TIME Careers & Workplace

3 Things Good Managers Say Instead of ‘I Don’t Know’

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Don’t rush to give just any answer

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

Picture this: You’ve been promoted to manager because your supervisors have confidence in your ability to lead and inspire. It feels great! You love helping your direct reports do their best work, and you smile when see that “Director of” title on your business card.

Yet, there’s one situation that your prior experience and those Management 101 books seemed to overlook: what to do when you’re supposed to have answers for your team and, unfortunately, you have no clue.

Although you may feel that you need to give an immediate response every time someone runs into your office with an issue, this is a critical first step to take: Stop. Seriously. Don’t rush to give just any answer. And though it feels tempting, avoid saying “I don’t know.” What feels like a conclusive statement to you actually sounds like ellipses to your team. It leaves them hanging and creates more questions.

When you reach these critical moments, pause, collect yourself, and consider these approaches:

1.“I don’t have the information I need to give an answer. I’ll find it.”

In retrospect, when I’ve said “I don’t know,” it has been because the situation was new—software that I had never used, projects and stakes that I had never encountered. In those moments, though, I could have taken a moment to evaluate the data from past projects that had similar deliverables or challenges.

For example, if the question from a team member is, “How much time should I devote to making this storyboard?” and I’ve never made one myself, I can still be helpful. Rather than saying “I don’t know” or deferring to “Use your best judgment” (which sometimes feels like a cop-out), I can refer to the hours that we’ve tracked for past storyboards and how long clients took to approve them. This gives a range for the expected time and, most importantly, provides guidance and support for the team.

Even if it takes time and research to find the answer, do it. Your team will trust and respect you when they see that you’re committed to helping them.

2. “Let’s have a quick brainstorm.”

The creative process works best when at least two minds can riff of off one another—together, you can often devise more solutions together than were possible separately.

So, take five minutes to connect with your colleagues and run a few exercises (like these) to clear the mental blocks you may be having. Even if your team members are asking you because they’re less familiar with the project or issue than you are, brainstorming can still be effective—in fact, their perspective as “outsiders” may bring fresher thinking. In either case, in addition to creating more options for solutions, you also create more collective ownership of the outcomes among the team.

3.“I know an expert who can help with this.”

Of the three approaches I’m sharing, this is the toughest because you are plainly admitting that someone knows better than you do. But rather than causing concern (or doubt in your abilities) by saying “let’s escalate this,” you’re still showing confidence that an answer can be found.

Senior managers or company advisors with specific knowledge can be great resources. You could even share it with mentors in your own network—remember, they’re not exclusively there for emergencies (this isn’t Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?), but as a “board of directors” for areas in which you’re not as strong.

Remember, no one expects you to know everything. Having a wide pool of resources to draw from when necessary will inspire confidence among your team.

In times of uncertainty, remember that leadership doesn’t mean always having the answers. It means always being committed to finding them.

More from The Muse:

MONEY Workplace

How to Deal When You’re Promoted Above Your Peers

Illustration by Mikey Burton

When a promotion kicks you out of the coffee klatch, you’ll need to keep your former peers from becoming your future critics.

Right after you celebrate that well-earned promotion, reality hits: You’re now the boss of people who had been your peers. “When you become a supervisor, the relationship structurally changes, whether you like it or not,” says Good Boss, Bad Boss author Robert Sutton, a Stanford University professor who studies organizational behavior.

Going forward, your work will be judged on your ability to lead people with whom you used to consort and complain. If that’s not enough pressure, you’re now at risk of being the one complained about. Make the transition seamless with these steps.

Meet One-on-One

Sit down with each person to discuss the change in leadership. “You’re in learning mode,” says Linda Hill, a Harvard Business School professor and co-author of Being the Boss. Ask staffers to share their short- and long-term goals, skills they’re building, and obstacles that get in the way of doing their jobs. You’ll convey respect and gain valuable info that can help you achieve buy-in.

Also, if you were promoted over a colleague, “address the elephant in the room” and alleviate worries about your ability to work well together, advises Atlanta social media strategist and job coach Miriam Salpeter.

Step Back Socially

You can be a great manager and preserve friendships by slightly altering your behaviors. Continue attending happy hour, for example, but stay for only one drink, suggests Hill. Allow your staff space to vent. “We all need to blow off steam sometimes,” says Katy Tynan, author of Survive Your Promotion! (Just make it clear to your people that if something is really bugging them, they can talk to you, she adds.)

