The Cost of Doing Business

Bill O'ReillyLots of people are pointing at Bill O’Reilly’s firing as a triumph against sexual harassment and discrimination against women in the workplace. I’m not so sure. For years his employer, 21st Century Fox and Fox News had quietly paid over $13 million to settle harassment suits. This was considered the cost of doing business. It was part of their culture to tolerate, condone and cover up his misdeeds and those of others.

Some say it was the women who spoke out against O’Reilly who brought him down. Others attribute the decision to the wives of the CEO’s sons who insisted O’Reilly be fired. Many people who support O’Reilly will blame and demonize the women who work there for taking down their idol and chief Fox News rainmaker. They’re wrong. Fox terminated O’Reilly because over 50 advertisers deserted his show and the network. The cost of doing business with sexual harassers just went up. When the cost got too high — and clearly $13 million wasn’t too high a threshold for Fox — that’s when they took action. This was a business decision, not an organization taking a stand against workplace harassment and discrimination.

We’ll eventually learn the true impact of O’Reilly’s exit. But I’m not holding my breath. When something like harassment, for any reason, is tolerated and accepted for so long it gets ingrained in the culture. I fear that there’ll be more polarization between groups and more distrust. Sadly, sexual harassers will take this as a signal to be even more discreet in their attempts to exert their power over others. I doubt that we’ll see a turnaround in the culture at Fox. I hope I’m wrong.

Evil-doers beware!

Lately I’ve been receiving dozens of messages that people want to join my mailing list and receive my updates and blogposts. Now while I’d love to believe that suddenly scores of people had recognized my brilliance and couldn’t go another day without hearing from me, my social media antennae told me otherwise. After investigating some of the e-mail addresses, several of which looked rather suspect, I was able to determine that many of them, probably all, came from sources of spam. Seems these evil-doers want access to my site, probably for nefarious purposes.

Rest assured that I haven’t granted access to any of the requests that I’ve received in the past few days. THIS SITE IS SAFE. And so are you. I’m going to keep somewhat quiet until this storm passes over and the situation is resolved.

If you are a real person interested in hearing more from me and you sent a legit request in the past week, please send me a personalized e-mail letting me know and I’ll be happy to add you to the distribution. But I won’t be adding any that obviously came from bots.

If only they’d use their powers for good and not evil.

Dr Evil

How well do you have to do your job?

Are you willing to sign you name to your work? Would you want everyone walking by to know who was responsible for these efforts? What if the work was as simple as concrete?

sidewalk1

They say there are few things as boring as watching cement dry. Yet it seems that contractors in Toronto take a lot of pride in how their cement has dried. While walking around I saw all these imprints embedded in the sidewalks. On closer inspection I realized these were the names of different contractors who’d laid these sidewalks. I’ll bet most people don’t even notice. But it sure seems important to the people who created these walkways. Important enough for the contractors to have signed their name. It’s branding no doubt, but it’s more than that.

sidewalk2

If you know that everyone walking by is going to know who created that street, I think you’re going to do a better job. Because if the work is slipshod, everyone’s going to know that too. If the pavement cracks or chips and someone slips or trips, that unfortunate individual will have an up close view of who is to blame. At best, a soiled reputation. At worst, lawsuits.

sidewalk3

It’s been proven that even the idea that someone may be watching inspires people to do better work. Some of the imprints were over 40 years old. Most likely some of the people who laid those sidewalks are no longer around to walk on them. The evidence of their good work lives on. How good is your work? Would you sign it knowing that it would be around for decades? Someone is watching.

sidewalk4

People make a difference

airline seatMore and more it seems that the more you pay the less you get. On a recent flight, if I wanted to pick my seat before I arrived at the airport on the day of the flight, there was an additional charge. I’m not talking about getting an upgrade or extra legroom; I’m just talking about picking a seat. Really? It sure seemed like coercion. “Oh, yes, you’re paying to get on our plane but without a few more dollars we get to decide where you’re going to sit. How about row 39, middle seat?” Now it all turned out okay and it was a lovely flight but not because of the airline. It was because of the people.

flight attendantsWhen you get right down to it, whether it’s Delta, American, United or any other airline, the plane is pretty much the same. What differentiates one airline from another is the people, the service you get on board and at the gate. That’s why so many people are fans of Southwest. Some Southwest patrons actually look forward to their flights!

Sam Walton famously said, “Treat your employees the way you’d like them to treat your best customers.” Okay, that may have been a long time ago and I know that Wal-Mart has made the news lately over the way their employees are treated at some locations. But let’s look at the underlying philosophy.

Employees look to their managers and leaders as role models for how to behave. What are you showing to your employees? We’re no longer in a manufacturing or agricultural economy. Everything today is about customer service and information. Bill Gates said, “Whoever has the best information, wins.” I believe that the best service wins, assuming that everything else, like which plane you’re on, is relatively equal. Every person in your organization must be a superior customer service representative of your company. I’ve heard people in some functions say, “I’m not customer facing.” Here are two things I know. One, if your employees aren’t serving the customer, they’re serving someone who is. Two, if employees are not giving good service to their customers, internal or external, then your external customers will go elsewhere to get the service they want.

