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Ducks in a Row: Are Your Employees Owners or Renters?

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016


“Ownership” is the difference between having employees who care and those who are just along for the ride.

Jim Haskett, Harvard business School professor emeritus, hosts lively conversations around current research he and his colleagues have done. The comment period is roughly two weeks and the ideas/comments are as interesting as Haskett’s original post.

Are Employees Becoming Job ‘Renters’ Instead of ‘Owners’? is the most recent and is critical to any manager looking to foster an engaged workforce.

In our work, we found that an “owner”—either a loyal employee or customer who takes responsibility for improving relationships, products, and processes as well as referring new employee candidates or customers—can be worth more than a hundred “renters—”those who are only involved with the organization to complete one or more transactions.

Think about it; why would Uber drivers care about the company — to use Haskett’s terms, they rent the job.

It isn’t just the so-called on-demand jobs that hire renters. There are plenty of them in full-time positions and, surprisingly, even in companies such as Google and Facebook.

In a recent Golden Oldie we considered the truism that “you get what you give” when it comes to respect and that’s true about most things.

Another old saying is also very true — people don’t quit companies, they quit managers.

In companies with “real” jobs, it’s the managers who determine whether employees are owners or renters.

Be sure to click over, read the comments and add your own.

Image credit: chispita_666

Ducks in a Row: Facebook — Racist or Just Dumb?

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

Considering it’s 2016 the unbelievably racist targeted advertising choices offered by Facebook are hard to swallow.

facebook-screenshotHarder still are their explanations.

First, they claim to prohibit this kind of ugly targeting.

Facebook says its policies prohibit advertisers from using the targeting options for discrimination, harassment, disparagement or predatory advertising practices.

They claim that advertisers won’t misuse these options.

“We take a strong stand against advertisers misusing our platform: Our policies prohibit using our targeting options to discriminate, and they require compliance with the law,” said Steve Satterfield, privacy and public policy manager at Facebook. “We take prompt enforcement action when we determine that ads violate our policies.”

But their worst excuse is the old A/B test.

Satterfield said it’s important for advertisers to have the ability to both include and exclude groups as they test how their marketing performs.

Hence my question.

Is Facebook really so naïve they actually believe that the so-called “affinity choices” won’t be abused or, in the name of profit, do they just not care?

Image credit: Facebook via Pro Publica

Ducks in a Row: Walmart — King of Spin

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016


More proof that what What Walmart really excels at is PR and spin.

After years of angry customer complaints about dirty stores, unstocked shelves, uncaring employees and an exodus of customers to the competition Walmart had an epiphany.

Maybe, just maybe, they had cut worker pay too far.

What if paying workers more, training them better and offering better opportunities for advancement can actually make a company more profitable, rather than less? “Efficiency wages” is the term that economists — who excel at giving complex names to obvious ideas — use for the notion that employers who pay workers more than the going rate will get more loyal, harder-working, more productive employees in return.

Of course, Henry Ford figured that out in 1914 and companies such as Costco have followed suit.

Ford astonished the world in 1914 by offering a $5 per day wage ($110 today), which more than doubled the rate of most of his workers. (…) The move proved extremely profitable; instead of constant turnover of employees, the best mechanics in Detroit flocked to Ford, bringing their human capital and expertise, raising productivity, and lowering training costs.

However, these days, money isn’t everything. People want more challenges, more ways to grow and better career opportunities.

“We realized quickly that wages are only one part of it, that what also matters are the schedules we give people, the hours that they work, the training we give them, the opportunities you provide them,” said Judith McKenna, who became chief operating officer in late 2014, in a recent interview. “What you’ve got to do is not just fix one part, but get all of these things moving together.”

“Quickly?” Considering the years of complaints, falling sales and stock price I’m not sure “quickly” is particularly accurate.

Just think. People who earn more money have more discretionary money to spend.

Rocket science? No, just logic.

But making your company look like a hero for paying people $18K a year definitely is rocket science.

Flickr image credit: mario

Ducks in a Row: John Legere and T-Mobile

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016
T-Mobile un-carrier movement

*click image to read

John Legere is not your typical big company CEO. Legere is an ancient 58 year-old leading a company filled with Millennials in a market driven by them.

Perhaps he should be termed the “un-CEO,” just as he is branding T-Mobile as the “un-carrier.”

… his mission to turn T-Mobile into an Un-carrier — essentially the opposite of any other mobile company.

