Each week GGC Principal Gail Golden lets us take a look at her open tabs to see what’s going on in the world of workplace psychology. Here are her insights on the week’s news….

I spent Tuesday at the Emerson Exchange in Denver, where I spoke on the subject of women and innovation. It was stimulating and challenging to engage with an audience of 250 high-powered technical professionals, most of them women engineers. My presentation focused on how encouraging innovation requires three different skill sets:

  • Creating an environment where people are empowered to imagine and communicate innovative ideas often
  • Using a rigorous process to edit out most of the ideas and concentrate on the ones which will add the most value
  • Gaining alignment with key decision-makers, so the company will pursue winning innovations

Women leaders are eminently capable of mastering these skills, but they can face particular challenges. Some women have difficulty getting their voices heard in meetings with senior leaders, for example, and some are uncomfortable engaging in the “horse-trading” which is sometimes necessary to get buy in from others. On the other hand, women leaders may have an advantage over men when it comes to creating collaborative environments that encourage people to take risks and share ideas. Perhaps it is no accident that we say, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

The Harvard Business Review covered another issue managers may face this week. One of the toughest transitions in a leader’s career is the first step – the shift from individual contributor to manager. Getting work done through others is a very different challenge from doing it yourself, and the pitfalls are many. New managers often expect others to do the work exactly as they would, and can end up taking over employees’ work rather than coaching them on how to do it. This article is full of good suggestions on how to successfully navigate the transition.

Another management pitfall is onboarding new hires. After spending all kinds of time and money to court attractive candidates, most companies do a lousy job of actually integrating them. This is just bad business — at best, it slows the pace at which new employees get up to speed, and at worst, it alienates great talent and increases turnover. What new employees want most is to be able to do a good job right from the start. So give them the tools they need to do their best work as soon as possible – access to resources, skills training, introductions to key staff and customers, etc. This Crain’s article has more good ideas.

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