Leadership & Management: Motivation

68 Results

 

Starbucks Reinvented

Nancy Koehn's new case on the rebirth of Starbucks under Howard Schultz "distills 20 years of my thinking about the most important lessons of strategy, leadership, and managing in turbulence." Open for comment; 21 Comments posted.

Fixing the ‘I Hate Work’ Blues

Many employees report they are overworked and not engaged—a recent New York Times article on the phenomenon was titled, "Why You Hate Work." The problem, says Bill George, is that the way we design work stifles engagement. Here's the fix. Open for comment; 20 Comments posted.

Who Sets Your Benchmarks?

In his new book, What You're Really Meant to Do, Robert Steven Kaplan outlines a step-by-step approach to defining success on your own terms. Closed for comment; 9 Comments posted.

The Dirty Laundry of Employee Award Programs: Evidence from the Field

Many scholars and practitioners in human resource management have recently argued that awards and other forms of on-the-job recognition provide a "free" way to motivate employees. But are there unintended, negative effects of such awards? In this paper, the authors simultaneously examine the costs and benefits of an attendance award program that was implemented in an industrial laundry plant. The award used in the study was effective in that it reduced the average rate of tardiness among employees. However, it also led to a host of potential spillover effects that the plant manager readily admits were not considered when designing the program, and that reduced overall plant productivity. Overall, findings demonstrate that an award program that appears to be effective may also induce unintended consequences severely reducing the net value of the program. These results highlight the impact such a program can have on the overall performance of the firm and suggest caution when designing and implementing such programs. Read More

Altruistic Capital: Harnessing Your Employees’ Intrinsic Goodwill

Everyone comes to the table with some amount of "altruistic capital," a stock of intrinsic desire to serve, says professor Nava Ashraf. Her research includes a study of what best motivates hairdressers in Zambia to provide HIV/AIDS education in their salons. Closed for comment; 20 Comments posted.

No Margin, No Mission? A Field Experiment on Incentives for Pro-Social Tasks

Organizations from large corporations to NGOs use a range of nonfinancial performance rewards to motivate their employees, and these rewards are highly valued. While theory has suggested mechanisms through which nonfinancial incentives can elicit employee effort, evidence on the mechanisms, and on their effectiveness relative to financial incentives, remains scarce. This paper helps to fill this gap by providing evidence from a collaboration with a public health organization based in Lusaka, Zambia, that recruits and trains hairdressers and barbers to sell condoms in their shops. This setting is representative of many health delivery programs in developing countries where embedded community agents are called upon to deliver services and products, but finding an effective way to motivate them remains a significant challenge. Findings show the effectiveness of financial and nonfinancial rewards for increasing sales of condoms. Agents who are offered nonfinancial rewards ("stars" in this setting) exert more effort than either those offered financial margins or those offered volunteer contracts. Read More

Field Evidence on Individual Behavior & Performance in Rank-Order Tournaments

Contests abound in everything from amateur and professional sports to arts, architecture, manual labor, and engineering. Just as large-scale online contest platforms that provide ongoing tournament-based work and compensation have emerged, large industrial companies increasingly use them as a complement to in-house research and development. What difference does increased competition make to individual participants? This paper analyzes data from algorithmic programming contests to shed light on the mechanisms that underlie changes in performance in reaction to increased competition. Three mechanisms may account for a performance decline: reduction in effort, increased risk taking, and deterioration in cognitive processing. The study also shows how the ability of competitors affects their reactions to increased competition. Overall, results suggest that a better understanding of behavioral responses in contests can aid both public policy and contest designers. Read More

Is Something Wrong with the Way We Work?

Summing Up Who is to blame for our pressure-packed 24/7 work culture? Technology? Globalization? Increasingly demanding customers? Jim Heskett's readers say it's best to first look in the mirror. Closed for comment; 41 Comments posted.

Measuring the Efficacy of the World’s Managers

Over the past seven years, Harvard Business School's Raffaella Sadun and a team of researchers have interviewed managers at some 10,000 organizations in 20 countries. The goal: to determine how and why management practices differ vastly in style and quality not only across nations, but also across various organizations and industries. Closed for comment; 19 Comments posted.

How Small Wins Unleash Creativity

In their new book, The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work, authors Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer discuss how even seemingly small steps forward on a project can make huge differences in employees' emotional and intellectual well-being. Amabile talks about the main findings of the book. Plus: book excerpt. Closed for comment; 12 Comments posted.

