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Golden Oldies: If the Shoe Fits: Wave Deafness

Monday, June 19th, 2017

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies are a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

When I wrote this originally it was aimed directly at entrepreneurs, especially the ones who don’t seem to hear their people very often — if at all.

Coming across it five years later I decided it’s so apropos across the board that it definitely qualified as a golden oldie.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mLast year I wrote about Tony Hsieh’s approach to employee empowerment, featuring some great quotes from him.

As I said then, the thing that sets Hsieh apart is security.

Hsieh is comfortable in his own skin; secure in his own competency and limitations, so he doesn’t need to be the font from which all else flows.

Entrepreneurs can learn from this.

Startup hiring usually comes in waves as the company progresses.

While most founders will listen to their initial team and first few hires, those hired later often find it difficult to get their ideas heard.

Unfortunately, this behavior often sets a pattern, with the ideas and comments of each successive wave becoming fainter and fainter and those employees less and less engaged—and that translates to them caring less and less about your company’s success—call it wave deafness.

Wave deafness is costly.

Costly in productivity and passion, but even more costly in lost opportunities.

As Hsieh points out, there is no way he can think of as many good ideas as are produced if each employee has just one good idea in a year.

And not just from certain positions. I never heard of a manager, let alone a founder, admit to hiring dummies for any position, no matter the level.

So if you hire smart people and don’t listen to them, who is the dummy?

Image credit: HikingArtist

No Sexual Harassment Recourse

Monday, August 26th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/8658840247/

I have exciting news for all the creep bosses out there who miss the days when they could grope and talk dirty to their subordinates, without fear of lawsuits, reprisal or losing their jobs.

All they have to do is hire an unpaid intern, because they have no legal recourse.

“…unpaid interns are not “employees” under the Civil Rights Act — and thus, they’re not protected.”

Unpaid internships may be under siege, the courts siding with the interns and social media blasting Sheryl Sanberg’s Lean In Foundation for offering one, but they’re still around and perfect for all the bosses bent in that direction.

And while I doubt any of them are reading my blog, you probably know at least one person who, if only in fantasy, fits the bill and to whom you might forward this post—not that it will change them.

More importantly, forward it to anyone you know who is considering an unpaid internship in the hope they will take a second and third look at the manager, team and company that’s offering it.

Hat tip to KG Charles-Harris for sending the harassment article.

Flickr image credit: quinn.anya

What Goes Around Comes Around

Monday, January 14th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/katidjah/6155740302/

 “When they discover the center of the universe, how many people you know will be disappointed that they are not it?”Bernard Baily

How many of them have you interviewed? How many of your recent hires required remedial coaching to understand how the real world works?

It’s a well-known fact that actions and attitudes are contagious—yawn and others will start yawning, smile and they will smile—and entitlement, the attitude of “I am special, therefore I deserve…” is catching.

You see it when you’re driving and shopping, but it’s most annoying at work.

More and more bosses are seeing that attitude and not just in their younger workers.

It’s a well-known fact that actions and attitudes are contagious—yawn and others start yawning, smile and they smile— and there’s an epidemic of ‘I’m special’ happening that isn’t necessarily age-related.

The deprived generation of the Depression raised the entitled generation of Boomers who raised the much entitled, very special generation of Millennials who are raising a yet more special, more entitled generation.

And so it goes.

But there is a kind of rough justice best captured in the attitude of ‘what goes around comes around’ or, more specifically, ‘as you sow, so shall you reap’.

Guess who will be hiring all these special kids in a decade or two.

Flickr image credit: Maudy Apon

What People Want

Monday, May 14th, 2012

1193408_business_concepts_people_7Back when I worked for other companies I was considered “difficult.”

When I was young I was fired from one job for not taking my 15 minute breaks twice a day and from another for being too honest with a customer.

I spent 12 years working for a manager who never understood that all I wanted was acknowledgment and/or appreciation—without having to ask for it.

“Good job;” “congratulations, hell of a deal;” “good to see you back, we missed you.”

I was one of the top producers in his office, but the only time he said anything was when I brought whatever to his attention.

As most anyone will tell you, positive feedback or compliments are worthless when you need to prompt the source for them.

Often small efforts yield large results. My boss wanted me to move to the next level, but gave me no reason to put out the effort—the money wasn’t enough, I wanted to matter.

I recently told this story to a manager with high turnover in his department. He responded that he didn’t have time to “babysit” and expected his people to act like adults.

I told him he was a fool.