Also, disconnect from your subordinates on all non-work-related social media. “Many times you’re doing people a favor, since it puts less pressure on what they can and can’t share on their profiles,” says Salpeter. Do let employees know before unfriending them, though, so that they don’t take it personally.

Prove You Don’t Play Favorites

Prepare to make—and to justify—difficult decisions, particularly regarding raises and promotions. To be seen as objective, try to grade everyone using the same metrics, and be sure people know what those metrics are, says Keith Murnighan, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

To show humility, solicit feedback from subordinates on your own performance, says Gentz Franz, a University of Illinois lecturer who studies job succession. “It’s incumbent upon managers,” he says, “to open the lines of communication if they want to create a collaborative work environment.”

TIME Management

Deloitte Names First Female Chief Executive

Deloitte Cathy Englebert
PR NEWSWIRE Cathy Engelbert (PRNewsFoto/Deloitte)

Appointment of Cathy Engelbert makes it the first major U.S. accounting and consulting firm to have a woman CEO

Cathy Engelbert has been named CEO of Deloitte, becoming the first woman CEO of a major U.S. accounting and consulting firm.

Engelbert, 50, who is a 29-year-veteran of Deloitte, said in a statement she was “deeply honored to lead” Deloitte. She was formerly the chairman and and CEO of Deloitte & Touche, the U.S. auditing subsidiary of Deloitte LLP.

Deloitte was on Fortune’s best Places to Work list and is known for advancing diversity. It was the first professional services firm to have a minority CEO, Joe Echevarria, and the first to have a female chairman.

Along with Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG, Deloitte is one of the “Big Four” global accounting and consulting firms.

 

TIME Money

Apple CEO Tim Cook Earned $9 Million Last Year, Double His 2013 Pay

Pay hike comes after a stellar 2014 for the tech firm

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s total pay for 2014 was $9.22 million, more than double the financial compensation he received the year before.

Cook earned a salary of $1.75 million and his non-equity incentive compensation was $6.7 million, reports Bloomberg. His 2013 pay package was $4.25 million, according to files sent to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday.

The pay increase comes after a highly successful 2014 in which Apple’s company value exceed $700 billion and the price of stocks rose above $119 per share, according to Bloomberg.

The boost comes amid optimism surrounding new products such as the iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Pay.

Cook succeed Steve Jobs as head of Apple just months before the company’s enigmatic founder died of pancreatic cancer.

[Bloomberg]

MONEY Warren Buffett

What Warren Buffett Asks of His All-Star Employees

Warren Buffett, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.
Carlo Allegri—REUTERS Warren Buffett, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

Insights from Buffett's latest biennial memo to Berkshire operating company managers

I’m told the first step in overcoming addiction is admitting you are powerless over the object of your addiction. Last month, I read yet another biography of Warren Buffett (and his company, Berkshire Hathaway ). Thankfully, this addiction to his writing is beneficial, so I embrace following Buffett’s writings closely. In December, Buffett issued his latest biennial memo to Berkshire operating company managers (whom he refers to as his “All-Stars”). The Berkshire chairman and CEO requested three things from this select group of businesspeople.

Protect Berkshire’s reputation

Buffett’s concern with Berkshire’s reputation is paramount. The conglomerate is his life’s work; its reputation is its most important asset, and he will not have it sullied:

The top priority — trumping everything else, including profits — is that all of us continue to guard Berkshire’s reputation… As I’ve said in these memos for more than 25 years: “We can afford to lose money — even a lot of money. But we can’t afford to lose reputation — even a shred of reputation.”

In particular, he warned against pointing to the herd as justification for a course of action:

Sometimes your associates will say “Everybody else is doing it.” This rationale is almost always a bad one if it is the main justification for a business action. It is totally unacceptable when evaluating a moral decision.

This is common sense: Did your parents buy it when you said “He/she did it, too!” to explain your bad behavior?

Instead, Buffett offered a different standard for measuring one’s behavior: “We must continue to measure every act against not only what is legal but also what we would be happy to have written about on the front page of a national newspaper in an article written by an unfriendly but intelligent reporter.”

In 2011, Buffett was stung when one of his top lieutenants and a potential successor, David Sokol, broke the company’s insider trading rules in a share-dealing controversy that most definitely did not pass the “newspaper test.” Sokol resigned from Berkshire Hathaway in the wake of the scandal.

