10 Articles That Will Make You Better in 2020
The genius minds behind the world’s top publications put out some great articles this year. In fact they produced so many excellent insights that it is physically impossible to read and absorb everything published.
I’d love to say we’ve done all the heavy lifting for you, but even our editorial team can’t read that many articles (try as we might!). What we can do is provide you with the top articles that have come across our desks this year – the articles that made us rethink our assumptions, question our ‘common sense,’ and better understand our own biases. Which articles defined your year?
1. When it’s OK to trust your gut on a big decision (Harvard Business Review)
Apparently trusting your gut isn’t such a crazy idea, particularly in high-stakes situations. What ‘trusting your gut’ really means is relying on your previous knowledge of the situation in addition to your subjective perspective to make a quick informed decision.
When faced with data overload, your natural reaction may be to stall; to check the data over and over. Trusting your gut allows smart leaders to cut through the noise, synthesize information, and make a decision. Read more and find out when trusting your gut makes sense – and when it doesn’t.
2. How to bounce back from rejection (The New York Times)
Rejection tends to feel like a personal slight. YOU are being rejected because YOU are not good enough. But reframing the rejection as a ‘we’ problem – we didn’t work well together; we weren’t aligned in our values; we didn’t agree on a strategy – makes it easier to move on and increases the likelihood of solving the initial problem.
Next time you get passed-over for that promotion, think of it this way: neither of you were right for each other at this single point in time. Maybe you will be next month, or next year. Read more to reimagine your concept of rejection.
3. Employee emotions aren’t noise – they’re data (MIT Management Review)
Emotions are messy, personal, and generally ignored in the workplace. That is, until Wharton management professor Sigal Barsade decided to take a closer look at how the emotional culture of a business can significantly impact measurable outcomes, like employee absenteeism, burnout, psychological safety, and even operating costs.
She shows how the ability to measure and track your department’s emotional culture can transform productivity and boost success. Read more.
4. How to be creative on demand (Harvard Business Review)
Creativity is fickle; it never seems to be there when you need it. But there are ways to improve the conditions of creativity so that you aren’t blindly praying that you’ll ‘get a good idea’ in the board meeting or ‘something will come to you’ before the presentation. Here are a few tips to get you started, or you can read more here.
- Let your curiosities take you in strange directions
- Keep track of random ideas, they may connect later
- Read/watch/listen to things you find boring, things outside your area of interest
- Open yourself up to contrary viewpoints and debates
5. What aircraft crews know about managing high-pressure situations (Harvard Business Review)
Nothing is more stressful than a malfunctioning airplane. Hundreds of peoples’ lives hang in the balance, thousands of feet in the air. So how do pilots handle these nightmare scenarios?
Research on pilot behavior shows the key lies in open-ended questions and collaboration. In crisis situations, the team’s hierarchy is almost completely flattened; everyone is offering ideas, listing possible consequences, and brainstorming solutions. Read more about the types of open-ended questions that can stop a crisis.
6. Why white-collar workers spend all day at the office (The Atlantic)
Americans spend more time in the office than workers in any other similarly-rich country. That includes Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan.
The Atlantic suggests that this culture of overwork is due in large part to the internet. With the advent of the internet manufacturing has been replaced by neurofacturing, defined as time and energy-consuming mental labour. Divorced from any specific location or office, this type of work renders regular hours obsolete. Read more to find out the effect on the American psyche.
7. Good leaders are great storytellers: 6 tips for telling stories that resonate (First Round Review)
Funny that we structure our entire lives around stories – the story of our family, our upbringing, our success – but fail to do the same for our companies.
Think of your own department – what is the story of your team? What battles are you fighting? The better you can articulate your company, department, and team’s stories, the more buy-in you’ll get from employees AND consumers. All it takes is some creative framing. Read more to develop your own story.
8. Experience doesn’t predict a new hire’s success (Harvard Business Review)
The problem with pre-hire experience is that it doesn’t tell you anything about performance. Knowing that someone held a similar job might seem useful, but unless you’ve gathered reference checks from peers and superiors, the information can be worse than useless; it can bias you unnecessarily.
After reviewing 81 studies on pre-hire experience, researchers determined that experience has barely any relation to future work outcomes – even when the experience is in a relevant field. Read more to find out what does predict success.
9. In overworked Japan, Microsoft tested a four-day workweek (The Washington Post)
There’s been much talk of shortened work weeks this year. Not only does it increase workplace satisfaction (isn’t that a given?), but it also provides companies with a competitive edge when attracting new talent without (necessarily) sacrificing productivity.
The four-day work week has been piloted across the globe, from New Zealand to Ireland. Most recently Microsoft implemented a four-week test in its Japan office, which saw a 40% increase in productivity – even in a country where working impossible hours is seen as a point of pride. Is America next? Read more and consider experimenting with your own team.
10. Being nice in a negotiation can backfire (Harvard Business Review)
New research validates what we’ve all been thinking; holding firm in a negotiation is likely to get you a better outcome. Whether you’re haggling over antiques or negotiating a promotion with your boss, using clear straightforward language and avoiding emotional appeals is to your benefit.
The reason is clear: people generally feel they can extract more from nice negotiators. Now this isn’t to say you should be rude, curt, or mean – civility and politeness will get you far. But don’t qualify everything you say, or back-off before the conversation has run its course. Read more to refine your negotiation skills.