too much on closing the deal -- and not enough on ensuring their agreement will work in practice. To avoid this mistake, adopt an...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | November 5, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

How to Emerge from Adversity Stronger Than Before

What enables one leader to inspire loyalty and hard work, while others -- with equal vision and intelligence -- stumble? It's how individuals deal with adversity. Extraordinary leaders learn from the most negative events. They emerge from adversity stronger than...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | November 4, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Stop Taking on Your Employee's Problems

An employee stops you in the hall and says, "We've got a problem." You can't make an on-the-spot decision, so you say, "Let me think about it." You've just allowed a "monkey" to leap from your subordinate's back to yours....

By washingtonpost.com Editors | November 3, 2008; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Persuade Your People to Embrace Needed Change

Your unit needs a turnaround. Yet most major change initiatives fail. How to beat those odds? Conduct a campaign persuading your people to embrace and execute needed change. One important step is to manage the emotions that arise during change...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | October 31, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

For Top Performance, Manage Your Team's Emotions

A team's emotional intelligence may be more important than individual members' "EI," since most work gets done in teams. But a team's EI isn't simply the sum of its members'. Instead, it comes from norms that support awareness and regulation...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | October 30, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Are You Hiring the Right People?

How to attract and retain the right people--employees who are excited by your company's values and will reward it with loyalty and stellar performance? Don't try to be all things to all employees. Instead, communicate your company's "signature experience"--the distinctive...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | October 29, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

How to Manage People Who Don't Want to Be Led

Who most determines your company's success? Clever people--employees whose knowledge and skills enable them to produce disproportionate value for your firm. To ensure clever people do their best work at your company, you must harness their talents. But that isn't...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | October 28, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Help Make Your Company a Talent Factory

If you're struggling to fill key positions in your unit or department, you're not alone. But you can -- and should -- take steps to ensure you have the right people with the right skills in the right place at...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | October 27, 2008; 07:10 AM ET | Comments (1)

Is Your Special Project Team Collaborating Enough?

To execute major initiatives in your company or department, you need special project teams that are large, virtual, diverse, and specialized. Yet these very characteristics can destroy team members' ability to work together. For example, as team size grows, collaboration...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | October 24, 2008; 01:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

Expect the Best from Employees -- and You Get It

When you expect the best from your employees, you get the best. And when you expect the worst . . . well, you get that, too. To unleash the power of positive expectations, start by expecting the most from yourself....

By washingtonpost.com Editors | October 23, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Help Your Company Bounce Back from Disaster

Just one day after a hurricane devastated southeast Florida, UPS was delivering packages to customers in the area--even those living in cars because their homes were destroyed. UPS had resilience: the ability to bend and bounce back from hardship. How...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | October 22, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Enhance Growth by Leveraging Other Companies' Assets

Traditional growth strategies require up-front investment in new assets in the hope of future profits. Result? Narrow margins--for a time, or forever. Here's a better way to spur growth: Leverage assets that other companies own. For example, aggregate related firms'...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | October 21, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Combat Managers' Resistance to Change

Technology breakthroughs. Regulatory upheavals. Geopolitical shocks. How can you help your company sustain performance in the face of such turmoil? Hone managers' ability to reinvent business models and strategies as circumstances change. The first step? Conquer denial of disruptive change...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | October 20, 2008; 09:15 AM ET | Comments (1)

Give Strategically Important Projects the Most Resources

Your product development projects are stumbling: You're running out of money. Products are late. Panicked team leaders are cutting corners and squandering scarce resources on "squeaky wheels." Halt the chaos -- by approaching product development systematically. Categorize each project as:...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | October 17, 2008; 08:05 AM ET | Comments (0)

Steer Clear of Unsound Management Theories

You've got a problem: a decline in profitability, a rise in workforce turnover, product-development delays. The management books and articles piled in your office are rife with conflicting theories about solutions. How to sift through the contradictions and avoid unsound...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | October 16, 2008; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Play Hardball with the Competition

How to position your company to consistently dominate its markets? Play hardball -- shifting your competitive position, consolidating gains, and preparing your next attack. Here's one hardball strategy: Identify your and your rivals' profit sanctuaries -- business areas generating the...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | October 15, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Squeeze More Innovation Out of Your R&D Dollars

You can't outgrow your competitors unless you out-innovate them. But during times of R&D belt-tightening, you have to squeeze more innovation out of every dollar invested. One way to do this is to launch low-cost, under-the-radar experiments. These help you...

