Managing People at Work

“Decades of research have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and later pool their ideas,” says Keith Sawyer, a psychologist.

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Setting ambitious goals for your unit and rallying everyone to follow through helps you lead effectively. Just don’t get carried away.

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In the year since an earthquake and tsunami triggered Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, employees around the world are more aware of the dangers of radiation.

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Many managers equate coaching with showing employees a better way to perform a task. But even if you do a great job demonstrating the “right” technique, there’s no guarantee observers will copy it successfully. Broaden your definition of coaching to include other, more motivating tools to produce better performance.

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Sonia, a manager at an insurance company, updates us about her efforts to motivate an employee who seems perpetually bored with his work.

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In training seminars, you’ve learned to acknowledge employees’ emotions. You know to say, “I see that you’re …,” and add “angry,” “concerned” or “hurt” to fit the situation. Unfortunately, managers have overdosed on I-feel-your-pain statements.

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The intensity with which you grip a pen as you sign a contract or write a check says something about how you feel at that moment. The question is whether you’re aware of those feelings.

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If you’re preparing to deliver a presentation to the top brass, remember three words: Less is more. Impatient CEOs want your conclusion, pronto.

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If you maintain a hard-driving, all-business-all-the-time personality, you may lose a chance to extract extra effort from your team. It’s better to project good-natured humor that raises everyone’s comfort level.

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You already know to scold employees in private. You don’t want to embarrass them at the same time that you’re criticizing some aspect of their performance. But reprimanding in private doesn’t excuse you from speaking diplomatically.

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