Just about everyone has heard, at one time or other, some senior leader pontificate that, “People are our most important asset.” It’s been repeated so often it’s become a bitter punch line in some organizations. But people really are the key differentiator between you and your competition. The companies that find, retain and develop the best people are the ones who reap the greatest profitability per employee. Companies need to invest in developing their people rather than spending their resources on churning through staff. When I was a recruiting manager, I never complained about filling a position. I did get annoyed at having to fill it repeatedly because the manager had driven away another good employee.

Training managers in how to treat their people is one of the best investments an organization can make. The organization will save on staffing and training because your managers won’t just be managers.  As they model the behavior they want staff to demonstrate, they’ll also be trainers developing their people. And that’s where it all begins and ends.

Need a little motivation?

post-its

 

Or a little inspiration on a Friday afternoon? Here you go. 120+ motivational quotes compiled by Carol Roth of Tough Love for Business.

 

 

There’s great quotes from Vince Lombardi, Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, Peter Drucker, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Yoda and yours truly. I’m in there at #65!

Take a look to see what I submitted as well as all these other great quotes. A great way to end, or start, your week!

Managing, Motivating & Retaining Your HiPo’s

No, that’s not a typo about saving endangered large river dwelling creatures in Africa.

Just a short post to share this article that appears in the latest HRDecisions magazine. I was interviewed for it and quoted extensively. Thought you’d like to see these ideas for managing, motivating and retaining your high potential (HiPo) employees.

Key concepts include:

  • how managers can most effectively use their most limited resource, time.
  • no-cost ways to motivate your HiPo’s
  • the importance of constructive feedback and effective performance management of your HiPo’s

Just click on the article title, “How to Keep your HiPos Engaged, Productive and On Board” on the front cover.

As always, I’d love to hear your feedback.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by family, friends and gratitude!
Only the best,
Ron

One Brave Police Officer

I suppose it’s possible that the New York Police Department had never heard of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. I mean it’s been 37 years since it was passed and I acknowledge that they’ve had  lot on their minds since then. But when Officer Akema Thompson asked months in advance of the infrequently given sergeant’s exam to take a  make-up exam as the date of the exam was the same day as her due date, she was denied. Repeated requests from the officer and her union representative were also denied.  The final denial came three days before her due date as she lay in a hospital having contractions only hours before her son was born. You can read the full story here.

Officer Thompson didn’t give up the fight. She took the powerful NYPD, which allows other officers to take make-up exams for other reasons (religion, injury, military service), to court and won. She’s currently studying for the make-up exam which, it is acknowledged, can “alter the trajectory of her career.”

Standing up to your boss or organization in the face of blatant discrimination is hard. To do so when the organization is one with such a strong culture of obedience and following orders take enormous reserves of courage and resilience, characteristics critical to the success of any manager. That Officer Thompson is a woman fighting for her rights in an organization with overwhelming masculine traditions only made her fight harder and her victory that much more gratifying.

nypd-sgtI think Officer Thompson will make an outstanding leader. The NYPD needs people like her. She is one brave police officer. I hope she passes.

Warren Bennis, a tower of leadership

Warren Bennis, one of the premier thinkers on leadership passed away this month. I remember reading, “On Becoming a Leader” almost 25 years ago and his words still resonate today. Bennis said, “The leader wonders about everything, wants to learn as much as he can, is willing to take risks, experiment, try new things. He does not worry about failure but embraces errors, knowing he will learn from them.”

Bennis was talking about managers and leaders having courage, a willingness to fail as a  steppingstone to improvement. He believed in leadership, and he believed in the future leaders of our world and our economy. He counseled presidents, CEO’s and students.  He was an optimist who saw improvement as the goal and was unwilling to accept mediocrity. He had faith in the next generation of leaders and he will be missed.

 

Managerial Courage

Lately I’ve been thinking about courage. Not the kind soldiers or single mothers have. Managerial courage. The courage to do the right thing even when you’re not sure how it will turn out or how your actions will be perceived. The courage to tell an underperforming employee that he needs to do better. The courage to tell someone that she needs to start showing up on time or not to talk back to irritating customers. I know, it’s common sense. People ought to know that they should do their jobs, show up when scheduled and don’t give lip to customers. And if they did, a manager’s job would be a lot easier. Sadly that’s not the case. And that’s where courage comes in.

No one likes to inherit deadwood. Think of a time when you took over a new team or department. What did you find? Some excellent workers doing exactly as you would hope and expect. And then the deadwood. A few people whom you can’t understand how they still have their jobs. How did the last manager let them get away with this level of performance?

Courage. The last manager lacked courage. For whatever reason, and I’ve probably heard them all, he did nothing and left this mess for you to clean up.

Do you want to be “that guy?” The one who leaves the deadwood behind. Is that the reputation you want?  Jobs are fluid nowadays, but reputations are fragile. Maybe the last manager didn’t handle the under-performer because he figured he’d be working somewhere else soon enough so why bother? The reputation he leaves behind though will follow him throughout his career.

Don’t be “That Guy.” Have courage. The rest of your staff are watching you. If you fail to manage your lesser performers, you will lose the ability, and possibly the right, to manage anyone.

I’ve got a few more thoughts on this so look for more example and thoughts on courage. And of course I welcome your examples. Let’s hear ’em!