Stock.xchng image credit: arte_ram

If the Shoe Fits: Know Yourself

Friday, March 9th, 2012

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mA few weeks ago I had lunch with a potential client to get a feel for his MAP, i.e., management style, cultural vision and underlying beliefs, etc., while “Tony” got to know mine.

Afterwards I told him I didn’t believe we could form a productive relationship, wished him luck with his startup and we went our separate ways.

Yesterday I received an email from him regarding a senior level executive he was anxious to hire.

Tony said that the interviews seemed to go well, but when he made the offer it was turned down.

When he asked why the candidate responded in writing, below is the relevant paragraph.

The company culture can be moderately formal to moderately informal.  I care most about professionalism and mutual respect. I do not tolerate a highly politically charged environment where I must spend a lot of time calculating what the impact of a recommendation or observation will have on alliances, potential career tracks and other selfish-focused issues for the people around me.  I must be in a place where we are solidly aligned towards a clear set of goals, and those goals are not about personal advancement per-se, they are about people exceeding their own goals in pursuit of the company’s goals (which may shift with market conditions).  I need to be in situations where there are bright, optimistic people, who are open to new ideas.  There needs to be an environment and culture of accountability, and at the same time, one of try-fast, fail-fast, try again.  I need to surround myself with people who are good at not “this is not possible” but rather “this is what needs to happen for this to be possible.”

Tony said he didn’t see anything in the email to account for the turndown and asked if I had any suggestions on what he could do to land the guy.

I’ve only been speechless a few times in my life and this was definitely one of them.

Option Sanity™ reflects culture.

Come visit Option Sanity for an easy-to-understand, simple-to-implement stock process.  It’s so easy a CEO can do it.

Warning.

Do not attempt to use Option Sanity™ without a strong commitment to business planning, financial controls, honesty, ethics, and “doing the right thing.”
Use only as directed.
Users of Option Sanity may experience sudden increases in team cohesion and worker satisfaction. In cases where team productivity, retention and company success is greater than typical, expect media interest and invitations as keynote speaker.

Flickr image credit: HikingArtist

If the Shoe Fits: Wave Deafness

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mLast year I wrote about Tony Hsieh’s approach to employee empowerment, featuring some great quotes from him.

As I said then, the thing that sets Hsieh apart is security.

Hsieh is comfortable in his own skin; secure in his own competency and limitations, so he doesn’t need to be the font from which all else flows.

Entrepreneurs can learn from this.

Startup hiring usually comes in waves as the company progresses.

While most founders will listen to their initial team and first few hires, those hired later often find it difficult to get their ideas heard.

Unfortunately, this behavior often sets a pattern, with the ideas and comments of each successive wave becoming fainter and fainter and those employees less and less engaged—and that translates to them caring less and less about your company’s success—call it wave deafness.

Wave deafness is costly.

Costly in productivity and passion, but even more costly in lost opportunities.

As Hsieh points out, there is no way he can think of as many good ideas as are produced if each employee has just one good idea in a year.

And not just from certain positions. I never heard of a manager, let alone a founder, admit to hiring dummies for any position, no matter the level.

So if you hire smart people and don’t listen to them, who is the dummy?

Option Sanity™ rewards creativity.

Come visit Option Sanity for an easy-to-understand, simple-to-implement stock process.  It’s so easy a CEO can do it.

Warning.

Do not attempt to use Option Sanity™ without a strong commitment to business planning, financial controls, honesty, ethics, and “doing the right thing.”
Use only as directed.
Users of Option Sanity may experience sudden increases in team cohesion and worker satisfaction. In cases where team productivity, retention and company success is greater than typical, expect media interest and invitations as keynote speaker.

Flickr image credit: HikingArtist

Ducks in a Row: What People Want

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Does promotion cause deafness? Is that why it’s so difficult for bosses to hear?

Does it erase memory, so that new bosses forget the desires and aspirations of their pre-boss days?

These questions aren’t meant as a joke; decades of studies and surveys indicate there is some basis in fact.

How else do you explain findings such as these,

  • Eighty percent of respondents who reported a good employee-supervisor relationship claim that the most important thing a boss can do to create a positive working relationship is to both solicit and value their input.
  • Among respondents who claimed to have a poor relationship with their boss, 42 percent stated that one of the top reasons the relationship was strained was due to their boss’ failure to listen or take their input into account.
  • Of the managers surveyed, less than 25 percent identified soliciting input as an area in which they wanted to improve.

What many bosses don’t get is that this desire isn’t a demand driven by ego, entitlement or insecurity.

