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Archive for the ‘management’ Category


Via OrangeYeti, from AdPulp, here is a little bit of an interview given by Maurice Levy (Publicis Groupe) to Scott Donaton (of Ad Age). If you’ve ever worked for a company that was so set in its ways that it had grown stale, you’ll understand what Levy is talking about:

“I have never stabilized an organization. Crystallizing an organization is freezing the energy. In chemistry, instability is very good because it creates some combinations you don’t expect.”

“Without change, there is fossilization,and that’s the worst thing that can happen.”

“Ideas,are so fragile, so tenuous, that managers must destroy layers that can obscure or damage them. If you have an organization that is too administrative, you are just killing the ideas. As we say in France, when you ask a committee to draw a horse, you get a camel.”

Read the full interview here.

So there you have it: As a business leader, look for flux. Look for tangents. Look for the unexpected. Recruit adventurously. Give your people the freedom and flexibility to contribute in the most personal, passionate of ways. Eliminate silos and procedures when it comes to the sharing of ideas. When it comes to dialogue. When it comes to cooperation. Decentralize “meetings”. Deconstruct the project ideation process. Empower your people to set the stage for extraordinary new products, business improvements, and creative work.

If you can’t trust your people enough to empower them, to literally give them the keys to the place, then you aren’t hiring the right people. Your job as a leader isn’t always to “lead”. Most of the time, because you aren’t there to bark orders or stand over everyone’s shoulder, it is simply to create an environment, an ecosystem, that allows your team, your army, to do the best possible work they can. It is to create a culture that makes them want to be a part of something greater than the sum of their job description. That makes them proud to be, even.

Ideas are fragile.

Without change, organizations die.

These are the two little mantras you should keep chanting every time you pick up the phone, or a magazine, or your TV remote. They should be in the back of your mind every time you shake someone’s hand or invite them to have a seat.

Embrace instability. Welcome change. Engage uncertainty. Welcome the unknown and love it for all of its infinite number of possibilities.

And they truly are infinite.

Chew on that. Have a great Friday. 😉

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Robert Killick on the need for intellectual curiosity and courage in the face of “unknowns” in today’s business leaders:

Risk was once seen as a catalyst for competitiveness, innovation and change in enterprise culture. Now it is seen as a negative barrier to be avoided with all sorts of precautionary measures. ‘Risk consciousness’ is the order of the day, but the preference to always dig up the dark side of humanity betrays a lack of faith in human reason. Curiosity and foolhardiness are often derided as irresponsible and egotistical traits, but the great heroes of the past have taken personal risks that benefit all of us.

Today, research and experimentation that does not have a measurable ‘positive effect’ is seen as irresponsible. Yet it is precisely through experimentation, risk – and, yes, mistakes – that some of the major scientific breakthroughs and technological inventions have come about. Without risky experimentation, and without individuals willing to take those risks in the pursuit of knowledge, we wouldn’t have aeroplanes, penicillin, MRI scans or X-rays.

The ability to handle risk – though technology, human ingenuity, reason and resilience – is a measure of modernity and it can only be achieved through more experimentation, not less. The hard won freedoms to creative expression, communication and to technological innovation should be treasured, and the twenty-first century should be when we take them even further.

Risk-adverse/risk-paralyzed leaders aren’t leaders at all. At best, they are followers promoted or appointed to positions they should have had enough common sense, integrity and professionalism to turn down.

Fact: Leaders “lead.” They take their companies in a specific direction and make sure that course corrections occur as needed along the way. Standing still, ignoring emerging market trends, rewarding business-as-usual strategies, waiting for competitors to make a move before testing the waters, or building protective walls around organizations are not examples of leadership.

No one is advocating making rash decisions of course, but in order for companies to be successful, their leaders must possess certain key personality traits – among them the essential combination of vision, courage and an unbreakable pioneering streak.

Bear this in mine when placing your bets on a company, new boss or potential candidates for an executive-level position.

Have a great week, everyone!

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Great post from Gavin Heaton over at Servant of Chaos this week about the changing face of business management. Gavin mentions an emerging new breed of business leader that might sound a little familiar if you’ve been paying attention to what our little community of Marketing+ bloggers has been talking about these last few years. Check this out:

By far, the most radical transformation will be the one thrust upon us by the generational change that is now under way. With 60 million baby boomers about to be replaced by 60 million Millennials, the workplace will never be the same again. Managing the “knowledge transfer” that needs to take place over the next 5-10 years will be a fundamental responsibility of the Business Designer.

What is a Business Designer, I hear you ask? Per Gavin:

The Business Designer does not sit in a creative studio. Rather, she operates across business units — touching marketing, customer service and new product design. The BD has a finger on the pulse of finance and lives cheek-by-jowl with the legal team. There is the touch of the management consultant in the way that the BD navigates the org chart — but also the fervour of the evangelist. She may be T-shaped. She may be a green egg. But above all, she is an experienced business professional. That’s right — she knows how to get things done.

The BD will perform the important role of “change manager” or perhaps “transformation manager” — for the domino-like changes that will occur in every facet of a business will change the nature of the enterprise. What has been rough and ready in the consumer space will become refined and repeatable in the business world for the BD will select and orchestrate the practices, tools and approaches that correspond with a company’s business strategy. Of course, this will breed a whole new round of innovation in the technology space — we have already begun to see this with Yammer, the business version of Twitter.

And there will be a corresponding transformation in the process of business, and the goals and approaches of groups charged with managing brand touch points. This goes without saying.

What’s the difference between a Business Designer and a traditional business manager? The way I look at it, the difference lies in a handful of subtle yet crucial traits exhibited by this new biz whiz breed:

1. The T-shaped trait: These folks combine a strong mix of Marketing Management and Experience Design, and understand the importance of storytelling, Brand Strategy, and Experience Design. They are gifted strategists with extremely well developed creative, communications and context-building skills. They are intellectually curious, deeply entrepreneurial problem solvers.

2. The Green Egg trait: Process improvement, an eye to new markets and a passion for Innovation are their biggest professional drivers. These folks are agents of change. These are the people who will take your company to the next level in its evolution (if you let them).

3. The “good enough” aversion trait: These folks are way too passionate to tolerate a “good enough” mentality. Their job is about much more than turning a crank and picking up a paycheck. They’re change agents – not for the sake of change, but for the sake of driving to necessary leaps in a business’ evolution.

