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Archive for September 25th, 2006

This photo is real.
It is a photo of a real meeting in a real meeting room somewhere in corporate America.
This day-long meeting cost about $16,000. (Money well spent, obviously.)
The people in the background are real people and those are their real facial expressions.
They really
are
that bored.
This was the day when I discovered that Powerpoint, like cars, should require a license.
Only one guy noticed the tiny puppy toy on the table and my camera, but he is still too bored to even crack a smile.
Seriously. Look at him. He is completely numb to everything going on around him.
The others are doodling.
And yes, there is a powerpoint presentation going on at that moment.
Enthusiasm, productivity and engaged workgroups rock my world.

Wow. Judging by the number of posts I have run into recently that deal with unhappy employees (and the nefarious effect unhappy workers can have on everything from customer service to product innovation – which are two pillars of every strong brand,) September must be disgruntled employee month. Is there something about September/back to school/shorter days/ year-end deadlines and fall trade show season that tends to stress people out?

(If you have any studies on this in your back pocket, please forward them my way.)

I just ran into this great piece on the dumb little man blog, cleverly titled “50 Ways a Manager can get Employees to Quit.” (In case the title wasn’t clear enough, the piece gives us a list of 50 ways a manager can get – yes, you guessed it – his employees to quit. Or at least the ones who aren’t so desperate for a steady paycheck that they’ll cling to a job they hate. … Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

If you want to check out the original post, click here, but if you want to stick around, here’s the skinny:

I polled the other guys in my group and we built a damn good list of things that our IT manager did that led to him losing his $100K/year job. Note that I left a few specific things out because I don’t need anyone getting pinched. If you repeat these things successfully, you too will get your team to hate you. If you are a reporting to someone that does these things, print this and do the old Office Space under the door routine.

50. Assign enough projects with tight deadlines so that your team has no choice but to work a 60 hour week while you only work 30 hours
49. Cap overtime pay.
48. Do not offer project pay.
47. Constantly underestimate the time it takes to get things done and then penalize employees’ bonuses because they didn’t hit the goal.
46.Talk more than you listen.
45. Tell the team to begin planning for tons of deployments but never obtain the budget to actually implement any of them.
44. Don’t trust written time cards. Make employees email you when they get to the office so you can see a timestamp when they get in.
43. Always take sides in disputes instead of moderating.
42. Avoid looking people in the eye.
41. Reprimand employees in front of the entire team.
40. Hire someone that is very weak to take the place of a veteran and expect the same results from the team.
39. Reprimand Mark but don’t reprimand Tony when he makes the same error.
38. Consistency is good. Never ask you employees if they are challenged enough or want to take on more responsibility.
37. Make promises to internal customers but have no idea on the elements involved in getting the task done.
36. You know that Tony is a slacker, but he is really cool to hang out with so keep him around and give him good reviews.
35. Suzy can take 20 minute breaks instead of 10 because she’s a little cuter than Paul.
34. Give your employees 2nd tier systems to work with but expect top tier results.
33. Never cross train anybody on anything. The skills they walked in with are the skills they are leaving with.
32. Mandate a new policy without consulting a single person that will have to live with it.
31. Give employees low raises because the more you save, the higher your bonus.
30. When talking to an employee on the phone, type away at your email. That’s a great time to catch-up!
29. When someone comes to you with an issue regarding another employee, use a lot of big words to explain the situation but really take no interest or action.
28. Create a desk cleanliness policy.
27. When Suzy comes in late and leaves early, and we complain, do nothing about it.
26. Instead of offering to help hands-on, watch from a distance and provide support over email.
25. Mandate that the entire team use a single to-do list application simply because you think it’s best.
24. Make your best employees train the newbies for weeks at a time but insist that all deadlines be met.
23. Never answer your cell phone.
22. Never be the on-call guy to share in the team burden.
21. Have a group of employees that you get a long with and go out to lunch with while those that you don’t like get left out.
20. Send employees lots of chain letters, poems and other crap spam when they are hard at work.
19. Constantly give your employees vague project plans and get pissed when the result is not what you wanted.
18. Refuse to upgrade a system after the entire team asks for it and then be sure not to give a valid reason.
17. Blame everything on your boss because no one will ever call you on it.
16. Make all men wear ties.
15. Do not let employees expense cell phone use but require a cell phone number for the on-call guy.
14. Shut off access to Google and Ebay because it’s not “required for work”.
13. Never let employees hangout and use the corp. network to play games after hours.
12. Tell employees to do plan B because you will save $11 even though plan A is the safer, more efficient way to go.
11. I don’t care what they are working on. No one should get a monitor larger than yours
10. Insist employees come to your wife’s silly Barbecue.
9. Give advice on topics you are only partially educated in.
8. When the kudos are handed out, you should take the credit because you managed the team. Do not give credit to anyone else.
7. Monitor all phone use.
6. Charge someone .25 days off for a dentist appointment.
5. Lecture the team at least weekly.
4. Hold team meetings to provide updates even though the updates only pertain to one-third of team.
3. Buy the team lunch and always forget that Vegan in the corner…he’ll come around.
2. Make the team fill out self evaluations but provide very vague feedback on what they type.
1.Sleep with that girl Suzy on the team. No one will suspect she’s getting preferential treatment.