The interview with him is worth reading, especially if you want to learn how to compete against brands (AT&T and Verizon) that are better known and far richer and successfully lead people who are not like you.

In just four short years he has taken Deutsche Telekom owned T-Mobile from a joke to the third-largest and fastest-growing carrier in the US.

Not too shabby.

He radically changed the culture, and, as he says, “set out to solving customer pain points in an attempt to fix a stupid, broken, arrogant industry.”

And not just with talk; but with an additional million square miles of LTE and new services, such as Binge On (unlimited streaming at 480p quality from services like Netflix), forcing competitors to follow suit.

His advice to business school students is something that anybody at the helm of any company, from the the corner dry cleaner to the Fortune 5, should embrace.

“I can summarize everything you need to know to lead a major corporation. Are you prepared to write this down?” And then they get all ready. I tell them I can summarize how I succeed as a leader: Listen to your employees, listen to your customers, shut the f— up, and do what they tell you. Then I say that the genius of the marketing strategy that we’ve had in every company that I’ve ever been in, is that if you ask your customers what they want and you give it to them, you shouldn’t be shocked if they love it.

Ask your customers. Listen to your customers. Give your customers what they want.

Definitely rocket science.

Image credit: T-Mobile via BI

Ducks in a Row: To Get It, First Give It

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016


A response on Quora offers a key good insight for human interaction. It’s especially applicable when leading/managing a team, whether you’re a CEO or just-promoted supervisor.

A knight on his weary horse pulling up to house of a peasant. “Peasant, water for my horse and food and ale for me.”
Whilst eating and drinking, he says to the peasant “I am heading for the next town, what are the people like there?”
The peasant inquires “What we the people like in the last town you visited?”
The knight thinks and says, “The towns’ people were dishonest, unfriendly thieves, I was glad to leave the place.”
The peasant replied “Sadly, I think you will find the people in the next town the same.”

One week later another knight pulls up to the same peasant on his weary horse and says, “Excuse my look, but my horse and I have travelled far. If you have some food and water for my horse and also for myself, I would be grateful.”
The peasant feeds them both, with ale for the knight also, when the knight asks, “We are heading for the next town, what are the people like there?”
“What were they like in the last town you left?”
asks the peasant.
“They were the most wonderful, generous people I have ever met. I was sad to leave them,” answered the knight.
“Do not worry,” said the peasant, “they are are the same in the next town.”

In other words, people rise to your level of expectations.

Not only do they rise, but they also sink when expectations are low. This is most obvious when considering the difference between schools and teachers.

Although more subtle, it applies just as accurately to the workplace.

If you want your people to trust you — trust them first.

If you want respect — offer it first.

While the list of wants is endless, the recipe for achieving them remains the same.

To get what you want, give it first.

Flickr image credit: Chuck Black

Ducks in a Row: 4 Absolute Management Truths

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016


  • I believe that people would rather have a lousy job working for a great person than a great job working for a bad manager.
  • And I believe very strongly that the single largest component of a business that adds to shareholder value is great management, and the single largest destroyer of shareholder value is bad management.
  • Now, being a good manager is really, really difficult. And the sooner people who are managers recognize that, the sooner they’ll start being a good manager.
  • It takes unbelievable courage to be a good manager. It is hard to have difficult conversations with people when they’re not doing well. Who likes to do that? That takes courage. You can’t slide out of the way and hope it’s going to take care of itself.Aron Ain, CEO of Kronos (a global vendor of workforce management enterprise software)

Not a lot for me to add, considering I’ve been saying the same thing for over a decade, but maybe hearing it from Ain will carry more weight.

High employee retention pays off; Kronos is a billion dollar company based on revenue, not investment rounds.

“Kronites who feel valued stay longer and develop a deeper understanding of and stronger relationships with our customers. It is their experience and knowledge that allows Kronos to deliver incredibly innovative products and a superior customer experience.”

Image credit: Wilson Bilkovich

Ducks in a Row: Time to Be Grateful

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016


How grateful are you? Not just for the big things, like not being hit by the guy who ran the light, but for the everyday stuff?

Who do you take time to be grateful to? Your spouse/partner, kids, colleagues, boss?

How do you show your gratitude? A quick verbal thanks, email, text, hand-written note?

