This Week in Thought Leaders: The Secret to Giving Feedback, Praising America’s Clunkers, and More

December 1, 2012

It’s a frustrating, dreaded December tradition: the annual performance review.

The end-of-year right of passage at many companies makes both bosses and their subordinates squirm. So is there a better way to give feedback?

A productive conversation may depend on the use of a single word, says Idealab founder Bill Gross. In one of this week’s most-popular posts, he implored managers to use “and” instead of “but” when talking with employees. The distinction may sound minor, but it’s significant, Gross says.

“When you start telling someone, ‘You are really great at X, but when you do Y...’ the BUT negates all the goodwill that you are building up with the first part of your sentence,” Gross wrote. “The BUT gets someone's defenses up, and makes them way less able to hear the important thing you want them to listen to.”

Sure, it’s a simple technique. But LinkedIn users praised Gross’ advice in the comments section, and vowed to put it into action at their own companies.

LinkedIn’s Influencers users shared plenty of other tips this week, too. IDEO CEO Tim Brown suggested an easy way to design your life. Author Gretchen Rubin ran through her four ways to keep calm. And Duke professor Dan Ariely revealed how to challenge conventional wisdom and age gracefully (hint: avoid the comb-over).

Here’s a look at some other highlights of the week:

Dennis Berman: America: Land of the Glorious, Aged Clunker The average age of a car in the U.S. is 11 years old. That, of course, reflects a slowdown in purchases during the recession. But the fact that cars can now last a decade or longer is also a triumph of manufacturing, Berman writes. “It's the kind of capital-P Progress that we tend to overlook,” he says. So the next time you see a clunker on the road, don’t look on in disbelief; "see it as the glorious thing that it is.”

Naomi Simson: Three Things Young Women in Business Need to Know For young women starting a career, Simson has advice. Speak up. Use 25 percent fewer words in conversations (it’ll sharpen your message). And never think of money as a dirty word.

Christopher Elliott: The TSA as We Know It Is Dead – Here’s Why Is the TSA doomed? Critics pummeled the security agency during a Congressional subcommittee hearing this week, noting that it had become expensive, inconsistent and unreliable. Rep. John Mica (R.-Fla.) even suggested closing the TSA as it exists today. Elliott says that can’t come soon enough.

Brian Wong: Monetizing Mobile Means Ditching Advertising as We Know It Far too many companies treat mobile devices like billboards. They slap an ad in the space, and hope consumers will notice it. When it doesn’t work, they’re baffled. Wong describes a different approach.

Jeff Selingo: Can You Truly Calculate the Return on College Investment? College is an investment. And, as higher-education costs continue to outpace inflation, parents and students want to know if it's still worth it. Three states are making that easier. In Arkansas, Tennessee, and Virginia -- and soon to be others -- it's now possible "to figure out the economic return for a graduate from a particular university with a specific major," Selingo writes. So how should students and parents use this information?

Nancy Kruse: Quotations from Chairman Melman Richard Melman has one of the best track records in the restaurant business. The founder and chairman of Lettuce Entertain Enterprises has opened concepts ranging from tapas, to Asian and street food. Many have been big money makers. Kruse reveals his three lessons for success -- helpful insights for any business owner looking to make it in a fickle industry.

Hunter Walk: Seeking Captain America, Not Captain Crap Captain America would likely make a good manager, Walk says. He's confident in his team, he throws himself into risky situations and he recoils when the spotlight is just on him. So when organizations are hiring their first product managers, they need to look for those qualities. Walk points out three other considerations companies need to think about, too.

Click here to read more from our thought leaders, or to nominate luminaries you think should be sharing their insights on LinkedIn. Photo credits: Brain (Shutterstock); clunker car (Zombieite/Flickr); TSA (Carolina K. Smith, M.D. / Shutterstock).

Editor’s Note: This blog post is syndicated from LinkedIn Editor Chip Cutter. Follow him on LinkedIn for more.