Getting to Eureka!: How Companies Can Promote Creativity

As global competition intensifies, it's more important than ever that companies figure out how to innovate if they are going to maintain their edge, or maintain their existence at all. Six Harvard Business School faculty share insights on the best ways to develop creative workers. Closed for comment; 20 Comments posted.

Sharpening Your Skills: Motivation

Can employers motivate employees to work more creatively, ethically, or productively? Or does that power reside solely within the individual? Recent research at Harvard Business School suggests workers can be motivated by their environment. Read More

Inducement Prizes and Innovation

Throughout recent history, many foundations have tried to induce innovation through competition, offering massive cash prizes to inventors who meet the challenge of creating world-changing inventions. For instance, in 1996 the X Prize Foundation offered $10 million to the first non-government organization to launch a reusable, suborbital manned spacecraft twice within two weeks. The prize was awarded in 2004 to a project financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The problem is that inventors cannot win these competitions if they cannot come up with funding to realize their inventions, and research and development costs often exceed the amount of the cash prize. So, does the incentive of an eventual prize really induce innovation? In this paper, Liam Brunt, Josh Lerner, and Tom Nicholas look to answer that question, using a data set of prizes awarded by the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) between 1839 and 1939. Read More

The Impact of Forward-Looking Metrics on Employee Decision Making

In marketing, the use of the customer lifetime value (CLV) metric encourages a focus on long-term customer relationships over short-term sales. This paper examines a situation in which a European bank introduced CLV data to its customer-facing employees, while still maintaining the incentives linked to short-term profitability; the goal was to discover whether and how these employees would modify their mortgage sales decisions. Research was conducted by Pablo Casas-Arce of Universitat Pompeu Fabra, and F. Asís Martínez-Jerez and V.G. Narayanan of Harvard Business School. Read More

Is Web Surfing Distracting Your Workers?

If you think that banning web surfing at work will improve your employees' productivity, think again. In new research on the effects of temptation, HBS research fellow Marco Piovesan and colleagues found that the act of resisting temptation distracted subjects enough that their work performance actually suffered. Closed for comment; 10 Comments posted.

Temptation at Work

Among the many distractions that keep office employees from their work, surfing the web is arguably the most irresistible time-waster of all. In order to deal with that problem, many companies either prohibit Internet use during working hours, or closely monitor employees' web activity. This means workers must wait until they get home to get their daily YouTube fix. But does forbidding this distraction actually increase productivity? In this paper, researchers find that the answer is no—and that delaying gratification actually has a negative impact on employee performance. Research was conducted by Alessandro Bucciol of the University of Verona and the University of Amsterdam, Daniel Houser of George Mason University, and Marco Piovesan, a research fellow at Harvard Business School. Read More

Risky Trust: How Multi-entity Teams Develop Trust in a High Risk Endeavor

Work that comes with high risk requires a great deal of trust among the individuals involved, whether it's the financial risk of producing a high-budget film or the personal safety risk of working in a war zone. In this paper, reporting on case study research on a high-risk, multimillion-dollar construction project, HBS doctoral candidate Faaiza Rashid and professor Amy C. Edmondson explore the concept of "risky trust," and examine how colleagues can learn to trust each other in the midst of high-risk work situations. Read More

Driven by Social Comparisons: How Feedback about Coworkers’ Effort Influences Individual Productivity

Francesca Gino and Bradley R. Staats explore how the valence (positive versus negative), type (direct versus indirect), and timing (one-shot versus persistent) of performance feedback affects an employee's job productivity. Specifically, through field experiments at a Japanese bank, they investigate the extent to which job performance is affected when employees learn where they stand relative to their coworkers. Read More

The Importance of ‘Don’t’ in Inducing Ethical Employee Behavior

In a new study, HBS professors Francesca Gino and Joshua D. Margolis look at two ways that companies can encourage ethical behavior: the promotion of good deeds or the prevention of bad deeds. It turns out that employees tend to act more ethically when focused on what not to do. That can be problematic in firms where success is commonly framed in terms of advancement of positive outcomes rather than prevention of bad ones. Closed for comment; 18 Comments posted.

Terror at the Taj

Under terrorist attack, employees of the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower bravely stayed at their posts to help guests. A new multimedia case by Harvard Business School professor Rohit Deshpandé looks at the hotel's customer-centered culture and value system. Closed for comment; 0 Comments posted.

Managing the Support Staff Identity Crisis

Employees not connected directly to profit and loss can suffer from a collective "I-am-not-strategic" identity crisis. Professor Ranjay Gulati suggests that business managers allow so-called support function employees to become catalysts for change. Open for comment; 29 Comments posted.