By washingtonpost.com Editor | October 14, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Make Quantum Leaps in the Value You Provide Customers

To stay ahead of competitors, you must make quantum leaps in the value you provide customers. First, articulate what most of your buyers value. Hotelier Accor, for example, decided its primary customers -- cost-conscious travelers -- prized a good night's...

By washingtonpost.com Editor | October 13, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Don't Let Your Product Become Obsolete

How to ensure continued growth in demand for your products or services? Avoid falling victim to common myths that can cause you to become complacent. Here's one especially dangerous myth: "There's no competitive substitute for my industry's major product." Believing...

By washingtonpost.com Editor | October 10, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Selling to the Moneyed Masses

What's the hottest growth opportunity the world has seen in ages? The expanding affluent class. In the United States alone, this new mass market represents 49% of the country's income--but only 37% of its consumption. How to persuade newly moneyed...

By washingtonpost.com Editor | October 9, 2008; 06:59 AM ET | Comments (0)

Are You Using the Right Supply Chain for Your Product?

Do you have persistent supply chain headaches--excess inventory, stockouts? If so, you may be using the wrong supply chain for your product. Is your offering functional--it satisfies basic needs and has a long life cycle, low margins, and stable demand?...

By washingtonpost.com Editor | October 8, 2008; 07:58 AM ET | Comments (1)

Which Capabilities Should You Outsource--and Which Should You Keep In-House?

How to maximize outsourcing's value? Make strategic decisions about which capabilities to outsource and which you'll handle in-house. Use this three-step process: 1) List all your capabilities--including HR, finance, IT management, logistics distribution, product development, and packaging. 2) Identify capabilities...

By washingtonpost.com Editor | October 7, 2008; 06:57 AM ET | Comments (1)

Are You Taking Full Advantage of Offshoring's Value?

The expanding global economy offers your company a major advantage: translating cost savings from offshoring into explosive new revenue growth. How to seize this advantage? First slash costs by using offshoring to streamline production processes and supply chains globally. For...

By washingtonpost.com Editor | October 6, 2008; 07:56 AM ET | Comments (0)

To Retain Customers, Make Your Products Easy to Use

Consumers are tired of waiting for service and sending purchases back for rounds of repair. They're angry. Companies are losing them to rivals and spending more to process their complaints. The solution? View consumption as a process. Consumers don't just...

By washingtonpost.com Editor | October 3, 2008; 08:40 AM ET | Comments (0)

How to Spur Big, New Growth -- Quickly and Profitably

You can't outperform rivals if you compete the same way they do. How to be king of the jungle, not copycat? Spur big, new growth -- quickly and profitably. Simple moves can help. For example, redefine your unit of business...

By washingtonpost.com Editor | October 2, 2008; 08:31 AM ET | Comments (1)

What Is Strategic Risk -- and How Should You Counter It?

Your company has back-up data systems, earthquake insurance, and other forms of risk protection. But are you prepared to mitigate the many types of strategic risk? These include new technologies that can render your products obsolete, and sudden shifts in...

By washingtonpost.com Editor | October 1, 2008; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Don't Let Your New Venture Wither on the Vine

New ventures rarely coexist peacefully with the core businesses that launched them. Why? Organizations often fail to nurture their nascent divisions -- and the ventures stumble badly. For example, toy and gaming giant Hasbro had to unload its new software...

By washingtonpost.com Editor | September 30, 2008; 08:29 AM ET | Comments (0)

To Win Customers, Position Your Products in Unexpected Ways

Are you layering new benefits onto existing offerings to rejuvenate your products? If so, your enhanced products are becoming old hat -- requiring ever more embellishment to remain interesting to consumers. No one wins. To wit, even generic toothpastes "remove...

By washingtonpost.com Editor | September 29, 2008; 09:24 AM ET | Comments (1)

To Win Customers, Position Your Products in Unexpected Ways

Are you layering new benefits onto existing offerings to rejuvenate your products? If so your enhanced products are becoming old hat--requiring ever more embellishment to remain interesting to consumers. No one wins. To wit, even generic toothpastes "remove plaque," "freshen...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | September 26, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Contact Your Customers at the Right Time

If you're bombarding customers with frequent promotional messages, you're probably generating more resentment than revenue. But there are fleeting times when customers do want to hear from you; for example, when they experience a major life transition. If you don't...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | September 25, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Control the Complexity that Innovation Causes

Offering innovative markets helps you protect market share and repel rivals' attacks. But innovation can also hurt your profitability--by spawning costly complexity throughout your operations. For example, employees must adjust workflows to accommodate new product configurations, and inventories expand. How...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | September 24, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

To Make Smart Decisions, Use Evidence

You and your colleagues are under intense pressure to make decisions with incomplete information. True, evidence abounds to help you make the right choices. But many managers ignore it--relying instead on outdated information or using their own experiences to arrive...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | September 23, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Find a Ready Market for Your Innovations

To spur growth, many companies don't have an innovation plan. Instead, they reuse old strategies from the past. Or they fumble to find markets that might welcome the offerings incubating in their labs. Neither approach fosters profitable innovation. There's a...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | September 22, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Are You a Manager -- or a Leader?

