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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....
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 ....
Why Young Bankers, Lawyers, and Consultants Need Emotional Intelligence

Vincent Tsui for HBR Early in your career — whether it’s in banking, law, consulting or accounting — you will discover that all of your colleagues are as smart and hard working as you. You’ll learn that the key to being successful must be something else. Over my 40-year banking career, I’ve learned that the critical distinguishing factor for advancing in the professional services is emotional intelligence (EQ). Without EQ, it’s likely that you will be your firm’s “best-kept secret” — not recognized, not appreciated, not promoted and, often, not properly compensated. Developing EQ is just as pertinent for the recent graduate who is starting out, as it is for the seasoned veteran. Emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor your own and other people’s emotions, to ....
Would Amazon’s 30-Hour-Week Experiment Work in Your Company?

Marion Barraud for HBR A friend of mine was having a hard time balancing her career at a large financial firm with her family demands. She worked at one of those all-too-typical workplaces where employees are expected to log 60 hours or so a week — a perfect illustration of what I call a “culture of overwork.” She told me she was going to take the part-time work option her employer had offered. She would work about 30 hours a week at reduced salary, and would get to keep her benefits. To her, this sounded like a good solution. However, I counseled her that, in my experience, these part-time arrangements hardly ever work out well for employees. First, she would be “outing herself” as an involved parent, which in many toxic overwork cultures is code for “not dedicated enough to have a....
The New World of Mini Consumer Packaged Goods

What do 7.5-oz Coke “mini cans,” Heinz “Fridge Fit” ketchup bottles and Campbell’s Ready-to-Serve soups have in common? All are food-packaging innovations borne out of consumer demand, as well as customers’ willingness to pay extra for unique features and benefits that have ultimately led to profitable bottom-line growth in flat or declining categories. In many instances, these breakthrough concepts required only minor changes to existing packaging and size, yet paid major dividends in terms of added convenience. While successful innovations are often a hit-or-miss proposition, the emergence of cutting-edge research known as price pack architecture (PPA) has helped take the guesswork out of the process, allowing consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies to design new product variations based on cons....
Don’t Waste Your Time on Networking Events

Large, traditional business networking events are a time-honored institution. They have been a staple of aspiring and successful professionals for so long that most networking advice focuses not on whether you should attend, but on how to make the most of these events when you do attend. In theory, they’re one of the best ways to grow your business. Here’s the problem: you’re probably not getting the consistent results you’re looking for. Regardless of how you define networking, your success will be directly tied to your ability to interact with people looking to achieve many of the same things you are. The most basic problem with traditional networking events is that they are mixing bowls for professionals who are there for different reasons. Everyone there is focused on his or her own personal agenda, whether it....
Don’t Be Tyrannized by Old Metrics

HBR STAFF Many business leaders are fond of the spurious Peter Drucker quote that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” This attractive, apocryphal quote breaks down upon inspection. While effective metrics are essential for focusing attention and achieving results, they can also overpower better sense. Mismeasurement can lead to mismanagement. Most industries cower to a few central metrics, the yardsticks that define the winners and losers. For example, same-store sales or sales per square foot measure success in the retail industry, and various volume measures do it in commodity industries. Metrics tried and proven over years become a guide to what’s important, driving resource allocation. But these metrics can become tyrants. When things change, outmoded metrics can threaten a fir....
You Can’t Delegate Talent Management to the HR Department

Successfully identifying, developing, and retaining leadership talent is critical for any organization’s long-term success. That’s why many of them, particularly the largest ones, rely on full-time “talent management” professionals, who work in coordination with other parts of HR. These talent management people create processes for assessing leadership capabilities and set the strategy for upgrading leadership talent over time. GE’s talent management people, for example, play a critical role, at both the corporate and business-unit level, in filling key positions, insuring smooth successions, driving company-wide review processes, and building tools that managers can use to direct their own careers. On paper, this approach makes perfect sense. Having great talent is a strategic imperative, so giving the job ....
Good Cybersecurity Can Be Good Marketing

Recent research conducted by IBM among global boardroom and C-suite executives in 28 countries found that better cybersecurity is among their top technology priorities. But while CMOs “are key drivers of digital-based growth for most organizations, many are not in the habit of working with the CIO, and are certainly not in the habit of working with the security department.” In fact, besides voicing a desire for a seamless customer experience, CMOs have been reluctant to get more involved with online customer identification and other cybersecurity decisions. Security experts have generally translated this wish into procedures that are as easy and invisible as possible for brand shoppers, while also delivering a degree of online security. Ease continues to be important in today’s online retail world, but invisibility....
Messaging Apps Are Changing How Companies Talk with Customers

