Posted tagged ‘respect’

Big Fish, Little Fish, smells the same

November 4, 2011

Sometimes I worry about running out of things to blog about.   Then I caught a few news stories this week and that fear just melted away…

The first news story I heard, which I am sure many of you did as well, was about the CEO of Nabors Industries, Eugene Isenberg, who stepped down as CEO to remain as only the Chairman of the Board, as I understand it.  For this magnanimous gesture, he was paid a lump sum of $100 million dollars.   Dr. Evil would be proud.

The second got a bit less notoriety, but is eerily similar in many ways except for the size of the payout.   Turkia Mullin was the Chief Development Officer of Wayne County in Michigan.  She left that job to take over as CEO of Detroit Metropolitan Airport, which, no surprise, is in Wayne County.  For this shift in roles, she was paid a “severance” from her CDO job of $200,000.00.   As you can see from the article, once this payment came to light, she announced she would be returning the money.    Which only adds to the innate sense that the payment was completely unjustified in the first place.   Otherwise, you’d think she would have kept it.

imageI think we can all agree that executive compensation often feels completely out of line with performance, actual responsibilities, value to the company as a whole or other factors.  But it is even more disturbing to me that, now, executives are getting big payouts just to change jobs or titles within THE SAME COMPANY (or county, in Turkia’s case…)

CEO News flash:  Whether you support our current president or not, I think we’d all agree that Barack Obama probably makes more gut-wrenching decisions in a month than either of these folks made in their entire careers, including sending brave young women and men into harm’s way.   If you don’t believe me, do some reading about the marines in Dark Horse battalion.    I am pretty sure Barack’s salary is closer to Turkia’s “bonus” than to Eugene’s base pay, no less his “lump sum” payout.  So whatever contrived justification you CEO’s are creating inside your heads that help you believe you deserve this type of financial compensation for your efforts, I don’t think they have anything to do with leadership.

In the 1800’s, a term was coined for folks like this.  Robber barons.  Might be a good time to revive that catchy little label…

Is Everybody Happy??

September 9, 2011

I am not a huge believer in polls.  I think that regardless of statistical sampling size and other factors, the way that questions are ordered, worded and who you ask still affects the outcome in ways that belie objectivity.

Be that as it may, has anyone seen the latest Gallup Healthways Well Being index as it relates to “employee engagement?”  Interesting stuff!

Allow me to summarize.  The Gallupians use three categories to segment employees:  engaged (in their companies), not engaged, and actively disengaged.  It may surprise no one to hear that 30 percent of American workers are engaged in their work, 51 percent are not engaged, and 19 percent are actively disengaged.   A sad state of affairs indeed.

image

What can you do about this??

I would suggest two things:

1)   it turns out that many economic sleuths are actually willing to admit that there’s a relationship between engaged workers and your company’s bottom line.  Personally, I don’t feel like anyone should even have to make that case, but next time you bump into your CFO in the elevator, ask her if she believes that to be the case.  If not, dust up your resume.
2)   there was an editorial in the New York Times this past week  that referenced the Gallup engagement survey but also proclaimed to find a root cause relationship that will change your workers’ sense of engagement for the better.  Get this!   As a manager, you should acknowledge and praise incremental progress in your team’s work.  That’s what keeps them engaged!  Brilliant!  It gets better.  When 669 managers were asked to rank 5 motivators, 95 percent of them ranked “supporting progress” dead last.

Are we happy now?

Carbon footprint

August 25, 2011

When I was a kid and disputes were escalating among siblings, your “ace in the hole” often was, “I’m telling mom” or “I’m telling dad.”  You knew you ran the risk of being called a tattler or escalating things further, so you tended to only play that card in desperate times.

Fast forward a few years…

I always thought that CC in an email stood for “courtesy copy.”  According to the search I just conducted, it stands for “carbon copy” and is defined as:

Carbon Copy, it is for those that are not part of the main email but are just being informed of it

But that’s not what it’s used for in many organizations, is it???  It’s used to tell mom.

image

I have a theory that I bet some really smart developer with access to an organization’s MS-Exchange data store could prove or disprove.  I submit that the level of bureaucracy in an organization can be measured by counting the number of emails that everyone cc’s their boss on in comparison with the total number of emails they send.   The higher the number, the more you have to tell mom to get a co-worker, peer or someone else who doesn’t “report to you” to actually take action and help you when there’s nothing in it for them.

It’s a sad state of affairs when two co-workers who allegedly work for the same organization and should have the same goals won’t collaborate unless it’s under the watchful eye of one of their bosses.

