Help Your Team (Actually) Work Smarter, Not Harder

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My Indian immigrant parents instilled in me an incredible and intense work ethic. I watched them put in long hours, with a relentless commitment to achieving their dreams. My father always said, “Keep your head down, work hard, and work some more, and you will be recognized.”

And yet, his advice to only work hard hasn’t always served me well at work.

Early in my career, I presented my company’s brand forecast at monthly senior leadership meetings. I spent hours and hours preparing and over-preparing, working into the early hours of the morning. The actual presentations were never more than 10 minutes long. On one occasion, overloaded on caffeine and sleep deprivation, I completely blanked when the vice president asked me a question, and I stood there frozen in front of the senior leadership team.

I was working hard, but not on the right things. I struggled with being over-prepared and striving for perfection. Without much coaching or guidance from my bosses, I wasted hours on details that didn’t matter,

on pulling and analyzing the wrong data sets, and on answering the wrong questions. Some might argue that these are simple mistakes we make in the course of our careers, and mistakes can help us learn and be better leaders. Yet research shows that contrary to what so many of us have been taught, the errors we make need to be close to the right answer in order to be educational. This is what helps us to learn and improve our memory to retain the correct information — and then ultimately do things differently.


https://hbr.org/resources/images/article_assets/2022/06/Jun22_28_80602444.jpgBrand X Pictures/Getty Images




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