Report bad news — and bad apples — quickly

Berkshire Hathaway ultimately concluded that Sokol had misled the company with regard to his actions — a cardinal sin on the part of an executive who was supposed to be an example and a watchman. Berkshire subsidiary managers are entrusted with the mission of embodying and protecting the company’s culture. Part of top managers’ job is to call attention to bad behavior as early as possible:

… let me know promptly if there’s any significant bad news. I can handle bad news but I don’t like to deal with it after it has festered for a while. … Somebody is doing something today at Berkshire that you and I would be unhappy about if we knew of it. That’s inevitable: We now employ more than 330,000 people and the chances of that number getting through the day without any bad behavior occurring is nil. But we can have a huge effect in minimizing such activities by jumping on anything immediately when there is the slightest odor of impropriety. Your attitude on such matters, expressed by behavior as well as words, will be the most important factor in how the culture of your business develops. Culture, more than rule books, determines how an organization behaves.

Succession: Identify the next “All-Star” roster

Finally, Buffett asked his managers to send him the names of their top candidates to succeed them. Buffett has a succession plan in place for himself, though one he has not disclosed publicly. Similarly, he promises his managers confidentiality with regard to their choices (“These letters will be seen by no one but me unless I’m no longer CEO, in which case my successor will need the information”).

This requirement appears to be more of an exercise in risk management than long-term planning, as it exempts Berkshire subsidiaries that aren’t run by a single individual (“Of course, there are a few operations that are run by two or more of you — such as the Blumkins, the Merschmans, the pair at Applied Underwriters, etc. — and in these cases, just forget about this item.”)

A good reminder to start the new year

Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway are proof that profits — huge profits, as it turns out — don’t need to be earned at the expense of business ethics. However, as with any endeavor of any significance, one cannot accomplish this alone. The heads of Berkshire subsidiaries enjoy exceptional freedom in running their businesses, but their devotion to protecting Berkshire’s corporate reputation must be uniform and absolute. The lesson isn’t new — last month’s memo was nearly identical word-for-word to the 2012 document — but it is worth reviewing at least every other year — for Berkshire’s managers and anyone else.

TIME Management

3 Workplace Trends to Watch For in 2015 (and Beyond)

Artificial intelligence will rock the job market, your company will need a Chief of Work, and cubicle farms will disappear

Correction appended, Dec. 11

If you happen to work at Microsoft, Google, Credit Suisse, or Unilever, you may be slightly ahead of your time — but only slightly. Those four companies have been featured in a new research report on the future of work.

“Most of the changes we’ll see in the next few years have already started to happen, but they will accelerate,” says Peter Andrew, workplace strategy director for Asia at real estate company CBRE. “The future is already here.”

Why real estate? Simple: Many big commercial clients sign leases for a quarter century or more into the future, so the industry keeps an eye on how work, and the places where we do it, are most likely to evolve. CBRE teamed up with Genesis, a giant real estate developer in China, to conduct in-depth interviews and other research with about 220 expert observers, executives, and office workers around the world, many of them Millennials.

The study turned up some intriguing signs of things to come, like these three:

Artificial intelligence will transform the workplace

The era of automation, which has seen robots replace workers in routine jobs in warehouses and on manufacturing assembly lines, is shifting to “knowledge work.” Among the advantages of teaching computers to gather information, and base decisions on it, is that “humans have biases. For example, people tend to be overly optimistic about a risky course of action if they’ve already invested a lot in it,” Andrew says. “AI eliminates those biases.”

It could also eliminate a lot of jobs — up to 50% of what knowledge workers do now, according to some estimates. Economies worldwide “won’t create new jobs at the same rate as we lose old ones,” says Andrew. “So there will be a difficult period of adjustment.”

Andrew likens this to what’s already happened within the legal profession, where computerization of routine research has slashed the number of new associates law firms need to hire. The upside: AI will free up human talent for more interesting, creative work. Eventually, we’ll all get used to it, Andrew says — especially since many of the tasks AI will take over are the business equivalent of household drudgery: “You never hear anyone complain about the invention of the dishwasher.”

Companies will need a Chief of Work

Most C-suites haven’t added new roles since the Chief Information Officer title took hold about 20 years ago, but CBRE’s research suggests that’s about to change. For one thing, companies today have “human resources, we have IT, and we have a real estate division — all acting separately and, often, unwittingly working against each other,” Andrew says.

A Chief of Work would coordinate all that, with an eye toward building a culture that attracts top talent, or what Andrew calls “the complete experience of working for the company, and how that affects performance.” Finding the most efficient balance between full-time employees and growing armies of independent contractors will be in the Chief of Work’s wheelhouse, too.

