Viewing entries in
Generations

Comment

A Better Model

 

Would You Stand Under the Arch?

The ancient Romans had a tradition: Whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: He stood under the arch.”

Michael Armstrong

When I used to teach a unit on leadership for our local Chamber of Commerce I would challenge those emerging leaders to “come to work every day willing to be fired for doing the right thing”.

 I used to tell the people on my HR teams the same thing.

Over the last few weeks that has been a lot out there in the blogosphere that talks about what I might call legitimacy.

I believe that to a large extent leadership, as opposed to management, is founded in legitimacy.

Leadership is entirely relational versus hierarchical.

A transitioning special operator from the US army described it to me this way-

On our teams we have a shared leadership model. It was only when our new officers recognized and embraced that they really needed to earn our trust that we would truly follow them. We could learn from them, but they could also learn from us.”

I would submit that these special operators, the elite of our military which include groups like the Navy Seals and Green Berets epitomize high performing teams and engagement.

 As a manager you have the authority of your position and the benefit of what Covey calls deterrence, authority that comes from rules or position. We would like to believe that management also incorporates Covey’s second level competence, but I am not sure that is true.

At least not competence at the right things.

 In many cases the competence we rely on in elevating someone to a management role is based on application of their technical skills, their competence in emotional and social intelligence are still considered “soft skills”.

In my over 30 years as a human resources professional, C level executive, and management consultant it has been interesting to see emerging and current “leaders” bridle at the idea that they have to earn trust.

For many it is an expectation that trust is embedded in their role.

It is very chic today to dismiss collective bargaining and unions as passé, but any student of the relationship between employer and employed realizes that up until the 1940’s the concept that employers needed legitimacy through the input of their employees was considered ludicrous.

I suspect our new President isn’t big on the legitimacy model….

Many of our current models still have their roots in scientific management-managers manage and people do. If you see people as human capital, what is the likelihood that you are seeking the endorsement of those you “lead”?

Michelle Berg wrote a great post a few weeks back telling us about a conversation she had with a group of marketing professionals about why she “hates” HR. If you read the article what Michelle is really describing is a leadership fail- we ask HR to make up for what she calls shitty leadership.

I agree with her, I have seen a lot of this in my three decades plus career, and the reality is that this really is a leadership fail, not an HR fail.

I remember many years ago when our CEO couldn’t figure out what key metrics to assign me as the Human Resources manager for my management incentive plan, (That’s a topic for a whole separate post).

He proposed that my entire incentive be based on executing a meaningful improvement (ten percent or more), on our employee climate survey.

I would be the only manager who had this goal….

I countered with the idea that I would put the same percentage of my incentive on the line for that single metric as he was…

As you might suspect he wasn’t amused. He also declined to accept my challenge. He wouldn’t stand under the arch.

I think one of the fundamental differences between management and leadership is that commitment to personal accountability and being willing and able to create alignment with the vision.

There are some excellent models out there to accomplish this kind of alignment. Three of my favorites are offered by Stephen MR Covey, Patrick Lencioni, and Malcolm Gladwell.

Covey talks about the three levels of trust and the trust tax that the majority of organizations are paying.

Lencioni lays out a roadmap for what he calls the journey to organizational health, with the two most critical factors being building a cohesive leadership team and creating and reinforcing clarity.

Gladwell talks about legitimacy.

According to Gladwell legitimacy occurs when three elements are present-

• Those who are governed have a voice in the process; their input is sought and heard.

• There is a dimension of predictability and consistency in the application of the law or standards.

• The application of the law or standard has to be administered fairly and objectively, you can’t have disparate treatment without a clear and compelling reason.

There are interesting connect points between these three (at least to me).

Covey describes his three levels of trust and how it is the third level, identity based trust, that is the most critical.

He uses scary words like intimacy, transparency, and shared experiences. It gets even scarier when he describes the idea that credibility is a function of both competence and behavior.

You have to do both.

Lencioni describes trust as the critical foundational element of a cohesive leadership team and organizational health. I am pretty sure he means identity based trust versus deterrence or just knowledge.

I see these elements in Gladwell’s description of legitimacy. Words meet actions, consistently.

There is and has been a lot of discussion about employee engagement these days. There are detractors who say it is all bullshit and then supporters like me who think if you aren’t seeing results it’s because you are doing it wrong.

Lencioni describes three biases that can get in the way of meaningful cultural change and I see them in the way many organizations approach engagement-

·         Sophistication- it is just too simple. I hear from organizations a lot when we introduce fundamental skills training for emerging leaders that there is no “rocket science” to things like setting expectations, giving feedback, taking corrective action, and coaching.

I agree the concepts aren’t rocket science you just have to do them consistently and hold people accountable if they aren’t doing them!

·         Adrenaline- creating organizational health and identity based trust doesn’t happen over a long weekend or a management retreat. It doesn’t happen by conducting an engagement survey either. Engagement is a culture, not a program. It doesn’t belong to HR.

·         Quantification- although we have gotten a lot better at being able to quantify the benefits of engagement it is still a little bit nebulous. I here from people “we did a survey and engagement and/or productivity didn’t improve.”  I ask them if they addressed the issues from the survey and I get the thousand- yard stare. Or they tell me that “gave it to HR to fix”.

Changing a culture is hard and the work never stops. It is also a systemic process. You can’t just approach one part like hiring or compensation and expect to see widespread results.

For the last three decades I have been promoting and teaching the merits of an employment relationship based on Commitment rather than compliance.

My particular model is based on five elements-

·         Respect- everyone has an absolute entitlement to be treated with respect for their personhood.

·         Responsibility- I am a big fan of what our Founding Fathers called personal competency. People should be treated like adults and expected given clear expectations and feedback to meet those expectations.

·         Information- I am a huge believer in context and a link to the big picture. Simon Sinek calls this the Why.

·         Equitable compensation- people perform better when they believe they are being paid fairly for their effort and they understand how those decisions are made. Paying someone fairly is a threshold, not a breakthrough.

·         Mutual Loyalty- when I hear employers lament the lack of loyalty I want to laugh. Employees didn’t invent the term human capital or come up with strategies like outsourcing or offshoring to increase profitability. Loyalty should be measured by contribution, not tenure.

 

These elements are anchored on a foundation of trust. I would go so far as to say you have to have trust at all three levels to experience true engagement.

When the employment environment is optimized in a commitment based model it results in employee engagement.

Surveys still come out every year that reinforce that the most important role played by human resources professionals is compliance. This is consistent from both operational executives and human resources professionals themselves. This is what Michelle was referring to when she called it shitty leadership!

Alternatively, a recent survey of all four generations in the workforce identified the following on employee’s wish list-

• Open and transparent communication

• Respect for them and other employees

• A supervisor/boss that coaches and supports their growth and advancement

• A supervisor/boss that recognizes them and their performance

I don’t think you need to negotiate your culture with employees, but I do think they are entitled to clear expectations, constructive feedback, and fair treatment.

When you provide that kind of context you are allowing employees to join up with you.

On that foundation when change is introduced you do it with rather than to people.

Engagement and legitimacy don’t “belong” to HR, they belong to leadership at every level.

At the individual manager level, I would encourage you to consider the following

·         Ask your internal and external customers how you can help them and make them more successful. If you don’t think you have any internal customers give me a call. We have work to do.

·         Ask your staff what obstacles you can remove to make their job more efficient or easier.

·         Ask the people on the front line how your products and services can be enhanced or modified to make them easier to address their needs.

·         Ask your peers how they think you and your group are doing. You are an internal service provider.

·          Ask your boss how you can help them. This may seem a little obvious, but you will be surprised from how you communicate to taking a task off their list can make a difference.

 At the organizational level, I think we need to address these things with a level of urgency.

While the number of employees who rate themselves as highly engaged had remained constant for a few years (around 30%), those numbers are starting to decline and disengagement and voluntary attrition in an already competitive market are on the rise.

For those of you unfamiliar with disengagement, it is the phenomenon where employees are extremely unhappy, but they stay and “poison the well” rather than look for other opportunities. What is truly scary is they are no more likely to leave on their own power than employees who are neutral.

The data is in and it is conclusive - there is a direct correlation between employee engagement and customer engagement. In fact, the data shows a direct relationship between disengagement and presenteeism and turnover to the tune of $5 trillion annually.

We can’t run away from it anymore….

 

Comment

Back >

Comment

We Can Do Better!

Hiring, Employee Engagement, and Other Epic Failures

Some days you just wonder. I will soon be “celebrating” almost my fourth decade as a human resources practitioner, executive and management consultant and when I watch what is happening I continue to be a bit frustrated and disappointed.

Employers still whine about candidates and employees. The current target seems to be the Millennial generation. They are selfish, lazy, demanding, blah, blah, blah.

Truth is I haven’t found that to be any truer of them than any other generation.

 They are more distrusting based on what they observed and are more willing to be explicit about their expectations, but I find that when their purpose is aligned with your purpose they will work their asses off.

Edward Deming back in the Forties as part of the Total Quality Movement suggested treating employees more like partners and less like human capital (we just called them labor back then) and we are still at a place where around 30% of the workforce rates themselves as highly engaged. It has been 70 years!

I know that there are those who say employee engagement isn’t real, but those are the people who approach it as a program or event rather than as a culture. I remember when quality was treated the same way- we inspected it in at the end of the process rather than building it in.

When I look at a lot of hiring and selection processes I give us a D-. We have lots of automated tracking systems and other technologies that have dumbed down our candidate sourcing process, but we still focus very much on two dimensional hiring. Look at the average job description.

