Harvard Business Review
A weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in business and management.
How Companies Reckon with Past Wrongdoing
How Companies Reckon with Past Wrongdoing
Sarah Federman, assistant professor at the University of Baltimore, studies how companies handle their historical misdeeds and what that means for employees and customers. From insurance firms that backed slave owners to railroad companies that transported victims of the Holocaust, many legacy companies can find they played a role in past transgressions. Federman makes a moral and practical argument for uncovering and addressing these misdeeds, even though there may no longer be legal repercussions. And she shares how some leaders have been transparent, apologized, and found meaningful ways to make up for their organization's difficult history. Federman wrote the HBR article “How Companies Can Address Their Historical Transgressions: Lessons from the Slave Trade and the Holocaust.”
To Get Ahead, You Need Both Ambition and Humility
We know that great leadership takes not just intelligence and drive but also the ability to get along well with and learn from others. The key, says Amer Kaissi, is to be both ambitious and humble throughout your career. He's studied how people succeed across diverse industries and offers advice of how to find a better balance between our desire to achieve and the qualities that earn more respect from colleagues. Kaissi is a professor of healthcare administration at Trinity University and the author of Humbitious: The Power of Low Ego, High Drive Leadership.
We’re Bad at Measuring Inequality—Here’s Why That Matters
Stefanie Stantcheva, economist at Harvard University, founded the Social Economics Lab to study inequality, our feelings about it, and how policies influence it. She says when we estimate how much money our colleagues make or how much taxes impact us, we are often very far off from the truth. Her research also shows that our misconceptions are often linked to political beliefs. She argues that we need to be more aware of the realities of inequality if we want to create better economic opportunities.
Best of IdeaCast: What Sets Successful People Apart
Heidi Grant, a motivational psychologist, has studied successful people and what makes them tick. In this classic episode, she and former host Sarah Green Carmichael discuss the behaviors of high achievers and how to incorporate them into your own life and work. Grant is the author of the HBR article and e-book "Nine Things Successful People Do Differently.”
There Still Aren’t Enough “Good Jobs”
Companies around the world are struggling to fill open positions, while millions of unemployed people look for work. What's going on? Zeynep Ton, professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, says that organizations need to start offering better jobs. While old-school management thinking argued for paying workers only as much money as the market dictated and squeezing every last bit of efficiency out of them to maximize profits, the 21st century requires a new approach. This starts with higher wages but also includes more predictability and flexibility. In the wake of the global pandemic that brought essential workers to the forefront, Ton explains what companies have done - and can do - to create more good jobs in society.
Gaslighting at Work—and What to Do About It
Mita Mallick, head of inclusion, equity, and impact at the firm Carta, says gaslighting at the office is more common than many people realize. That's when a manager or coworker engages in behavior where one thing happens, and they try to convince the victim otherwise. Gaslighting can damage the victim’s well-being and performance as well as the company overall. She explains how to recognize the manipulative behavior, what to do about it in the moment, and how companies can respond. Mallick wrote the HBR.org article "How to Intervene When a Manager Is Gaslighting Their Employees."
How to Use All Your Vacation — And Really Unplug
When was the last time you really took a sustained break from work? No emails. No calls. No taking care of that one little thing. For most of us — particularly in the United States -- it's been too long. As we head into the end-of-year holidays, we asked University of Texas psychology professor Art Markman and Cornell University associate professor Kaitlin Wooley to explain why it's so important to take real vacations (or even staycations) and how individuals, bosses, and organizations can do a better job of making them happen.
One Way to Fight the Great Resignation? Re-recruit Your Current Employees.
Debbie Cohen and Kate Roeske-Zummer, cofounders of HumanityWorks, are sounding an alarm bell for employee retention. Record numbers of people are quitting their jobs due to burnout and better opportunities. Those resignations leave their former colleagues burdened with even more work and a sense of despair. Cohen and Roeske-Zummer argue that employers should re-recruit their existing employees and even think of them as customers. And the two consultants outline steps managers can take to openly appreciate those employees and keep a positive culture. Cohen and Roeske-Zummer wrote the HBR.org article "With So Many People Quitting, Don’t Overlook Those Who Stay.”
Why the Highest Paying Jobs So Rarely Go to Women
Companies pay disproportionately high salaries to CEOs and other high-powered professionals willing to live and breathe their jobs, on-call 24/7, ready to pick up and travel. It's a phenomenon Harvard historian and economist Claudia Goldin calls "greedy work" and she says it's a big reason why the pay gap between men and women persists -- because the people typically tasked with caring for kids, the house, or elderly parents simply can't put in as much time and energy at the office. However, she notes, there are signs of change, with younger generations demanding better balance.
In a New Role? Here’s How to Hit the Ground Running
Rob Cross, management professor at Babson College, says people are changing jobs more than ever and too often falling short when they do. Surveys show nearly half of people promoted within their own companies are underperforming 18 months later. And up to half of executives in new roles are seen as eventual disappointments. Cross says research shows that’s because today’s hyper-collaborative workplaces demand new skills. He shares evidence-based practices to improve a role transition. Those include developing strategic networks and expanding the scope and impact of one’s projects. Cross is a coauthor of the HBR article "How to Succeed Quickly in a New Role."
