From the Culture Desk: When Startups Get Political

Posted by on Jul 1, 2015 | 0 comments

“It was great in the early days. Then things got political.” This is a common lament from my startup clients. When pressed to define “political,” the answers can get a bit fuzzy. Most find it hard to pinpoint, but, as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said of obscenity, they “know it when [they] see it.” Asked to describe specific behaviors, one HR head talked about managers who push their own or their team’s agenda or compete for resources. A director client described others trying to make themselves look good to the CEO. Meanwhile, a CEO complained about employees who were indirect in...

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Life on the Other Side of the Finish Line

Posted by on Oct 2, 2012 | 0 comments

Last weekend I completed the Bike MS Waves to Wine ride — the longest cycling event of my life — and I raised nearly $4000 for the MS Society. I feel strong and happy and proud. (I hesitate to admit that I feel proud, because my good New England upbringing taught me not to get “too big for my britches,”  but I do. Yay, me!) But what comes next, now that I have reached my goal? As I’ve been thinking, talking, and writing about effective goal setting, I haven’t addressed the crucial followup question: what’s next? When you are working toward a goal,...

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Follow Tina Fey’s Advice: Say Yes, And…..

Posted by on Aug 24, 2012 | 0 comments

There are a number of lessons I will take from Tina Fey’s memoir, Bossy Pants. Stay away from the paper cups in male writers’ offices at Saturday Night Live is one.** Another is that fame and fortune do not make women immune to the often agonizing trade-offs between career and parenting. But the lesson that is sticking with me the most is a lesson from the world of improvisational comedy:  Say “yes, and ….” Before joining Saturday Night Live, Fey, know best as the executive producer and star of the sitcom “30 Rock,”  and as the uncanny mimic of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live,...

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Grading on a Curve Undermines Performance

Posted by on Jul 18, 2012 | 0 comments

Microsoft offers a lesson on how not to conduct performance reviews. Its evaluation process, called “stack ranking” — essentially grading on a curve — has had a disastrous effect on morale, performance, and innovation, reports Kurt Eichenwald in “How Microsoft Lost Its Mojo.” His article in the August Vanity Fair describes a system in which managers are permitted to give only a few employees top reviews, while the majority receive mediocre reviews, and a few receive poor ratings. This structure sets up a competition among employees and fosters an...

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Men Don’t Have It All, Either

Posted by on Jun 25, 2012 | 1 comment

Anne-Marie Slaughter’s heavily Tweeted cover story in the current issue of the Atlantic Monthly, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” publicly and very personally acknowledges what most women in the corporate trenches already know: it is incredibly difficult to climb the professional ladder and be a hands-on mother.  I agree. What I take issue with is not her contention that women can’t have it all, but the implication that men can. Yes, women are wildly under-represented in the corridors of power and over-represented on the carpool circuit. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that the men...

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Mentoring Others Pays Off

Posted by on Jun 15, 2012 | 0 comments

Mentoring and coaching others turns out to be more than just good Karma. A recent study of high-potential employees, Leaders Pay it Forward, found that those who mentored or coached less experienced colleagues advanced their careers and earned more than their peers who did not invest in developing others’ talent. Unsurprisingly, having received help or sponsorship makes managers more likely to do the same for others. And it turns out that women are more inclined than men to invest in helping others. Sixty-five percent of women who received career development support are now developing...

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