All posts in Weekly newsletter

  • Good management is six hours a week, How not to fire, 5 lessons from German soccer, The talent management alliance.

    Management Disrupted is a weekly summary of the best new thinking in management for knowledge work. It’s free to subscribe. Sign up now in less than 30 seconds

    Welcome to my weekly take on better management for the future of knowledge work.

    This week there’s a lot of big thinking about talent management. Bill George at Harvard Business School looks at what managers can learn from Germany’s World Cup victory. Reid Hoffman (Founder of LinkedIn) is on the promotional circuit for his new book “The Alliance: A Manifesto for 21st Century Management”. Microsoft has shown everyone how not to manage large scale redundancy. Plus there’s a range of other interesting reading (including a trend to employees demanding a say in new CEO appointments).

    I hope it’s a great week.


    This week’s best reading

    Why managers should spend exactly six hours a week with each employee
    Leadership IQ conducted a survey of 32,000 people to find the sweet spot for management support. In general there’s a strong relationship between more time with your boss and engagement. “As people rose from one to six hours spent with their direct leaders, they became 29% more inspired about their work, 30% more engaged… 16% more innovative, and 15% more intrinsically motivated.” But results start to plateau and even decline above six hours a week (as micromanagement kicks in).

    Very interesting research with direct implications for corporate structure (if you think about it the number of people you can realistically manage is capped at 5-6).

    Josh Bersin reviews “The Alliance: A Manifesto for 21st Century Management”
    Reid Hoffman (and co) have released a new book on talent management for the 21st century. Hoffman has reshaped the global talent market once by founding LinkedIn. This book (and the thinking behind it) might be act 2. “In brief, Reid’s team describes a new “employment contract” taking place – one where workers and employers work in a free agency-like alliance. Each party gives to the other, and as long as both are gaining value, the alliance works.” There’s some big thinking here around the future of the employment relationship that’s well worth reading if you have interests in this space.

    Here’s another review and interview from the Wall Street Journal: Job Hunting in the Network Age

    And a separate, but interesting view from Strategy+Business on why a portfolio approach to talent makes sense: Stop Hiring and Start Attracting Talent

    More interesting reading

    5 Lessons Business Leaders Can Learn From German Soccer
    Bill George is a professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School. Here he discusses five lessons from the German soccer team’s world cup triumph. The five lessons: “The team is more important than any individual”, “Develop a broadly-based cadre of emerging stars for the long-term”, “Rely on your veterans, but give emerging stars their chance to shine”, “As the coach, position your players in their “sweet spot” on the field” and “You’re building for the long-term, but you must win today’s game”

    Killing the competition: Military lingo in the workplace
    Does the military lingo that ‘dominates’ the modern workplace implicitly discriminate?

    How not to cut 12,500 jobs: a lesson from Microsoft’s Stephen Elop
    “[Elop] sent Nokia staff 1,100-word email, devoting just two sentences to cuts two-thirds of the way through. The worst of it, of course, is the time it takes Elop to get to the job cuts. When he does, he devotes just two sentences to the subject… Then he’s back to banging on about “iconic” tablets and “new interaction models”.”

    The case for employees to pick their CEO
    “On Friday, hundreds of employees from Demoulas Market Basket grocery store chain protested outside the company’s Tewksbury, Mass. headquarters. They weren’t there to demand higher pay or better benefits; they were there to demand a say in who serves as Market Basket’s CEO.”

    For more info about me see the about page or follow me on Twitter @stevepell.

  • Vocal mistakes for leaders, The crowd is wrong, Holes in holacracy, Corporate climbers

    Management Disrupted is a weekly summary of the best new thinking in management for knowledge work. It’s free to subscribe. Sign up now in less than 30 seconds

    Welcome to another week of Management Disrupted, my weekly newsletter on better management for the future of knowledge work.

    A number of interesting articles this week, across a broad range of topics. I’m sure you’ll find something interesting and relevant to get you thinking about better management.

    I hope it’s a great week for you.


    Thinking about management for the future of work

    Is Holacracy the future of work, or a management fad?
    Regular readers of Management Disrupted will be familiar with Holacracy. It’s trending management idea that replaces the hierarchy with a system of self organising teams. As this article discusses, since Zappos adopted Holacracy, it’s been taken increasingly seriously. But as The Economist points out: “There is good reason to be sceptical. “Nine-tenths of the approximately 100 branded management ideas studied lost their popularity within a decade or so,” 

    Are ‘tours-of-duty’ the way to fix workforce retention?
    I’m a big fan of the tour-of-duty concept as a way to improve workforce retention. Basically, it’s not much more than setting out explicitly that both the employee and the company have agency and stand to benefit from the working relationship (over a defined period of time). This article talks about the concept in the context of LinkedIn and builds out the thinking.