Do Bonuses Enhance Sales Productivity? A Dynamic Structural Analysis of Bonus-Based Compensation Plans

Companies generally pay their sales staff with some combination of salary, commissions, and bonuses for meeting quotas-with sales force costs averaging about 10 percent of sales revenue in the United States. This paper aims to gain insight into the most effective way to design a compensation plan, concentrating on whether bonuses boost sales productivity and whether they should be awarded quarterly or annually. Research, focusing on the sales force of a large office supply company, was conducted by Harvard Business School professor Thomas Steenburgh and Doug J. Chung and K. Sudhir of the Yale School of Management. Read More

The Task and Temporal Microstructure of Productivity: Evidence from Japanese Financial Services

Boredom and fatigue often hamper the productivity of workers whose jobs consist of repeating the same tasks. This paper explores ways in which companies can combat this problem, introducing the idea of the "restart effect" - a deliberate disruption that kindles productivity. Research, which focused on a loan-application processing line at a Japanese bank, was conducted by HBS professor Francesca Gino and Kenan-Flagler Business School assistant professor Bradley R. Staats. Read More

Why Are Fewer and Fewer U.S. Employees Satisfied With Their Jobs?

This month's column yielded many hypotheses to explain why U.S. employees' job satisfaction is at a 23-year low, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. Readers also offered antidotes to job malaise. (Online forum now closed. New forum begins May 5.) Closed for comment; 95 Comments posted.

To What Degree Does “Identity” Affect Economic Performance?

Summing up comments to his March column, Jim Heskett says perceptions vary widely on the issue of "identity" and economic performance, particularly as it applies to the U.S. What will it take to turn around negative trends in employee identity? (Forum now closed. Next forum begins April 2.) Closed for comment; 33 Comments posted.

Authority versus Persuasion

In directing employees, managers often face a choice between invoking authority and persuasion. In particular, since a firm's formal and relational contracts and its culture and norms are quite rigid in the short term, a manager who needs to prevent an employee from undertaking the wrong action has the choice of either trying to persuade the employee or relying on interpersonal authority. In choosing between persuasion and authority the manager makes a cost-benefit trade-off. This paper studies that trade-off, focusing in particular on conflicts that originate in open disagreement. Read More

Are You Ready to Manage in an Irrational World?

It is becoming clear that human behavior is much less rational than we assumed, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. Judging from replies to this month's question, there are many nuances to managing in an irrational world. (Online forum now closed. Next forum begins August 7.) Closed for comment; 97 Comments posted.

Corporate Social Entrepreneurship

Accelerated organizational transformation faces a host of obstacles well-documented in the change management literature. Because corporate social entrepreneurship (CSE) expands the core purpose of corporations and their organizational values, it constitutes fundamental change that can be particularly threatening and resisted. Furthermore, it pushes the corporation's actions more broadly and deeply into the area of social value creation where the firm's experiences and skill sets are less developed. The disruptive social innovations intrinsic to the CSE approach amplify this zone of discomfort. Fortunately, the experiences of innovative companies such as Timberland and Starbucks show how these challenges may be overcome. Read More

How Frank or Deceptive Should Leaders Be?

HBS professor Jim Heskett sums up comments to this month's column. Given the possibility that a naturally pessimistic (or perhaps more realistic) CEO might adversely affect everything from market reactions to employee morale, HBS Working Knowledge readers' comments are full of advice for honesty, candor, and an optimistic bias. Closed for comment; 119 Comments posted.

When Goal Setting Goes Bad

If you ever wondered about the real value of goal setting in your organization, join the club. Despite the mantra that goals are good, the process of setting beneficial goals is harder than it looks. New research by HBS professor Max H. Bazerman and colleagues explores the hidden cost when stretch goals are misguided. Read More

What’s Good about Quiet Rule-Breaking

If your company quietly allows employees to break some rules with the tacit approval of management, that's a moral gray zone. And your company is not alone. When rules are broken but privileges are not abused, such unspoken pacts between workers and management can allow both to achieve their respective goals of expressing professional identity and sustaining efforts in positive ways, says HBS professor Michel Anteby. Q&A Read More

Goals Gone Wild: The Systematic Side Effects of Over-Prescribing Goal Setting

For decades, goal setting has been promoted as a halcyon pill for improving employee motivation and performance in organizations. Advocates of goal setting argue that for goals to be successful, they should be specific and challenging, and countless studies find that specific, challenging goals motivate performance far better than "do your best" exhortations. The authors of this article, however, argue that it is often these same characteristics of goals that cause them to "go wild." Read More

Book Excerpt: A Sense of Urgency

Urgency can be a positive force in companies, says leadership expert and HBS professor emeritus John P. Kotter. His new book, A Sense of Urgency (Harvard Business Press), makes that conviction clear. Our excerpt describes how leaders might skillfully transform a crisis into an organizational motivator for the better. Read More

Has the Time Come for “Stretch” in Management?