As CEO of Campbell Soup, Doug Conant sent more than 30,000 handwritten thank-you notes to staffers and clients driving the creation of a “culture of gratitude across the company.

…when Conant took the reins at Campbell Soup, the stock price was falling and it was the worst performer of all the major food companies in the world, according to Fast Company. By 2009, the company was ahead of the S&P Food Group and the S&P 500….

Journalist Janice Kaplan spent a year documenting the effects of gratitude and shares the info in “The Gratitude Diaries” and uses Conant’s behavior as an example of a leader who harnessed the power of recognition to boost his team’s performance.

Such a little thing for such a giant effect. People do notice.

When Kaplan visited the Business Insider office in August, she said that a survey she conducted with the John Templeton Foundation found that about 90% of people said a grateful boss was more likely to be successful.

Bosses frequently poo-poo the idea of saying ‘thanks’; their reason being that people should be grateful to have a job. This is especially true in a down economy — which is shortsighted and stupid.

But, as the man said, the times they are a’changing.

In the last few years, more and more leaders have started to adopt this practice, including Mark Zuckerberg, who in 2014 challenged himself to write one thank-you note every day, according to The Washington Post.

Gratitude — taking that bit of time to say ‘thanks’ — costs nothing and offers some of the highest ROI of any action you may take.

Image credit: purdman1

Ducks in a Row: September Leadership Development Carnival

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016


The 2016 election season is already too long.

Not to mention too divisive, too nasty, too hateful and devoid of any sign of real leadership

While we can’t hope for an actual leader, as described in this month’s Carnival,  that doesn’t mean you can’t emulate many of the qualities described no matter your position — just tweak them a bit to fit the situation.

Anne Perschel of Germane Coaching and Consulting submitted Golden Rules for Leading Transformation. Anne summarizes, “When the CEOs of Ford Motor Company, Nokia, and Microsoft began changing their respective companies’ core business and/or culture, they each established golden rules for leading transformation. Learn from them how to do the same for your company.” Follow Anne on Twitter at @bizshrink.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited provided Why I’ve Cut Back Working at Coffee Shops. Beth recaps, “Many leaders work in locations outside of their own office from time to time. But it may not always be as productive. In this post, I share some downsides to working at coffee shops.” Find Beth on Twitter at @bethbeutler.

Chris Edmonds of the Purposeful Culture Group contributed Leading a Purposeful, Positive, Productive Culture. Chris reminds us of the important part our company culture plays in getting the results we want. Follow Chris on Twitter at @scedmonds.

Dan McCarthy of Great Leadership provided 10 Ways to Kill Off Your Star Employees. Dan recaps, “Unfortunately, organizations don’t always do a good job when it comes to nurturing, developing, rewarding, and retaining their high potential employees. In fact, it often seems like they are going out of their way to sabotage their best employees. Of course, most organizations don’t intentionally try to kill their high potentials. It’s just that many managers don’t know how to manage a high potential, and end up doing well-intended things that get unintended results. Or – in some cases – they actually do set their high potential employees up for failure, as a result of feeling threatened or jealousy. So – if you want to kill your high potentials, just follow these 10 steps!” Locate Dan on Twitter at @greatleadership.

Dana Theus of InPower Coaching contributed Insight: Pride vs. PRIDE. Dana writes, “When we flash our PRIDE around – which to an unsuspecting world can feel like a right cross – we miss a great opportunity to really share our value.” Find Dana on Twitter at @DanaTheus.

David Dye of Trailblaze submitted 5 Ways Pokemon Go Will Make You a Better Leader. David summarizes, “Video games are masterful at drawing out people’s natural, internal motivations. David shares how you can be more effective and influential when you get these same motivations working for you and your team.” Follow David on Twitter at @davidmdye.

David Grossman of The Grossman Group shared Open Ended Questions Enhance Employee Communication. David writes, “As a leader, you know that engaging employees and helping connect them to your business goals can directly impact the bottom line.  Your internal communication plan can include two-way communication vehicles like feedback channels and listening sessions to help accomplish this.” Discover David on Twitter at @thoughtpartner.

Jill Malleck of Epiphany at Work contributed Leaders Fighting Fires: What Darby Did. Jill shares, “At some point, all leaders are faced with tense situations. Learn how one leader showed a strong heart in a life-and-death situation.” Find Jill on Twitter at @epiphanyatwork.