Um… wait… there are more than 50 on this list. Darn.

0. Call the redhead guy on the team Rusty. Everyone will laugh and you are sure to win their hearts.
-1. Make sure the cubicles are as close to each other as physically possible. The open areas surrounding the group will be used eventually.
-2. Make the entire team read a book and then set aside 3 hours to discuss it. This is sure to increase productivity.
-3. Let a couple people work from the house, but provide no reason for it or ways for others to obtain the right.
-4. Insist that employees complete projects that even you admit are worthless.

Here are a few more from F360 to make it an even 60:

-5. Hire. Fire. Hire. Fire. Hire. Fire. Keep that revolving door a-spinning. (There’s an endless supply of recent college grads willing to work 60 hours for piddles, so use it.)
-6. When something doesn’t go as well as you’d hoped, always pass the buck.
-7. Ask your staff to come in on weekends. (Tip: Start with one weekend here and there, until you bring them in at least one weekend per month… then two.) If you run out of reasons, start scheduling “team building” seminars and whatnot. (Why should employees have a family life when they could be helping each other tackle rope courses and “Survivor” style beach challenges all weekend?)
-8. After denying decent raises to deserving employees because “things are a bit tight,” show off your new luxury car and talk incessantly about how much of a pain in the butt that enormous new house you’re building is starting to become. (Those damn custom pools are a bitch on the landscaping.)
-9. Make no effort not to be clueless about your team’s projects when it’s just you and your people, but act like you’re 100% on top of things in front of your boss. For bonus points, act impatient with your team members anytime they can’t answer one of your irrelevant questions. After all, you’re a bit annoyed about having to do everything for them these days, and it’s cool to show the boss a little sliver of your human side.
-10. Deny any and all requests for additional training or certifications because there’s just no time for it.

Nothing will wreck a perfectly great team’s vibe faster than a boss who a) makes them feel exploited and unappreciated, b) makes them feel that they are being treated unfairly, and c) gets in their way when all they are trying to do is a great job.

Yeah, it’s that simple.

Still… what’s with the employee unhappiness thing going on these last two weeks?

Before you answer that, check out this blast from the past (and especially the wheel of customer service and brand identity doom… or whatever).

Maybe it’s a seasonal thing.

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Defining Success…

Here’s another Corante post from last week that I thought ought to get some play time here:

John Winsor points us to this post by Seth Godin today in which he poses this astute question: “What is success?

Per Seth:

“It’s a serious question. How do you know when you’re successful–when you have enough market share or profit or respect or money? How do you decide what success is?”

I’ve run into my share of people for whom success was simply owning a Porsche, a few great sets of golf clubs, and having a 6,000 sq.ft. house on the right golf course. I’ve met a few for whom success meant designing products or ads that would be used or seen by millions of people. For some, success is being on the cover of Vogue or Elle. It’s winning the Tour De France. It’s having your own sitcom. It’s celebrating 50 years of profitable business. It’s getting 5,000 hits per day… or 500,000. It’s hearing yourself on the radio three times an hour. It’s a title on your business card. It’s the corner office. It’s a 75-year wedding anniversary. It’s an award. It’s a 4.0 average. It’s the size of your garage or of your yacht or of your third home. It’s how much you can bench press. It’s beating the S&P. It’s being able to spend your own weight in cash every day for the rest of your life. It’s beating cancer. It’s winning a war. It’s curing Polio. It’s watching your kids grow up to be happy, well-adjusted adults. It’s serving 500 plates in an hour without making any mistakes. It’s getting a big fat check from a VC. It’s increasing profits or expanding operations to Asia. It’s rescuing every hostage. It’s fixing Social Security. It’s winning a Gold medal at The Games. It’s winning the election. It’s getting that promotion. It’s graduating. It’s getting the account. It’s breaking a record. It’s kicking heroin. It’s getting her to say yes. It’s winning the lottery. It’s walking on the Moon. It’s making your first dollar.

