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Quick, practical management tips and ideas from HBR.org
Updated: 16 hours 39 min ago

To Fight Your Burnout, Take Control of It

Mon, 2018-04-23 11:30

When you’re burned out and exhausted, it’s easy to think of yourself as a victim of circumstances — and forget that you have a say in your situation. Instead of blaming everyone else for your being overworked and overstressed, take ownership of it. Think to yourself: “Others may have contributed to my situation, but I have the ability to make choices that can improve my present and future.” Realizing that you have autonomy creates hope, which enables you to take action, and taking even small steps reinforces your sense of control. Make the choice to attend to your physical needs, for example. This could be as simple as getting up to stretch your legs when you’re feeling stiff, eating lunch with coworkers instead of at your desk, or going to bed when you’re tired. Making the choice to do these things demonstrates to yourself that you have some control, even on a small level.

Adapted from “To Recover from Burnout, Regain Your Sense of Control,” by Elizabeth Grace Saunders

During Vacation, Don’t Check Email Unless You Really, Really Have To

Fri, 2018-04-20 11:30

When you go on vacation, ideally you should disconnect from work completely. But if going off the grid truly is not an option for you, set boundaries for yourself so that you aren’t tethered to your device. Make a plan to check your messages once a day at a particular time, or only on certain days. Put your phone out of reach — your hotel room’s safe is a good place — or, if you want to use it to take pictures, keep it in airplane mode. You can also reduce the number of emails you get by making clear in your out-of-office message that you are not reachable. Even if you plan to occasionally check in, telling people that you’re available only encourages them to expect a reply. Your out-of-office message gives you the freedom to choose how and when you’ll respond (if at all) while you’re away.

Adapted from “3 Ways to Control Your Phone Addiction on Vacation,” by Regan Walsh

Does Your Body Language Convey Confidence?

Thu, 2018-04-19 11:30

If you want people at work to trust and respect you, regardless of your title or authority, pay attention to your body language. How you stand, sit, and speak all affect whether people are open to being influenced by you. For example, standing up straight with your shoulders back helps you come across as confident and commanding, while slouching and looking down at your feet have the opposite effect. When meeting with someone you don’t know well, keep your arms uncrossed, your hands by your sides, and your torso open and pointed at the other person. This sends the message that you are open and trustworthy. And try pitching your voice a little lower than you normally would, to connote power. This can counteract the effect of nervousness, which tends to push the tone of your voice higher.

Adapted from “How to Increase Your Influence at Work,” by Rebecca Knight

Can You Explain Why You Deserve a Promotion?

Wed, 2018-04-18 11:30

Asking for a promotion can be nerve-wracking. But when you think you’re ready for the next step in your career, it’s important to say so. To prepare for the conversation with your boss, reflect on what you want. Would you like to move up, or might a lateral move interest you? Next, do some research. Find out how coworkers successfully pressed their cases for promotion, and ask mentors and trusted colleagues whether they think you’re ready. Then build a compelling case for why you deserve a promotion, listing your strengths, recent successes, and metrics that demonstrate the impact you’ve had. Keep in mind that asking for a promotion is rarely a one-and-done conversation; rather, it’s a series of ongoing discussions. Your objective is to make the request and then continue to do good work until your boss agrees that you’re ready to advance.

Adapted from “How to Ask for a Promotion,” by Rebecca Knight

Make Treating People Kindly a Norm on Your Team

Tue, 2018-04-17 11:30

We all want to work in a place where people treat each other with kindness and respect. But you can’t expect your team to behave that way without making it clear that you want them to. This process starts when you interview potential team members: Tell candidates that your team values civility, so they can opt in to working for an organization where those values are prized. Have discussions with team members about what civility means, and define the norms that you expect everyone to uphold on a daily basis. Compile those norms into a “civility code,” which your employees can use as a guide. Once the norms are established, reinforce them however you can — in team meetings, at important events, and through rewards. These conversations and efforts garner buy-in and empower employees to hold one another accountable for civil behavior.