Why don’t you take a moment and ask what your “carbon footprint” is?  If it’s more than 5 to 10 percent, maybe it’s time to reduce your emissions…

Empower(less)ment

August 4, 2011

For any of you who have kids (and many who don’t) one of the great joys you get raising your children over time is the pride you feel as they gradually mature, take on new responsibilities and learn to make good choices.  In short, you teach them empowerment.  And other than an occasional allowance here and there or some money for the movies, you’re not really paying them to make that progress – you’re just trying to help them be self-sufficient and most importantly, make sound decisions when you’re not around.

So why was I not surprised when:

a) a good friend of mine told me her manager said to her, “I don’t pay you to make decisions, I pay you to do what I tell you to…”

b) I was told by a co-worker, after waiting weeks for budget approval so I could order equipment to keep a project on schedule, “a lot of the execs that have to approve the budget are on vacation so it’s been tough to get them to review and sign off on the document.”

image

It seems that, even as unemployment stays high and we ask workers to take on more and more, that doesn’t include decision making, especially when it comes to spending the company’s money.

I fear that a lot of managers out there have blurred the distinction between control and leadership.  So here’s a fast refresher:

Control is the illusion that you can orchestrate all events to your liking (just ask Hosni Mubarek how that’s working out…).  Leadership is establishing and communicating goals and objectives to your team and then trusting that they can do their part to get everyone there.

Just ask my kids…

Gettin’ busy

July 15, 2011

Maybe it’s always been this way, but it seems like lately every time I ask someone how they are doing, they say, “good, busy…”  It appears that, perhaps without even being aware of it, we have all succumbed to the “busyness” bug.   You think you’re busy?  Look at me!  I’m three times as busy!!  I am late for all the meetings I am supposed to be at, and at least twice a week I tell people how I can’t make it to their meeting because I am already triple booked.   And if you are lucky enough to get me to attend your meeting, I will have my iPhone in my hands the whole time, checking email, texting other meeting attendees, and generally squeezing a few more messages into my already “busy” day.  And if you hadn’t noticed, if I am busier than you, I am also more important than you…  The busier, the better…

Admit it.  If you asked a colleague how it “was going?” and they said, “pretty good, not much happening, only have one meeting this week, kinda looking for a new project, you know, something to sink my teeth into, I have quite a bit of spare time right now…” you’d be aghast!  What?  You’re not crazy busy??  You must be, wait for it…  expendable.

But this approach does not end well.   I think I can safely introduce this sketch from the old I Love Lucy show to a new generation who may not have ever seen it. 

To continue to accumulate more and more work (or just say you have it) does not improve the quality of what you do, your ability to be attentive, or your stress level.  And I think that’s part of why unemployment is still at close to 10%.  If I hire someone to help with our workload, we might not be as busy.  That’s bad, right???  Or is it?

We the People

June 8, 2011

I had an interesting experience last Thursday night.  Someone who worked for the same company I did, but at different times, organized a reuni0n of sorts for anyone who worked there over the last 10 years or so.  And quite a few people showed up!!  And near as I can tell, the bond that held and holds these folks together to the point where they’d give up an evening at home to reconnect with some old coworkers (granted, in many cases, they are also friends) is a company that no longer exists.  Hmmm…

I hear leaders all the time tell their staff that “their people are their most valuable assets.”  But what struck me was that your people are not only your most valuable assets – I truly do believe that – but they are also your most long-lasting.   I have no idea where the partitions, coffee makers, PC’s, laptops, office furniture and other ‘assets’ went, but I have a pretty good idea where about 80-90% of the people went.  To other businesses nearby to continue their productive work lives.

image

So next time you contemplate how to treat a co-worker or a subordinate, remember that there’s a good chance they are going to outlast your company, your role, your title, and perhaps whatever sway you think you hold over them.

Now THAT’S asset management…

Cha-Cha-Chains

April 13, 2011

 

When my daughter was younger, I was very interested in how she spent her day, what she did at school, etc.  So naturally, I would typically contact her best friend’s mom’s sister-in-law to find out more.  I think her name was Margaret.

“Margaret,” I would say, “what’s new with my daughter Alice?  What did she do today?  Anything I should be concerned about?”

And Margaret would typically say, “Gee, I am not sure.  Let me ask my sister-in-law.”  And she would.  And her sister-in-law would usually say, “I don’t know.  Wait here.  I’ll ask my daughter.”  And she would.  And her daughter would sometimes say, “I didn’t see Alice today.  Maybe she was on a field trip.”

And Margaret would return to me, sometimes hours later, and say, “Why don’t you just ask Alice?”