4. They ideation trait: These folks bubble over with ideas. They sketch a lot. They prototype. They like to test out their ideas. They seek out peers who can help them bring their ideas to life. They tend to be gadget and accessories freaks, even if they only own a few. They are designers at heart, if not technically in practice.

5. The connected trait: These folks have connected with their time. They understand the underlying strategic shifts going on right now that will change the landscape that your company operates in. They are good at connecting the dots: By being plugged-in to the world today in ways that most are not, they can clearly see what the business landscape will look like in two, five and ten years. This gives them the ability to be the architects of your company’s future. You may frown at their interest in social media tools like Twitter, Seesmic, Yammer and Facebook, but these are the tools of their trade: This is how they connect with their peers, with information, and with the shifting tides that will drive the market changes that will either sink or remake your business in the next decade.

Here’s more on that from Gavin:

We are also reaching a certain maturity in the way that marketers work with social media. There are now case studies on the effectiveness of social media, there are tools that help us measure and react to conversations and there are an increasing number of corporate roles for “community managers” or even “directors of social media”.

In this environment, the focus is no longer on learning the tools, but on refining the way that we interact with them. It is about bringing social media into our businesses, integrating it with our other marketing efforts and focusing efforts in a way that deliver business results.

Read the whole post here.

I am glad you brought up the notion of this new type of business leader, Gavin. I’ve been trying to put my finger on this for a few years now. Still not quite there yet… But for those of us living at the intersection of Business Management, User & Community Engagement, Marketing Communications, Product Design, Innovation, and the evolution of Social Media tools, starting to put a name to the thing is way overdue. With most business leaders spending at least 85% of their time turning the crank and making sure their businesses run properly, who is in charge of actually driving the business to its next evolution? Department managers? Sales? The COO? The CMO? 15% or less of a business leader’s day potentially devoted to improving – not just running – their business. Scary. In a rapidly changing world/economy/market, it pays to have at least one person (better yet, a whole team of them) a) focusing on what’s next, and b) getting the business ready for it.

Does the opportunity for such folks exist as a layer between the CEO and the other C-suite execs (CMO, COO, CFO, Manufacturing, Design Engineering, Sales, etc.)  Is the role better suited to function as a team-based cluster of upper-mid-level Business Directors? Perhaps a Brand Czar who provides direction to all departments but answers directly to the CMO? Is there a better name for the role? Can this type of individual force an overhaul of the traditional corporate org chart?

Big tip of the hat for getting that discussion started, my friend.

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“The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”

– William Pollard.

That’s worth framing and hanging in every meeting room from Portland to Tahiti (via Paris).

Also, via Tom Asacker:

“Over time, unchanging relationships can turn into shackles that limit an organization’s flexibility and lock it into active inertia. Established relationships with customers can prevent firms from responding effectively to changes in technology, regulations, or consumer preferences.”

– Donald Sull (Revival of the Fittest: Why Good Companies Go Bad an How Great Managers Remake Them.)

Do you see where I’m going with this?

So… your new mission every day is to keep things fresh. That’s it. Whether you’re in the business of designing ads, repairing engines, selling shoes or answering calls from angry customers, don’t ever, ever, ever let routine set in. Try different things. Learn something new from every customer. From every sale. From every design challenge. From every product launch. From every commercial you hear on the radio. From every movie you catch on cable. From the games your kids play. From magazines you’ve never picked up.

Keep things fresh.

And go read Tom Asacker’s post on that very topic. It’s very good.

Have a great Monday, everyone.

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Enjoy this pretty astute presentation on Leadership vs. Management. (And yes, watch the whole thing.)
Then ask your boss whether he/she wants you to be a manager or a leader. (Sometimes, organizations aren’t clear on this point.) Maybe watch the presentation with them first, THEN ask them the question.
Just bear in mind that you’re either one or the other: Sure, you can’t be an effective manager without some leadership skills and you can’t be an effective leader without some management skills, but when it comes to ROLES, you can’t be both a leader and a manager. You have to make a choice.
What will your choice be?

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You must have long range goals to keep you from being frustrated by short range failures. (Charles Noble)

Sometimes though, it isn’t easy to sell long-range to managers who are more concerned with today’s numbers than next year’s. For them, next year doesn’t exist. It’s an abstraction. All that matters is what you did yesterday and what you are doing today. This is a difficult paradigm for those of us who spend more time planning than actually executing.

Ideally, as a business, program or project manager, you want to split your time and strategies between winning today’s battles and planning your overwhelming victory sometime in the future. (Maybe in 6 months. Maybe in a year. Maybe in five years. Who knows.) My point is that you can’t put all of your eggs in the “today” basket or in the “tomorrow” basket. It can’t be an 80/20 split either. It really needs to be a 50/50 (or 60/40) split one way or another.

If you spend considerably more time focusing on “today,” you will still be in the same spot a year from now – treading water – reacting to everything instead of influencing your business environment.

If you spend considerably more time focusing on “tomorrow,” then your execution suffers, nothing gets done, and you’ll never reap the rewards of all that meticulous planning you spent so much time on.

This may seem like common sense to most of you, but I can assure you that for tens of thousands of business managers in the US, the equation looks like 90/10 in favor of “today.” For these folks, “tomorrow” is something you might get to later, when you have a few minutes to breathe. This is not good.

Don’t wait until your car is completely out of gas to get a refill. Don’t wait until you have a 102 fever to call the doctor. Don’t wait until the morning of a test to study for it.

The world of business is no different.

image: Andrew Testa for the New York Times

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The thing about focus – call it a flaw if you will – is that you cannot focus on any one thing for very long. Every once in a while, you have to take a step back, either clear your head or look at the big picture, and return to whatever you were focusing on when you are ready to focus on it again.
“Sustained focus” is a very finite proposition. On a long enough timeline, all focus eventually fades and dies.
And unless you’re a chameleon, you can’t focus on more than one thing at once.
Therefore, you have to look at focus as a limited (see finite) endeavor.
Given enough time, the brain gets tired of burning a hole in a single idea, no matter how complex and entertaining.
Artists take a step back from their work. They let it sit overnight. They walk away and come back to ponder it. They purposely distance themselves from it in order to change their point of view. This is the same thing.
Whether you are a painter working on a fresco, a photographer looking through a camera’s viewfinder, a lab worker peering down at microscopic mites through an electron microscope, a Marine sniper keeping a target in his crosshairs, a tomato sorter in southern Spain, a bodybuilder in Austria, a creative director in Tokyo or a project manager here in the US, there comes a time when focus wanes. When you have to blink. When you have to take a break. When you have to give that focus a rest, if for twenty minutes or ten or five.