Adapted from “Make Civility the Norm on Your Team,” by Christine Porath

When a Meeting Gets Tense, Help It Get Back on Track

Mon, 2018-04-16 11:30

You know the feeling when things get tense in a meeting. People raise their voices, or your colleagues talk over each other — and you just want it to end. Instead of watching the clock, take action and help get the conversation back on track. First, point out what’s happening in a matter-of-fact way, without assigning blame. You might say, “We’ve been talking for 25 minutes, and we seem to be just repeating the same arguments. Do others agree?” Then offer a way forward that makes sure everyone is heard and will prevent emotional flare-ups. For example, you can say, “Carmine, how about we hear you out, then we’ll summarize your position to make sure we understand it. Then we can do the same with Kay’s view. Will that work for everyone?” Once the whole group has agreed on a process, you can continue the conversation productively.

Adapted from “How to Save a Meeting That's Gotten Tense,” by Joseph Grenny

Make Sure Your Work Is Aligned with Your Boss’s Expectations

Fri, 2018-04-13 11:30

Most people have had a boss they struggled to get along with. Maybe the manager didn’t seem to trust you or wasn’t impressed with your performance. While you may be tempted to blame the situation on your difficult boss, most often a mismatch like this happens when expectations aren’t aligned. For example, perhaps you handed in a 10-page report when your boss wanted a one-page summary, and they interpreted it as a sign that you didn’t listen. Get the relationship back on track by clarifying what your boss expects from you. Ask direct questions like, “What are your priorities for me?” and “What criteria should I take into account when making decisions?” And find out how your boss prefers to work with you, including how often you two should meet and when they expect you to be reachable by email and phone. Knowing these expectations now could save you headaches in the future.

Adapted from “How to Win Over a Boss Who Just Doesn’t Seem to Like You,” by Jay A. Conger and Allan H. Church

Make a Pact with Your Colleagues to Stay Focused

Thu, 2018-04-12 11:30

If you’re surrounded by coworkers who get distracted easily, you’re likely to become distracted yourself. Instead of letting them pull you away from your to-do list, set boundaries. You don’t have to be rude about it; you can say something simple like, “Can we continue this conversation later? I want to get this report done, and then I’d love to hear more about your weekend.” This assures your coworker that you value your relationship while reinforcing your need for uninterrupted work time. You could also join forces with your colleagues to resist distractions together. Make a pact that during certain times — say, Thursday afternoons — you’ll work without interruptions: no email, social media, Slack, or chit-chatting. Then hold each other accountable for respecting the boundaries. Research shows that when you tell someone else that you want to reform your ways, you’re more likely to follow through.

Adapted from “What to Do When You’re Feeling Distracted at Work,” by Amy Gallo

Working Parents, Incorporate Mindfulness into Tasks You’re Already Doing

Wed, 2018-04-11 11:30

We all know that mindfulness can ease stress, but when you’re a working parent, it feels hard to find the time to fit in anything — even 10 minutes of meditation. Luckily, you can build mindfulness into your busy routine. Spend a few minutes writing down the activities you do each day: drop the kids at school, stop for coffee, commute to work, and so on. Next, consider where mindfulness can fit. For example, with your morning cup of coffee, create a quick routine where you pause before the first sip, smell the aroma, feel the heat of the mug, and take three intentional breaths. Similarly, each time you sit down at your computer, you can close your eyes, notice the sensation of your feet on the floor, and feel your breath come in and out. Finding these small but essential moments will benefit both you and your family.

Adapted from “How Busy Working Parents Can Make Time for Mindfulness,” by Michelle Gale

Before Taking a Job, Learn Whether the Company’s Culture Is Right for You

Tue, 2018-04-10 11:30

When evaluating a job offer, it’s important to know whether you’ll fit in at the new company. But it can be hard to get an unvarnished view of an organization’s culture during the interview process. Before you take the job, find people with objective, unbiased opinions of the organization and its culture. They may be former employees or others who work with the company, such as consultants, contractors, or suppliers. Invite them out for coffee and say something like, “I’m trying to get a fuller picture of the company culture.” Then ask questions such as: What is this organization like to work with? Where is it succeeding? What kinds of people do well in this organization? What kinds of people leave? If you can, find out why the person you’re replacing is no longer there. Did they move on? Or get promoted? Any information you can gather will give you an insider’s perspective before you decide to commit.

Adapted from “How to Tell If a Company's Culture Is Right for You,” by Rebecca Knight

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