The Future of Work Is Projects—So You’ve Got to Get Them Right
Companies of every size in every industry and part of the world are basing more of their work around projects. And yet research shows that nearly two-thirds of those efforts fail. Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez, who has studied projects and project management for decades, explains how we can do better. He offers advice on the right way to frame projects, how to structure organizations around them, and pitfalls to avoid. Nieto-Rodriguez is the author of the Harvard Business Review Project Management Handbook and author of the article "The Project Economy Has Arrived."
Anti-Bias Policies That Really Work in Customer Service
Alexandra Feldberg and Tami Kim, assistant professors at Harvard Business School and the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, respectively, say companies are overlooking an important place to root out bias: on the front lines with customers. While many firms are promoting a more equitable workforce through their HR functions, too few firms even realize how costly bias can be in everyday interactions between workers and customers. The researchers explain how organizations can identify and address this overlooked problem. Feldberg and Kim are the coauthors of the HBR article "Fighting Bias on the Front Lines."
Find Focus in a Chaotic World
If you're feeling distracted, mentally fogged, and unable to pay attention to (or focus on if attention is in hed) the task at hand, you're not alone. The human brain is highly susceptible to often unproductive mind-wandering, and modern technology has only made the problem worse. But we all know that the best work comes when you're able to really zero in on an idea or problem for a sustained period of time. So we need better strategies for blocking out the external and internal noise. Dr. Amishi Jha, a neuroscientist and professor of psychology at the University of Miami and the author of "Peak Mind," offers recommendations based on studies of people in some of the most high-pressure jobs in the world.
Algorithms Won’t Solve All Your Pricing Problems
Marco Bertini, marketing professor at Esade Business School, says more and more companies are turning to pricing algorithms to maximize profits. But many are unaware of a big downside. The constant price shifts can hurt the perception of the brand and its products. He warns that overreliance on artificial intelligence and machine learning without considering human psychology can cause serious damage to the customer relationship. And he outlines steps managers should take, including implementing guardrails, overrides, and better communication tactics. With London Business School professor Oded Koenigsberg, Bertini wrote the HBR article "The Pitfalls of Pricing Algorithms."
Tech’s Exponential Growth – and How to Solve the Problems It’s Created
Technological development is happening faster than ever and changing our lives in fundamental ways. The companies behind all these new gadgets and services are no doubt the greatest corporate success stories of our age. But entrepreneur and investor Azeem Azhar worries that our public institutions haven't kept pace with the industry, which has created an exponential gap between digital haves and have nots. He offers recommendations on how bridge the divide and achieve growth with broader societal benefits. You can hear more from Azeem Azhar on his HBR Presents podcast, Exponential View.
First He Saved Unilever. Now He Wants to Save Capitalism.
Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, led a dazzling career in consumer goods, from Procter & Gamble to Nestlé to the British multinational. His experience fending off a hostile takeover bid taught him that the doctrine of shareholder capitalism is wrong. He believes there’s a better way of doing business, one that embraces all stakeholders — not just stockholders — and improves the environment. He cofounded the consultancy IMAGINE to further sustainable goals, and he shares his advice for the next generation of leaders. With Andrew Winston, Polman wrote the new book “Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More than They Take”.
How to Make Strategic Career Decisions, Even in a Crisis (Back to Work, Better)
When it comes to work, it's easy to focus on the near term: the next meeting, project, promotion. The global pandemic pushed many of us even further into heads-down mode. But Dorie Clark, author of the book The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-term World, wants everyone to step back, take a breath, and start thinking longer term about what you really want to do and how to progress toward those goals. She offers advice on how to ignore social media distractions, balance priorities, cultivate patience, and make the right strategic decisions. Clark also wrote the HBR article "Feeling Stuck or Stymied."
The Innovation System Behind Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine
Noubar Afeyan, cofounder and chair of Moderna Therapeutics and CEO of Flagship Pioneering, says that the breakthrough innovation behind the company’s Covid-19 vaccine came not as a stroke of luck, but from a repeatable process. He outlines a system called “emergent discovery” that involves working back from future ideals, pioneering in novel spaces, encouraging unreasonable ideas, and persistently questioning hypotheses. And he says this process applies to other industries besides life sciences. Afeyan is the coauthor, with HBS professor Gary Pisano, of the HBR article "What Evolution Can Teach Us About Innovation."
Can Big Tech Reform Itself?
Mehran Sahami, a Stanford professor and former Google employee, wants to see a reset from the technology industry. For the past few decades, the world's technologists (many of whom become its corporate executives and venture capitalists) have been taught to prioritize optimization and efficiency without thinking a whole lot about ethics. The result has been stunning corporate success but significant costs to society. Sahami argues that regulation can certainly help right the balance. But he also believes that tech company leaders and employees can shift their mindsets and practices to ensure they're serving the greater good, not just themselves. He's the coauthor, along with Rob Reich and Jeremy Weinstein, of "System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot."
Why Companies Need Returnship Programs (Back to Work, Better)
Carol Fishman Cohen, human resource consultant and CEO of iRelaunch, says that extended career breaks have always been common. Now the pandemic has made them even more widespread. So, companies are increasingly considering formal back-to-work programs and “returnships.” That’s where employers set up special training and support mechanisms to ease people back into work. Cohen speaks about the best practices for organizations and returning workers alike. She's the author of the HBR article "Return-to-Work Programs Come of Age."