It is simply a display of intellectual self-worth on the part of employees and what they are looking for is an affirmation of the boss’ trust, belief and reason for hiring them.

I got it, maybe because I felt the same way, and focusing on that desire put me in the top 10% of MRI recruiters for 12 years.

Think about it; if the people on your team aren’t capable enough to comment intelligently and offer viable input why in the world did you hire them?

Flickr image credit: zedbee

Leadership’s Future: More Talent Drain, But Not All

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

down-the-drain

Last week we looked at the talent being lost as a result of profiteering by for-profit trade schools and colleges. But what of American talent graduating from America’s top schools?

We know that America needs talent. We need talent in all walks of life; we need talent at every level of business, but some of our best talent is being lured away by Asia, Inc.

The lure is coming from Chinese, Korean, Japanese and other Asian corporations; they are successfully recruiting, wooing and hiring the best and brightest at top tier business schools all over the country.

“There is a sense that the center of gravity is shifting,” says Julie Morton, Booth’s associate dean for career services. … “This has never really happened before, except in little spurts, where you have a fairly large group of talented, recent MBAs asking for assignments in China, Vietnam, India,” says Jeff Joerres, CEO of global staffing firm Manpower. Adds Richard Florida, professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management: “I don’t think many of us thought Asia would become the destination for top Western talent—but it is.”

Part of this shift is recession driven, but the ‘shifting center of gravity’ is cause for concern.

It’s not that the skills and knowledge acquired from international work isn’t valuable, of course it is, but it means that talent is lost to America for the next five years, give or take, when we need it most.

Additionally, foreign students are returning home to found companies, rather than staying in the US. That isn’t comforting considering that immigrant entrepreneurs founded 25.3 percent of the U.S. engineering and technology companies established in the past decade, according to a 2007 study from Duke University.

A bit of recession silver lining comes in the form of B-school grads taking an entrepreneurial path when they can’t find a job.

And there is a bipartisan (believe it or not) effort to gain talent by creating a “founder visa,” a two-year visa for any immigrant entrepreneur who can secure $250,000 in capital from American investors. After the two years are up, the person could become a permanent resident if his or her business has created five full-time jobs in the U.S., raised an additional $1 million, or hit $1 million in revenue.

But they are a long way from passing the legislation.

I find it sad that amidst all the rhetoric and hand wringing our so-called leaders in Congress do little-to-nothing—usually in the service of lobbying groups or an inflexible ideology that sees only the past and has little concern for the future if it involves change.

Image credit: budgetstoc on sxc.hu

A bit of recession silver lining comes in the form of B-school taking an entrepreneurial path because they can’t find a job.

Ducks in a Row: How to Reduce Office Politics

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

ducks_in_a_rowOffice politics has many definitions, but one characteristic remains constant—your ‘voice’ is positional. In other words, your ability to be heard is based on your position in the pecking order. Ideas below X level are ignored, between X and Y are acknowledged, Y to Z are heard and sometimes implemented.

But to have a full voice you either need to be part of the C suite or a “star” (stars below the Y level are scarce as hen’s teeth). Some argue that star systems are merit-based, but that argument falls flat if only those at a certain level are heard.

Few people like office politics and its presence has always been responsible for a large percentage of turnover.

One way to substantially reduce office politics in your organization by making sure that everyone has a voice.

Even in highly political corporations individual managers can improve their team’s performance and retention by making sure ideas receive a fair hearing no matter who thinks of them.

It’s easier when you are a first line manager, because you have only yourself to blame if a pecking order establishes itself in your group. If it does happen have a candid talk with the mirror and decide what’s important to you and what you want your ‘management brand’ to be known for.

As you move up, with one or more layers of management below you, it becomes more difficult because you are working to propagate an attitude that may not be wholly shared by those who report to you.

Your success depends partly on how consistent your own actions are and partly on what procedures you create to reinforce the desired behavior.

One of the most successful approaches is to tie bonus compensation to measurable results for soliciting suggestions from all levels and let VSI do the rest.

Of course, as with health, it is better route to prevent office politics than it is to cure it once it gets a toe-hold.

Simply put, that means not hiring managers at any level whose past behavior reflects the wrong attitude. You have two methods to accomplishing this. Obviously, it is something to discuss when doing reference checks.

But more importantly, if you make it clear during interviews that part of the candidate’s compensation depends upon it. It’s amazing how quickly a candidate will withdraw when her pay depends on a behavior with which she doesn’t agree.

Image credit: Svadilfari on flickr

mY generation: Spring Break

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

See all mY generation posts here.

sbreak

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