Training Article

Manfred Kets de Vries’s picture

By: Manfred Kets de Vries

Recently, I was listening to the CFO of a large industrial firm who complained nonstop about her CEO. At the start of his tenure, the CEO regularly interacted with his top team but now seemed to spend most of his time brooding in his office. In meetings, he would often lose focus, have fits of anger, and harass people.

The CEO’s mercurial style was affecting morale and, increasingly, sales. Some subordinates wondered whether their CEO was falling apart in front of their eyes.

The phrase “It’s lonely at the top” is a cliché, but for many top executives, it’s also a harsh reality. A CEO’s responsibilities tend to come with sleepless nights and constant worry about having made the right decisions. The psychological pressure can inflict an emotional strain that most employees will never experience. Outwardly, this may present as aloofness, which in turn makes it even harder for a CEO to remain effective.

In the absence of a support system, burnout becomes a real threat. Men in particular tend to let their personal relationships with friends and family take a back seat to their professional ambitions. They may find themselves with nobody to rely on during difficult times and then turn to extramarital affairs or alcohol and drugs.

Stuart Hearn’s picture

By: Stuart Hearn

Managers have a profound effect on employee engagement. This is something we have known for quite a few years. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, managers account for at least a 70-percent variance in employee engagement scores. When employees and managers have a healthy, respectful, and honest relationship, employees feel more supported and better able to perform the function of their job.

Knowing this, it’s rather unfortunate that more than half of employees claim not to trust their managers. Along with motivation, commitment, and loyalty, trust is a core component of employee engagement. Without faith in their managers, employees aren’t able to achieve their full potential—meaning that your company can’t, either. Managers need to inspire trust, motivate great performance, and provide employees with a stable working environment to create a workforce that will help take your business to greater heights.

Multiple Authors
By: Claire Harbour-Lyell, Antoine Tirard

Born to a Dalit family, Megha was raised in Southwest India and learned English at her convent school. As a child, she aspired to be a fashion designer or a cardiologist, but her parents insisted that she become an IT engineer. After four years of higher education, Megha found a job in the booming technology sector.

During the next six years, she worked as a technical engineer and consultant on various projects. She recalls: “I tried to fit into the normal life of an engineer; however, something inside me was saying that I was not in the place where I was meant to be. I was dissatisfied and hungry.”

While exploring new career options, Megha grew interested in the business side of the fashion industry. She saw it as a natural progression since she had a strong foundation in management. In 2011, she heard about an MBA in international luxury-brand management in Paris and applied for it. When the letter of acceptance came, Megha knew she was ready to move to the City of Light, even though she did not speak French.

Jesse Lyn Stoner’s picture

By: Jesse Lyn Stoner

I had the pleasure of interviewing Whitney Johnson, author of the book, Build an A Team: Play to Their Strengths and Lead Them Up the Learning Curve (Harvard Business Review Press, 2018). Whitney has done ground-breaking work in the arena of personal disruption—applying these concepts to individuals, not just organizations.

I read Build an A Team with interest because it’s a natural progression of the work Whitney has been doing with personal disruption and career disruption. In her last two books, she showed how disruption applies to individuals and in their careers. Her new book shows how managers can use these ideas to develop their team.

Laurel Thoennes @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Laurel Thoennes @ Quality Digest

Compliance to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations has come a long way in the past 30 years. Here are the main changes. Have they affected your business?

1988: Food and Drug Administration Act
Officially establishes the FDA as an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services and broadly spells out the responsibilities for research, enforcement, education, and information

1988: The Prescription Drug Marketing Act
Requires drug wholesalers to be licensed by the states; restricts reimportation from other countries; and bans sale, trade, or purchase of drug samples, and traffic or counterfeiting of redeemable drug coupons

Multiple Authors
By: Henrik Bresman, Deborah Ancona

A leading supermarket chain in an eastern European Union country feared an 8-percent drop in sales as discounting giant Lidl was about to enter its market. So, in collaboration with researchers, it decided to run a randomized controlled experiment. The goal was to reduce its costly personnel turnover problem in a bid to improve quality and operational efficiency.

Selected store managers received a letter from top management, encouraging them to do something about the 90-percent yearly staff turnover. It worked: During the next three quarters, the monthly quit rate fell by 20 to 30 percent. However, surprisingly, this vast improvement led to no discernible effect on the predefined performance metrics (sales and value of perished food). In interviews, the researchers found the explanation. As store managers focused more on HR issues, they spent less time interacting with customers (to increase sales) and dealing with the flow of goods (to reduce food wastage).

Multiple Authors
By: Stephen Fankhauser, Matt Ebbatson

The world is running out of experienced pilots. Supply is not keeping up with the growing demand for air travel. In Australia, the effects are already starting to bite. Even flagship carrier Qantas is having problems. In recent months it has had to perform a very nimble tap dance to crew its vast fleet and maintain its extensive flight schedule.

In response, Qantas has plans for one of the biggest pilot training programs in its history. It has just announced that its first-ever pilot training academy, training 250 pilots a year, will be based in Toowoomba, Australia. A second site, to train a similar number of pilots, is still to be announced.

Training these many pilots, though, will be a struggle. The academy will first have to find enough instructional pilots to deliver the required training flights.

Ruptured training pipelines

The reason airlines and other operators are in this predicament stems from the rupturing of the training pipelines that historically supplied pilots across all levels of the aviation industry.

Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

Who’s more clever, engineers or designers? Alexa-connected toilet, anyone? How do you promote rigorous thinking? We discussed all of that and more during this week’s QDL.

“CES brings you... the Alexa-connected toilet!’

Just when you thought that nothing crazier than your clothes dryer could be connected to the internet... there’s this.

“How to Get Smarter and Sharper Employees”

In order to promote rigorous thinking for better problem solving, all team members should be prepared to advocate for their ideas and defend them. They should be prepared to walk through the upside, downside, data points rooted in reality, and how the idea works given assets and constraints. With that in mind, what questions should team members ask?

Mike Richman’s picture

By: Mike Richman

Happy New Year one and all! For our first QDL of 2019, we were pleased to present some thought-provoking content on the benefits of compromise, the dangers of rhetorical trickery, and the meaning of Chekhov’s gun. Let’s take a closer look:

Ripped from the headlines

Can’t anyone here get along? The new year is starting out just like the old one, with plenty of dysfunction and finger-pointing in Washington. In this segment looking at news headlines, it’s clear that an inability to compromise is affecting not only governance but global trade, too. So what can we all do to get along with each other just a little bit better?

“Protect Yourself From Verbal Sleight of Hand”

Wes Kao’s picture

By: Wes Kao

If you’re a leader, you got to where you are because you think strategically and are killer at execution. You simply can’t get far without being good at both.

Now that you’re in charge of people, though, your ability to increase impact depends on how well you manage other people. You need your team to become smarter, sharper, A-players.

Unfortunately, sometimes smart people (like you) accidentally traumatize their teams

You say you want your team to think harder and stop just doing exactly what you say. But every time they have a question, you just answer it. Or worse, you give them a wrist slap for bringing you a new idea.

I get it. You already don’t have time to do your own job, so you definitely don’t have time to clean up everyone else’s mess. But each time you give your team a wrist slap for stepping outside the box, you discourage them from trying new things.

So you have a dilemma: You want your team to think like an owner and bring you fresh ideas — and you want those ideas to be defensible.

What is rigorous thinking?

Rigorous thinking is asking critical questions about tactics and having a systematic way of making decisions. For example, let’s say you manage five to six direct reports.

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