In the business world, “focus” is thus forced to become a relative term… much in the way that “quality” has become a relative term.

Relativity may work well in the world of physics, but when it comes to the business world, it is the thread that once pulled, begins to unravel the entire garment.
When you focus, boys and girls, make sure your focus is exactly that: 100% for short but effective durations. Take breaks. Create balance in your workflow – and just as importantly in your employees’ workflow.
Focus is NOT relative.
Have a great day, everyone.
image source: sandia.gov

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Mike Bawden (who was kind enough to quote me on his blog a while back) once wrote one of the simplest yet most astute observations about leadership that I have ever read:

Too many times business owners seem to be satisifed spending their careers as managers rather than leaders. When you see real leadership in action, you’re left in awe. Real leaders are active, engaged and motivating. They create an atmosphere that’s electric – both fun and productive.”

Well said.

Management is static. Management fosters a predictable business-as-usual , don’t-rock-the-boat, status-quo, bureaucratic environment.

Leadership is dynamic. It drives a business forward. It is unstoppable. You either commit to it and get on the train, or you get left behind.

Managers can become leaders, but managing and leading are far from the same thing.

There is no middle-ground.

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Making resolutions for a whole year seems so daunting… Which is probably why so few of us ever actually see them through.

Let’s see… Lose weight. Stop smoking. Eat better. Learn a foreign language. Take the dog to the park every day.

Yeah, right.

If there’s one thing we can probably all agree on about Western culture today, it’s this: More often than not, we tend to bite off a lot more than we can chew. (Often, literally.) We supersize everything: Houses. Cars. Shopping malls. Credit. Meals… and yes, even New Year’s Resolutions.

Maybe the lesson here is that the bigger the resolution, the less likely it is that we will actually make it happen. Likewise, the smaller the resolution, the more likely it is that we will accomplish our goal. (Losing 5 lbs by mid-February is a lot more likely a goal than say… losing 20lbs by July.)

Baby steps, grasshopper. Baby steps.

The process has to be incremental.

You have to start small.

Before you start thinking about your big goals for next year, before you start making your big resolutions, think about what you actually want to accomplish. Think about what you can realistically change once a day or once a week that will grow into something substantial by the end of the year. Don’t just go for pipe dreams. Don’t settle for what you think sounds good or grand or courageous.

Don’t fall into that trap again.

Resolutions aren’t about the finish line. They’re about taking responsibility for the changes that will get us there. They also have to find their relevance in our everyday lives.

If you’re at a loss for small resolutions when it comes to your professional world in 2008, here are a few simple ones you will find as rewarding as they are attainable. They can even be passed on to your employees and colleagues. You don’t have to follow them, but they aren’t a bad place to start. If only one will inspire you to make lasting changes this year, then this post wasn’t in vain.

Here we go:

1. On the Frontlines: Every day, do something special for two customers. One in the morning, and one in the afternoon. That’s it. Just two. It doesn’t matter what it is. Give one a 10% discount on her purchase. Give another a gift card or coupon for their next purchase. Send their sick mother a bouquet of flowers. Upgrade their room reservations. Give them free concert tickets. Whatever. The idea isn’t to win everyone over in the first month. You don’t want to burn yourself out. You also don’t want to eat into your company’s margins. You just want to make two friends each day. Surprise them. Wow them. Just because you can. Plant little seeds of love.

Not one or three or ten. Two. That’s it. Everyone else gets your best, but just not the extra V.I.P. treatment. (Pretty soon, you’ll wish you could treat ten people to it, and twenty, and fifty… and the way you look at your customers will change. The way you interract with them will change too. For the better. But one thing at a time.)

Baby steps.

2. In the Ivory Tower: Once a week, pick one customer complaint and personally respond to it. Pick up the phone. Write a letter. Do it yourself. This shouldn’t be a drag. It shouldn’t be a hassle. If you don’t care enough about your customers to do this one thing, something isn’t right. Look into the complaint. Find out what caused the failure in the first place. Find out what it would take to fix the problem. Make it happen.

One per week. That’s it.

Yep, baby steps.

3. In the Creative Suite: Keep your outlook fresh. Once a month, go watch kids play. (No, not in a creepy way.) Go spend twenty minutes at a McDonald’s or a park playground or at an interactive toy store. Watch how kids interact with objects. Watch their hands, especially. Then go home, grab a #2 pencil and sketch a shape that kids would love to hold and fiddle with. Design a new toy with no moving parts. Mold it out of clay. Take pictures of it. Recreate it in photoshop or paintshop or whatever graphics program you feel comfortable with. Play with colors and textures. Imagine tastes and smells. Design packaging for it. Create ads and brochures for, just for fun.

Yeah, just for fun.

If you can’t find any kids, design a dog toy.

Design a food bowl for cats.

Design a perch for cockatiels.

A doorknob.

A new shifter for your car.

A belt buckle.

A toothbrush.

Even if you’re a copywriter, even if you have zero skill as a graphic artist, do this. Once a month, complete a project that is yours and yours alone. Explore your own creativity. Keep the process fresh. Hone your creative skills.

4. Managers: Once a week, ask “what if?”

What if we didn’t make customers jump through hoops to return defective merchandise?

What if we designed cooler retail spaces?

What if we trained our employees better?

What if we did something that none of our competitors ever did before?

What if we rewrote the rules?

Each week, ask a question, and find the answer. If the questions are too big, then make it once a month.

Learn what works, what doesn’t, and why. Learn your company’s strengths and limitations. Learn what stands in the way of your organization’s growth. Perhaps more importantly, learn about your own strengths and weaknesses. Learn about your own limitations and how to overcome them. Finally, learn about turning management skills into true leadership.

5. Everyone: Don’t settle for average work. Ever. Don’t settle for good enough. Don’t settle for safe or comfortable. Always stretch the current limits of your talents. Always be on the lookout for new approaches. New methods. New ideas. You’ll be surprised at how much new ground you’ll break if every day, you push your own limits just a little bit. One word at a time. One concept at a time. One sketch at a time. One spreadsheet at a time. One question at a time.

Giving your customers or clients something to talk about – extraordinary service, memorable experiences, top notch products, etc. – is a decision you have to make every single day. Every single minute.

It isn’t about grand declarations of intent. It’s about the small decisions you choose to make throughout the day.

Baby steps. Baby steps.

Lastly, here’s a simple new year’s resolution for you: Just be better.