Leadership talent -- you either have it or you don't, right? Wrong. You can acquire and strengthen leadership skills. But first, understand how they differ from management skills. Management is all about bringing order and predictability so an organization can...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | September 19, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

To Retain Your Best People, Give Them Work They Love

Retaining star performers is tougher than ever. To keep them, give them responsibilities that satisfy their deeply embedded life interests--their long-held passions for specific activities. There are eight basic interests, including theory development and conceptual thinking, counseling and mentoring, and...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | September 18, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

What Really Makes a Leader Successful?

Tapping the right individuals for leadership positions is an essential executive task. But often the wrong people are selected. That's because many hiring executives overvalue certain attributes (raw ambition, operational proficiency) while undervaluing others (ability to inspire, willingness to take...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | September 17, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

How to Hire Now -- Without Firing Later

Up to 50 percent of all executive hires end in firing or resignation. Why? Success today depends increasingly on intangible competencies--like teamwork and cross-cultural literacy--rarely found on resumes. To sweeten the odds of hiring leaders who'll deliver as promised for...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | September 16, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

So You Want to Be CEO

Of designated CEO successors hired externally, 75 percent never make it to the corner office. Among those who do, most don't last more than two years. If you're an aspiring CEO, you can beat those odds--by mastering the unique skills...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | September 15, 2008; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Three Ways to Distinguish Yourself from Rivals

If your company does a lot of benchmarking, you may be perpetuating "competitive convergence," whereby players become less and less distinguishable from each other. To avoid this outcome, articulate your "strategic positioning"--the ways in which you perform different activities from...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | September 11, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Build a Compelling Vision for Your Company

Some companies' visions are durable and eternally inspiring. Others' are empty muddles that get revised with every passing business fad and that never prompt anything more than a yawn. To build the good kind of vision, do two things: 1)...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | September 10, 2008; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Are You Using the Right Leadership Style -- At the Right Time?

The most successful leaders excel at five emotional intelligence competencies: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. These competencies combine in different ways to create distinctive leadership styles. Master the styles, and you can flexibly switch among them as circumstances...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | September 9, 2008; 09:20 AM ET | Comments (0)

Show Followers You're Human -- Warts and All

In these "empowered" times, followers are hard to find--unless you're a leader who excels at capturing people's hearts, minds, and spirits. How do you do that? One way is to reveal your weaknesses. No one wants to work with a...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | September 8, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Enhance Your Company's Core Competencies

A diversified company is like a tree: the trunk and major limbs are core products; smaller branches are business units; and leaves and fruit are end products. Nourishing and stabilizing everything is the root system: the company's core competencies, which...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | September 5, 2008; 09:38 AM ET | Comments (1)

Stay True to Your Strategy

How to consistently outperform your competitors? The most enduringly successful companies -- those delivering a 10-fold return to investors over a 10-year period -- excel at specific management practices. One of these practices is strategy management. To excel in this...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | September 4, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Are You Really Focused on Your Customer?

As the world grows increasingly commoditized, companies must focus on customers if they hope to differentiate themselves from rivals. But major customer-oriented initiatives have yielded lukewarm results. One secret to real customer focus is to collect data on every customer...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | September 3, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Launching a New Venture? Articulate Your Goals First

Most newly launched business ventures never get off the ground -- because entrepreneurs often neglect to clarify their strategy. To chart a successful course for *your* new venture, start by articulating your goals for the enterprise. Do you want the...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | September 2, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Price Your Product to Attract Multiple Customer Groups

Many blockbuster products link two groups of users. For example, search engines join Web surfers and advertisers. With "two-sided" offerings, more demand from one user group spurs more from the other. To illustrate, the more video games that developers create...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | August 29, 2008; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

How to Win in the After-Sales Service Market

In many industries, the after-sales service market has become 4-5 times bigger than the original equipment business, and it's a high-margin cash cow. Still, most organizations squander the aftermarket's potential -- because after-sales support is hard to manage. To extract...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | August 28, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Encourage Productive Debate During Decision Making

Most decision-making sessions turn into fractious exchanges that stifle diverse, valuable viewpoints. That's because managers argue their positions with a passion that prevents them from weighing opposing views. To counter this tendency, encourage productive debate about the issue at hand....