“That’s a great idea!”  I exclaimed.  “Of course!  Just ask my daughter directly!”

image

That’s a bit of a long way around to make a point.  But that never stopped me before…

Have you ever worked in an organization that is so tied to its “chain of command” that even if you knew who was working on an initiative or had some information you needed, you would typically first consult the org chart, see who they worked for, and possibly who THAT person worked for, and then ask them?  To be honest, Xerox was a bit like that.

When you think of all the time and productivity that is wasted by following the chain of command to get information, seems like there’s got to be a better way.

Maybe next time, you should just “Go ask Alice…”  Is that so wrong…?

Shakespeare Revisited

April 1, 2011

I am not a student of Shakespeare, but I do remember a few quotes from back in high school and college.  One is from Romeo and Juliet and starts with “What’s in a name?”  The other is from The Merchant of Venice, uttered by Shylock: “If you prick us, do we not bleed?”  Both excellent questions!!

Back in Shakespeare’s time, I guess Jews were not always treated the same as others.  Thus, Shylock’s soliloquy and outrage about wanting to be treated like an equal.

image

I am doing some consulting work at a client who is modernizing their infrastructure – building a semi-custom Enterprise Resource Planning system, standardizing their accounting, etc.  Just trying to help where I can.  They refurbished a section of their building to make room for a rather large project team and gave me an office of sorts to sit in when I am there.  When I got there this morning, there was a nameplate outside the door with my name on it.  It looked just like everyone else’s, even though I am a “contractor…”  I know it’s pretty trivial, but it really made me feel part of the team.

You catching my drift yet??

As a leader, you have opportunities every day to expend your energy striving to make people feel welcome and equal, or different and unequal.

Which do you think will get you the results you’re looking for, Antonio…?

Penny Lane and Pound Foolish

March 25, 2011

I am a bit of a Beatles’ fan.  So when I was skimming through the New York Times last Sunday and I saw a teaser for an article about business wisdom derived from Beatles’ songs and their somewhat stormy history, I was intrigued.    Sharing credit as a lesson from Lennon and McCartney always listing both their names on every song, disagreement leading to synthesis and problem solving, and perseverance it seems are all valuable lessons to be had from the Fab Four.  OK, maybe.

Then, I looked across the page at an interview with Irwin D. Simon, the CEO of the Hain Celestial Group. Apparently, Hain is a maker of natural and organic foods and personal care products.    I am guessing that approximately 6 billion more people have heard of John Lennon and Paul McCartney than Irwin D. Simon (no offense, Irwin…)

image

And yet, as I read the interview with Irwin (he doesn’t know it yet, but we’re on a first name basis), I found the real business wisdom, not the kitschy made-up kind.   Here are a few brief snippets:

  • Irwin lets anyone, even interns, attend any meeting they want to!  Even board meetings!
  • He says CEO stands for Chief Energy Officer
  • He likes to ask accountants to work in marketing and marketers to work in accounting
  • He said, “Just by treating people right, I find they want to be part of your team”

If that doesn’t make you want to click on the link above to the interview and find out more about Irwin’s philosophy, I don’t know what would.

Good day, sunshine…

Plus or Minus

March 10, 2011

Hockey coaches use a metric called a players “plus/minus” ratio.  It keeps track of how often your team scores when you are on the ice, and how often the other team does.  You get one “plus” every time you’re on the ice for your team’s goal, and a “minus” for every time you’re out there when the other team scores.  Even though it might not seem that intuitive, over time it appears to be an excellent indicator of how good a hockey player you are.  Hold that thought.

I was at one of my clients’ Annual Meeting last weekend.  Their keynote speaker was a really interesting and compelling presenter named Eric Wahl, who does presentations on The Art of Vision.  Among quite a few insights Eric shared (while he was painting some pretty impressive art at the same time, but that’s another post…) he said that because of the recognizable smell and soothing associations, sniffing Crayola crayons has been shown to lower high blood pressure.  Who knew??

image

Pop quiz:  How many of you feel a little stressed from time to time at work?  Hmm – almost all of you.  That’s interesting.  How many of you think your bosses are adding to or reducing your stress level?  What’s that?  They ALL are adding to it?  They think it’s their job to stress you out???  That doesn’t sound right.   Shouldn’t they be helping to reduce your stress?

OK – you fearless leaders out there.  I challenge you to poll your staff through an anonymous survey and find out what your plus/minus ratio is.  You get a point for everyone who says when you’re around or they talk to you, their stress level goes down.  You lose a point every time someone responds that you’re adding to their stress.

Magenta, anyone???


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.