Category Archives: Management

Employees Accuse Google of Developing ‘Surveillance Tool’ to Prevent Unions

Source: Ryan Gallagher, Bloomberg, October 24, 2019

Google employees are accusing the company’s leadership of developing an internal surveillance tool that they believe will be used to monitor workers’ attempts to organize protests and discuss labor rights.

Earlier this month, employees said they discovered that a team within the company was creating the new tool for the custom Google Chrome browser installed on all workers’ computers and used to search internal systems. The concerns were outlined in a memo written by a Google employee and reviewed by Bloomberg News and by three Google employees who requested anonymity because they aren’t authorized to talk to the press.

The tool would automatically report staffers who create a calendar event with more than 10 rooms or 100 participants, according to the employee memo. The most likely explanation, the memo alleged, “is that this is an attempt of leadership to immediately learn about any workers organization attempts.”

Gartner: Of the 4 manager types, only 1 boosts employee performance 26%

Source: Deborah Barrington, CIO Dive, October 22, 2019

….Part of building a strong team, according to Jaime Roca, senior vice president, Gartner, during a panel at Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo, lies in the type of managers charged with the development and enrichment of employees. Roca is the co-author “The Connector Manager — Why Some Leaders Build Exceptional Talent and Others Don’t.”

A Gartner survey of 7,000 people asked how proficient they are in their current roles on a scale of 1-7, with 1 as the lowest and 7 as the highest degree of proficiency. The bulk of respondents, 70%, rated their skills between 1-5.

That means managers, already up against productivity goals, must find time and opportunity to upskill the people who report to them.

There are four basic types of manager, said Roca on Monday:
– Teachers: Managers who develop employees’ skills based on their expertise. Expect teachers to steer employee development on a track that matches their skills and experiences.
– Cheerleaders: This style of manager takes a mostly hands off approach and offers very supportive feedback.
– Always on: Opposite of hands off. This group provides feedback and coaching constantly.
– Connectors: This is the ideal management style for developing talent. These leaders give feedback that aligns with their area of expertise. Where they stand out is in their ability to connect people who can offer strength in a variety of skills. Connectors join people on the same team, but can reach out to the broader organization or outside of the organization to match people who have complementary skills.

According to Roca, one of these types is toxic — and it likely isn’t the one most would guess. ….

Writing in Race: Evidence against Employers’ Assumptions about Race and Soft Skills

Source: Jessi Streib, Jane Rochmes, Felicia Arriaga, Carlos Tavares, Emi Weed, Social Problems, Advance Access, October 9, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Hiring managers and segments of the American public believe that white, black, and Hispanic job-seekers present distinct soft skills to employers. Sociologists have not tested this belief and provide competing theories about whether it is likely to be true. Structural theories maintain that different resources and networks inhibit racial groups from displaying similar non-technical skills and experiences, while cultural approaches posit that all groups can access and display a variety of soft skills. Based on a content analysis of 1,124 applications that white, black, and Hispanic job-seekers used to apply for the same job, we find little evidence supporting the belief in racial distinctions in soft skills. Instead, white, black, and Hispanic applicants in our sample presented the same top reasons for applying, the same top personal characteristics, the same top college activities, and were equally likely to follow professional norms. We discuss the generalizability of our findings and their implications for theories of access to these skills.

Antipolitics and the Hindrance of Performance Management in Education

Source: Jeffrey W Snyder, Andrew Saultz, Rebecca Jacobsen, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Volume 29, Issue 4, October 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Performance management reforms are a popular way to try to create responsive and improving government. These types of reforms have become commonplace in education policy and the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (JPART) has been one of the leading venues for research on these topics. However, under-analyzed are the ways in which performance management policies represent antipolitical bent to education reform. We outline an argument that avoiding political decisionmaking in favor of reforms that create authoritative or purportedly neutral data risks undertaking policy change are not as meaningful as hoped. We select eight articles that represent research on performance management broadly and are thought provoking for a broader consideration of performance management in education policy.

Cracking the Code of Sustained Collaboration

Source: Francesca Gino, Harvard Business Review, November–December 2019
(subscription required)

Ask any leader whether his or her organization values collaboration, and you’ll get a resounding yes. Ask whether the firm’s strategies to increase collaboration have been successful, and you’ll probably receive a different answer. ….

One problem is that leaders think about collaboration too narrowly: as a value to cultivate but not a skill to teach. Businesses have tried increasing it through various methods, from open offices to naming it an official corporate goal. While many of these approaches yield progress—mainly by creating opportunities for collaboration or demonstrating institutional support for it—they all try to influence employees through superficial or heavy-handed means, and research has shown that none of them reliably delivers truly robust collaboration.

The Problem with Accounting for Employees as Costs Instead of Assets

Source: Ethan Rouen, Harvard Business Review, October 17, 2019

You hear it all the time: companies touting employees as “their most valuable assets.” But under current accounting standards, that is simply false. By definition, employees are not assets since companies do not have control over them. Workers must convert raw materials – be they commodities or blank computer screens – into finished inventory to be paid, but if these workers want to quit, they can take their skills and training with them.