By washingtonpost.com Editors | August 27, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Engaged are Your Employees and Customers?

Unpleasant employee-customer encounters damage your firm's revenues and profits. To elevate the quality of these shared experiences in all parts of your company, first measure employees' and customers' engagement with your organization -- as manifested by emotions. Engaged employees feel...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | August 26, 2008; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (1)

How to Operate at the Top of Your Game

Like all leaders, sometimes you're "on," and sometimes you're not. To tip the scale toward excellence and away from mere competence, don't imitate other leaders or pore over leadership manuals. Instead, tap into your deepest values and instincts. How? Before...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | August 25, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

What Your Boss Expects of You

Relationships between bosses and subordinates strongly influence any team's success. Yet while the leadership literature specifies actions bosses should take, it says little about what leaders should expect from their followers. One thing your boss should expect from you is...

By washingtonpost.com Editor | August 22, 2008; 08:12 AM ET | Comments (0)

How to Enjoy Your Successes

No matter how successful you are, there's always another promotion to win, more money to make, a bigger house to buy. No wonder you're stressed! To enjoy your victories (rather than stressing about what's next), imagine success as comprising four...

By washingtonpost.com Editor | August 21, 2008; 09:10 AM ET | Comments (0)

Fix Your Company's Strategic Planning Process

The traditional strategic planning process has serious flaws. For example, it's conducted annually, so it doesn't help executives respond swiftly to threats and opportunities that arise throughout the year. And top leaders usually visit one unit at a time to...

By washingtonpost.com Editor | August 20, 2008; 08:07 AM ET | Comments (0)

Refocus on What *Really* Matters to You

Are you devoting your time and energy to what really matters to you? If not, you may be taking on obligations that are siphoning precious resources away from your deepest convictions. To regain control over your life, list your values...

By washingtonpost.com Editor | August 19, 2008; 09:05 AM ET | Comments (0)

To Manage Your Career, Understand Your Strengths

Companies today aren't managing employees' careers. So it's up to you to carve out your place in the work world, know when to change course, and keep yourself engaged and productive during your work life. One way to do this...

By washingtonpost.com Editor | August 18, 2008; 08:03 AM ET | Comments (0)

How to Deal With Your C Players

Your C players not only deliver barely acceptable results; they also hurt your company. For example, they encourage a mediocre mentality in others and repel valuable talent. You must improve -- or remove -- them. Start by delivering candid feedback...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | August 15, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Take the Stress Out of Stressful Conversations

Stressful conversations in the workplace are so loaded with anger, confusion, fear, and embarrassment that most people avoid or mishandle them. But dodging conflicts, appeasing difficult people, and ignoring antagonisms is costly for you and your company. To master the...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | August 14, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Foster Decisiveness in Your Firm

During meetings, many managers intimidated by power dynamics withhold their judgment on a proposal until they discern the boss's opinion. If she shows interest, they express support for the proposal, despite their questions and concerns. Then they never follow through...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | August 13, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Throw Your Competitors a Curveball

How to get keep competitors off your scent? Throw them a curveball -- a clever move that gets them looking the other way while you capture customers' wallets. Letting rivals misinterpret the sources of your success is one curveball strategy....

By washingtonpost.com Editors | August 12, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Better Way to Deliver Bad News

You've heard complaints that a direct report isn't delegating enough to his own subordinates. How to deliver corrective feedback without triggering defensiveness? Use an open-minded, fair approach. For example, don't suggest that the employee is too controlling. There may be...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | August 11, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

How to Make a Mid-Career Change

Are you struggling to make a mid-career change? If so, jettison the traditional "plan and implement" approach, whereby you assess your interests, skills, and experience; identify appropriate jobs; consult others; and take the plunge. This approach mires you in introspection...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | August 8, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

To Lead Effectively, Know Your Company -- Inside and Out

The best leaders are "inside-outsiders": They've ascended within their organization, so they know the firm and its people. But they also have an outsider's objectivity -- seeing the need for radical change and understanding how to foster transformation. To develop...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | August 7, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

How to Handle a Problem Employee

Got a problem employee? Don't try to "sell" your viewpoint to him. (Not everyone else thinks like you, and you can't change others.) Instead, use informal conversation to discern what drives him, what's blocking those drives, and what could happen...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | August 6, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