Office cubicles will be a relic of the past

For huge swaths of the knowledge-working, laptop- or tablet-toting world, technology has already made a desk in an office obsolete, or at least optional. So, partly in the interest of face-to-face collaboration, companies in CBRE’s study are thinking up ways to make workspaces healthier, more comfortable, and more fun.

One example: Old-school fluorescent lighting could be replaced by LED lights that can easily change color throughout the day to reflect subtle changes in the sky outside, like those lights on many airliners now that simulate dawn, midday, and dusk for long-distance travelers.

Companies will also move toward creating campus-like office buildings, like Chiswick Park in England, with amenities and events that draw people in. Andrew says more big companies around the world are starting to hand empty space, including erstwhile cube farms, over to local artists and musicians for use as studios.

“HR people tell us they see a tremendous increase in employee engagement from art, in particular,” says Andrew. “Making a more interesting environment, where you bring more of the broader culture into the space, creates a buzz and an energy that you really can’t replicate in any other way.”

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

Correction: The original version of this article misstated the surname of Peter Andrew.

TIME Companies

7 Companies That Spend More on CEO Pay Than Federal Taxes

Ford Issues Recall For 850,000 2013-14 Vehicles
Joe Raedle—Getty Images Ford Ford has benefitted from a stronger economic recovery in the U.S., as many drivers look to replace their aging vehicles. Executives also expect it to be profitable in North America this year, albeit at a lower level than in 2013. In Europe, where Ford has closed factories and cut thousands of jobs, the company expects to report a narrower loss in 2014 and achieve profitability the following year. Worldwide, Ford’s 2013 revenue increased 10% from the previous year to $146.9 billion, while profits climbed 26%.

Average CEO salary has climbed to almost $32 million from $16.7 million in 2010, according to study

Seven of the country’s 30 largest corporations doled out more to their chief executives last year than to Uncle Sam.

These seven firms reported more than $74 billion in profits last year and received a combined total of $1.9 billion in refunds from the Internal Revenue Service, according to a study, giving them an effective tax rate of negative 2.5%.

The findings are part of a report from theCenter for Effective Government and the Institute for Policy Studies. The twoWashington, D.C., think tanks have published an annual study called “Fleecing Uncle Sam,” which looks at CEO salaries and corporate taxes, since 2010.

The U.S. corporate tax rate is 35.3%, according to federal law. The reality is that most large corporations’ pay a far lower rate. Large American companies pay an effective corporate tax rate closer to 12.6%, according to the Government Accountability Office. Essentially, a host of items can lower a corporate tax bill, such as write-offs for research and development costs, or the depreciation of buildings and equipment.

As firms find ways around big tax burdens, the rift between what they pay the federal government and what they pay their top executives has been widening. The average compensation paid to CEOs that the study singles out has climbed to almost $32 million from $16.7 million in 2010.

Here are seven corporations that paid their CEOs more than the U.S. government in 2013 (the numbers below were compiled by the study’s co-authors).

1. Boeing

Boeing pre-tax income: $5.95 billion
CEO James McNerney total pay: $23.3 million
U.S. corporate income tax total: refund of$82 million

2. Ford Motors

Ford pre-tax income: $6.52 billion
CEO Alan Mulally total pay: $23.2 million
U.S. corporate income tax total: refund of$19 million

3. Chevron

Chevron pre-tax income: $4.67 billion
CEO John Watson total pay: $20.2 million
U.S. corporate income tax total: $15 million

4. Citigroup

Citigroup pre-tax income: $6.4 billion
CEO Michael Corbat total pay: $17.6 million
U.S. corporate income tax total: refund of$260 million

5. Verizon

Verizon pre-tax income: $28.83 billion
CEO Lowell McAdam total pay: $15.8 million
U.S. corporate income tax total: refund of$197 million

6. JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan pre-tax income: $17.23 billion
CEO Jamie Dimon total pay: $11.8 million
U.S. corporate income tax total: refund of$1.3 billion

7. General Motors

GM pre-tax income: $4.88 billion
CEO Daniel Ackerson total pay: $9.1 million
U.S. corporate income tax total: refund of$34 million

MONEY managing

4 Ways to Make Millennials Happier at Work

Workplace Birthday
Ronnie Kaufman/Larry Hirshowitz—Getty Images Colleagues celebrating birthday in office

A new survey from Payscale and branding expert Dan Schawbel offers insights into what managers can do to retain Gen Y employees.

