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Management & Leadership


A Little Anger Is a Good Thing

Gentlemen: Don't hold in your anger at work. Let it out, says a new study that originally appeared in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. A team of Swedish researchers found that men who suppress their anger in the workplace are two to five times more likely to suffer a heart attack or die from heart disease. A big culprit is "covert coping," in which men who feel they have suffered unjust treatment simply walk away or ignore the situation rather than dealing with it. "You have to act," says lead researcher Constanze Leineweber of Stockholm University's Stress Research Institute. "It's better to say that you feel unfairly treated."

Wall Street: Paging Dr. Happy

Amid the financial crisis, human resources departments across Wall Street have been grappling with how to handle dark and brooding employees. Three firms, UBS (UBS), Credit Suisse (CS), and American Express (AXP), hired Shawn Achor—who for the past decade has co-taught one of the most popular classes at Harvard, "Positive Psychology"—to help. The first day Achor walked into UBS's offices in October 2008, employees were ashen faced, he says. They didn't show the slightest interest in anything, even their BlackBerrys (RIMM). "All these banks were in such dire straits," says Achor, aka Dr. Happy. "Employees had just stopped working."

To get them moving again, Achor held happiness seminars, which explained how contagious upbeat emotions can be in the workplace and stressed the value of psychological vs. financial wealth. Achor also put employees and their managers under a microscope. His findings: Teams whose managers had a positive attitude have less turnover, fewer sick days, and higher productivity.

The Rise of the Family Guy

Two MBAs meet on campus. They fall head over heels, marry, and go on to start big-money jobs. Five years later, he flies first class, while she stays at home raising their kids. Such is one of the many marital challenges explored by Stanford Business School professor Myra Strober in her course entitled "Work & Family." The class used to be an exercise in estrogen. But in the past few years it has become wildly popular among men, who now make up 40% of enrollment. "My perfect relationship ... was with a beautiful, smart woman who then wanted to stop everything and put me first," confessed one male student. "It sounds cool, but it's not fair."

Why the sudden rush of male students? Strober attributes the increase to the fact that more young men "want to be the most amazing dads."

In the course, students learn to deal with everything from parental leave to elder care to problems conceiving. "You can't both have killer careers," says Strober. "You need a third parent—or someone has to downsize their aspirations." The class also tackles how much dropping out of the workforce can affect pay over a lifetime. Highly educated women who leave the labor force for two years, for example, earn an average 18% less than if they had continued working.


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