You don’t have to suddenly become a superhuman version of yourself. You don’t have to win the Nobel Prize. You don’t have to cure world hunger. You don’t have to write the Great American Novel. You don’t have to lose 200 lbs. You don’t have to be the supadoopah. Just be better.

A little better.

Not six months from now. Not three weeks from now. Just a few times today… and tomorrow… and the day after. That’s it. That’s all it takes.

Baby steps, kids.

Itty bitty ones.

If those don’t work for you, that’s okay. Check out Tom Asacker’s resolutions here. Yeah, they’re two years old, but they’re excellent.

To leave comments (and read previous, related posts) hit the brandbuilder’s main page.

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Found on Kottke:

How America Lost the War on Drugs, a history of the United States government’s efforts to stop its citizens from using illegal substances, primarily crack, heroin, and methamphetamines. Quite long but worth the read.

“All told, the United States has spent an estimated $500 billion to fight drugs – with very little to show for it. Cocaine is now as cheap as it was when Escobar died and more heavily used. Methamphetamine, barely a presence in 1993, is now used by 1.5 million Americans and may be more addictive than crack. We have nearly 500,000 people behind bars for drug crimes – a twelvefold increase since 1980 – with no discernible effect on the drug traffic.”

It’s not that hard to see how things got off the rails here. Dealing with the supply of drugs is ineffective (it’s too lucrative for people to stop selling and too easy to find countries which seek to profit from it) but provides the illusion of action while attacking the problem from the demand side, which appears to be more effective, comes with messy and complex social problems. What a waste. The bits about meth & the lobbying efforts by the pharmaceutical industry and the medical marijuana crackdowns are particularly maddening.

This kind of reminds me of some of the political solutions you sometimes find in failing companies with deep pockets – like hiring some high-priced Marketing “consultant” to rewrite the Mission Statement and the company tagline while pretending that the more money is spent on the project, the more likely it is to have positive impact on the company’s bottom-line.

Logic: “We’re spending almost $200K on this new tagline and mission statement! Of course we’ll see some results!”

Don’t even get me started.

By the way, you can replace the above amount as well as this new tagline with anything you want and end up with the same result:

“We’re spending almost $–(A)– on —(B)—. Of course we’ll see some results!”

I can hear the end-of-year review already: “So, Bob, tell us what you’ve accomplished these last twelve months.”

“Well, Chuck, we’ve spent a quarter million dollars revamping our various corporate logos, and another two hundred thousand on updating our corporate tag-line. It took a little longer than expected due to budget restrictions and it tied up my staff more than we’d feared since we have fewer folks than I’d like to get this done properly, but we finally got it finished – on budget and on schedule. (Smile. Bow. Invite applause.) We are now looking at the next phase of our project which will involve hiring the country’s biggest PR firm and hottest ad agency to develop new media, com and marketing plans for all of our divisions. What we need are new ideas. A fresh outlook. A truing-up of our path for the future. We’re going to start from scratch and breathe new life into our brand(s). We’re also looking at some prescriptive retasking of multiplatform assets in order to maximize our groups’ potential aligned mutual self-interest blah blah blaehhhh…”

Translation: I figured out how to spend every cent in my budget on things that sound relevant and awe-inspiring… and need to ask for more money next year so I can pull the same crap again only better… at least until I get recruited by the next board o’ suckas.

Whatever. Political solutions may sound great, and they certainly cost loads of money and involve plenty of people with cool titles and Fortune 50 companies on their resumes… but they always flop because they are nothing but a whole lot of hot air.

Like guys who hire in as SVP of this or that and can tell you who they’ve worked for (I was VP of XYZ at Disney, and then moved to Apple, where I managed their ABC business, and then spent six years at GE serving as Senior VP of Marketing in their (whatever) group, then hopped on over to Apple Computers where I headed their technical services division and then…) but couldn’t tell you what they actually accomplished during their twenty-year career.

“What did you actually do, though? What did you change? What did you contribute? What did you build?”

“Um… I was Senior Vice President of Sales at…”

*Sigh*

“Illusion of action” is one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to the business world. Or the world of politics, for that matter.

We all know someone in our professional sphere of influence who spends most of their day doing nothing but has become an expert in either looking busy or creating the illusion that they actually do something valuable. What we are talking about here is the same thing but on a much grander scale.

Business students, listen up: Just because someone is an SVP or CEO or COO of this or that doesn’t mean they a) aren’t lazy, b) aren’t as dense as a bag of hammers, and c) lack any semblance of common sense and/or professionalism. Some people (many, in fact) really do get promoted to the fullest level of their incompetence and greed. Here’s what I am talking about (from CNN Money, by way of the Brains on Fire blog):

“In August and September, as his company is racking up the largest quarterly loss in its 93-year history, Merrill Lynch CEO Stanley O’Neal squeezes in 20 rounds of golf, including three rounds on three different courses in a single day. In October, O’Neal announces his “retirement,” walking away with a compensation package valued at $161.5 million.”

“Just hours after US Airways comes up short in its $9.8 billion bid to acquire Delta, CEO Doug Parker is pulled over by police in Scottsdale, and arrested for drunken driving.”

“In July, as Bear Stearns executives futilely attempt to prop up two hedge funds that ultimately collapse amid the subprime meltdown, CEO James Cayne spends ten of 21 workdays out of the office, playing golf and competing in a bridge tournament in Tennessee. According to The Wall Street Journal, his fellow bridge enthusiasts claim that Cayne sometimes smokes marijuana at the end of tournament sessions.”

“John Griffin, CEO of a Livermore, Calif., startup, pockets about $750,000 of seed capital after lying to investors lured by the company’s promise to develop a “dirt eater” to clean toxic soil. After reportedly spending the money on such necessities as a Ferrari, Super Bowl tickets, and steroids, Griffin is sentenced to 30 months in prison. The name of the startup: VaporTech.”

‘”I like Mackey’s haircut. I think he looks cute.” — Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, posting under the screen name Rahodeb, on a Yahoo Finance stock forum. The Federal Trade Commission reveals that Mackey authored this and numerous other posts over an eight-year period, hyping his company and himself while trashing the competitor he hoped to acquire, Wild Oats. “

“HBO President Chris Albrecht allegedly punches and chokes his girlfriend while drunk at 3 A.M. in a Las Vegas parking lot. “

“In July, bankrupt Northwest Airlines begins laying off thousands of ground
workers, but not before issuing some of them a handy guide, “101 Ways to Save
Money.” The advice includes dumpster diving (“Don’t be shy about pulling
something you like out of the trash”), making your own baby food, shredding old
newspapers for use as cat litter, and taking walks in the woods as a low-cost
dating alternative.”