The distinction matters because it allows companies to hide behind platitudes and not disclose whether they invest in their workers in ways that promote long-term success. The current lack of disclosure related to employment practices prevents policy makers and investors from rewarding or punishing companies for how they actually treat their employees. Right now, there’s no universally accepted way to track the management of human capital. We need a new way to account for labor so that we can track and reward companies for how they actually treat their employees.

How the Best Bosses Interrupt Bias on Their Teams

Source: Joan C. Williams, Sky Mihaylo, Harvard Business Review, November–December 2019
(subscription required)

Companies spend millions on antibias training each year. The goal is to create workforces that are more inclusive, and thereby more innovative and more effective. Studies show that well-managed diverse groups outperform homogeneous ones and are more committed, have higher collective intelligence, and are better at making decisions and solving problems. But research also shows that bias prevention programs rarely deliver. And some companies don’t invest in them at all. So how can you, as an individual leader, make sure your team is including and making the most of diverse voices? Can one person fix what an entire organization can’t?

Although bias itself is devilishly hard to eliminate, it is not as difficult to interrupt. In the decades we’ve spent researching and advising people on how to build and manage diverse work groups, we’ve identified ways that managers can counter bias without spending a lot of time—or political capital.

The first step is to understand the four distinct ways bias plays out in everyday work interactions: (1) Prove it again: Some groups have to prove themselves more than others do. (2) Tightrope: A narrower range of behaviors is accepted from some groups than from others. (3) Maternal wall: Women with children see their commitment and competence questioned or face disapproval for being too career focused. (4) Tug-of-war: Disadvantaged groups find themselves pitted against one another because of differing strategies for assimilating—or refusing to do so.

The second step is to recognize when and where these forms of bias arise day-to-day. In the absence of an organizational directive, it’s easy to let them go unaddressed. That’s a mistake. You can’t be a great manager without becoming a bias interrupter. Here’s how to do it.

3 ways to combat gender bias in the workplace

Source: Sara Brown, MIT Sloan School of Management, October 11, 2019

Many stand to benefit when companies embrace diversity and inclusion. Women, people from different perspectives, and people of color challenge cognitive biases, prompting higher quality ideas and innovation, according to MIT Sloan senior lecturer and research scientist Renée Richardson Gosline. Women also score higher than men on 17 of the 19 most important leadership skills, according to a recent study.

While some companies focus on creating inclusive practices, women continue to battle bias as they navigate their careers. Doing so while becoming a strong leader isn’t easy, according to three business execs who shared their experiences at the recent MIT Sloan Global Women’s Symposium. What have they learned along the way? Learn to say no, get comfortable talking about uncomfortable topics, and help others coming up behind you.

Helping Employees Speak Up

Source: Larry Johnson, Government Finance Review, May 2019

…. The question for all managers is how to make sure their employees aren’t afraid to tell them what they need to know. There are three critical things a manager can do to encourage honest feedback from subordinates:

1. Make It Clear that You Want the Feedback.
Let people know — repeatedly — that you are not perfect and you expect them to help you make the best decisions possible, so any help they can offer will be appreciated, especially if they see you about to do something stupid.

2. Don’t Be Defensive.
When someone gives you this kind of feedback, control your defensiveness. None of us like to be criticized, and it’s easy to argue and even respond with hostility when a subordinate suggests there might be another, better, approach. You aren’t going to agree to something you know to be wrong — you just need to listen openly to the incoming information.

3. Thank the Employee — and Mean It.
Whether or not you take the advice the subordinate offers, be sure to thank her and express your appreciation for bringing the matter to your attention. Reinforced behavior tends to get repeated, so if you want people to give you more feedback, reward them for doing so…..

Minority Public Administrators: Managing Organizational Demands While Acting as an Advocate

Source: Kristen Carroll, Kenicia Wright, Kenneth J. Meier, The American Review of Public Administration, Volume 49 Issue 7, October 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Building on the work of Adam Herbert, this research examines how minority managers navigate the pressures of their organization versus the pressures of their community. Organizational socialization suggests that the socialization process will introduce employees to the goals and priorities of the organization and result in similar behaviors among managers. However, social identities (i.e., race, gender) also significantly influence the values, attitudes, and behaviors of a public servant. Navigating these two competing pressures, minority managers often experience role conflict in their work. We theoretically explore and empirically examine how race affects minority managers’ perceptions, networking behaviors, and hiring outcomes. We test our hypotheses using 6 years of school superintendent survey data. We find that racial minority managers behave in similar ways to their White peers as they have similar perceptions of their role in the organization and engage in professional networking behavior at similar rates. However, minority managers separately address the interests of their same-race minority community by hiring same-race street-level bureaucrats. As public organizations have grown increasingly diverse, this research revisits the experiences of minority public administrators and contributes to our understanding of how race and social identities contemporarily influence public managerial behaviors.