Summing Up HBS professor Jim Heskett sums up comments from his readers on the topic of stretch goals. Does stretch still make sense as an organizing principle? What, if anything, should be done to ensure that stretch is allowed to flourish in companies today? What do you think? Closed for comment; 68 Comments posted.

Spending on Happiness

Money can't buy you love but it can buy happiness—as long as it's money for someone else. New research by HBS professor Michael I. Norton and colleagues Elizabeth W. Dunn and Lara B. Aknin, described in the journal Science, looks into how and why spending money on others promotes happiness. Norton explains more in this Q&A. Read More

Embracing Commitment and Performance: CEOs and Practices Used to Manage Paradox

How do chief executives establish strategic practices around their visions and intents? How do such practices make it possible to create both high commitment and high performance? The central puzzle for HBS professor emeritus Michael Beer and colleagues is not the creation of high commitment per se, but the kind of commitment that is useful for the implementation of strategy and sustainable performance. Beer et al. sought out major companies in North America and Europe that had a history of sustainable, above-average financial performance, and where there were indications of the companies being high-commitment organizations. They then conducted in-depth interviews with 26 CEOs of such companies, asking about activities and practices that help create commitment and performance. Read More

What Is Management’s Role in Innovation?

Online forum closed. It's an open question whether management, as it is currently practiced, contributes much to creativity and innovation, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. What changes will allow managers, particularly in larger organizations, to add value to the creative process? What do you think? Closed for comment; 93 Comments posted.

How Will Millennials Manage?

Gen Yers or "millennials"—those born beginning in the late 1970s—are generally bright, cheery, seemingly well-adjusted, and cooperative, says Jim Heskett. Their work styles are sometimes confounding, though. As managers, how will they shape organizations of the future? Online forum now closed. Closed for comment; 112 Comments posted.

Is There Too Little “Know Why” In Business?

There's know-how in business and then there's "know why." Purpose is a powerful motivator on many levels, says Jim Heskett. Can we aspire to a strong sense of "know why" even if our organization is not out to change the world? What do you think? Online forum now open. Closed for comment; 83 Comments posted.

The Business of Free Software: Enterprise Incentives, Investment, and Motivation in the Open Source Community

IBM has contributed more than $1 billion to the development and promotion of the Linux operating system, and other vendors such as Sun are ramping up open source software efforts and investment. Why do information technology vendors that have traditionally sold proprietary software invest millions of dollars in OSS? Where have they chosen to invest, and what are the characteristics of the OSS projects to which they contribute? This study grouped OSS projects into clusters and identified IT vendors' motives in each cluster. Read More

How Important Is Quality of Labor? And How Is It Achieved?

A new book by Gregory Clark identifies "labor quality" as the major enticement for capital flows that lead to economic prosperity. By defining labor quality in terms of discipline and attitudes toward work, this argument minimizes the long-term threat of outsourcing to developed economies. By understanding labor quality, can we better confront anxieties about outsourcing and immigration? Closed for comment; 48 Comments posted.

Are We Ready for Self-Management?

On its face, self-management looks like a "win-win" answer to the scarcity of good managers and the predominance of low-involvement entry-level jobs. But are sufficient numbers of entry-level employees ready for self-management? And is management ready? Closed for comment; 94 Comments posted.

On Managing with Bobby Knight and “Coach K”

Bobby Knight and Mike Krzyzewski are arguably the two most successful college basketball coaches in the country. But their leadership styles could not be more different. Professor Scott Snook wonders: Is it better to be loved or feared? Read More

Corporate Values and Employee Cynicism

A values-driven organization poses unique risks for its leaders—in particular, charges of hypocrisy if the leaders make a mistake. Sandra Cha of McGill University and Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School discuss what to do when values backfire. Read More

How to Put Meaning Back into Leading

When research on leadership pays more attention to financial results than a person's ability to give the company a sense of purpose, something crucial is lost. Three Harvard Business School scholars are working to change the debate. A Q&A with Joel M. Podolny, Rakesh Khurana, and Marya Hill-Popper. Read More