In 1935 Congress passed the Wagner Act, better known as the National Labor Relations Act, legalizing employees right to join a union and collectively bargain with their employer because employees and employers don’t trust each other or perceive they share a common purpose and interests.

A very recent survey concluded that almost 50% of employees across the board generationally don’t trust leadership, their supervisor, or their team mates.

The NLRA and Civil Rights Act of 1964 were the most important things to happen to human resources professionals in the history of employer-employee relations because they imposed laws and sanctions for not doing it right. They also made HR relevant to management for the first time.

If you ask human resources practitioners today what the most important role they play in their organization, a significant majority will tell you it is ensuring compliance with State and Federal laws and regulations.

The others spend their time addressing what Michelle Berg refers to as “shitty leadership”.

No surprise there. Sixty percent of leadership candidates seek those roles to make more money, not better the organization or help develop staff.

Just as disappointing is when I hear that the attributes that make someone a good leader like emotional intelligence, emotional balance, and self- awareness are inherently feminine, that women are genetically programmed to be better leaders.

I find that as offensive as suggesting that African Americans genetically have more rhythm than white people or people of Latin-Hispanic descent are genetically more volatile and emotional.

I have not given up hope, there are just some things we need to do differently.

·         We need to acknowledge that trust is the foundation of every solid relationship.

·         We need to acknowledge that Commitment is far superior to compliance. People want to buy into your purpose.

·         We need better leaders and we need to recognize technical competence is the minimum not the standard and that effective leadership can be taught and must be reinforced.

·         We need to recognize that the best way to create highly engaged organizations is to build it in rather than try to bolt it on. That true engagement is about alignment. It is a culture not a program.

There is a great opportunity for Human Resources professionals to lead this charge. Compliance is a baseline.

I propose a new role for HR-

• HR helps the organization answer the Why question posed in Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle.

• HR helps identify the values and attributes that are fundamental to and congruent with the Why. As I have said before creating alignment for people who already share your values is much easier than trying to “fix” people.

• HR helps identify and deploy the competencies that reinforce the performance that we desire and ensures that those are practiced consistently across the organization. Those include setting expectations, giving feedback, course correcting, and coaching among others. Those competencies belong to managers, not HR.

I would like to see human resources professional demonstrate the following:

Technical Skills- The proliferation of rules and regulations has indeed made the profession more complex as has the application of technology, phenomenon like social media, outsourcing and global workforces, and related challenges. I needed to be technically proficient, not only in our craft, but to understand the businesses and organizations I served.

 • Project Management Skills- Similar to the Total Quality Management movement I believe human   resource competency in core areas needs to be deployed broadly and deeply rather than be seen as a departmental competency. It is fundamental to the management/leadership role, not just human resources departments!

   • Facilitation Skills-  We need to help our client organizations recognize that by building relationships with individuals as people first and resources second we can create enormous gains in sustainability, productivity, and profitability through alignment of organizational and individual goals.

Based on my experience I would also challenge leaders to take some additional steps:

• Ask your internal and external customers how you can help them and make them more successful. If you don’t think you have any internal customers give me a call. We have work to do.

• Ask your staff what obstacles you can remove to make their job more efficient or easier.

• Ask the people on the front line how your products and services can be enhanced or modified to make them easier to address their needs.

• Ask your peers how they think you and your group are doing. You are an internal service provider.

• Ask your boss how you can help them. This may seem a little obvious, but you will be surprised from how you communicate to taking a task off their list can make a difference.

I would also challenge you to become a champion of commitment over compliance and helping create an environment that encourages true engagement.

How do you do that?

• Hire the right people

• Incorporate the elements of commitment rather than compliance.

• Be flexible about process and ruthless about principle.

• Build on a foundation of trust.

• Remember it is all about relationships.

My experience has taught me that overcoming inertia is one of the most difficult things to overcome in creating meaningful change in an organization is inertia or complacency. If you go back and look at some of the opportunity costs I identified there really is a role to play for human resources to become a catalyst and change agent.

Most HR practitioners want respect and opportunity. This is the path I followed from HR to the C suite and to a role as a successful management consulting career. I am not a rocket scientist. If I could manage it, you can as well.

Comment

Back >

Comment

Got Trust?

First Things First

As I enter almost my fourth decade of hiring, managing, and deploying talent I like to look back at what I have learned; and perhaps more importantly what I haven’t.

I have long been an advocate for what we now call employee engagement, when I look at the data that is available about the difference between organizations that are highly engaged as opposed to their less engaged competitors I remain astounded about the opportunity we leave on the table every year not just in North America, but worldwide.

Although engagement is something that we have been hearing and talking about for the last 15 years we still aren’t moving the needle much in terms of concerting employees and organizations from neutral to engaged. The latest studies still show that around 30% of employees surveyed rate themselves as highly engaged.

So it makes me curious as to what the issue is, and why we haven’t made more progress of late I have encountered quite a bit of literature that validates my thinking and makes me frankly sad.

We have a trust crisis.

When I had the opportunity to read Stephen MR Covey’s brilliant book, The Speed of Trust, a couple of years ago one particular quote really stood out to me-

Every organization earns a trust dividend or pays a trust tax

I thought the book in total, discussing the basis and levels of trust and the elements involved should be required reading in every business school and leadership program internationally, but that statement really stood out for me.

It turns out that Covey’s assertion applies not just to individual organizations, but to whole societies.

The Edelman Trust Barometer which has surveyed tens of thousands of people in over 28 countries reported that for the first time in its 17- year history the average trust level in all four of the institutions measured (Government Officials, Business/CEO’s, NGO’s and Media) was below 50%.

Government came in last, closely followed by media, but 48% of respondents did not trust business leaders to do the right thing.

So let’s take a look at business specifically.

A recent survey on trust by Ernst and Young involving 10,000 adults and another 3000 Gen Z’rs reported that less than 50% of those surveyed trusted their employer, their immediate supervisor, or their team in descending order.

The survey included representation from four (4) generations in the workforce; Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z and the results were remarkably consistent. Although the younger generations were less trusting it wasn’t a significant generational delta.

Also remarkably consistent were the environmental factors that lead to distrust-

·         Perceived unfair compensation

·         Unequal opportunities for pay and career advancement

·         Poor leadership

·         High turnover

·         Lack of collaboration

Similarly, all four generations cited four characteristics they seek in a boss and organization they trust-

·         Open and transparent communication

·         Respect for them and other employees

·         A supervisor/boss that coaches and supports their growth and advancement

·         A supervisor/boss that recognizes them and their performance

Another recent post I read identified three (3) fundamental characteristics that create and sustain high trust environments. Leaders who-

·         Listen

·         Demonstrate self- awareness and self- control

·         Demonstrate humility

Let’s juxtapose that with the way most organizations identify high talent potential leaders in their organization. The selection criteria are typically –

•                     Professional and technical expertise

•                     Taking initiative and delivering results

•                     Honoring commitments

•                     Fitting into the culture

If we are really honest with ourselves we can agree that the first and last criteria are the two biggest factors. When we add the fact that 60% of leadership candidates seek those opportunities to increase their earning potential and upward career trajectory are we surprised by where we are?

In many cases we are still immersed in the precepts of Frederik Taylor’s scientific management model. Some were born to do, others born to manage or lead.

Identity based trust, Covey’s highest and most critical level of trust, is nowhere to be seen in our leadership develop models or development initiatives.

As an alternative I like to recommend that business leaders remember three things-

•                     Maslow’s Hierarchy, is as relevant today as it ever was. When you are in safety and survival mode you aren’t focusing on the big picture and how to become engaged. You are focused on basic issues like food and shelter.

•                     Line of Sight, I tell my clients that line of sight may be the most important part of their compensation/performance management strategy. The critical function of compensation strategy and performance management is to align efforts with outcomes. Employees need to see clearly how positive outcomes for the organization translate to positive outcomes for them and vice versa.

•                     Be clear with management at every level it is their responsibility to earn and sustain trust and give them the tools to do that. They are entirely learnable and reinenforcable. People rarely trust what they don’t understand.

So I would like to leave you with two thoughts-

•                     You will never have sustained customer engagement without employee engagement.

•                     The foundation of employee engagement is trust. You have to do the work.

 

Comment

Back >

Comment

Understanding Real Legitimacy

Understanding Real Legitimacy

I just finished re-reading Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, David and Goliath.

Like the books that preceded it I enjoyed it a great deal.

I see Gladwell as kind of a social facilitator and observer. He doesn’t try to present himself as a behavioral scientist with countless reams of data to support his conclusions, he makes comments and observations. The reader has the choice to accept or reject them.

Given the outcome and the divides both during and now following our election cycle I found some of his insights particularly worth revisiting.

While I enjoyed the entire book the part that most spoke to me was Gladwell’s discussion of legitimacy.

According to Gladwell legitimacy occurs when three elements are present-

·         Those who are governed have a voice in the process; their input is sought and heard.

·         There is a dimension of predictability and consistency in the application of the law or standards.

·         The application of the law or standard has to be administered fairly and objectively, you can’t have disparate treatment without a clear and compelling reason.

From what I have seen demonstrated to date our new President doesn’t share Gladwell’s description of legitimacy.

Specifically, his interest in viewpoints that don’t coincide with his own appears non- existent and his application of laws and standards don’t in my opinion pass the fair and objective test.

I personally believe that any meaningful change in our leadership philosophy and application is going to need to come from the private sector. The current administration is interested in a rigid application of the compliance model; people should do as he instructs them.

It will be interesting to see the repercussions of the DeVos nomination, never before with a majority in the Senate has the Vice President had to cast their vote to confirm a cabinet nominee.  

