Jagdip Singh, a professor of marketing at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, explains his research team’s new findings about customer satisfaction. He says apologizing is often counterproductive and that offering customers different possible solutions is usually more effective. He discusses what companies can do to help service representatives lead interactions that leave a customer satisfied—whether or not the problem has been solved. Singh’s research is featured in the article “‘Sorry’ Is Not Enough” in the January–February 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review.
Sydney Finkelstein, a professor of management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, encourages leaders to approach their direct reports like teachers. As Finkelstein explains, being a teacher-leader means continually meeting face to face with employees to communicate lessons about professionalism, points of craft, and life. He says it’s easy to try and that teaching is one of the best ways to motivate people and improve their performance. Finkelstein is the author of “The Best Leaders Are Great Teachers” in the January–February 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review.
Patty McCord, Netflix’s former Chief Talent Officer, sees hiring as constant matchmaking. Building a team of people that gets amazing work done, she says, requires managers to really know what they need, and for HR to actually understand the workings of the business. She says money should not be the reason someone leaves and that we should stop using words like “poaching” and “firing.” McCord is the author of “How to Hire,” in the January–February 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review.
Mihir Desai, a professor of finance at Harvard Business School, breaks down the brand-new U.S. tax law. He says it will affect everything from how corporate assets are financed to how business are structured. He predicts many individuals will lower their tax burdens by setting themselves up as corporations. And he discusses how the law shifts U.S. tax policy toward a territorial system of corporate taxes, one that will affect multinationals and national competitiveness. Finally, Desai explains what he would have done differently with the $1.5 trillion the tax cut is projected to cost.
Aron Ain, the CEO of Kronos Incorporated, explains why unlimited vacation can be in the best interests of employees and the organization. He describes how his software company tracks requests for time off and the conversations he’s had with skeptical managers and longtime employees. Ain says the “open vacation” program benefits the business and serves as a template for other companies figuring out how to make unlimited vacation work for them.
Aaron Levie, the CEO of Box, reflects on the cloud storage company’s entry into the enterprise market. He was skeptical about pivoting away from consumers, and it was challenging. But by staying disciplined with the product and deeply understanding market trends, they’ve made the strategic shift from B2C to B2B work.
Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, a senior adviser at the global executive search firm Egon Zehnder, makes the case for finding a company’s next CEO inside the firm. But to find the best contenders, organizations have to learn what to look for, how to find it, and how to nurture it. Fernández-Aráoz is the co-author of the new HBR article “Turning Potential into Success: The Missing Link in Leadership Development.”
Andrew Liveris, the CEO of Dow Chemical, discusses the 120-year-old company’s ambitious sustainability agenda. He says an environmentally driven business model is good for the earth—and the bottom line. Liveris is one of the CEOs contributing to Harvard Business Review’s Future Economy Project, in which leaders detail their company’s efforts to adapt to and mitigate climate change.
Freek Vermeulen, an associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at the London Business School, argues that too many companies are following so-called best practices that are actually holding them back. They do it because of deep-seated industry tradition—and because it’s hard to know how seemingly successful business models will hold up over the long term. That’s why, he says, organizations should avoid benchmarking and instead routinely test their business practices before there’s a problem. Vermeulen is the author of “Breaking Bad Habits: Defy Industry Norms and Reinvigorate Your Business.”
Pablo Isla, the CEO of Inditex, is No. 1 on Harvard Business Review’s list of “The Best-Performing CEOs in the World 2017.” He opens up about his management style and reflects on his tenure leading the Spanish clothing and accessories giant, whose brands include Zara, Massimo Dutti, and Pull&Bear. Successful fast fashion takes much more than speed, he says. Isla discusses aspects of the company’s business model: source close to headquarters, entrust store managers with product orders, and treat what’s sold in stores and online as one stock. He also forecasts the future of physical stores.