The New CEO’s Wrong Message

Any new CEO who tries to wield power unilaterally will pay for it, according to Harvard Business School professors Michael E. Porter, Jay W. Lorsch, and Nitin Nohria. An excerpt from Harvard Business Review. Read More

IBM Finds Profit in Diversity

Former CEO Lou Gerstner established a diversity initiative that embraced differences instead of ignoring them. In this Harvard Business Review excerpt, professor David A. Thomas describes why IBM made diversity a cornerstone strategy. Read More

How Leaders Build Winning Streaks

Confidence is infectious, says HBS professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, author of Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End. In this excerpt, she explains how leaders must bring out the best in others. Read More

How Team Leaders Show Support–or Not

What does a team leader do so that employees know they are being supported? A Q&A with HBS professor and creativity expert Teresa Amabile about new research. Read More

Waking Up a Sleeping Company

What do you do when you’re the new CEO and your employees tell you, "But that’s the way we’ve always done it"? An excerpt from Bill George’s new book, Authentic Leadership. Read More

Got a New Strategy? Now Make it Happen

Many strategies never take off for lack of honest discussion, say Harvard Business School's Michael Beer and co-author Russell A. Eisenstat. A Harvard Business Review excerpt. Read More

Are We Facing an Attitude Shortage?

How should organizations juggle the need for the right skills as well as the right attitudes? What goes wrong when one or the other is missing? Closed for comment; 35 Comments posted.

Shackleton: An Entrepreneur of Survival

Polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton is the subject of a new HBS case study. Professor Nancy F. Koehn discusses lessons for leaders from the voyage of the Endurance. Read More

Understaffed and Overworked: What Now?

When resources are scarce, you need a plan for managing your career, your team, and even your boss. Here's what works: balance, focus, and effective communication. Read More

Are You Supporting Your B Players?

B players are the heart and soul of top organizations, says HBS professor Thomas J. DeLong. Here’s why—and what you can do to manage B players better. Read More

Psychology, Pathology, and the CEO

In difficult times, organizational pathologies can cause a death spiral. Here’s how the CEO can win back the hearts and minds of staff, according to HBS professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter. Read More

Get Off the Dime!

If you want large-scale change in your organization, you must change people's behaviors, say authors John Kotter and Dan Cohen. In an excerpt from their new book, The Heart of Change: Real Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations, the authors outline the importance of imparting urgency to the troops. Read More

What it Takes to Lead Through Turmoil

What are the characteristics of companies that successfully transition in times of dramatic change? HBS professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter separates the leaders from the laggards in times of turmoil. Read More

How to Succeed With Your New Boss

We all know it's true: Managing up is as important as managing down. That's especially true when you are starting a relationship with a new boss. HBS professor Michael Watkins discusses the importance of clearly defining goals with your superior. Read More

Star Power! How to Win in Professional Services

Leaders of professional service firms face challenges unknown to most other CEOs. Jay W. Lorsch, an HBS professor, and Thomas J. Tierney, of The Bridgespan Group, explain why, in this excerpt from their new book Aligning the Stars: How to Succeed When Professionals Drive Results. Plus: Q&A with Jay Lorsch Read More

The Quiet Leader—and How to Be One

Think of a business leader and who comes to mind? A brash type like Jack Welch? But real leaders solve tough problems in all kinds of ways, and often quietly, says Harvard Business School's Joseph L. Badaracco, Jr. Read More

Manager or Mentor? Why You Must Be Both

In a frank discussion on diversity with a large group of Harvard University managers, HBS professor David A. Thomas explains why managers need to do more than just mentor. Read More

Can Religion and Business Learn From Each Other?

Do religion and business have anything to say to each other? HBS senior research fellow Laura Nash believes they do. Read More

Rethinking E-Leadership

Old-school leadership practices are back in the spotlight, according to consultant Melissa Raffoni. The boisterous dot-com style has died down, she writes in this Harvard Management Update article, and now it's time to air out the tried and true. Read More

From Tigers to Kaleidoscopes: Thinking About Future Leadership

What's up for leaders next year and in the next century? HBS faculty members Linda A. Hill, Christopher A. Bartlett, and Rosabeth Moss Kanter offer new insights in Management 21C: Someday We'll All Manage This Way, a new collection about 21st century leadership. Read More

What Makes a Good Leader?

Leadership comes in many shapes and sizes, and often from entirely unexpected quarters. In this excerpt from the HBS Bulletin, five HBS professors weigh in with their views on leadership in action. Read More