“After Bank of America announces plans to outsource 100 tech support jobs from the San Francisco Bay Area to India, the American workers are told that they must train their own replacements in order to receive their severance payments.”

I am not making this up. Here’s more:

“In April, just nine months after a Business 2.0 cover story trumpets the wisdom of Raytheon CEO William Swanson and his folksy hit book, Swanson’s Unwritten Rules of Management, a San Diego engineer makes a shocking discovery: 17 of Swanson’s 33 rules are similar – and in some cases identical – to those in The Unwritten Rules of Engineering, a 1944 text by UCLA professor W.J. King. While conceding that he failed to give proper credit, Swanson insists he didn’t intend to plagiarize, suggesting that old photocopied material may have wound up in his “scraps.” By way of punishment, Raytheon’s board freezes Swanson’s salary at its 2005 level of $1.1 million and cuts his restricted stock grant by 20 percent.”

“In April, while under investigation for allegedly establishing a slush fund to bribe public officials, Chung Mong-Koo, chairman of South Korea’s Hyundai-Kia Motor Group, says “I am sorry” more than 30 times during a brief encounter with reporters. To make amends, Chung and son Chung Eui-Sun, president of Kia Motors, offer to donate $1 billion to charity. Spirit of giving notwithstanding, Chung Mong-Koo is jailed for two months and tried on charges of misappropriating hundreds of millions of dollars.”

“Dodging investors angry over the pay received by Home Depot chairman and CEO Robert Nardelli, who took home at least $120 million over five years as the company’s stock price dropped 12 percent, Home Depot’s board fails to show up at its annual shareholders meeting. The session is presided over solely by Nardelli, who sidesteps all questions (“This is not the forum in which we would address your comment”) and cuts the meeting short after half an hour. The event’s negative fallout, highlighted by demonstrators wearing chicken costumes and orange Home Depot aprons, leads Nardelli to announce days later that, for next year’s meeting, “we will return to our traditional format … with the board of directors in attendance.” Nardelli resigns in early January, walking away with another $210 million in severance.”

“In the midst of corporate America’s scandal du jour – the backdating of stock options to enrich company executives – the Wall Street Journal discovers that William McGuire, CEO of UnitedHealth Group, received options on dates coinciding with the company’s lowest share prices of 1997, 1999, and 2000. After a company inquiry finds backdating to have been “likely” (the odds of this happening by chance are around 1 in 200 million), McGuire steps down and agrees to give up about $200 million in proceeds.”

“In an effort to top UnitedHealth in the annals of backdating, executives at Comverse Technology are alleged not only to have backdated their own options but to have invented fake employees to receive grants as well. In a 35-count federal indictment, prosecutors claim that CEO Jacob Alexander used a slush fund under the name I.M. Fanton to make awards as he saw fit. Alexander flees the country but is taken into custody in Namibia after a six-week international manhunt.”

“Not to be outdone by UnitedHealth and Comverse, cable-TV operator Cablevision Systems admits in a regulatory filing that it granted stock options to a corpse. The company awarded the rights to purchase thousands of shares to former vice chairman Marc Lustgarten, despite the fact that he died in 1999; the options included provisions that allowed them to pass to his estate.”

“After leading videogame-console startup Gizmondo to nearly $400 million in losses and a bankruptcy filing, edgy entrepreneur Stefan Eriksson wrecks his $1 million Ferrari Enzo in a crash in Malibu in February.Eriksson tests above the blood-alcohol limit but tells police that he wasn’t driving, and that the driver, “Dietrich,” ran into the hills after the crash. It’s soon discovered that Eriksson’s wrecked Enzo is actually owned by a British bank, and two more cars he claims to own, another Enzo and a Mercedes McLaren, have been reported stolen in England. Eriksson pleads no contest to embezzlement and drunk driving charges and is sentenced to three years in jail.”

“Former Wal-Mart vice chairman Thomas Coughlin – whose compensation from salary, bonuses, and stock grants totaled several million dollars per year – is discovered to have cooked up fraudulent expense invoices in a scam to siphon off $500,000 over the course of seven years. Coughlin, who reportedly told enabling subordinates that he was using the funds for a secret antiunion initiative, pleads guilty and is sentenced to more than two years of home confinement.”
“Mike Smith, mayor of New Lenox, Ill., pays a $1,462 tab at a strip club with his official village credit card. By way of explanation, he says none of the other attendees had the means to pay the bill.”

These are people who run some of the world’s most prestigious Fortune 500 companies. Thank goodness for the good ones.

*sigh*

Beware the person who makes it a habit to create the illusion of action. Aside from the fact that this type of person is at best dead weight in your organization, they will also invariably drag it down at some point during their tenure. This could be a specialist on your team, a mid-level manager, a department director or a senior exec. Lazy is lazy. Greedy is greedy. Unprofessional is unprofessional.

Learn to recognize the signs of a company killer, and this is one less thing you’ll have to worry about.

Have a great Wednesday, everyone. 😉

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The dehumanization of air travel is finally taking its toll on some of the most fundamental ways in which people interact with each other. The airlines (and this includes their human touch-points) create an atmosphere devoid of compassion, smiles and care for our comfort and experience. Over time, we start emulating this lack of human warmth by becoming removed from one another.

Thus, an industry (in this case the majority of airline companies/brands), through its broad reach into our culture, can in effect change the very mechanics of human interactions.

Cause and effect –

It’s been about a year and a half since I’ve had the joy of flying from coast to coast via the friendly skies, and I wasn’t exactly complaining about it. Still, I kind of dig the left coast, so whenever work or pleasure give me an opportunity to check out the Pacific Ocean from our lovely shores, I usually jump at the chance.

So here I am, in San Jose/Fremont/San Francisco (yes, all at once – or something like that) after a relatively uneventful three-airport hop-along that started at 4:00am Monday morning in Greenville, SC, and ended on time (surpisingly) in in sunny San Jose, CA.

That’s right: On time.

I experienced exactly zero delays. Sure, the planes were ridiculously full, but I guess that’s good so I can’t complain about that.

And we didn’t crash, which is always nice too.

All in all, I have to say that Delta Airlines – which I’ve had a tolerate-hate relationship with for years now – did better than I expected. They even kept me hydrated and snacked (“fed” would be pushing the semantics) throughout my impossibly uncomfortable flight over these beautiful United States.