The President has never been in an environment previously where he is accountable to anyone and he seems to be struggling with that transition.

The reason I find this discussion about legitimacy so interesting is in its application to the work environment.

For the last three decades I have been promoting and teaching the merits of an employment relationship based on Commitment rather than compliance. When the employment environment is optimized in a commitment based model it results in employee engagement.

I also believe that to a large extent leadership as opposed to management is founded in legitimacy. Leadership is entirely relational versus hierarchical. As a manager you have the authority of your position and the benefit of what Stephen MR Covey calls deterrence, authority that comes from rules or position. We would like to believe that management also incorporates Covey’s second level competence, but I am not sure that is true.

 In many cases the competence we rely on in elevating someone to a management role is based on application of their technical skills, their competence is emotional and social intelligence are still considered “soft skills”.

The highest level of trust in Covey’s hierarchy is identity based trust which incorporates both your competency and you character as demonstrated by your applied values and behavior to create credibility.

In my over 30 years as a human resources professional, C level executive, and management consultant it has been interesting to see emerging and current “leaders” bridle at the idea that they have to earn trust. For many it is an expectation that trust is embedded in their role, they shouldn’t have to earn it.

It is very chic today to dismiss collective bargaining and unions as passé, but any student of the relationship between employer and employed realizes that up until the 1940’s the concept of employers need legitimacy through the input of their employees was considered ludicrous.

Unions fought very hard to legitimize their right to bargain with employers over hours, wages, and working conditions. I am not going to say that I believe collective bargaining is the preferred methodology or relationship structure between organizations and employees, but the concept of participating as equals didn’t come from management enlightenment. Many of our current models still have their roots in scientific management-managers manage and people do. If you see people as human capital, what is the likelihood that you are seeking the endorsement of those you “lead”?

Surveys come out every year that reinforce that the most important role played by human resources professionals is compliance by both operational executives and human resources professionals themselves.

Under the old social contract organizations provided a degree of social and economic security in return for loyalty (spelled compliance in my opinion). As the economy became more international we still wanted the loyalty, we just didn’t want to provide the security.

It is interesting in most jurisdictions outside of the U.S. the subjects of bargaining include the introduction of technology into a work setting. In our U.S. model we must negotiate the effects of the technology, but not its introduction.

In creating my own foundation for employee engagement I feel that there are critical elements you have to include.

The first is a foundation of trust. I would go so far as to say you have to have trust at all three levels to experience true engagement.

I also think you need to add the elements of respect, responsibility, information, equitable rewards, and mutual investment.

I don’t think you need to negotiate your culture with employees, but I do think they are entitled to clear expectations, constructive feedback, and fair treatment.

When you provide that kind of context you are allowing employees to join up with you. On that foundation when change is introduced you do it with rather than to people.

Gladwell’s examples of authority without legitimacy are pretty fascinating; the outcomes aren’t pretty.

There is a lot of discussion about the next generations. They are pretty intolerant of assumed legitimacy. They also represent both the future employee base and future leadership.

Perhaps taking a moment and asking ourselves if we are incorporating legitimacy and trust into our leadership models and recognizing and teaching the skills of leadership beyond technical competency is a worthwhile endeavor.

I hope it at least provides food for thought…..

Comment

Back >

Comment

Moving Forward

Inclusion versus Exclusion

I admit it, I read a lot. I find myself very curious about many things not the least of which is the viewpoints of other people. Since I wrote my last post things have been pretty crazy.

I have been working with a client to help build a bridge between philanthropy and businesses as one part of a new model to address some of our issues around the management of health and the delivery of health care.

To many it may be just a matter of semantics; but I see philanthropy as different than charity. Philanthropy to me has a connotation of investing in a larger cause or purpose. I am not saying charity is bad, but I rather like the idea of making investments in societal infrastructure to achieve a better quality of life for everyone and more comfortable for me. I don’t really like codependency between adults in any form very much.

I also see the management of health and delivering health care as being related, but different. I think that managing health is a collaborative effort that involves patients/people, providers, payers, educators, etc. in investigating and creating solutions; hopefully on a proactive rather than reactive basis.

My clients organization is mission driven, they are a not for profit. We have had interesting discussions about how their role in delivering health care is really the how of what they do rather than the what. It is really a delivery mechanism rather than the goal itself. We have been discussing of late whether the role of his team is actually an important bridge to that larger mission because it allows people from the community to get involved in a lot of ways that is not direct care giving.

I saw a statistic recently that said over 75% of people are not feeling fulfilled in their jobs. I know from my work in employee engagement that less than 30% of American workers consider themselves highly engaged and in many cases they feel they don’t trust the senior management of their organization or the leadership of the country. I find that very sad, but also a significant opportunity. In fact a very recent study stated that this lack of engagement costs the U.S. economy alone $350 billion annually.

When we have those kinds of numbers we are losing enormous opportunity every day. The research says we lose trillions annually to turnover, health related expenses, poor productivity and a number of related areas because of that sense of disengagement. We have tried for the last nine or ten decades to replace engagement or alignment with a larger purpose with technology with pretty mediocre results, but still we persist. Technology won’t ever replace relationships and relationships are God forbid built on peopley stuff like trust and communications and mutual respect. Technology can’t replace that.

When I look at the impact of technology on communications on relationships; especially things like social media I wonder whether it has helped us or set us back a couple of hundred years. It has certainly removed some restrictions to the flow of information, but it has also provided an unrestricted platform for a lot of people to say really nasty, hateful, things to and about other people.

I remember when I was growing up my mother would often say “if you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all”.

As a leader and an aspiring manager I found that really doesn’t work. Sometimes you need to give people constructive feedback that may be difficult for them to hear. Withholding that feedback in my opinion does them a disservice and it may if taken too far be blatantly dishonest. That isn’t nice.

I have tried to modify my mother’s intent message slightly and focus on saying things that are productive and well intentioned. I like to think I get it right about 75% of the time, my goal is of course 100%, but I know I have a lot of work to do.

As a former executive and current coach and consultant I continue to be disappointed by how much of my role is encouraging people to listen to each other and seek common ground and how acceptable it has become to criticize someone else’s viewpoint or solution without feeling any obligation to present a solution of your own.

Our most recent election was won by a candidate who articulated that as part of his mandate; being elected to join others who shared his viewpoint to ensure that the viewpoints and solutions that don’t fit their worldview don’t move forward, or better yet don’t get heard. I am not sure which is more appalling-

·         That an educated person would embrace such a position

·         That others would vote for him or her

I don’t blame him entirely, as I have said before the other candidate failed the trust test miserably as well.

I find other viewpoints interesting and sometimes very instructional. I don’t always agree with them, but I certainly wouldn’t want to be in a society where you don’t within reason have a right to advance a viewpoint.

Before anyone gets too abhorred most people wouldn’t describe me as a liberal or do-gooder. I have strong opinions and convictions about many things, I just don’t feel a need to prevent others to have views that are not coincident with mine. Again I would encourage people on both sides of issues to consider that.

I think there are certain essential truths that aren’t negotiable, but they are much more limited that some would articulate.

 I think forcing another person to do something against their will or values is pretty consistently wrong. I think using superior physical, mental, or financial capability to force someone to do something against their will is wrong. Beyond that I think we should look at situations contextually and one at a time.

The current environment seems to becoming more and more polarized and excluding more and more people. I find most of the rhetoric from both sides of the aisle to be equally uninspiring.

Recent actions like Brexit, discussions about building a wall between countries, and excluding people from immigrating to or visiting the U.S. because of their country of origin are in my opinion moving in the wrong direction no matter how well intentioned.

I come partially from a family of immigrants. My maternal grandparents both emigrated here from Italy. Italy isn’t on the list currently, but things can change.

I understand a desire to keep America safe, but find it a bit ironic that there has never been a terrorist attack on American soil by a current or former citizen of the seven countries on the list.

On the other hand, countries who have harbored terrorists are excluded, but members of the current administration have business interests in those countries. I hate to be cynical, but I don’t think that is coincidental.

Our current President has strong viewpoints as do his supporters. Strong boundaries and discipline have merit sometimes, but I think that the people of Syria and others need compassion not discipline.

 To paraphrase the late novelist Morris L. West who used the Catholic Church extensively as a backdrop for his books, “People are crying out for bread and we are giving them stones”.

It would seem much of our leadership is driving in that direction.

I would say that is equally true for both sides of the aisle. We need leadership to bring people together, not widen the divide.

I guess I will continue to look for ways to include rather than exclude and find solutions that benefit many rather than few. I might only have limited success, but somehow it seems much more satisfying….

.

Comment

Back >

1 Comment

Feedback Requested

Is It Just Me?

My colleague Laurie Ruettimann cracks me up some times. I don’t always agree with her posts, but they are always thought provoking, timely, and relevant.

In her latest post she was discussing the succession planning for the CEO for SHRM (The Society for Human Resources Management). For those of you not familiar with it, SHRM is the largest professional association for human resources professionals in the world.

Among other things SHRM provides a certification process to be acknowledged by your colleagues, has conferences and various and sundry other things like national associations do.

Laurie’s defining SHRM as the AARP of Human Resources was what cracked me up. She was imploring the search committee to recruit someone who isn’t an insider and who has a grasp on the issues that are relevant to organizations and employees today.

I guess her post hit both my relevance and amusement thresholds because of some other events I have experienced recently-

·         The Edelman Trust Barometer- which for the last 17 years has measured trust in the media, business leadership, elected officials, and non- government agencies recorded their lowest scores ever. Media and elected leaders were totally in the shitter and business leadership squeaked out a 52% confidence level.