    Management skills

    Four common vocal mistakes that leaders make
    “Commanding respect as a leader means more than having a fancy job title and a corner office; it also means having the right tone of voice. Too often… leaders focus their attention on the words they want to deliver–reading and rereading a speech, going over PowerPoint bullet points, and making an agenda of meeting issues. While the words may be perfect, the tone with which you deliver the message can cause it to fall flat.”

    Toxic talent management habits
    “All organizations have problems, and they always involve people.” This opinion piece talks about five of the most toxic management habits: being unaware of one’s actual company culture, confusing employee engagement with happiness, ignoring the toxic effect of office politics, misunderstanding leadership and relying on intuition instead of data

    More interesting research

    ‘Wisdom of the crowd’: The myths and realities
    The latest research on when groups make better decisions than individuals. This research shows that groups can make very good decisions, but only under very specific circumstances. And the right circumstances are not consensus.

    How much does your boss’s work life balance matter?
    A survey on 19,000 employees shows that only 25% of leaders model sustainable work practices. Those employees with ‘sustainable’ leaders are “55% more engaged, 72% higher in health well being, 77% more satisfied at work, and 1.15 times more likely to stay at the company. They also reported more than twice the level of trust in their leaders.”

    Ten tips to make you more powerful at work
    A great round up of Stanford’s research on the topic. Tips cover working with power, acting with power and thinking with power.

    What corporate climbers can teach us
    Another look at how darker personality traits can help people climb the corporate ladder.

    For more info about me see the about page or follow me on Twitter @stevepell.

  • Leadership transparency, Workforce shortages in 2030, The invisible leader, Offices for the future of work

    Management Disrupted is a weekly summary of the best new thinking in management for knowledge work. It’s free to subscribe. Sign up now in less than 30 seconds

    Hello again and welcome to another big week of Management Disrupted, my weekly newsletter on better management for the future of knowledge work.

    This week, I focus on a really interesting and fast moving trend to leadership transparency (especially at a CEO level). From a number of perspectives it looks like the days of the ego driven, dictatorial CEO are numbered.

    If you’re in Melbourne, I’m talking about key trends in the future of knowledge work at the HRTC function on the 15th of July. You can get tickets here.

    Hope it’s a great (and very transparent!) week for you.


    The trend to leadership transparency

    Transparent office

    There’s a big trend to leadership transparency that’s really clear in a couple of the articles that I’m calling out this week.

    As this first article from HBR blogs talks about, there’s a confluence of generational and technology trends at work that mean ego is very much on the way out.

    More transparency means leadership is about to get more uncomfortable
    “Employees used to know just your name, your face, your business reputation. Now they know your salary, your hometown, your connections on LinkedIn, how much your house is worth… leadership in the future will involve increased personal and business-level discomfort. Leaders will have to cope with the blurring of private and public life. Ego is on its way out.”

    More on the “end-of-ego” in this article from The Financial Post. A great piece of writing comparing the best CEOs of today to those 10 years ago (Steve Ballmer vs Satya Nadella at Microsoft is a good illustration)

    Is it the end of the imperial CEO?
    “The so-called chief ego officers and their high-handed leadership style, so prevalent during the past 20 years, now look out of place and out of touch in the age of aggressive shareholder activism and social media.”

    David Zweig has written a book about the power of modesty in management. This is a great summary of what he learnt about the “invisibles” who make most organisations tick.

    In Praise of the Invisible Leader
    “There is an important and influential group of people who manage to avoid the clatter. Quietly, modestly, they do their work diligently, and without a desperate need for personal recognition. They can be found in almost any profession and at every organizational level.”

    Touching on transparency from another perspective, Jamie Dimon’s revelation he has throat cancer prompted some interesting thinking about when companies need to reveal executive illness. The expectation of sooner, better disclosure is a good illustration of the broader macro trend to transparency at the top.

    Dimon’s Cancer and the Fine Line in Revealing Illness of a C.E.O.
    “Serious illness strikes boardrooms more often than you might think….Handling the news is particularly difficult when it involves a leader who has become the face of the company. That was the case with Mr. Jobs and, to a lesser degree, is also the case with Mr. Dimon, perhaps the nation’s pre-eminent banker”

    Other interesting articles this week in better management for knowledge work:

    Photo Credit: MaarsLivingWalls used under CC SA 3.0 licence

    For more info about me see the about page or follow me on Twitter @stevepell.