And that is where I have to hit on a cliche of air travel, but dammit, would it hurt commercial aeroplane designers (yes, I’ve decided to spell it the British way) to develop seats actually DESIGNED FOR HUMAN BEINGS? Let’s go through this again: I am 6′. I weigh 165lbs. Compared to most American men I share a pressurized cabin with, I am nowhere near “big.” Yet, my seats today were so small and caved-in that I couldn’t find a comfortable position for even ten minutes. (My neck is killing me.)

And this comes from a guy who spends upwards of 3 hours on a time-trial bicycle, mind you.

Aside from the lack of comfort (or should I say – complete victory of discomfort-inspired design), there is the issue of space management: It’s bad enough that seats are designed to keep you awake for the entire trip and ensure weeks of headaches and neck pain, but they’re also too narrow and close together. It is physically impossible to do anything with your elbows except a) shove them violently into your neighbors’ skulls in a snarling fit of air rage, of b) hunker down and curl your spine into a crooked little ball so that your elbows may rest peacefully on your thighs.

For five f#$%ing hours. Great.

“Would you like crackers or peanuts, sir?”

Ungh… As soon… as… I… uncurl myself…

But that’s nothing new. The comfortable coach seats of the Super Caravelles are a thing of the past, so there is really no point in dwelling on the instruments of torture designed to keep us “safely” secured during flight while maximizing passenger volume per flight – which, after all, is all that matters: Get as many of us sorry saps on a plane as inhumanly possible.

Trust me, if airlines could find a way to stack us on top of each other to double a plane’s capacity, they would. (Hey, if that meant having a cot instead of a seat, I’m all for it. Strap me in!)

No, what’s new is the apathy I ran into today. It was kind of a numbness to things which, as someone who grew up in a big crowded city, I find a bit odd. Typically, a person reacts in some way to unpleasantness, like getting bumped by someone on the street for example… but I find that human behavior in airports now no longer answers to the same set of rules that we normally live by out here in the real world.

Next time you’re in an airport (or on a plane,) try this little Fight Club-ish experiment: Bump into somebody. Bump into them hard. Hard enough to knock them forward or back or sideways. Bump into them so they have to take a step to keep themselves from falling – and keep going. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t apologize. Just go about your business as if the person you bumped into didn’t exist.

But have someone watch their reaction for you.

Bad mojo, and the tragic fate of manners –

What I found today is that in an airport or on a plane, people will completely ignore one another even if they bump into each other, kind of like the way cows ignore each other while they are grazing. I also never noticed how much people in airports and on aeroplanes (British spelling again) bump into other people. It’s insane. Traveling has officially become a full contact sport.

There’s the guy whose backpack collides with your shoulder as he tries to squeeze by during the boarding process (for whatever reason since his seat is already assigned and we aren’t leaving until everyone is on board – so what’s the rush?). There’s the guy who finds a way to kick you in the toes while walking up the aisle to go take a leak – even though your foot is safely tucked in under the seat in front of you. (How he manages to do this, I have no earthly idea. Retractable evil clown shoes is all I can come up with.) There’s the woman whose out-of-control waddling knocks your arm off your seat’s armrest just as you were finally drifting off to sleep. And then there’s the murderous snack cart of doom, with its blunt edges and 1500 pounds of hammered steel fury cold-heartedly coming down the aisle. Yeah. Getting smacked in the elbow by surprise with this infernal bone-crushing instrument of Hades is always the highlight of any cross-country flight.

But seriously: Put us (Homo-Sapiens) anywhere near an airport, and we start to bump into each other like Vista screensaver bubbles. Either – as a species – our peripheral vision is getting worse (in which case we need to get the human genome project working on that, stat!) or we’re turning into bumbling morons who can’t even stand up anymore without f%&#ing that up too. Who knows. It might be the next logical step in our idiocratic de-evolution.

What I do know is this: When I was but a wee little French boy, I was taught something called “manners.” Don’t ask me to explain what manners are. It’s too complicated… But they have something to do with being polite and considerate of others whenever possible. Manners involve doing things like saying “please” and “thank you.” They involve – at least in the Western world – not burping in the company of others, not being ruthlessly flatulent (especially in a car or an aeroplane), and not saying bad words like f%*k or s&!t around your grandparents unless they say them first. Manners are what keep you from chewing with your mouth open or cutting in line at the movie theater, or treating people like they are cattle.

Manners, as far as I remember (and I am not that old) also involve apologizing when you bump into someone. Here’s an example:

*Bump* *Eye contact.* *Embarrassed expression on your face* “Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to bump into you.” *compassionate and apologetic smile* *exit*

That’s right: When you bump into someone, the civilized thing to do is to make eye contact, give the offended party a sad facial expression, and verbally apologize. Flatly, even, if need be.

You know that apathy I mentioned earlier? It apparently applies to manners as well: Not only do people seem to no longer try not to bump into each other in the first place, but they also don’t seem to give a flying monkey’s arse about apologizing when they do. They simply go on with their bumbling self-absorbed iPod-adorned biz as if the bump hadn’t happened at all.

At the mall, in the street, at work, people apologize to each other when they accidentally collide. Heck, they do all sorts of crazy things to avoid collisions in the first place. But in airports or at 35,000 feet, their behavior changes. Which brings me to this conclusion: If people’s behavior is impacted by their environment, what is it about our nation’s airports and air travel experience that makes so many of folks act like selfish apathetic oafs?

Cause and effect: Policies of dehumanization and the downward spiral of human interactions –

Earlier, I used bovine imagery to describe certain people. That was not an accident. Treat people like cattle, and sooner or later, they will start acting like cattle. Treat people like a commodity, and sooner or later, they start treating each other like a commodity. That’s just science.

The dehumanization of air travel is finally taking its toll on some of the most fundamental ways in which people interact with each other: The airlines (and this includes their human touch-points) create an atmosphere devoid of compassion, smiles, and care for our comfort and experience. At some point, we started emulating this lack of human warmth by becoming removed from one another to the point of being patently apathetic and rude… And we let it happen.

Thus, through a series of deliberate decisions regarding simple business functions like HR and customer service, an industry (in this case, the majority of airline companies/brands), through its broad reach into our culture, in effect began to change the very mechanics of human interactions.

The Silver Lining and a bit of common sense –

That’s scary and sad… but it’s also a little bit exciting because it means that the opposite can also be true: On the flip side, an industry (or a brand, if influential enough) can create an atmosphere of good will which will be contagious in the very same way.