Jesse Lyn Stoner of the Seapoint Center shared A Definition of Leadership for These Pressing Times. Jesse Lyn recaps, “What’s your definition of leadership? We need a clear, unbiased definition to form a common language. In this post, Jesse Stoner takes you through her journey of digging down to the root of the word, stripping away assumptions, and creating a definition of leadership for the pressing conversations we need to have. Unexpectedly, this process revealed a different lens for understanding leadership in today’s world. This post has sparked a lot of conversation, and you are invited to add your voice.” Follow Jesse Lyn on Twitter at @JesseLynStoner.

Joel Garfinkle of the Career Advancement Blog submitted Why Strong Leaders Have the Courage to Show Vulnerability. Joel recaps: “Not being afraid to show your vulnerabilities shows confidence and authenticity, which encourages respect and openness in your team. This attitude creates a culture of learning from mistakes and using everyone’s strengths to best move forward.” Discover Joel on Twitter at @JoelGarfinkle.

John Hunter of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog shared Applying Toyota Kata to Agile Retrospectives. John summarizes, “Creating a culture where it is expected that any improvement ideas are tested and evaluated is one of the most important changes on the path to a company that will be able to continually improve. If not, what happens is some changes are good, many are not and soon people lose faith that any effort is worth it because they see how poor the results are.” Find John on Twitter at @curiouscat_com.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference contributed Business Leaders Raising Political Voices. Jon shares, “Dangers exist for businesses standing up for certain political issues, especially with the polarization present today. However, business can be a voice for positive change, and employees and customers may now expect business leaders to raise their rational voice in an environment of stalemate and divisiveness.” Follow Jon on Twitter at @thindifference.

Julie Baron of The Thought Board shared Get More Attention: Do’s & Don’ts for Working with the Media. Julie writes, “Want to increase the visibility of your business? Perhaps you seek to educate people about your service, inform them about your events, or change their opinion about your price. Maybe you want to be seen as an industry thought leader or you want to generate business leads or prospective employee interest. No matter the goal, media coverage is a great way to get more attention. These do’s and don’ts for working with the media will boost your chances of coverage success.” Discover The Thought Board on Twitter at @commwrks.

Karin Hurt of Let’s Grow Leaders contributed 6 Reasons Your Training Program Isn’t Working. Karin recaps, “Training programs are great, but sometimes mask the deeper issues. Karin shares six reasons why your training program may not be as effective as you’d hoped..” Follow Karin on Twitter at @letsgrowleaders.

Mary Jo Asmus of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC submitted When You Need to Really Listen. Mary Jo summarizes, “Leaders can always listen more, but there are times they really need to listen at a deeper level.” Follow Mary Jo on Twitter at @mjasmus.

Mary Ila Ward of Horizon Point Consulting contributed Hills in the Heat: Why You Have to do the Hard Stuff to Run and Lead Well. She recaps, “Running and leading have many overlapping lessons.  As the author sets out to train for a marathon, she reflects on how doing the hard stuff strengthens success in running and leading.” Discover Mary Ila on Twitter at @maryilaward.

Mary Schaefer shared  3 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement. Mary continues, “Are you getting everything you can from your focus on employee engagement? You may make more impact by rewiring how you think about it” Find Mary on Twitter at @maryschaefer.

Michael Lee Stallard of Michael Lee Stallard submitted 3 Ways to Lead Like Lincoln. Michael shares, “Abraham Lincoln had a talent for converting detractors into loyal supports. These three elements of his leadership and communication style explain how he did it.” Follow Michael on Twitter at @michaelstallard.

Miki Saxon of MAPping Company Success contributed Golden Oldies: Narcissism and Leadership. Miki writes, “Narcissism has always been problematic for leaders. However, it’s not about having narcissistic traits; it’s about how you choose to manage them.” Discover Miki on Twitter at @optionsanity.

Neal Burgis of Burgis Successful Solutions submitted The Curious Leader. Neal recaps, “By adopting a curious mindset, your leadership style goes hand-in-hand with curiosity. Many curious leaders are destined for the C-Suite due to their curious nature in asking questions and exploring ideas for opportunities.” Find Neal on Twitter at @exec_solutions.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader contributed Why Leaders Should Build the Castle First. Paul summarizes, “A great leader showed how to create a positive culture in the midst of a negative one.” Follow Paul on Twitter at @paul_larue.

