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Faculty Viewpoints

Beyond Resolutions: Research-Based Suggestions for 2022

We asked faculty from the Yale School of Management for their advice—philosophical, professional, and personal—for our readers for the coming year.

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Ask for What You Want

Zoe Chance, Senior Lecturer in Management

Many alums tell me that taking my class Mastering Influence and Persuasion was life changing. We dive deep into research, strategies, and real-world challenges. (If you’ve taken our fundraising calls in the Cold Calling Challenge, thank you!) But the most impactful lesson they learn is just ask. I’ve trained Olympians who were uncomfortable asking people out, world-famous artists who were uncomfortable asking for funding, and CEOs who were uncomfortable asking their daughters to clean their rooms. In my new book, Influence Is Your Superpower: The Science of Winning Hearts, Sparking Change, and Making Good Things Happen, I share plenty of advice about how to ask—and how to negotiate, develop charisma, handle resistance, and become more influential in other ways—but the most important thing is to do it. Most people have never asked for a raise or promotion, but when they do, most get it, and some do even better. When women ask for salaries as high as men’s, they get them. (This will be a year of good raises for a lot of people—who ask.) And be bold about what you ask for. In our version of the “Bigger and Better” challenge, two of my students traded up, between a Monday and a Thursday, from a paperclip to a car.

Understand What the Negotiation Is Really About

Barry Nalebuff, Milton Steinbach Professor of Management

What’s really at stake in a negotiation is “the pie.” The pie is the additional value created through an agreement to work together. Seeing the pie clearly will change how people think about fairness and power in negotiation.

While the notion of “dividing the pie” is commonplace in negotiations, most people split the wrong pie; they focus on the total amount, not the gain created by an agreement. As a result, they argue over the wrong numbers and issues, and take positions they perceive as reasonable but are, in fact, self-interested. The hard part of negotiation is to measure the pie correctly. When the stakes are correctly understood, it is far easier to reach an agreement.

The pie framework especially helps those who have been historically disadvantaged in negotiations; it does so by revealing their true negotiating power and providing a path to capture half the pie.

Professors Daylian Cain, Ian Ayres, and I are running experiments to test the power of the pie perspective. Our preliminary results show that just revealing the pie to the “smaller" side allows them to get significantly more, eliminating most of their disadvantage.

Pursue Meaningful Work

Amy Wrzesniewski, Michael H. Jordan Professor of Management

“Reflect on the benefits of choosing work that enables you to engage in tasks and interactions that are meaningful, and matter, no matter where you do the work.”

As we move into year three of the pandemic, it’s now clear that for many, work will happen less often in an actual office. My colleagues and I have been studying both remote work and the meaning of work for a long time now, and bringing these streams of research together offers a powerful suggestion: pursue meaningful work. If the pandemic has taught us anything about work, it has been how different work can feel when done from home, away from colleagues and clients and collaborators. We find that those who view the work they do as more of a calling, in which the work is a deeply engaging and meaningful end in and of itself, are often happy to have freedom from the office so that they can dive into their work. For many others who see the work as a more of “just a paycheck” or a career ladder to climb, separation from the workplace is much harder. Without the coffee conversations, meetings, travel, ease of interaction, and so on, what’s left to concentrate on is the work itself. When the tasks themselves are not the main attraction to the work, they seem reduced, less important, less engaging when not accompanied by all the trappings of the office. And so, as you think about what has worked well (or poorly) for you in your own work over these past two years, reflect on the benefits of choosing work that enables you to engage in tasks and interactions that are meaningful, and matter, no matter where you do the work.

Question Your Theory

Rick Antle, William S. Beinecke Professor of Accounting

In situations for which there is no “playbook,” leaders rely on theories, whether they are conscious of them or not. What theories do I rely on in uncharted waters—are they desirable ones, and am I consistently acquiring better and more useful theories? The most practical thing is a good theory.

Watch Out for Locusts

Gal Zauberman, Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Professor of Marketing

When judging the future consequences on any one action, there are often important second-order effects—unintended consequences—that people tend to ignore. If you are unsure about how this can play out, but curious enough to try and understand, search for Mao Zedong’s “smash sparrows” or “Four Pests” campaign in China.

Cultivate the Good Ideas of Those around You

Julia DiBenigno, Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior

“Speak up when you believe in something—your idea may be rejected in the moment, but can then be picked up and cultivated to reach fruition from the allyship of others who were there to hear it.”

Speak up when you believe in something—your idea may be rejected in the moment, but can then be picked up and cultivated to reach fruition from the allyship of others who were there to hear it. Our research found that while the valuable ideas of lower-level team members were regularly rejected when initially voiced, other team members could keep these ideas alive to reach implementation through a variety of “voice cultivation” practices, such as by amplifying an idea by publicly recalling it later or developing it by asking questions about it to keep it alive in the team’s memory. You do not always need to heroically voice new ideas to drive positive change in your team, organization, or world: you can do this by acting as an ally to help cultivate others’ valuable ideas so they can live on to bring about change.

Look outside Yourself

Soheil Ghili, Assistant Professor of Marketing

If you are going through a tough time and need to feel empowered, look for ways to care about others. Give more to animal shelters, refugee assistance organizations, charities that support inner cities, or any other cause that you care about. Or more simply, try to be a more caring version of yourself at your job. Aside from the obvious effect of helping others, it goes a long way to make you feel content.

Learn Humbly

Tony Sheldon, Executive Director, Program on Social Enterprise; Lecturer in the Practice of Management

In a research project with Rodrigo Canales on how to better integrate rigorous evidence into international development policy and practice, we’ve found that several factors are indicative of successful initiatives: a frank recognition of underlying uncertainties, a respect for different perspectives on how best to tackle a “wicked” problem, a commitment to learning and generating new knowledge, and a genuine humility as the foundation for ongoing learning.

Leadership Means Creating a Positive Image of the Future

Paul Bracken, Professor Emeritus of Management

Pessimism is everywhere today. Leaders need to project a persuasive image of a desirable and practical future to offset this toxic attitude. It’s extremely important to create high morale, dynamism, and excitement to help the wheels of business and society turn smoothly.

Failure Is a Good Thing

Tauhid Zaman, Associate Professor of Operations Management

I think our society has this negative view of failure, which really bugs me. We feel this need to succeed at everything we try, and if we don't, we are looked down upon. We really need to change this mindset.

The world is changed by big ideas that were likely to fail—ideas like personal computers, the internet, cryptocurrency, or going to the moon. It would have been a shame if people had not pursued these ideas just because they were afraid to be judged for their failure. So if you have an innovative, game-changing idea, and you believe in it, you can only make it a reality if you are ready to embrace failure. And don't worry about the haters. You can't hear them on the moon. 🚀🌙

Department: Faculty Viewpoints