The thing is that every single one of those definitions of success is personal. These are all individual measures of success. They don’t involve other people’s expectations. They don’t involve the success of groups or organizations. And that’s precisely the rub.

Per Seth:

“Too often, we let someone else define success. Critics, for example, want a movie to be only modestly popular and modestly approachable. Geeks want your brand to be new and edgy. Alexa-watchers want you to be bigger than MySpace. Stock analysts want you to beat the numbers that they told you they wanted you to meet. Your boss wants you to show up a lot and work late, regardless of what you actually do for her… A lot of organizational conflict comes from mismatched expecations of success.”

More often than not, the definition of success is not well defined at the start of a project (which could be as simple as the design of a print ad or as complex as… well, I’ll just let your imagination fill-in the blank there). The project manager or CEO typically goes straight to the “goals” but forgets to take a few minutes to go around the room and poll his team (and/or his bosses) to a) find out how they all define success as it pertains to the project, and b) make sure everyone associated with it understands the many different elements that will either make the project successful, or not.

(Sales and profits are usually pretty important on the ROI list, but they aren’t always the end-all, be-all.)

Some measures of success may very well be “having the best _________ on the market,” or “having the coolest ______________ on the market,” or having “the most user friendly ______________ on the market,” or having “the most durable ______________ on the market.” The smallest digital camera. The flattest phone. The fastest assembly line in the world. The fastest flash card on the market. The most arresting ad campaign of the decade. It could be getting the most out of every penny in the budget, or getting designers and accountants to speak the same language. It could be a side-effect, like creating a cultural phenomenon, or giving birth to a fashion icon.

It can be hundreds of things. Thousands, even.

The point is that all of these things must be 1) communicated at the project’s launch, and 2) agreed upon by all relevant parties.

This is not something you can afford to skip.

“As we launch this new company, we will measure success thus…”

“As we launch this new product, we will measure success thus…”

“As you begin your new career, you will measure success thus…”

Simple concept, yet too often overlooked.


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Challenge of the I

Check out this very cool video of Joseph Jaffe discussing Marketing and new media as he arrives in Brussels (Belgium) for the Challenge of the I conference.

Speaking of Joe, here’s a little something I found on his blog that I liked a lot. The first 17 statements come from a post on “preserving the status quo” by Seth Godin, but 18-30 are his:

1. “That will never work.”
2. “… That said, the labor laws make it difficult for us to do a lot of the suggestions [you] put out. And we do live in a lawsuit oriented society.””
3. “Can you show me some research that demonstrates that this will work?”
4. “Well, if you had some real-world experience, then you would understand.”
5. “I don’t think our customers will go for that, and without them we’d never be able to afford to try this.”
6. “It’s fantastic, but the salesforce won’t like it.”
7. “The salesforce is willing to give it a try, but [major retailer] won’t stock it.”
8. “There are government regulations and this won’t be permitted.”
9. “Well, this might work for other people, but I think we’ll stick with what we’ve got.”
10. “We’ll let someone else prove it works… it won’t take long to catch up.”
11. “Our team doesn’t have the technical chops to do this.”
12. “Maybe in the next budget cycle.”
13. “We need to finish this initiative first.”
14. “It’s been done before.”
15. “It’s never been done before.”
16. “We’ll get back to you on this.”
17. “We’re already doing it.”

18. You have to understand…this is the [insert company name here] company
19. Be patient with us.
20. We move slowly, but we’ll get there.
21. You’ve obviously never worked in the [insert industry name here] industry
22. There just isn’t enough budget for change
23. Do you have best practices to go with that?
24. No one ever got fired for putting TV on the plan (yesterday’s excuse)
25. No one ever got fired for putting (traditional) Interactive on the plan (today excuse)
26. Our marketing mix modeling doesn’t incorporate the approaches you’re suggesting
27. Well that might work in [insert country A here], but this is [insert country B]
28. What you say is terrific, but it would just be too hard to implement
29. We need a certain amount of reach in order to be successful
30. Change is good…but not on my watch.

I think that #23 is my favorite. ;D

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