How to Spot Danger -- Before It's Too Late

Even well-run companies can get blindsided by disasters they should have anticipated, whether these disasters take the form of financial scandals, operational disruptions, or product failures. That's because many leaders remain oblivious to emerging threats. To anticipate predictable surprises, ask...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | August 5, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Don't Ignore Your B Players

A company's B players -- competent, steady performers far from the limelight -- supply the stability, knowledge, and long-term view the firm needs to survive during tough times. Yet many executives, beguiled by star performers, ignore B players. Neglected, these...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | August 4, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Make the Right Commitments at the Right Time in Your Firm

Your commitments -- investments, growth targets, hiring decisions -- define your company's identity and strategic direction now. But they can also reduce its flexibility in the future -- if competitive conditions change and you haven't updated your commitments. To sustain...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | August 1, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Will That Project Really Pay Off as You Expect?

A new manufacturing plant closes prematurely. An acquisition fails to boost profitability. A start-up can't gain market share. Why such disappointments? Under pressure to accent the positive, managers overemphasize business initiatives' potential benefits and ignore the possibility of mistakes. How...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 31, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Are You as Ethical as You Think You Are?

Most of us aren't as ethical as we think we are, owing to unconscious biases that influence our decisions. For example, implicit prejudice can cause a manager to hire a disproportionate number of people of her own race or gender....

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 30, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Don't Let Others Define Your Job

Most managers sabotage their productivity by grappling with an endless list of demands from others. They assume -- wrongly -- that those demands are requirements and that they have no personal discretion or control over their jobs. Here's one way...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 29, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Capitalize on Your Employees' Interpersonal Talents

Every project you manage has specific interpersonal requirements -- such as communicating important messages to consumers or employees, resolving conflicts, and deftly handling a crucial negotiation. To boost the project's chances of success and motivate people to deliver their best...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 28, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Stop Wasting Valuable Time

Most leadership teams fritter away precious hours on unfocused, inconclusive discussions. Results? Delayed decisions, wasted resources, and ill-informed strategies. Here's one way to make better use of your leadership team's time-and craft sounder strategies: Put real choices on the table....

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 25, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Pump Up Your Persuasive Power

In an era of cross-functional teams and intercompany partnerships, masters of persuasion exert far more influence than formal power structures. How to use your persuasive power to capture an audience, sway undecideds, and convert opponents? Understand and leverage deeply rooted...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 24, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (4)

The One Number You Need to Grow

Many companies invest heavily in measuring customer satisfaction, assuming that increased satisfaction leads to improved customer loyalty and hence growth. But most satisfaction yardsticks are complex and yield ambiguous results. Worse, they don't necessarily correlate to growth or profits. There's...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 23, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

What Makes Your Company's Leader Special?

Companies spend huge bucks on leadership development, only to get lukewarm results. Why? They rely on leadership competency models identifying generic traits (vision, direction, energy), then develop leaders who fit the model. Result? Vanilla executives who aren't equipped to manage...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 22, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

Send a Clear Message About Time Management

Why do so many organizations sink into chaos? Managers mouth vague marching orders about "results," "company direction," "accountability," and other fuzzy concepts. Followers -- left to develop their own interpretations of what the boss means -- waste time by working...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 21, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Do Your Strategy Off-Sites Pay Off?

Yearly strategy off-sites cost U.S. businesses hundreds of millions in participants' salaries alone. But most off-sites don't generate fresh ideas for strategic priorities. One reason is that many participants agree ritualistically with the top leader. To induce genuine engagement and...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 18, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Get the Most From Your Employees

How to get the best from employees? Instead of trying to change them, identify their unique strengths, then help them use those strengths to excel in their own way. To identify employees' strengths, ask, "What was the best day at...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 17, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (5)

Get Honest Feedback on Your Strategy

Your strategy is sound, but you can't get it off the ground. That's probably because people in your unit are afraid to talk frankly and publicly about obstacles to change. But to execute your strategy, you need the unvarnished truth:...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 16, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

To Manage Your Career, Understand Your Strengths

Companies today aren't managing employees' careers. So it's up to you to carve out your place in the work world, know when to change course, and keep yourself engaged and productive during your work life. One way to do this...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 15, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Go Ahead, Make a Mistake

Most managers frown on mistakes -- their own and others. But done right, mistakes accelerate learning and sharpen your company's competitive edge. Still, mistakes are costly, so you need to extract *profitable* learning from them. A good first step is...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 14, 2008; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

 
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