Minding the Gaps: Solving Management Problems

Solving Management Problems

Whether we commute to a traditional office or log in from home, we all spend a considerable chunk of our day at work. Most workplace dilemmas aren’t as easy as figuring out dress-down-Friday wardrobes or catching sandwich thieves rummaging through break-room refrigerators.

Rather, our workday stressors can be more along the lines of managing team members who have deeper (and more recent) expertise than us — or who belong to a generation that differs by decades.

Our attitudes about team dynamics, compensation, workplace stress also impact team members and bottom lines. How to manage it all? This week we have 5 experts who offer lessons in how to negotiate these modern-day workplace dilemmas, and even thrive.

Age gaps, talent gaps, attitudes, stress. These new workplace situations call for new thinking and new approaches to solving management problems. Intrigued? Check out the links below.

What If Your Team is Smarter Than You?

Congratulations, you’re promoted — and your team is stocked with the best and brightest. Your challenge is to manage them and learn to make decisions based on their expertise and not your own deep-dive into the details.

Rebecca Knight, journalist and lecturer at Wesleyan University, offers a framework for how to oversee experts in her article How to Manage People Who Are Smarter Than You written for Harvard Business Review. Knight offers tips for resetting your mindset — and your coaching strategy.

Be sure to check out the two case studies, especially the steps one leader took to build up her confidence as a manager, and why she looks back on that period as her “on-the-court MBA.” It’s management advice for the rest of us who are surrounded by elite team members.

Minding the Generation Gap

Millennials are now the largest demographic in the labor force and the ripple effect of this is impacting how teams work. In How to Approach the Generation Gap in the Workplace from his Workologist column in the New York Times, Rob Walker has crowd-sourced wisdom on how to negotiate large age-gaps between team members, and especially on being hired and managed by people who are younger.

Walker finds consensus among his older respondents — many who had reported to, or had been interviewed by, managers who were much younger — and packages the answers into six tips to successfully negotiate the age gap. If you’re on the older side of the divide, this article is for you. (For a look at the flip-side: We just published “How to Successfully Manage Millennials” on the Redbooth blog.)

These Days We’re All in the Writing Business

Email, blogs, interoffice memos. We’re all writers now, and we need good editors to keep our writing sharp. Nancy Duarte, presentation maven and best-selling author, argues that editing is more than adjusting grammar and catching typos, and shows that it’s the art of thinking, just not the art of writing, that’s at play.

“The editor’s job,” she says, “is to lead his or her subjects to better versions of their own ideas.” When put that way, it’s a skill that every manager needs to develop.

Her article The 4 Hallmarks of a Good Editor offers food for thought on what a good editor does (and doesn’t) do. How many of the 4 hallmarks of a good editor do you demonstrate on a regular basis?

Thank You’s Are for Closers

Gratitude works better than monetary incentives to motivate hard work, surveys show us, but Janice Kaplan, former Editor-in-Chief of Parade magazine, says you’d hardly know it by looking at workplace trends. In her article for the Wall Street Journal, It Pays to Give Thanks at the Office,” she says it’s rare to find gratitude in the workplace, even though we’ll “give our best effort if the work gets us interested and excited, if we feel that it’s providing meaning and purpose, and if others appreciate what we’re doing.”

A bonus or a genuine thank you — which one do you reach for to motivate your team? She cites evidence for how gratitude can edge out financial incentives, and offers advice on the single best way to show gratitude at work.

In the Workplace, Stress is in the Eye of the Beholder

From the files of our very own Redbooth blog, journalist Suzy Frisch tells us Why It Helps to Have a Positive Attitude Towards Stress at Work.” Can your mindset really change harmful to helpful at the physical level?

Frisch cites work by health psychologist Kelly McGonigal that indicates the perception of stress may be more important than the stress itself. Turns out that how viewing a situation — such as a summons to the VP’s office or a moved-up deadline — as a worthy challenge instead of a calamity can actually improve your body’s response to the stress. If this is the case, adjusting our perception of stress can just as practical as taking steps to lessen it.

Read her article to check out the evidence. As it turns out, stress really might be what you make of it.