Randy Conley of Leading With Trust shared Thrown Under the Bus? 8 Tips on Dealing with Unfair Criticism. Randy writes, “Sooner or later we all get thrown under the bus and criticized unfairly, and how you respond shapes the perceptions people have of you as a leader. In this enlightening post, Randy Conley shares 8 strategies for responding to unfair criticism in a healthy and productive way.” Find Randy on Twitter at @randyconley.

Robyn McLeod of Thoughtful Leaders contributed Are you really a leader? An easy way to tell. Robyn shares, “we are truly leaders when what we do inspires those around us to be, do, and achieve more.” Follow Robyn on Twitter at @thoughtfulldrs.

Shelley Row of Shelley Row submitted Tough Decision? Use Your Secret Weapon – Values. In this piece, Shelley reminds us that we have a built-in secret weapon we can apply when making a tough decision—our values. Discover Shelley on Twitter at @shelleyrow.

Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership provided Why ‘Politically Correct’ Is Not A Four Letter Word. Susan explains, “The more visible your leadership, the more important it is for you to be mindful of your words and deliberate with your messages. But personal honesty and even transparency is not the ultimate antidote to the political correctness that has polarized us and degraded our trust in politics. In fact, it may even be dangerous.” Follow Susan on Twitter at @susanmazza.

Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer submitted What It  Takes to Overcome Distractions in the Workplace. Tanveer continues, ” A lesson from Olympic rowers reveals a powerful message for leaders on how they can help their employees to overcome workplace distractions.” Discover Tanveer on Twitter at @tanveernaseer.

Tom Magness of Leader Business contributed How NOT to Micromanage. Tom summarizes, “Successful leaders stay out of the weeds by avoiding telling their team HOW to do things.  Instead, provide clarity on INTENT, essentially the WHAT and WHY, and allow the team to figure out the rest.  The results (buy-in, empowerment, innovation) are a true game-changer.” Follow Tom on Twitter at @leaderbusiness.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership submitted Getting Fairness Right. Wally recaps, “People won’t give you their best unless they feel like you’re treating them fairly. There are many ways to get fairness wrong.  Here’s what you should know to get fairness right.” Find Wally on Twitter at @wallybock.

Ducks in a Row: Assumptions Result in Bad Hires.

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rainbowy/15498377216/Even after working decades with bosses at all levels, from CEOs to team leaders and first-time supervisors, their ability to make inaccurate, let alone stupid, assumptions based on nothing solid still astounds me.

The smartest/most creative people only attend top tier universities. No they don’t. The wealthiest/most indebted, unless they were on scholarship, attend those schools.

I can spot instantly talent, even with just a casual conversation. No you can’t. What you can spot are people like yourself.

Hiring/poaching top talent always pays off. Not hardly. Consider JC Penny, Bob Nardelli, Marissa Mayer and thousands more at every level and in every field.

Or that a birdbrain, even the smartest, could figure out the eight steps it took to get a reward, with no coaching?

As opposed to the wisdom of crowds, assumptions are more often the bias of crowds.

Video credit: The Kat on the BBC
Image credit:  Holly on Flickr

Ducks in a Row: Agility and You

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016


I am not a lover of trendy terms, no matter how hilarious Dilbert makes them, and I’ve found they turn off a lot of people — from workers to bosses.

One of the newest to hit the trendy list is “agile” in all its various forms.

What became trendy agile was born 15 years ago.

The term originated in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development in 2001. It was a specific approach in a specific sector, but soon its core principles – moving quickly to build a minimum viable product, using iterative development to improve it on the go, with testing and feedback built in at every stage rather than just at the end.

Just how ubiquitous has agile become? It was used by Walmart CEO Doug McMillon last fall in a memo to employees to describe the future (and justify layoffs).

“Our customers are changing. Retail is changing and we must change,” McMillon wrote in the memo obtained by The Associated Press. “We need to become a more agile company that can easily adapt to shifting customer demand.”

Many companies talk about becoming agile and a large number of them think a quick and easy means to that end is to lay off the older and bring in the younger.

They couldn’t me more wrong. It’s not age that makes one agile, Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff isn’t young, it’s MAP.

Your MAP is responsible for how you lead, as well as the values that underpin your company’s culture.

If your MAP isn’t agile, or willing to change to become so, there is little hope that your company (or department or team) will be agile.

Hat tip to Wally Bock for pointing me to this article.

Flickr image credit: Martin Pool

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