·         The Presidential Election-  I am going to go out on a limb and say that there are a number of folks who have expressed their concerns about our newly elected president and some of his choices for Cabinet and other appointments. (Is that an alternative fact?) Um I don’t think so given a whole bunch them just participated in a big ass march a couple of days ago.

·         A Recent survey from Clutch reported-

- Thirty-two percent of Millennials are likely to leave their job within the next six months. Only 11-12 percent of older employees are likely to quit in that same timeframe.

- Forty percent of Millennials do not consider themselves fulfilled at work, which is nearly two times greater than Generation X employees and almost four times greater than Baby-Boomers.

- Forty-one percent of Millennials feel neutral to negative on their manager's ability to provide accurate and consistent feedback.

·         Employee Engagement- another survey reinforced the idea that if your approach to increasing employee engagement is to conduct and report on an annual survey you are hosed. Even though it decried the use of surveys as THE tool, it went on to discuss the monumental benefits of having and engaged workforce on retention and recruitment, productivity and quality, and even expenditures for employee health and wellness.

For those of you who have been asleep at the wheel, Millennials now make up the single biggest demographic in the workforce and time is on their side, it’s going to get bigger not smaller.

So as I understand it most employees don’t trust leadership, the population is in flux about the election (see my first point), Millennials are saying they want more meaningful feedback from their managers and are unfulfilled at work, and we haven’t made significant progress in addressing the root causes of employee disengagement and reaped the rewards of developing and implementing new models.

The part that draws it all together for me is that earlier this week I received an invitation to attend the local SHRM chapters monthly meeting and presentation. The topic – Creating a Transgender Friendly Workplace.

I want to be clear. I am not anti- transgender and I feel like every employee without regard to their gender, religious affiliation, age, national origin, race and any other non- relevant factor has an absolute entitlement to a work environment that is physically, psychologically, and emotionally safe. Period end of story.

That being said I think we have some significant issues to face as leaders and as a society and a great start would be remodeling our leadership training and selection models and we have a lot of work to do.

It is entirely possible that I am just insensitive, but I would be curious to hear other opinions……

1 Comment

Back >

Comment

The Trust Crisis

The Trust Tax

When I had the opportunity to read Stephen MR Covey’s brilliant book, The Speed of Trust, a couple of years ago one particular quote really stood out to me-

Every organization earns a trust dividend or pays a trust tax

I thought the book in total, discussing the basis and levels of trust and the elements involved should be required reading in every business school and leadership program internationally, but that statement really stood out for me.

As an executive and management consultant for over 35 years I have been trying to instill that message in organizations where I was part of the management infrastructure and to my clients.

An article I had a chance to read from the Harvard Business Review shared some information that I found abhorrently fascinating- The Edelman Trust Barometer which has surveyed tens of thousands of people in over 28 countries reported that for the first time in its 17- year history the average trust level in all four of the institutions measured (Government Officials, Business/CEO’s, NGO’s and Media) was below 50%.

Government came in last, closely followed by media, but 48% of respondents did not trust business leaders to do the right thing.

A great quote from a book I read earlier this year, Barbarians to Bureaucrats, had a pretty compelling reason why this is such an issue.

-the decline in corporate culture precedes – and is the primary causal factor in the decline of a business, and that decline is the result of the behavior and spirit of its leaders.

In this day and age of consumerism and social media the accountability to earn and sustain trust rests with management at all levels and platitudes and generic mission and value statements isn’t going to get it done.

The advantages of employee and customer engagement are clear and compelling and two key points-

•             You will never have sustained customer engagement without employee engagement.

•             The foundation of engagement is trust. You have to do the work.

Angela Duckworth in her book Grit, talks about how cultures form-

Culture has the power to shape our identity. Over time and under the right circumstances, the norms and values of the group to which we belong become our own. We internalize them. We carry them with us. The way we do things around here and why become the way I do things and why!

Some of my favorite leadership authors including Patrick Lencioni, Simon Sinek, and others all talk about creating a healthy culture and its criticality to sustained organizational success. They also share that the foundation for every healthy culture is trust!

Research from Josh Bersin concluded that in descending order the most important things to Millennials are culture and values, career opportunities, and confidence in leadership!

Why is that important? Because Millennials are now the largest demographic in the workforce and that is only going to get larger over the next five to seven years!

The Edelman Trust Barometer just concluded we got an F in three out of four categories!

I haven’t talked to a lot of organizations lately that have declared victory in terms of organizational performance and employee engagement.

Well, you can’t build a tower with a faulty foundation and when employees don’t trust leadership that is faulty!

Jamie Dimon, CEO of Morgan Chase shared some tips on how he selects senior leaders for his organization-

The first are attributes, Capability, character, and how they treat people. The next are two simple, but compelling questions:

•             Would I let them run the business without me?

•             Would I let my children work for them?

How many of us ask those questions as part of our hiring process?

How many of us are building the concept that earning and sustaining identity based trust is a journey and an expectation for leadership candidates in our own organization?

 Trust isn’t an entitlement!

Leadership in this area is going to need to come from the business sector. Government came in dead last in the trust race and based on the last election and actions since then I wouldn’t count on our elected leaders for guidance or improvement.

How long can we pay this kind of tax?

 

Comment

Back >

Comment

Time to Update Your Brand!

 

A few years ago a client of mine shared a conversation he had with another CEO of a high technology firm who was lamenting that a particular large Midwestern city had a significant shortage of qualified engineering talent. He asked his friend how he had come to that conclusion and his colleague indicated they had been recruiting for talent for almost eight weeks with limited results. My client responded, “There isn’t a shortage of talent, your company has a lousy employment brand. Do you think if Apple or Google were recruiting in this same location they would have any difficulty recruiting the talent they need?”

My client is exactly right. Certain companies and I would include organizations like Amazon, Google, Apple, and Zappo’s among them, don’t have any issues recruiting the talent they require. They have managed to achieve a certain cachet not only about their products, but about their company. They have a clearly defined employment brand.

People join cultures not organizations and they leave managers not companies. Your product or service brand will never be better than your employment brand.

Here is another reality check- The workplace is about to span five generations for the first time ever in history; Silents, Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z.

A 2014 study reported that some 41 percent of respondents said the most important factor in their decision to apply to an organization was a company’s values. Nearly half of all candidates said their first relationship with a company was as a candidate — which means that’s the juncture when employers have to get it right.

Another reality is that to a large extent leadership in developing new social models is going to have to come from the private sector.

In the business world we have a population of approaching twenty percent that are actively disengaged in their current employment environment. That means they come to work every day pissed and minimally productive. The costs of that have been well documented in terms of absenteeism, lost productivity, health care expenditures relating to mental health, obesity, and other factors.

Do we really think that meaningful leadership in addressing these issues is going to come from our elected officials? Especially considering that there is a large population that is refusing to acknowledge the outcome of the Presidential election. Added to that I would have to say that many of the selections the President elect has made for Cabinet appointments give me pause. These folks don’t seem to be interested in making the world a more collaborative place.

Our leadership models are in large part stuck in the past. We still focus very heavily on what my colleague Geoff Searle refers to as technical intelligence. Technical intelligence doesn’t build trust and trust is foundational to a solid employment brand.

Dustin McKissen, founder and CEO of McKissen and Company, talked about this in a blog post in Inc Magazine, The Rotten Core of Every MBA Program.

He specifically cites our ongoing infatuation with Frederick W. Taylor and his Scientific Management models-

While Taylor's theories are viewed as harsh and impractical today, his work was still cited in every class I attended that discussed the roots of modern management science. What's not often discussed is how little Taylor thought of the people who actually produced products in the factories he studied.

I mentioned that in a recent blog post. Traditional MBA programs train candidates to be what Lawrence Miller described as Bureaucrats and Administrators in a book he published almost 30 years ago. Given his observation and the fact that McKissen published his observations just a few months ago I am pretty bummed.

The competition for the best talent is on the upswing and my personal experience validates the conclusions of the 2014 study- the new employee is looking for a role where they feel challenged and congruent with the values of the organization.

The concept of human capital and maybe even human resources is dead. We hire whole people and rent their talent. They aren’t disposable assets and are going to require the same care and feeding as customers, maybe more and like customers their ability to cut through the bullshit are being honed and applied.

 

Step back and look at your approach to talent and people systemically or suffer the consequences…..

Comment

Back >

Comment

An Opportunity to Lead

At long last one of the most acrimonious campaign and election cycles I can remember is over and at least fifty percent of the population is unhappy.

I am hoping that over the next few weeks some of the heat of the anger and disappointment dissipates and we can move on with addressing the challenges confronting us and the world.

What we are seeing isn’t new, it has just become nastier. When our current President was elected both times I heard a lot of choruses of he’s not my President. The reality is that he was and is.

We have an election process where at the end of the day everybody doesn’t get what they want. That doesn’t entitle us to take our toys and go home.

Have you ever met a business executive that has prevailed in every decision at every stage of their career? I haven’t.

One of the reasons that our President-elect prevailed was that he tapped into the incredible dissatisfaction of many people with the status quo. A lot of people feel that their interests haven’t been represented and they haven’t benefited from the economic upturn since the 2008 recession.

I give our elected leadership collectively a D- over the last eight or ten years collectively. Instead of attending to real issues they have descended into partisan bickering. The majority party staked out positions of denying President Obama a second term (they failed) and defeating his agenda (they prevailed).

Even before the election votes were in they staked out a position indicating that had the outcome of the election gone the other way they were fully prepared to reject any nominations by the President-elect for a full four- year term. That isn’t leadership.

In my last blog post I discussed Stephen MR Covey’s three levels of trust and how bluntly Secretary Clinton failed to fully recognize and overcome her deficit of identity based trust.