An airline with friendly staff, comfortable seats, a painless back-to-front boarding process (come on people, is that so hard to figure out?!), in-flight snacks that don’t make us feel like we’re being nickeled-and-dimed, and maybe even flight attendants who don’t look like Wal-Mart greeters, don’t act like we spat in their ham sandwich, and (one can dream) actually treat passengers like valued customers instead of a pain in their arses might balance things out and restore civilized behavior in and around airports. Maybe.

An airline like that might even help rescue the entire industry by setting a shining example for everyone, and setting a new – achievable – set of standards.

Am I dreaming? Am I naive? Don’t even go there. Here’s my take on this: A smile doesn’t cost a thing.

Not

one

red

cent.

The lack of smiles across the majority of an organization, however, can cost you the death of a brand – at the very least.

It isn’t rocket science.

A smile is never a detail.

The value of vision, the role of standards, and what we should really worry about –

Fifteen years ago, I used to fly Sabena, Delta, PanAm, and British Caledonian between the US and Europe. Back then, flight attendants were good looking, friendly, professional, proud of their airlines and their occupation, and always willing to help passengers have a comfortable (if not pleasant) experience. Don’t even try to call me shallow for mentioning good looking as an element of my list. Airlines, just like the military once had standards which make sense in light of what they are trying to accomplish: While the military once had high standards in regards to physical fitness, the airlines had high standards in terms of passenger experience. Both made sense then, and still do now. Yet, here we are.

I guess this is what happens when you allow your standards as a brand, as an organization, as the practical execution of someone’s vision, to go down the drain. Where flight attendants were once attractive, energetic, friendly, pleasant people, they now tend to be aging, bitter-acting, unpleasant air scrooges with a chip on their shoulder and a fading ability to smile.

Where air travel was once a glamorous, exciting, relatively painless experience, it has now become the absolute worst way to travel in the US. Taking the bus is more fun than flying, and that’s saying something because bus systems in this country aren’t exactly great.

But beyond all that, my saddest observation from this dull, uncomfortable, disappointing day of unpleasantness wasn’t the fact that the flight attendants were mildly ill-mannered old ladies with painted-on eyebrows and mismatched uniforms in need of a good pressing. It wasn’t the fact that the seats were three sizes too small. It wasn’t even even the fact that I got scraped, bumped, kicked and shoved without even the hint of an apology or acknowledgment from any of the offending parties. No, it was something infinitely more subtle than that – but much scarier in light of all of this, because it speaks to the depth of apathy that we are now reaching as an airport-dwelling society: As we were flying over some of the most breathtaking deserts and canyons that went on for miles and miles and miles – and I am talking National Geographic cover-worthy landscapes here; absolutely stunning stuff – no one on the plane seemed to care. People just sat there in their uncomfortable seats, eyes glued to their laptop screens or the latest exciting issue of Sky Mall or just staring blankly into space while these gorgeous landscapes glided by. I walked up and down the plane, looking for a better vantage point since I had an aisle seat, and watched as traveler after traveler, curious about what I was looking at through their portholes, glanced down at the gorgeous mosaic of colors and textures carved out by millions of years of planetary evolution… and looked away, bored and unimpressed.

That level of apathy and emotional disconnect surprised me… and made me a little sad.

It’s one thing for people to stop being cordial and compassionate towards each other. But when people start not caring about powerful, genuine beauty when it is right there in front of them, then I think there’s reason to worry.

We’re losing something here. Something we should fight a little harder to hold on to because we can’t afford for it to slip away.

What does any of this have to do with brands? I’ll tell you:

Brands do not reflect cultures; they affect them.

As brand stewards, give some thought to the impact that your brand (from a personal microbrand to a global megabrand) has had on people in the past, what impact it has on people now, and what impact you want it to have on people for decades to come. Is your brand contributing to a broken system and a downward spiral of apathy, or to an improvement in people’s quality of life?

This line of thinking may not seem as black and red as your P&L report, but it is well worth thinking about because it is at the core of everything your brand stands for.

And if your brand stands for nothing, it is nothing more than a complete waste of space.

So at the very least, try to instill in your employees, clients, co-workers, and customers a sense that smiles are contagious. That they are good for business in the same way that they are good for the soul. That without genuine human interactions, without emotional engagement between you, your brand, and your audience, you have failed not only as a brand steward, but also as a human being, which is a whole lot of failure.

In short, make us care – by showing us you do.

Smile. Say thank you. Say please. Say sorry. Chew with your mouth closed. Open the door for ladies. Give up your seat on a crowded bus. And perhaps most important of all, don’t squeeze out a toxic cloud of digested chili cheese taco in a crowded place without at least apologizing for your lack of manners.

It’s the little things, after all.

Have a great Wednesday, everyone. 😉

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Below is some pretty delicious advice from Jim Buckmaster (CEO of Craiglist), courtesy of Lucy Kellaway, via AdPulp, from an Orange Yeti link. (whew.)

  • Listen to what users want. Try to make the site faster and better.
  • Hire good people. “We work hard trying to get the right kind of folks.” It pays off: they hardly ever leave.
  • No meetings, ever. “I find them stupefying and useless.”
  • No management programmes and no MBAs. “I’ve always thought that sort of thing was baloney.”
  • Forget the figures. “We are consistently in the black, so if we do better or worse in any given quarter it is absolutely irrelevant.”
  • Occasionally, give people “a very gentle nudge”. This can be done over lunch or on the instant messaging boards.
  • He doesn’t reply to any of his 100 daily messages, most of which beg Craigslist to do a deal. “I’m not real chatty on e-mail.”
  • Put speed over perfection: “Get something out there. Do it, even if it isn’t perfect.”
  • “Don’t screw it up by doing things that make people feel worse about their work.”

The speed over perfection thing is a bit iffy in my little world, but I can respect the spirit behind the momentum Jim is after with this philosophy: Sometimes, speed is a whole lot more important than perfection. (You can always upgrade your product later if needed.)

Have a great Wednesday, everyone. 😉

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Via OrangeYeti, from AdPulp, here is a little bit of an interview given by Maurice Levy (Publicis Groupe) to Scott Donaton (of Ad Age). If you’ve ever worked for a company that was so set in its ways that it had grown stale, you’ll understand what Levy is talking about:

“I have never stabilized an organization. Crystallizing an organization is freezing the energy. In chemistry, instability is very good because it creates some combinations you don’t expect.”

“Without change, there is fossilization,and that’s the worst thing that can happen.”