Managers, get ready: By 2030, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And a new survey from Payscale, led by Dan Schawbel of Millennial Branding, finds this generation to be more ambitious than those who came before them. Nearly three quarters of Millennials say that an ideal job would offer some career advancement, more than Gen X and boomers. The report also pinpoints the specific types of conditions and leadership Gen Y’ers crave at work.

Play to those needs and your business may also be able to boost retention, Schawbel says.

His report finds that 26% of Gen Y workers believe employees should only be expected to stay in a job for a year or less before seeking a new role elsewhere. As an employer, that kind of turnover can be pricey. “It costs about $20,000 to replace each Millennial,” says Schawbel.

And considering the time it takes to fill that position and the stress workers take on to cover for the job in that time, it’s worth keeping a talented Millennial happy at work, he says.

As managers, here are four ways to give in to this demographic—while still getting what you need out of them.

1. Lead with the Positive

Remember, this is the generation that still got trophies when they lost a little league game. Their parents flashed bumper stickers stating that “Junior Made the Honor Roll.”

For this cohort, it’s more effective to give constructive feedback that points out what they’re doing right ahead of what they’re doing wrong. “Millennials want feedback, but they don’t want criticism,” says Schawbel.

An effective manager sets up expectations from the beginning, and offers compliments before giving negative feedback. “The tone is really important,” he says.

2. Treat them like Family

Gen Y thinks of their boss as their “work parent” and coworkers as “work relatives,” notes Schawbel.

In fact 72% want a manager who’s friendly and inviting. That compares to 63% of Gen Xers and 61% of Baby Boomers.

Reciprocate and play to those needs via team-building exercises, office happy-hour outings, volunteering opportunities and mentorship programs. The goal is to make it so there’s a real cost to them for quitting, says Schawbel. “They lose that family and they lose that culture for leaving.”

3. Promote from Within

Millennials want to lead. Therefore, demonstrating to your staff—particularly the 20-something set—that there’s a strong chance for upward mobility is imperative. If you constantly hire externally for advanced positions, how can you expect them to want to stay?

Besides engendering loyalty, raising up someone internally is a lot cheaper. Bringing in an outsider is “1.7 times the cost of internal hiring,” says Schawbel.

4. Give Them Ownership

This is not to say that you should give them a fat equity stake or a seat on the board.

The majority of Millennials say they want the opportunity to learn new skills and freedom from their managers. They want to own their projects from start to finish. To that end, an “intapreneurship” program—where you encourage workers to develop ideas for new products and services in an in-house incubator—can go a long way in keeping Millennials happy.

LinkedIn, Google and Lockheed Martin have their own versions of this kind of program.

How it works: Employees to come up with a business plan and pitch it to executives. For Millennials such projects offer the best of both worlds—they get to experiment freely like entrepreneurs but within the comforting structure of a 9 to 5 (dental included).

Farnoosh Torabi is a contributing editor at MONEY and the author of the book When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women. More of her columns and videos for MONEY.com:

TIME Companies

Jay-Z Buys Company That Makes Very Expensive Champagne Because Duh

Shawn "Jay Z" Carter Makes Announcement On the Steps Of City Hall Downtown Los Angeles
Frederick M. Brown—Getty Images Recording artist Shawn "Jay Z" Carter, Makes Announcement on the Steps of City Hall Downtown Los Angeles for the Budweiser Made in America Music Festival on Labor Day Weekend at Los Angeles City Hall on April 16, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

The rap mogul loves "Ace of Spades" champagne so much he raps about it and served it at an Obama fundraiser

He’s not a businessman. He’s a business, man.

Oh wait, actually he’s also a businessman.

Jay-Z has bought the Armand de Brignac champagne business for an undisclosed amount. The champagne is known as “Ace of Spades,” and is produced by eight people in the French town of Chigny-les-Roses, the BBC reports. It was featured in at least one Jay-Z music video and sells for $300 per bottle.

The 44-year-old rap mogul (and businessman) is known for his love of champagne. Jay-Z raps about the Ace of Spades brand in his song “On To The Next One:” “I used to drink Cristal, the muhf***ers racist, so I switched gold bottles on to that Spade sh**” Jay-Z raps. In the music video for the song, you can see the Ace of Spades champagne flash onscreen about one minute and 57 seconds in.

At a fundraiser Jay-Z held for President Barack Obama in 2012, he and his wife Beyonce Knowles reportedly displayed 350 bottles of the drink.

Jay-Z has an estimated net worth of $520 million, according to Forbes magazine, making him the third richest hip-hop star in the world. He has a clothing line, restaurants and a recording label.

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