I have heard some people disappointed with the election outcome indicate that Secretary Clinton didn’t prevail because of her gender. I personally think that is bullshit. I think in large part she didn’t prevail because people just fundamentally don’t feel like they know and trust her as a person and as a leader.

In my consulting practice I often assist my clients in selecting and developing leaders. I always recommend that way beyond the typical knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the tasks that there are critical attributes that leadership candidates should possess including: the capacity and commitment to develop others, emotional and social intelligence, and personal accountability among others.

The unfortunate truth is that President Elect Trump as a marketer and entertainer may have decoded the emotional intelligence threshold better than either major party, the media, or the experts.

My colleague Bruce Kasanoff discussed months ago the importance of meeting people where they live and again today in a post about what he calls a dangerous lack of empathy.

“This week's election results reminded me that you can't talk trade policy with a couple that is scared they won't be able to feed and clothe their kids.”

Being a policy wonk doesn’t reach people who are angry and scared.

I wrote a book a few years back about my opinion that one of the flaws in the Affordable Health Care Act is that it assumes a level of personal and professional competency about the very complicated health care process that the vast majority of Americans simply don’t have.

The costs of health care have risen significantly. I believe that in large part that is a function of demand and supply. People who had been denied access to care because of cost or pre-existing conditions suddenly had access.

The health care system in large part is also based on delivering health care rather than managing health and that model has been reinforced since WW2 with rich entitlement model systems provided by both the public and private sector. People didn’t and don’t accept personal responsibility for managing their own health through lifestyle and other choices.

In the business world we have a population of approaching twenty percent that are actively disengaged in their current employment environment. That means they come to work every day pissed and minimally productive. The costs of that have been well documented in terms of absenteeism, lost productivity, health care expenditures relating to mental health, obesity, and other factors.

The fact that I didn’t include turnover isn’t an accident. The studies say that the actively disengaged aren’t any more likely to leave than engaged employees! They are so angry and disenchanted they show up in your workplace and piss in the well every day. They lack the energy and drive to look elsewhere.

Why is that relevant? If people think their lives and jobs suck what kind of voter do you think they are?

Candidate Trump got that. He appealed to the anger and frustration. In truth his emotional intelligence may be higher than that of Secretary Clinton. Having high emotional intelligence doesn’t mean you are a nice person, it means you understand what motivates people.

I want to be clear that I am not endorsing Mr. Trump, neither did I find Secretary Clinton a truly compelling candidate. If I was managing the search neither of these candidates would have made it through the screen.

So where do we go from here?

I personally think that our political institutions are going to keep doing what they have been doing for the last decade- chasing their own asses about their own agendas. In other words, don’t look there for meaningful leadership.

I personally would like to see leadership emerge from the private sector. We need to redefine our leadership models and our leadership expectations

My friend and colleague Geoff Hudson Searle in his upcoming book, Meaningful Conversations, differentiates between technical intelligence; the ability to demonstrate competency at disciplines ranging from financial management to science and technology; and emotional intelligence, the ability to inspire trust and commitment by understanding the motivations and behaviors of others.

Unfortunately, most of our “leadership” development pipeline is based on the former rather than the latter. In fact, as I have shared before many candidates seeking “leadership” roles do so in order to continue to see career progression and increased earning potential. They are not drawn to leading people particularly at all.

Much of our leadership development and management modeling are based on Covey’s first two levels of trust, statutory based on power and position, and knowledge based with a foundation based in competency or what Geoff refers to as technical intelligence. The research shows competency is indeed a foundational element, but not enough to create or sustain alignment or engagement.

Emotional Intelligence, the ability to identify different emotions, to understand their effect, and to use that information to guide thinking and behavior, is critically important.

In fact, I recommend to my clients we do not hire or promote individuals into management unless they display a reasonable capability in this area.

The problem is two- fold.

First, it still isn’t necessarily well understood and applied; and second, it isn’t enough.

Justin Bariso, Founder of Insight, had a great post previously on the seven myths of emotional intelligence or EQ. He identified these –

1.            DENIAL- Emotional intelligence doesn't exist.

2.            Emotional intelligence is just common sense.

3.            You can control your feelings.

4.            More emotional people are naturally more emotionally intelligent

5.            Sharpening your EQ is easy

6.            Once you've got it, you've got it

7.            Those with high emotional intelligence always make the best leaders

As somebody who has spent over three decades as a C level executive, HR executive, and consultant I have heard these and more.

 

Emotional intelligence is indeed real. If it was common sense, we wouldn’t see better than 60% of the working population not engaged or actively disengaged costing our economy billions annually!

We would all like to think we can control our emotions, in fact that is what distinguishes us from the “lower” species, but the lizard brain is alive and well. Research has shown that when our rational mind finds itself in conflict with our emotional/feeling mind the emotional mind wins 85% of the time!

Being emotional and emotionally intelligent are two different things and increasing your EQ is both hard and continuous.

People with high emotional intelligence and no conscience are called high functioning sociopaths!

The fact that you are clued into the emotions and motivations of people is no guarantee they will only use their power for good rather than evil, or that they are benevolent or nice. Just ask anybody that worked for Steve Jobs, or for me for that matter!

I mentioned earlier that I thought perhaps Candidate Trump possessed higher emotional intelligence than Candidate Clinton.

I want to be abundantly clear that I am not endorsing what I have seen thus far as his leadership skills or leadership model.

Another critical concept I would add to the mix is what the guru of emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman calls Emotional Balance, the ability to keep disruptive emotions in check, to maintain effectiveness under stressful conditions.

His research indicates that this leadership competency is critical because emotions spread from group leaders to group members.

Research done at the Yale School of Management shows when the group leader is in an upbeat mood, people in the group catch that mood and the team does better. Similarly, a leader’s negative mood causes team members to become negative and their performance to plummet.

Does it matter if a boss blows up at an employee? You bet it does. Research shows that employees remember most vividly negative encounters they've had with a boss. They remember it much better than the positive encounters. After that encounter, they felt demoralized and didn't want anything more to do with that boss.

It is this particular dimension of leadership that has many concerned about President Elect Trump. His perceived volatility and downright nastiness when he feels threatened or thwarted.

Goleman calls this the crucial competence-

We did research with over 1,000 executives from around the world, CEOs, Board members, top leaders, about the characteristics of the best leaders. The number one response is the ability to stay calm and collected. In a crisis, being able to manage your own emotions and stay calm, be able to create this island of security and not spread your tension around.”

The last concept I want to suggest is from Andrea Thompson, a retired military officer and now Director of the McChrystal Group, a management consultancy.

I’ve been asked by soldiers around the world, What’s the one thing I should know to be a better leader?” My answer remains the same: Know who you are, your strengths, and your weaknesses. Self-awareness will be that “extra something” that boosts you up the corporate ladder.

As we move up the ranks in our careers, our technical skills are usually the primary reason we get promoted. We closed the most deals or sold the most product. But as we develop as leaders, functional excellence is no longer the main component required to be high-performing and succeed as a senior leader.

Those leaders who soon recognize that their own behaviors and emotions have a domino effect on their team—and adapt accordingly—build stronger teams. Self-awareness is that “combat multiplier” that not only makes you a better leader, but those on your team better leaders, too.

Colonel Thompson spent almost 30 years as a serving officer on the United States Army including roles as the national security advisor to the House Committee on Homeland Security and executive officer and chief of staff to the Undersecretary of the Army so she has some street cred with me at least.

You could say that self-awareness is embedded in emotional intelligence or emotional balance, but I don’t think so.

I have seen leaders who are highly balanced and emotionally intelligent that just flat can’t see themselves in the mirror or worse can only be comfortable selecting and promoting people who are their mirror!

When we look at the issues Secretary Clinton faced throughout her candidacy you wonder if this is a personal weakness for her? Her inability to win and sustain a trust based relationship with a large part of the electorate?

So for me when I look at developing my leadership pipeline technical intelligence or competency is the base threshold for entry into management, as people develop into leadership roles and especially C level roles I want to see them move through the gates of emotional intelligence or EQ, self- awareness, and emotional balance.

The truth is we don’t really get the opportunity to “screen” candidates for elective office for these competencies. The “selection committee” is the electorate.

We can however build them into our models in the private sector which is why I would like to return to my premise that social leadership needs to emerge from the private sector as our Founding Father’s intended before the advent of professional politicians.

Most of these things can be to a large extent taught so no gender of ethnic group has the market cornered.

You can say that these represent high hurdles, but I leave you with this thought –

Leadership is an opportunity to serve. It is not a trumpet call to self-importance.

Donald Walter

Comment

Back >

Comment

A New Roadmap

The Road map

My colleague Brad Federman shared the following thought the other day-

Don’t chase people. Be an example. Attract them.

Work hard and be yourself.

The people who belong in your life will come and stay.

Just do your thing.

I was pretty struck by the profound elegance of this statement both for individuals and for organizations. I wish I had of heard this before giving life and career advice to my millennial aged children.

We hear a lot these days as to whether or not we should follow our passion, our purpose, or just the money.

For me after a lot of sleepless nights and mistakes along the way I have decided to accept purpose as my person lighthouse. I like the lighthouse metaphor because unlike GPS or a map it doesn’t show you the route, it just illustrates where the rocks are in your path.

I have a passion for the concept of employment brand which in my definition is how your culture translates into reality for your customers and employees.

Wells Fargo pretty much screwed the pooch the last few weeks with their brand. A group of employees stole a bunch of money from customers.

Management says it was a few bad apples. Former employees say it was and is an aggressive sales culture where you live and die by the numbers.