H&M: So how would you describe your style? Me: Classic. H&M: Perfect! I’ve just created a custom style for you. H&M: Here’s an outfit with a polo shirt. Do you like this? Me: Looks great. H&M: Awesome! Would you like to shop this, share it, or save it? Me: Share it. H&M: Which friends do you want to share this outfit with? An engaging conversation with a helpful retail employee. Except the person helping me wasn’t a person: It was a bot. And the conversation didn’t take place on H&M.com or the company’s mobile app. It happened on Kik, a third-party messaging app. Welcome to the era of “conversational commerce,” the term for online business that’s powered by natural language technologies. With a combination of rich visual interfaces and artificial intelligence (AI) te....
How to Start Networking in a New City

Networking is tricky for everybody, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, a newbie or a seasoned business operative. But since networks grow exponentially — one person introduces you to three more, who each introduce you to three more — it can feel really tough to break in when you truly don’t know anyone. If you’ve just uprooted yourself to move to a new city or country, for example, where do you begin? First, figure out the types of people you’d like to get in touch with and what you want from them. Be as concrete as possible: Why do you want to get connected? Is it for a specific job? A specific industry? To get to know someone you admire? Do you want to correspond with them, get together with them, or work with them? Networking just to network will drain you really quickly; meeting....
The Difference Between Good Leaders and Great Ones

The world tends toward continuums. We order everything from temperature (cold to hot, with tepid in the middle) to wealth (poor to comfortable to rich). Continuity along a linear line, like the inexorable laws of hydrodynamics, helps to capture and comprehend the complexities of science and society, and offers the promise of progress and growth. It’s tempting to think leadership also follows a continuum, one anchored by bad and great, with good somewhere in between. This deeply rooted belief reassures us that leadership follows a predictable pattern, and that through hard work and experience one can progress along the drawn line. That anyone can develop as a leader is not in question. What I dispute is the stubborn resolve that great and good are points along the same stream. That just isn’t so. Great....
Your Biggest Cybersecurity Weakness Is Your Phone

Mobile devices are one of the weakest links in corporate security. Executives are wrestling with managing a proliferation of devices, protecting data, securing networks, and training employees to take security seriously. In our Tech Pro Research survey of chief information officers, technology executives, and IT employees, 45% of respondents saw mobile devices as the weak spot in their company’s defenses. (Employee data was cited by 37%, followed by wireless access of networks at 34% and bring-your-own-device efforts at 29%.) Meanwhile, the potential for mobile attacks continues to expand. In July comScore reported that half of all digital time was spent on smartphone apps, and 68% percent of time was spent on a mobile device. If mobile security isn’t a problem for your company yet, it will be. Consider the following recent e....
How to Work Remotely Without Losing Motivation

Telecommuters might feel guilty or ungrateful admitting it, but let’s be honest: We often miss the office. Even the too-talkative, too-messy, or too-cutthroat colleagues you willed yourself to ignore when they sat near you can seem endearing when you’re toiling away to the ticktock of your kitchen clock. I’ve been telecommuting for almost 15 years. Sometimes it’s been across oceans and time zones (we are a military family), and sometimes it’s been across town (the office was short on space; I was a slave to my children’s schedules; the whole operation was virtual). At this point in my career as a freelance writer-editor and consultant, I’ve worked for multinational corporations, international development banks, associations, and nonprofits. I’ve identified one constant across....
Bad Data Costs the U.S. $3 Trillion Per Year

Consider this figure: $136 billion per year. That’s the research firm IDC’s estimate of the size of the big data market, worldwide, in 2016. This figure should surprise no one with an interest in big data. But here’s another number: $3.1 trillion, IBM’s estimate of the yearly cost of poor quality data, in the US alone, in 2016. While most people who deal in data every day know that bad data is costly, this figure stuns. While the numbers are not really comparable, and there is considerable variation around each, one can only conclude that right now, improving data quality represents the far larger data opportunity. Leaders are well-advised to develop a deeper appreciation for the opportunities improving data quality present and take fuller advantage than they do today. The reason bad data costs so much is that dec....
Building Emotional Agility

Susan David, author of Emotional Agility and psychologist at Harvard Medical School, on learning to unhook from strong feelings. Download this podcast
Make Sure Your Employees Have Good Things to Say About You Behind Your Back

Powerful, inspirational leadership can only happen if employees develop an emotional attachment to the boss. The best executives know this. But how do you foster this kind of attachment in a big company where people are scattered all over the world? If you’re like most senior leaders, you try to bridge the distance via email, internal social-media postings, occasional in-person meetings, speeches, and videos. Which are not great for developing relationships. For all kinds of reasons, including the typically bland, scripted nature of a lot of communications, employees tend to tune out official messages. Yet there’s one form of communication they don’t tune out. In fact, they listen to it very carefully and take it to heart. You may not even consider it a form of leadership communication: It’s the genuine, spontaneo....
Diverse Teams Feel Less Comfortable — and That’s Why They Perform Better

