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Nano Tools for Leaders IX

In Executive Education, Leadership, Nano Tools, Wharton on April 25, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Mood and Productivity: Undoing a Bad Start

Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.

Contributors:

Nancy Rothbard, David Pottruck Associate Professor of Management, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

The Goal:

Enhance productivity and performance by acknowledging and resetting negative moods that are brought to work.

Nano Tool:

A recent study indicates that waking up on the right or wrong side of the bed can have persistent effects: employees who bring negative emotions to work not only tend to stay in a bad mood throughout the day, but their productivity falls by over 10 percent. The old “leave it at the door” adage simply doesn’t work for the majority of people. However, there are steps leaders can take to counteract those moods, reverse the productivity drain, and increase performance levels. Resetting negative moods can be achieved using a variety of methods. Engagement works — ignoring the situation doesn’t. For higher productivity and improved performance, acknowledge the problem, make some slight accommodations,
and offer options. It can pay dividends to create a culture where walking in the door of the office leads to a more positive mood at the start of the day. Read the rest of this entry »

Nano Tools for Leaders VIII

In Executive Education, Leadership, Nano Tools, Wharton on March 25, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Market Segmentation: Connecting Data to Decisions with Customer Analytics

Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.

Contributors:

  • Eric T. Bradlow, The K.P. Chao Professor; Professor of Marketing, Statistics, and Education; Vice-Dean, Wharton Doctoral Programs, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
  • David J. Reibstein, William Stewart Woodside Professor; Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

The Goal:

Create long-term sustainable advantages through market segmentation and granular data.

Nano Tool:

Creating a sustainable advantage is challenging even in the best circumstances. But it can be particularly difficult when there is minimal differentiation between you and your competitors, when you are competing almost exclusively on price, and/or when you’re doing business in a stagnant market. Many organizations are already collecting the kinds of data that can help them identify that advantage, but they’re often not making the connection between that data and their decisions. Market research can be a powerful tool for strategic decision making, helping to identify the varied desires, motivations, and actions of consumers, who can then be grouped accordingly. Armed with those consumer groupings, firms can assess alternative segments to target and ultimately serve that segment(s) with a unique offering.

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Nano Tools for Leaders VII

In Executive Education, Leadership, Nano Tools on February 23, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Innovation Tournaments: More and Better Ideas

Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.

Contributors: Christian Terwiesch, Andrew M. Heller Professor, Professor of Operations and Information Management; and Karl Ulrich, CIBC Professor, Professor of Operations and Information Management, and Vice Dean of Innovation at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

The Goal:

Create and select exceptional opportunities for innovation.

Nano Tool:

Companies with a structured, professional approach to innovation are rare. Most do a great job managing processes like recruiting and sales training, but view innovation as a creative process that’s shrouded in mystery. As a result, money is often thrown at mediocre projects with the hope that some luck will enter in and make them successful. Organizations seeking exceptional opportunities for innovation must instead employ a very process-driven approach to drive innovation.

An innovation tournament is one such approach. Like its counterpart in sports, this is a structured, multi-round competition. Based on the Darwinian principle of the “survival of the fittest,” it systematically elicits a large number of innovation opportunities (the contestants) and selects a handful of exceptional ones (the winners). An organization’s first tournament should take the form of an innovation workshop, which introduces the key ideas of tournaments to participants while creating an appetite for future competitions. It also can result in some exceptional innovation opportunities. Read the rest of this entry »

Nano Tools for Leaders VI

In Executive Education, Leadership, Nano Tools, Wharton on January 31, 2011 at 2:35 pm

For Better Results, Emotional Contagion Matters

Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.

Contributor: Sigal Barsade, PhD, Joseph Frank Bernstein Professor of Management, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.


The Goal:

Create an environment that enhances employee engagement and performance by paying attention to the emotional contagion occurring in your team.

Nano Tool:

Employees are not emotional islands. Rather, they continuously spread their own moods and receive and are influenced by others’ moods. When they work in groups, they literally can catch each others’ emotions like viruses, a phenomenon known as emotional contagion. These effects become even more powerful in stable workgroups where there is greater work interdependence.

Executives can use their knowledge of the impact of mood contagion to create more positive team dynamics, increase performance, and decrease turnover by consciously managing their own emotions and the emotions they want to spread in their teams. As positive emotions have most often been found to lead to better employee attitudes, creativity, and job performance, leaders will likely want to elicit positive emotional contagion within the team environment. Negative mood contagion may be sometimes necessary to achieve a specific team goal, but should be relegated to short-term situations. For example, team leaders may want to elicit shared feelings of frustration or anger in cases where teams have lost to a competitor or have not met their goals; or they may want to induce feelings of legitimate fear when getting teams to understand organizational realities and accept why a change effort is important. Because employees pay great attention to their leaders’ emotions, leaders can strongly influence the mood, and thus attitudes and performance, of their teams through emotional contagion.