It makes me very nervous. This was the foundation of the Recession. I was in banking at the time. When you incentivize a bunch of people to write loans without meaningful consideration for whether or not they can ever be paid back you build a house of cards.

The CEO of Wells Fargo apologized. As Senator Elizabeth Warren said that isn’t enough. No senior manager was fired. No executive to date has been required to pay back the bonuses they were paid on those “earnings”, including that CEO. Their brand sucks.

Your organizations employment brand is the perception by current and future employees of what working in your organization is like.

Some organizations enjoy a very strong employment brand. I would include Google, Starbucks, Accenture, and Zappo’s in this arena. People have a pretty clear perspective about what these organizations value and the profile they seek.

In addition to an employment brand you have a leadership brand. I think Wells Fargo’s leadership brand sucks even more than their employment brand.

Leadership branding includes some concepts that Malcom Gladwell and Stephen MR Covey have discussed and I find intriguing.

In Gladwell’s latest book, David and Goliath, he discusses at some length the concept of legitimacy – which he defines like this:

• Those whom are governed have a voice in the process; their input is sought and heard.

• There is a dimension of predictability and consistency in the application of the law or standards.

• The application of the law or standard has to be administered fairly and objectively, you can’t   have disparate treatment without a clear and compelling reason.

Legitimacy is a concept you don’t hear much about in organizations or B schools, but then I especially like to tweak it a bit further by adding a discussion of Covey’s three levels of trust.

In his hierarchy the first level of trust is deterrence, trust that comes from authority or position. This was a broadly accepted concept for hundreds of years provided first to rulers or religious leaders and embedded in Calvinism that God only allowed “good” people to create wealth and prosper so they were endowed with that trust.

The next level of trust Covey calls competency based. In many cases there is an assumption that anyone who achieves a management role has that competence, but we all know better. In most cases their competency is limited to technical proficiency; their emotional intelligence capacity and social intelligence are rarely considered.

I have encountered literally hundreds of recent MBA graduates who are supremely confident in their ability to lead based on their shiny new diploma demonstrating “mastery” of the concepts. You can have mastery without practice.

I just finished reading The Toyota Kata, which talks about among other things why almost no other organizations than Toyota have ever mastered their model and achieved the productivity increases they enjoy.

Most organization employ the steps, but don’t understand the underlying philosophy that is deeply embedded in the culture. It is systemic, not just systematic.

The highest level of trust in Covey’s hierarchy is identity based trust which incorporates both your competency and you character as demonstrated by your applied values and behavior to create credibility.

I personally believe that to a large extent leadership as opposed to management is founded in legitimacy. Leadership is entirely relational versus hierarchical, it has to be earned rather than bestowed with a title or position.

I recently started working with a recently retired member of an elite military unit about his transition. We are exploring things like Covey’s trust model and Simon Sinek’s Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last.

His reaction is “duh”. These concepts have been embedded into the culture he spent his adult life to date in. The fact that these are an epiphany in the private sector stunned him a bit.

He shared with me that being a leader in these units is the easiest job in the world. Everyone is highly competent. Everybody is committed to the mission. The leader blocks and tackles.

Sounds like identity based trust and legitimacy.

It also sounds like the foundation of employee engagement. In addition to trust and legitimacy, personal competency is expected and reinforced.

It starts in the selection process. If you don’t buy into the values and you aren’t congruent you don’t get in the boat.

You read studies every day how attracting and retaining talent is a critical priority for both human resources and C level executives. I don’t thing automated applicant management systems and better compliance is going to build an organization like Brad described.

Don’t chase people. Be an example. Attract them.

That is simple, but not easy. It requires a different leadership model and organizational paradigm, but all you have to do is look at the statistics between engaged and unengaged and the “Return on Investment” is pretty clear.

I don’t know about you, but I think I am going to heed Brad’s advice and maybe keep trying to share it with others…….

Comment

Back >

Comment

Why Engagement and Culture Are Failing!

After almost four decades as a human resources professional, c level executive, and management consultant I remain convinced that changing the way we attract, retain, and align people remains the most significant competitive advantage we have available to us, and we continue to squander that opportunity.

Employee Engagement isn’t a new concept anymore and although there are many detractors that say it is merely another “program” there is a lot of evidence to the contrary that suggest the problem isn’t the concept, it is about execution.

The percentage of engaged or highly engaged employees has pegged at about 30% with the number of actively engaged employees actually creeping up from 17% a few years back to over 20%. The costs of that lack of engagement are in the billions annually.

In my experience engagement must be approached as a culture rather than a program and there are some very bright people out there who agree with me.

One of those people is Josh Bersin, principal and CEO of Bersin by Deloitte who shared his research from 6000 companies and over 2 million employees that concluded that the most important element in high performing employment brands is culture and values, followed by career opportunities and confidence and leadership.

Their research concluded that in terms of a positive employment brand these factors were 4.9, 4.5, and 4 times more important than compensation and benefits. Interestingly the “work-life” balance we hear about so much was rated as less than half as important.

Millennials rate career opportunities in the first position, but other than that their responses are the same as preceding generations.

For those of you not familiar with the concept of employment brand, your employment brand is how both current and potential employees perceive you as a career choice. Organizations with strong employment brand have a huge competitive advantage in the war for talent because people seek them out.  Think organizations like Google, Amazon, Starbucks, and Zappo’s.

So how do we keep shooting ourselves in the foot? Well some recent data from the Workplace Institute gives us a clue, (thanks to Michael Stewart of WorkEffects for sharing).

They conducted a survey of a little over 1800 people broken down as a third human resources professionals, a third line managers and a third employees on who “owns” culture and to me the results were a little scary.

·         Over 30% of the HR respondents felt the HR leadership is responsible, however 90% of managers and 97% of employees surveyed disagreed.

·         26% of managers surveyed felt that it is the executive team, but 89% of HR professionals and 91% of employees disagreed with that assumption.

·         29% of employees surveyed say employees drive culture (and 40% of Millennial’s) with 91% of HR practitioners and 87% of line managers disagreeing.

It gets better, there was no overlap between what employees and either managers or HR considered the three most important drivers of culture either!

The three groups also disagreed on what either kills or impedes culture as well with employees citing employees felt that “not having enough staff to support goals,” “unhappy/disengaged workers who poison the well,” and “poor employee/manager relationships” were the major obstacles to maintaining a positive workplace culture.

So what does this tell us?

As Dustin McKissen pointed out Fred Taylor’s adage of telling employees what they need is still alive and well!

Here are a couple of other problems-

A multi-year study by international consulting firm Development Dimensions International yielded some interesting information (at least to me)-

• The highest quality leaders are 13 times more likely to outperform the competition

• Only 38% of those surveyed (12,000 line executives and 1900 HR executives) rated their leadership of leadership development as high or very high.

• 60% of those who applied for leadership roles indicated their primary motivation was economic- they wanted to make more money!

Our leadership models are based on compliance, not commitment or engagement!

Here are some other issues-

·         If you ask most HR executives what the most important contribution they make to the organization they support 7 out of 10 will tell you compliance with state and Federal regulations. That doesn’t sound like culture!

·         The art and science of recruiting has been dumbed down. I happen to believe that highly effective recruiters whether they are on your staff or hired specialists have enormous value in helping you identify the attributes and skills of top performers in both current employees and applicants. The new systems in many cases believe, I have an app for that! We just load a formula into the computer and it does that pesky work of screening. Therefore, the role of recruiting can be delegated to more junior people who manage the process.

·         Recruitment and selection has become much more impersonal. I have a client who is seriously walking away from an organization she feels could be a great fit and who has demonstrated an interest in her because a glitch in their system continues to demand she complete a supplemental questionnaire she has already completed…twice. You can’t pick up a publication without reading about an applicant’s experience with a hiring organization where they applied, were interviewed or both and never heard from the organization again. Current applicants are often potential future hires, customers, or know a great hire, but we turn them off.

As you might suspect this isn’t good for your employment brand!

As to the fact that employees are the only group that identified unhappy/disengaged employees and less than competent management as being major impediments to creating or sustaining culture as a change agent I don’t know whether to weep or cheer!

Employees get it, why don’t we?

So what do I propose?

• Be proactive in developing, implementing, and reinforcing your culture.

• Recognize that the foundation of your organization and success are based on understanding and embracing the three levels of trust, not just deterrence and competency.

• Ensure that you understand the implications of congruency and you either build it in or retrofit your organizational models to embrace it and reinforce it.

• Only hire and promote leadership candidates with both the appropriate attributes and the right skills.

I also see a clear meaningful role for the Human Resources function and I can assure you it isn’t owning culture!

When I look at the opportunity costs represented by more effective recruitment and retention, re-designing health care to include health management and address issues like social literacy and individual responsibility and the creating of meaningful employee engagement strategies on our society I have to admit I am puzzled about why more organizations don’t “get it”.

I understand that it is hard work. I understand that in some cases the ability and necessity to do things like create trust based relationships, establish clear performance expectations, provide meaningful feedback, and take appropriate corrective actions necessary to align performance with organizational goals is still in many organizations considered a soft skill, but the data is becoming more and more available and compelling.

I don’t believe that becoming certified as a HR professional, or gaining your black belt, or Six Sigma will necessarily make you a better leader or manager.

I believe the role fits into three distinct buckets.

•     Technical skills -The proliferation of rules and regulations has indeed made the profession more complex as has the application of technology, phenomenon like social media, outsourcing and global workforces, and related challenges. We need to be technically proficient, not only in our craft, but to understand the businesses and organizations we serve.