In numerous studies, diversity — both inherent (e.g., race, gender) and acquired (experience, cultural background) — is associated with business success. For example, a 2009 analysis of 506 companies found that firms with more racial or gender diversity had more sales revenue, more customers, and greater profits. A 2016 analysis of more than 20,000 firms in 91 countries found that companies with more female executives were more profitable. In a 2011 study management teams exhibiting a wider range of educational and work backgrounds produced more-innovative products. These are mere correlations, but laboratory experiments have also shown the direct effect of diversity on team performance. In a 2006 study of mock juries, for example, when black people were added to the jury, white jurors processed the case f....
To Get More Feedback, Act More Coachable

It’s hard to say who dreads critical feedback more: the manager giving it or the person receiving it. As the receiver, it can be uncomfortable and stressful to hear that you’re not performing well. And the manager, knowing this, fears that the receiver may not react productively and therefore is likely to postpone sharing their views. But we all need and want feedback. That’s how we get better at our jobs and advance in our careers. So it’s up to you to show your boss that you are willing to hear and act on feedback. The more your boss perceives you as “coachable,” the more likely they are to take the risk and time to give you their feedback. So what can you do to increase your boss’s perception of your “coachability”? Here are a few suggestions based on my research and experience wor....
How to Give Feedback to People Who Cry, Yell, or Get Defensive

There’s no denying that performance review season can be a headache for managers. The process of writing reviews and delivering feedback takes a lot of time (especially if you do it thoughtfully) and can be particularly anxiety provoking if you have someone on your team who tends to have a difficult or negative emotional reaction to feedback. So how do you get ready to give feedback to someone who might cry, yell, or get defensive? Advice for All Tough Feedback Sessions Remember the “why.” Focus on all the good reasons you’re giving the feedback. Remind yourself and your employee by saying things like, “I need to share this with you because I want you to be successful here” or ”I want to see you keep growing.” Kim Castelda, a senior vice president at the software company Bull....
The Businesses That Platforms Are Actually Disrupting

Platforms are all the rage these days. Powered by online technologies, they are sweeping across the economic landscape, striking down companies large and small. Uber’s global assault on the taxi industry is well known. Many platforms, some household names and others laboring in obscurity, are doing the same in other sectors. Surveying these changes, you might conclude that if your business isn’t a platform, you had better worry that one is coming your way. Everyone from automakers to plumbers should count their days as traditional businesses. And maybe you should jump on the platform bandwagon too. If it worked for Airbnb, why not you? Based on our research into the wave of online platforms that have started in the last two decades, we don’t necessarily disagree. Traditional businesses should worry, and maybe they shoul....
How Cybersecurity Teams Can Convince the C-Suite of Their Value

All too often companies misunderstand the value of their cybersecurity teams and underfund their development. At the same time, many of these teams struggle to communicate to leaders the importance of having a well-funded security program. These struggles can lead to serious gaps between the resources allocated to security and the actual support needed to properly protect corporate and customer information. Before joining Facebook as a security engineer in 2015, I worked in industries from consulting to manufacturing to retail. I observed that leaders often treat security as a liability cost — until the company experiences a security breach, after which increased support is a given. But typically, increased support came too late, and was proportional to the size of the breach and subsequent media attention. One of the things t....
Good Sales Teams Know When to Stop Selling

Some customers love the experience of doing business with your company; unfortunately, others have encountered problems with the experience. But aren’t all customers fair game for a cross-selling or upselling pitch? Not so fast. Think hard before blindly committing to another sales pitch. In particular, stop wasting time and energy selling to customers who are detractors of your company. Instead, spend that time fixing those relationships. Turn around the situation so that these detractors become at worst neutral, and ideally real promoters. Only then will you have decent odds of winning new business. Consider the math behind this logic. Looking at one metric for gauging customer advocacy, the Net Promoter Score, promoters are worth nearly three to seven times more in lifetime value than detractors, depending on the market. That....
What Science Tells Us About Leadership Potential

Although the scientific study of leadership is well established, its key discoveries are unfamiliar to most people, including an alarmingly large proportion of those in charge of evaluating and selecting leaders. This science-practitioner gap explains our disappointing state of affairs. Leaders should drive employee engagement, yet only 30% of employees are engaged, costing the U.S. economy $550 billion a year in productivity loss. Moreover, a large global survey of employee attitudes toward management suggests that a whopping 82% of people don’t trust their boss. You only need to google “my boss is…” or “my manager is…” and see what the autocomplete text is to get a sense of what most people think of their leaders. Unsurprisingly, over 50% of employees quit their job because of th....
How to Get Better at Dealing with Change

Change is an unavoidable constant in our work lives. Sometimes it’s within our control, but most often it’s not. Our jobs or roles change — and not always for the better. Our organizations undergo reorgs and revamp their strategies, and we need to adjust. Fortunately, there are ways to adapt to change, and even to take advantage of it. Find the humor in the situation. Trying to find a funny moment during an otherwise unfunny situation can be a fantastic way to create the levity needed to see a vexing problem from a new perspective. It can help others feel better as well. Pioneering humor researcher Rod A. Martin, who has studied the effects of different styles of humor, has found that witty banter, or “affiliative humor,” can lighten the mood and improve social interaction. Just make sure it’....

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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