“Ideas,are so fragile, so tenuous, that managers must destroy layers that can obscure or damage them. If you have an organization that is too administrative, you are just killing the ideas. As we say in France, when you ask a committee to draw a horse, you get a camel.”

Read the full interview here.

So there you have it: As a business leader, look for flux. Look for tangents. Look for the unexpected. Recruit adventurously. Give your people the freedom and flexibility to contribute in the most personal, passionate of ways. Eliminate silos and procedures when it comes to the sharing of ideas. When it comes to dialogue. When it comes to cooperation. Decentralize “meetings”. Disconstruct the project ideation process. Empower your people to set the stage for extraordinary new products, business improvements, and creative work.

If you can’t trust your people enough to empower them, to literally give them the keys to the place, then you aren’t hiring the right people. Your job as a leader isn’t always to “lead”. Most of the time, because you aren’t there to bark orders or stand over everyone’s shoulder, it is simply to create an environment, an ecosystem, that allows your team, your army, to do the best possible work they can. It is to create a culture that makes them want to be a part of something greater than the sum of their job description. That makes them proud to be, even.

Ideas are fragile.

Without change, organizations die.

These are the two little mantras you should keep chanting every time you pick up the phone, or a magazine, or your TV remote. They should be in the back of your mind every time you shake someone’s hand or invite them to have a seat.

Embrace instability. Welcome change. Engage uncertainty. Welcome the unknown and love it for all of its infinite number of possibilities.

And they truly are infinite.

Chew on that. Have a great Wednesday. 😉

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I was browsing Upstate Magnet yesterday (a small local business publication), and came up on this great little one-page article written by Jack Smalley (SPHR with Express Personnel).

Having seen top performers leave organizations time and time again, Jack’s points seemed sadly familiar. I have encountered them all myself, and I have to admit that each one of these can consitute a good reason for even the most talented, hard-working employee or manager to go seek greener pastures. Combine any two or three – or all five – and you can expect to spend a whole lot of your HR department’s time searching and hiring top talent to replace the folks you weren’t savvy enough to hold on to in the first place.

Here are six things your company may be doing to chase away top talent:

1. There is no link between pay and performance.

High performers expect to be rewarded for their effort. They also expect to be rewarded regardless of where they stand in the “pay scale” for their position. These people expect to be better compensated than someone who is not performing at their level. If you want average, stagnant performers, give them average, stagnant compensation. If you want to retain high performers, find ways to make them feel that they aren’t wasting their time providing you with superior work.

Several years ago, a friend found out that a co-worker whose job was exactly the same as hers was making significantly more than she was. This co-worker spent most of his day checking his stocks, surfing the web and talking to his friends on the phone. While her work exceeded expectations, his lagged – but their boss liked him better. Her decision to go work for someone else was triggered by the realization that there was no correlation between pay and performance.

2. They don’t perceive advancement opportunities.

Top performers are usually looking over the horizon. They may be well compensated, have great benefits and like what they do, but if they ever come to the conclusion that there is nothing to strive for, or that management is holding them back (either for selfish department reasons or personal resentment) they will seek and find the opportunity they desire… elsewhere.

I have seen the personal resentment factor ruin many an organization, and I can’t help but shake my head at this kind of nonsense every time. If I had a dollar for every manager who purposely held back top talent because they felt threatened by their success, I could… well, I could probably fill up my gas tank. Advancement ceilings – whatever their reasons may be – are never a good situation if you plan on holding on to top people.

3. Their contributions are not recognized.

Some of the greatest rewards are those that don’t involve money. Recognition among co-workers and industry peers is a super motivational tool for performers who exceed expectations.

How difficult is it to say thank you, give someone an ataboy and brag someone up from time to time? I mean really. Is it so hard? These things are all simple, easy, painless and free.

4. Management has unclear or unrealistic expectations.

The best performers want to know what they are supposed to do, how they are supposed to do it, and most importantly, WHY they are supposed to do it that way. When any of these conditions becomes unclear, the best of the best will want clarity and accountability. If management is not a resource for the top performers, they will start to lose respect for management. Once this happens, good luck trying to hold on to that great employee much longer.

This is probably the biggest killer of good will within companies. If I can’t respect my own boss, chances are that I am not going to feel super motivated to jump through hoops for him/her. Respect, trust and admiration are essential to any boss/employee relationship from the battlefield to the corporate world. Period. Once a manager loses the respect of their employees, you might as well draw the curtain and stop the clock, because the play is over.

Clarity is also super important. A leader who isn’t able to communicate to his or her people exactly what they want needs to learn how to do so. Quickly.

5. They will no longer tolerate abusive managers.

Recent studies have shown that an employee’s opinion of the company he/she works for is a direct reflection of their opinion of their immediate supervisor. If a top performer does not respect his or her supervisor, they will have a corresponding lack of respect for their company.

Nobody likes a bully. I’ve seen top talent walk away from jobs they otherwise loved simply because their bosses were abusive. Nothing sours a job faster than a jerk taking his frustrations or insecurities out on his staff.

As an aside –

Typical traits of lousy managers:

– Excessive demands & personal sacrifices.
– Placing their department in a continual state of crisis.
– A demand for employees to be available at all hours.
– Setting unreasonable deadlines.
– Pony Express management style (Ride ’em till they drop), causing burnout, stress and depression in their people.
– Risk-aversion.
– Abusive treatment of employees.
– Being too busy to make themselves helpful.
– Acting annoyed at requests for help, advice or insight.
– Nepotism.
– Making last-minute unilateral decisions that make absolutely no sense.
– “Big Stick” management. (Screw up, and I will hit you over the head with the big stick.)
– A complete lack of trustworthiness

Okay. Here is the last one from Jack’s list:

6. Constant reorganization of management.

If you want to keep your best performers, don’t let them become part of the flood waters of reorganization. While reorganization or a sale of a business is just part of life for most people these days, top performers are still looking at things in the long term. If they are convinced that a reorganization is a good thing for their career AND management communicates well, top performers can become some of a company’s greatest advocates. If management fails to help top performers negotiate these changes in a way that will fall in line with their long term expectations, and they will walk.

Uncertainty sucks. Top performers love challenges, but if thry feel that their work or careers are likely to suffer as a result of an unstable professional environment, they will jump ship faster than you can learn to spell “denial”. It’s that simple.

One of the conclusions from the article was as simple as it was astute, and it is this:

Most employees don’t quit their jobs. They quit their managers.

That’s pretty powerful… and absolutely correct.

I know it’s pretty obvious for many of you, but it is well worth bringing up from time to time.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone. 🙂

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