•     Project Management- Similar to the Total Quality Management movement I believe human resource competency in core areas needs to be deployed broadly and deeply rather than be seen as a departmental competency. It is fundamental to the management/leadership role.

•     Facilitation - We need to help our client organizations recognize that by building relationships with individuals as people first and resources second we can create enormous gains in sustainability, productivity, and profitability through alignment of organizational and individual goals.

Some of the more recent studies on employee engagement criticize many organizations approach because they look at employees as a passive participant rather than an active stakeholder.

The good news is that employees are telling us in growing numbers (especially the group that makes up 25% of the workforce) that they see themselves as participants in defining organizational culture which is the foundation for engagement.

We have everything to gain here with nothing to lose except an artificial sense of control that we don’t have in the real world.

Let’s fix this!

 

Comment

Back >

Comment

Why Trust Matters

The Trust Factor

I have always been clear about the criticality of trust in every relationship, but it is always nice to get some statistical validation from a credible source like HBR in this recent post- https://hbr.org/2011/12/why-trust-matters-more-than-ev/.

As a recovering HR executive I have preached this message for some time, similar to my rants about the absurdity of leaving the gains from employee engagement behind because you think they are too soft and squishy to measure or impossible to create and leverage.

Trust is all about forming relationships from a different perspective. Taylorism, commonly known as scientific management is as dead as the hardbound encyclopedia.

I was discussing the other day a difficulty a colleague was having helping a client understand that occupation and personhood are separate and distinct. Many of her clients see their entry level, unskilled employees as a caste rather than performing activities. They complain that those workers are focused exclusively on the next quarter or fifty cents per hour rather than the big picture.

They are missing the point on two levels-

·        Maslow’s Hierarchy, is as relevant today as it ever was. When you are in safety and survival mode you aren’t focusing on the big picture and how to become engaged. You are focused on basic issues like food and shelter. We saw an epic drama unfold on social media earlier this year with the young woman from Yelp writing an open letter to the CEO that she couldn’t survive in the Bay area on what she was making.

·        Line of Sight, I tell my clients that line of sight may be the most important part of their compensation strategy. The importance of compensation strategy and performance management is to align efforts with outcomes. Employees need to see clearly how positive outcomes for the organization translate to positive outcomes for them and vice versa.

A survey conducted by Sibson & Co., an international compensation consulting firm had some interesting conclusions about employee’s perceptions about their compensation.

- While a significant majority of employees surveyed 65% indicated they were satisfied with their pay level (their salary range compared to other positions) and 71% indicated they were satisfied with their current pay, 57% of the employees surveyed indicated that they were dissatisfied with the way their employer awarded pay. For the purpose of this study process means the determination of individual pay increases, promotion decisions, and progress through the pay structure.

- 16% of the employees also indicated that they were highly likely to leave their current employer.

- Most employees still highly value traditional forms of pay increases, with 19% rating merit pay number 1, 20% overtime pay, 18% cost of living allowances, and 12% individual incentive opportunities.

- The survey found little difference between the generations about compensation.

This reinforces that the idea of “equity” in terms of perceived fairness and the rationality with which pay is delivered is equal to or higher in importance to the rate themselves above “living wage” thresholds.

So what does the survey tell us, a couple things.

·        Employees don’t understand and therefore trust the way compensation is delivered in their organization.

·        Once they get above that living wage/survival threshold that sense of trust and equity becomes increasing important.

Stephen MR Covey in his brilliant book, The Speed of Trust, describes trust as operating at three levels; Deterrence or rule based, Knowledge or competency based, and finally and most importantly Identity- based.

As a former executive and HR practitioner I can assure you that my colleagues in the compensation business swaddled themselves firmly in those first two levels, ranging from “compensation strategy is need to know and you are not cleared for that, or alternatively developing models that looked awesome to your colleagues at the local SHRM chapter, but were designed with HR rather than our manager/clients and employees in mind.

Identity based trust in the model or systems was nowhere to be seen.

I am not going to pretend that designing good compensation systems and performance management systems does not involve some complexity and technical skills, but our job is to de-mystify those models not make them more opaque.

People rarely trust what they don’t understand.

In this day an age of consumerism and social media the accountability to earn and sustain trust rests with management at all levels and platitudes and generic mission and value statements isn’t going to get it done.

The advantages of employee and customer engagement are clear and compelling and two key points-

·        You will never have sustained customer engagement without employee engagement.

·        The foundation of engagement is trust. You have to do the work.

Be clear with management at every level it is their responsibility to earn and sustain trust and give them the tools to do that. They are entirely learnable and reinenforcable.

The alternative is pretty grim from everything ranging to attracting and keeping talent to keeping your customers…

Comment

Back >

Comment

The Long and Winding Road

The Leadership Journey

Leadership is not for the faint hearted. It is very much a journey rather than a destination. The other thing about it is that leadership is bestowed on you, it doesn’t come with a declaration on your part or a promotion, or a place on an org chart. It is a gift.

You may be part of what is referred to as your organization’s leadership team, but that doesn’t make you a leader. Leadership is when people agree to follow you and it is a privilege that can be retracted at any point.

I am pretty concerned that right now we are observing leadership failure on an epic level.

I have been a corporate human resources executive, C level executive, and management consultant for over thirty years and I am miserably disappointed with the progress I see to date.

One of my colleagues pointed out in a blog post last week that the old management/leadership model (in the old days we treated them the same) were about planning, directing, controlling, budgeting, and others things we do to people rather than with people.

I saw a post recently that said the new organizational currency is trust. My reaction was that this isn’t new, we just don’t want to acknowledge it.

Stephen MR Covey goes even further to identify three levels of trust-

·        Deterrence, trust coming power or authority

·        Knowledge based, trust coming from perceived competence or credentials

·        Identity based, trust coming from shared experiences and intimacy

Most of our institutions are based on at best the first two levels of trust. The work ethic to a large extent takes its roots from Calvinism. Rich people were inherently good and to be obeyed. Poor people were poor because they weren’t good.

Scientific management, the prevailing management model for generations, picked up right where that left off. This was the concept that manager/leaders thought and workers did. You broke down work into small monotonous pieces that could be mastered and completed without a lot of mental horsepower.

By dumbing the work down, you could also pay a lot less. There are some that would like to return to that model with robotics and automation.

I see a bit of embracing the knowledge based trust model in our infatuation with things like lean, six sigma, and the relentless pursuit of credentialing and certifications in almost every profession.

Everybody wants to be bona fide. It is interesting to me to see the new tendency towards MBA graduates to adding that to their business cards as an implied form of credentialing or competency. I applaud people who have done the work to complete that process, but I have yet to encounter an MBA curriculum that creates leaders.

That identity based trust thing is a real bugaboo! There is not a credential or certification in the world that ensures that. You have to do the work, and that work is hard.

My former profession of Human Resources is taking a real ass whooping these days. You can’t crack open the internet without someone commenting on how obsolete the profession and practices are and why maybe the function should be eliminated.

I hate to admit that to an extent I agree. Many HR practitioners are very skilled in compliance, building lots of rules and infrastructure or making sure that their organization is in compliance with infrastructure imposed by the government because of the way we treated employees in its absence.

Compliance will never optimize organizational performance and lead to identity based trust.

A very well respected colleague of mine posted a great article on 10 things that are bad for your organizational culture. To a large extent I agreed with her.

I do take a couple of exceptions though.

She like a lot of others really have their undies in a wad about employee engagement. They are especially ferocious in indicting organizations who use employee engagement surveys as being a tool for ratting out employees and unnecessary because managers and leaders should know how their employees feel and what their issues are without a survey.

I have two thoughts on that:

·        If you are using your engagement survey to identify malcontents, you have baseline cultural issues way beyond anything your engagement survey can fix.

·        I believe Dunbar’s Number. This is the idea that very few of us can maintain highly personal relationships with more than 150 people at a time.

I know when I was an executive I tried to be very visible and approachable by all the employees in the organization. I know as my scope increased and those organizations got bigger I felt like I got less effective doing that.

I don’t think an engagement survey should be your only or even primary way of sensing where people in your organization are and how they are doing. I also don’t think having a meeting with your employees annually to discuss their performance and how it links to compensation is effective.

That being said I think that engagement surveys can be a tool. I think that while we should abandon the annual performance appraisal process unless it is merely a summary of frequent, periodic discussion about performance we need to give employees feedback.

We also need to explain how we make decisions about their compensation, career growth and a bunch of other things that are really important to them.

Those discussions should be with their manager, not HR. That is how you build identity based trust. That means their manager has to have those skills and be held accountable to do that work.

My colleague doesn’t like employment at will much either. I actually am in support of it to the extent it is practiced the way it was intended.

As it is intended employment at will creates parity in the employment relationship, either party can end for any legal reason. The key is either party. Employers don’t like that part.

It is not a tool to build loyalty, that is a different model. Loyalty goes back to my old friend identity based trust. It is mutual and it is measured in terms of contribution and alignment, not tenure or morale. It is a relationship of equals.

The cold reality is that most organizations exist to meet the expectations of their stakeholders. Providing employment is ancillary. Smart employers realize that recognizing employees as equal stakeholders and appropriately balancing their interests is good for the interests of the entity. I call that employee engagement.

The current state of leadership concerns me. When I look at the current election cycle our choices are pretty underwhelming.

I will be blunt; I am not a Trump fan. He is no leader in business or anywhere else. Anybody that operates from a model of dividedness is not leading. His models are exclusionary and prey on people’s angers sand fears.

I underwhelmed by his competition as well.

