THINKING FORWARD – Ideas for your work from MIT Sloan School of Management


Ideas for your work from MIT Sloan School of Management | Office of Communications


1. An untold number of people experience workplace impostor thoughts — the belief that their intelligence and skills are overestimated by their colleagues.

Now, new research shows these thoughts may have an unexpected upside. MIT Sloan assistant professor Basima Tewfik found that people with impostor thoughts tend to be better at workplace interactions.

In her research, Tewfik determined that employees compensated for the concern that they might not be as competent as other people believe them to be by adopting an “other-focused orientation” toward colleagues, supervisors, and patients.

“It’s a compensation story: If I think I’m not actually that smart, I might turn my focus to making other people think I’m great socially,” Tewfik said. “People pick up on what I’m doing, and they say ‘Wow, she’s a great person to work with, I really like interacting with her at work.’”

While Tewfik did not find any competence-related downsides to having workplace impostor thoughts, she did find that they hurt employees’ self-esteem, an indicator of worker well-being.

“Ultimately, we need to start to understand this phenomenon more holistically,” she said. “Worker well-being is still something managers need to care about.”

2. World events have rattled real estate markets, but some sectors stand to gain. A panel of experts at the recent MIT Sloan Investment Conference detailed current trends:

  • Multifamily is performing well as high prices for single-family homes shift interest to apartment complexes. “Pre-COVID, our book was about 65% multifamily, 20% office, and 15% everything else,” said TA Realty’s Michael Haggerty. “Now, our pipeline’s 95% multifamily and 5% everything else.”
  • Life sciences seems pandemic-proof. COVID-19 accelerated an already growing interest in life sciences, with investors eyeing deals that convert office space to labs, particularly in hot spots like Boston; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and South San Francisco, California.
  • Retail is rebounding, but office still sags. With many businesses maintaining some level of remote work, the office space sector continues to struggle. Compounding the problem: The once-hot coworking market (think WeWork) “didn’t become what people thought it would become,” said James Chung of Bridge Investment Group Partners.
  • Student housing demand is booming. Lenders used to have an unfavorable opinion of student housing. But in the first years of the pandemic, the student housing tenant base proved the most immune to COVID and had the least amount of risk, Chung said.

3. When it comes to cybersecurity, small decisions can expose companies to big cyberattacks — and leave them vulnerable to further breeches.

Writing last month in the Wall Street Journal, emeritus professor of information technology Stuart Madnick decried what he calls “semiconscious decision making” — making a seemingly small decision without fully considering its possible consequences.

Many breaches are reported as if they are single, simple accidents, with problems quickly identified and fixed, Madnick wrote. Yet most successful cyberattacks are only possible if there are multiple flaws in a company’s defenses, mostly caused by a decision not to take action.

Neglecting to patch a piece of software or letting security certificates expire, for example, could cost the organization hundreds of millions of dollars or more. “In almost every case that we studied there were ‘red flags’ (often many red flags) that management chose to ignore — with disastrous consequences,” Madnick wrote.

Content from the: MIT Sloan Office of Communications

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By MIT Sloan CDO