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Nano Tools for Leaders V

In Executive Education, Leadership, Nano Tools, Wharton on January 6, 2011 at 11:20 am

Customer Insights: Go Direct

Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.

Contributor: George Day, PhD, The Geoffrey T. Boisi Professor, Professor of Marketing; Co-Director, Mack Center for Technological Innovation; Director, Emerging Technologies Management Research Program, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania


The Goal:

Gain a deeper understanding of your customers, your market, and your competitors by making direct contact.

Nano Tool:

The importance of deep customer and market insights can’t be overstated. They are the foundation on which companies create customer value and capture superior profits. And yet despite the compelling benefits, most firms are ineffective at consistently gathering market intelligence. 

Firms shouldn’t count on insights emerging organically. Instead, they need to develop a disciplined process that connects them directly with their customers. To acquire relevant and actionable information that lets you anticipate your customers’ needs (and and fill those needs before your competitors do), you need to collect customer data in new ways. Rather than outsourcing your data collection, keep it in house.  And get as close to the customer — and the customer experience — as possible.

How It Works:

  • Create online tools to collect customer data. P&G recently opened up its own online store to learn directly from customers. They don’t expect the eStore to provide a significant or quick boost to revenue or profit, but rather are more interested in the customer data it will produce. They learn about the effectiveness of efforts such as product pairings, social media links, environmentally friendly pitches, packaging options, and banner ads. Other companies use online forums or newsgroups to stay in contact with customers.
      Read the rest of this entry »

Nano Tools for Leaders IV

In Executive Education, Leadership, Nano Tools, Wharton on January 6, 2011 at 11:12 am

Being There

Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.

Contributor: Thomas Donaldson, PhD, The Mark O. Winkelman Professor, Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania


The Goal:

Improve communication with employees to ensure that you’re in the loop, hearing bad (and good) news before it’s too late.

Nano Tool:

Disastrous organizational public revelations make headlines, and often bring corporations to the brink of destruction. For those hit by a “corporate Watergate,” two things are true:

  1. Top level executives did not know about it in time;
  2. Scores of people inside the organization did know about it — and knew for a long time.

The key issue is why critical information fails to flow upward to executives. Research clearly shows that an employee’s feeling of pressure to commit unethical acts is strongly correlated with his or her conception of the ethics of top leadership. In turn, an employee’s conception of those ethics is often formed more by personal impressions than by ethical “pronouncements” from the top. It is those personal impressions that can and should be directed by top executives themselves.
 
The most effective way to create a positive impression — and to avoid critical communication lapses – is to make a habit of engaging in casual, unplanned moments with employees (known also as “being there”). How an executive treats employees in the elevator or the parking lot can make all the difference between hearing (and having the time to act), and not hearing. Leaders should seize opportunities to “be there.”

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Nano Tools for Leaders III

In Executive Education, Leadership, Nano Tools, Wharton on October 28, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Managing the Older Worker

Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.

Contributor: Peter Cappelli, George W. Taylor Professor of Management and Director of the Center for Human Resources.


The Goal:

Maximize the use and performance of older workers.

Nano Tool:

Older workers (defined in the United States as 55+) are a rapidly growing segment of the workforce, and research shows that their job performance is superior in nearly every aspect to that of younger cohorts. They offer the “just in time” skills employers say they want and are willing to work the flexible schedules modern businesses require.

Yet this older workforce poses a unique challenge for younger supervisors, who have difficulty handling subordinates with more experience than the supervisors. This challenge translates into management problems as well as a resistance to hiring older workers. The goal is to develop a new way to manage older workers that eliminates these challenges. Read the rest of this entry »

Nano Tools for Leaders

In Executive Education, Leadership, Nano Tools, Wharton on August 26, 2010 at 4:46 pm

We’re pleased to introduce a new monthly feature on our blog in response to the growing demands on leaders to deliver big results in short timeframes.

Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes – with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.

We’re partnering with Wharton Executive Education to offer a new Nano Tool each month.  Each tool is backed by research and grounded in the proven best practices taught in Wharton’s executive programs.

We invite you to join our conversation.  Share your comments and best practices here on our blog, and contribute to the pool of resources available to leaders who are committed to delivering results.

We’d like to thank Associate Professor of Management, Adam Grant, for serving as the Academic Director for Nano Tools.  And Deb Giffen, Director of Innovation Learning Solutions at Wharton Executive Education, who conceived and developed the Nano Tool concept.

From our blog home, click “Read More and Comment” to continue on to the Nano Tool.

Best,

Mike Useem

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