I am very disappointed in our Congressional leadership. I don’t agree with everything the President has done, but the blatant obstructionisms of the Republican leadership are hurting the country. Since his reelection the Republican leadership has clearly stated their objective is not to run the country, but to thwart any of his initiatives.

As recently as today announcing they will use their majority to refuse to consider any Supreme Court nominee to honor the right of the people to participate in that process is incredibly poor leadership.

What will be their recourse in the event they lose the general election and the next President to make that appointment is also a Democrat? After all the people will have spoken…….

I am not going to claim that the opposition party hasn’t resorted to similar tactics, but since third grade I was taught that retaliation is not leadership.

Leadership is hard work. It is not for everyone and no one should be ashamed for not seeking it. On the other hand, we are at a time and place where true leaders are in short supply so maybe we need to reexamine our models and figure out where we go from here…

 

Comment

Back >

Comment

Millennials and Leadership Fails

Millennials, Employee Engagement, and Leadership Fails

It is interesting to watch both the behavior of the Millennial generation and all of the energy and dialogue they are creating.

I think the dialogue is good. Millennials make up 50% of the workforce today and that number will increase to 75% over the next ten years. It is amusing however to see our desire to lump them all together with sweeping statements about who they are and are not.

The last couple of weeks there have been two different situations involving Millennials and leadership opportunities that have played out over social media.

The first was the young woman from Yelp who was frustrated with her living situation and lifestyle opportunities given her economic situation living in the Bay area and not making a lot of money. She chose to use social media to address her concerns in an open letter to the CEO. Didn’t work out well, she lost her job for “policy violations”.

There was a lot of discussion about whether or not she was a victim or overly entitled. That has been debated ad naseum so I won’t cover it here.

I will say that her being hired by Yelp was a management failure. I encourage my clients to build congruency into their hiring process.

Congruency includes things like- the job is consistent with my values, I believe in the product or service, I am willing to do the work to be proficient, I see the activity as being something meaningful and engaging.

When I read her list of concerns I don’t think that was covered in her interview.

I don’t want to confuse anyone by stating I believe in lifetime employment, but even in the tour of duty or gig economy I advise employer and employed to have that congruency discussion.

When you look at what happened and how she handled her issues from the beginning I am going to go out on a limb and say that didn’t happen in her hiring process.

The second story is at the opposite end of the spectrum.

A young woman was hired to work in a retail store. She was so excited and committed to the product and the brand that she posted pictures of her wearing the company’s garments on social media as an encouragement to her network to share her enthusiasm and purchase and wear the clothes as well.

She did that until she received a post on Instagram from the CEO that she didn’t fit the image of the models he wanted representing the brand- essentially she was the wrong body type.

WTF- you tell a committed employee it is okay for you to sell our product, but essentially please don’t wear it or god forbid if you wear it don’t promote it and identify it as our product.

Epic leadership fail. The average employee unless they are working in a very small organization has very few personal interactions with the CEO or any senior manager. How awesome that this interaction is telling an employee they aren’t suitable to represent our brand!

No surprise the young woman has terminated her association with the company. Her story has also been shared over social media.

There are these related concepts called employee engagement and employment brand.

Employee engagement is what Ken Matejka in his book, Why This Horse Won’t Drink, calls being physically, psychologically and emotionally impelled. Employees willing give up other choices to align with your organization. That translates into higher levels of productivity, higher profitability, higher retention and a bunch of other things that CFO’s drool over and human resources professionals wring their hands over trying to create.

It is a good thing. Organizations with high engagement outperform their less engaged counterparts on every key performance metric. The tough part is that it isn’t a survey or a program, it is a culture. You never get done reinforcing it.

That is where employment brand comes in. Employment brand how your employees, alums and potential employees see you and describe you to others. It is very important and it isn’t just about your recruiting brochures and Linked In and Facebook profiles.

Every organization has an employment brand. The smart ones manage their employment brand to ensure they are top of mind with the talent they have and want to acquire.

Engagement starts with that brand. Being able to recruit and manage people who are preconditioned to be supportive of your organization and goals – physically, psychologically, and emotionally impelled so to speak, makes it way easier to manage those folks and get high performance from them. Changing people is really hard, especially since we are so poor at it.

The emerging generations talk with and share perspectives much more than previous generations. Just as executives have old boy’s clubs (and hopefully soon old girl’s clubs) that they tap into to attract and retain candidates these people talk to each other.

Not only do they talk to each other, but they trust each other way more than they trust us. (For more on why read my blogs and articles on the Social Contract.)

So here are my thoughts-

·        Manage whole people, not just their knowledge, skills, and abilities.

·        Hire individuals. Don’t get caught up in group think and treat them all the same whether that is based on gender, age, nationality, sexual preference, or any of the other stupid labels we dream up.

·        Lose the expression human capital from your business vocabulary. If you have to call them something call them people or talent.

·        Don’t expect any more loyalty and commitment than you are willing to provide.

·        Never, never pee on employees who are committed and passionate about your brand and your company. They are incredibly valuable.

·        Do the work to create and sustain employee engagement. It is better, period.

Comment

Back >

Comment

Revisiting The Social Contract

The Social Contract Revisited
Over this weekend I found myself reading and thinking about a number of things I saw posted and debated on the blogosphere. 
There are a number of different postings out there about a young woman who directed a letter/post the CEO of her organization deploring her personal working conditions, primarily her compensation vis a vis, 
 the cost of living in the San Francisco Bay area and the affordability gap for basic food and shelter and wages.
The young woman was released from the company (fired) and part of the discussion was whether or not she was terminated for taking her view and her issues public. The CEO has indicated he was not personally involved in that decision.
There are a number of issues that this incident has provoked discussion about including, but not limited to –
•    The ongoing debate about a “living wage” and who is responsible for providing it
•    Whether her taking her issues to the public represents an act of courage or a sense of entitlement that we have branded the Millennial generation with
•    Whether the action taken by the organization was appropriate and within their purview
Another excellent post talked about engagement versus empowerment and how we should measure it and whether or not it is still relevant.
I personally believe that engagement is a culture and a process rather than a program or an event and I think that if we look at the organizational performance of organizations where employees rate themselves a highly engaged as opposed to marginally or unengaged the question of the relevance of engagement becomes pretty obvious.
I have long believed that engagement is about alignment. When I have a clear understanding of the goals of the organization, can see the direct impact and relationship between my efforts and organizational performance, and a direct link between my efforts and performance and the reward structure of the organization, and finally I feel that my personal values are aligned with that of the organization I am inclined to do my best work.
Our existing social contact has its roots in compliance, not engagement. We wanted employees to do what they are told with a minimum of pesky questions and the need to be coached, motivated, or otherwise individually managed.
There are many who believe (and I am among them) that the primary purpose of our educational system was to train a supply of people who had the basic skills to follow direction and understood that performance equated to complying with authority. Do what teacher says and get the A. In return under the old model you were provided with a degree of economic security.
Then the 70s and 80’s happened and off-shoring, down- sizing, and right sizing to optimize financial performance became acceptable.
Another great post talked about that HR bugaboo, turnover. The author points out a number of things that we should take into account when we look at turnover-
•    The fact that few of the Millennial generation embrace the idea of lifetime employment
•    That who is leaving and why they are leaving may be way more important than how many
•    That certain types of employment are transactional and essentially temporary and that is ok.
I have long thought that one of the most appropriate measures of highly effective executives/leaders is their talent legacy. How many of their staff have gone on to significantly greater responsibility either within or outside the organization.
Yet another great post talked about the entitlement mentality. He talks about how every organization in the world is basically created to generate value for the stakeholders. Simply put that means that the end goal isn’t to provide jobs for employees. That is a side benefit.
On the flip side employees don’t exist to serve their employers. They rent their talents, efforts and abilities to the employer as long as it works for both parties. 
Enlightened employers have figured out that when you see your employees as stakeholders rather than human capital and you hire and develop people who share your vision, values, etc. and reward appropriate behavior they are likely to stay longer and contribute more during their tenure with you.
I feel legitimately bad for the young lady who finds herself unemployed in a high cost of living area, but on the flip side I have to ask myself these questions-
•    Was she not aware of the compensation being offered for the position she accepted and the requirement that you stay in a department for a year before transferring to a different (I am assuming higher paying) role?
•    She made a cognitive decision to live in one of the highest cost of living areas in the U.S. Did she look at the total picture before accepting the job? Has she considered relocating?
•    What other actions did she take before she addressed her concerns to the CEO in a very public forum?
I can relate to much of her experience. The community where I currently reside has major issues with the affordability index which is the cost of living relative the average wage rate. We have largely stagnated for close to two decades or more since the severe reduction of the extraction economy the community was built on. I am deeply disappointed with community leadership that after that much time we have made little meaningful progress in addressing that issue.
I find it kind of repugnant that a big part of our allure to some employers was the ability to pay relatively lower wages to a pretty well educated workforce, something that may be changing as the state is embracing a new minimum wage that will be among the highest in the country.
It is also ironic to me that we have an issue for employers requiring staff with more vocationally oriented than academically oriented skills, positions that do pay a living wage, and we have made minimal progress addressing that.
We have issues in our society with the wage gap, access to health care and a number of others.
I don’t happen to be among those who feel that the government is best suited to address those issues. I am more supportive of collaborative models involving all the sectors than increasing codependency.
My perspective may seem harsh. It isn’t intended to be.
We are leaving literally trillions of dollars on the table annually in the U.S. alone from lost productivity from disengaged employees, employee turnover, and the direct and indirect health care related costs of employee health care expenditures relating to stress, depression and other related issues.
We need a new social contract that is based on mutual respect and mutual responsibility. I can’t see anything but upside. Can you?

 

E

Comment

Back >