Thursday, May 29, 2014

There’s No Place in Your Workplace For Bullying Behavior

I heard on the news that a new anti-bullying law had been put in place in a local community. There were the usual skeptics as to how effective it was going to be.
However, I did some digging and found out that 49 states in the U.S. have passed school anti-bullying legislation, the first being Georgia in 1999. I, for one, am all for this message in corralling these so-called bullies. I have always said (somewhat jokingly) that they have not bullied the right person yet. When they do, the line will be drawn.
Better engagement by eliminating bullies

Sunday, May 25, 2014

What Signal Is Your Organization Sending?

I am a frequent guest post blogger at is a resource for executives seeking out the latest in business news and leadership strategy.  Their editors probe the web and handpick the most relevant content for the site that will help managers become more effective business leaders.

My recent post delves into how every action creates a like reaction in the marketplace.

What signals is your organization sending??  Click on the link below to read the full article.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Management Essential: Helping Your People to Do It on Their Own

He gives me the assignment and then proceeds to tell me step-by-step how to do it.” In my previous role before coming here, I managed successfully much larger projects than this. Just let me run with it and stay out of the way.”
That comment was from a budding marketing whiz who I have mentored over the years. Her frustration was with her manager who wooed and hired her from one of the big advertising firms.
The problem with this scenario is that he micro-manages her every move. He gives her an assignment and then essentially says, “here is the way I want you to do it.”
Buyer’s remorse
When we hire a plumber, electrician, or a marketing expert, just like with any tradesman, we show them the problem and then walk away. We would never think of interfering.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Expats Should Understand Nationalisation Role During Hiring – Expert

I was recently interviewed by Gulf Business News which is the Gulf Region [UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia] first and leading Business Magazine on the subject of nationalisation which is a big concern for employers in the Middle East

Nationalisation goals should be explained in companies' expat hiring processes, says HR expert.

GCC Companies hiring expats for their expertise should explain the role they will play towards nationalisation schemes during the hiring process, according to an HR expert.

Many Gulf companies still rely on expats to fill skilled positions, but government backed nationalisation programmes in countries including the UAE and Saudi Arabia aim to bring more locals into the work force.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Are You Ready For the Constant Change in Today’s Working World?

Like a lot of you, I constantly get emails from search professionals asking for help in locating talent. I always help because you just never know.

This week I got a note about a Vice President for Learning & Development role that was located in the New York City metro area. I immediately thought of two professionals I have known for years. One of them has been with his company for over 10 years. The other was just starting her assignment as VP as I was leaving New York to come to Saudi Arabia over a year ago.

I contacted them both in the hope that they knew of someone in their circles who could help. I assumed that they were gainfully employed but may know of someone in their network.

Their notes back to me came like a slow drip.

What’s going on?

The first was from the one with the long tenure. He was definitely interested because he had been laid off. This was from a man who was known throughout the industry as a top L&D person. To say the least, I was shocked. I did not get into the “whys,” but told him to be sure and mention my name and that I would also follow-up to make sure he gets a good look for the position.

This morning I got up and there was the other response, and yes, she too had been let go as well as the majority of her department. It was one year in, one year out.  What is going on?

I’m the ultimate corporate guy, but I try to tell everyone that job longevity is over. You will never retire, as in days gone by, after multiple years of service.

Not only that, once you are back out on the street the chances are that you might never rise to that perch you used to have ever again. I know people who were let go during the 2008 economic crisis who still have not found their way back to work. The ones that did land, in some cases, were laid off again.

The perch vs the nest

As Millennials and other in the workplace watch from the sidelines, whether it be their parents or family members, we all know of people who have had their lives upended because of corporate decisions.

The dynamics of a corporate career are over and done with. Organizations have created a climate that no one feels safe in anymore. No one can (or should) develop that smug attitude and fall into the comfort zone.

We have also created a workforce that has no trust in anything anymore. We have created a workforce that must be a lot more agile in the way that they look at their current job or career.

I have always envisioned that talented workers will become like ball players. When the time comes, they will go to the highest bidder and that winning bid may not have money as the most important factor. They will be able to shop their services around the industry as free agents. In short, they will not be looking for a nest but will be trying to find a perch.
Birds that hunt position themselves on a perch to overlook their surroundings. They are constantly vigilant and always on the lookout for their next “opportunity.”

What signal are you emitting?

Organizations will always be making adjustments to their workforce. However, they should be well aware that every time these “corrections” are made, they emit a silent signal to all parties that they have miscalculated, worked the wrong strategy, misread the tea leaves, etc.

With these signals, they do not deliver a message about a great place to work. With these signals, they do not tout that they are a winning organization.

In this time of constant change, we all know that adjustments will have to be made. We also are aware that no one can see inside the crystal ball. However, let it be known that as we enter into these discussions about reductions, layoffs, realignment or whatever you decide to call it, the signals that get delivered to the workforce will begin as the announcement is made.

I recently had a discussion with a CFO colleague at a company I worked at as we were entering this economic “turbulence,” and he told me that “we are in good shape, and we have a horde of cash because we did not overspend when the trough was full.”

This comment reminds me of my father, who was a wealthy guy, but never owned a credit card. He just did not understand why people would use them. “If you don’t have the money, save for it and then buy it,” he said. While that may sound like a dated strategy, it may be one that allows you to make a correction and not at the expense of your future and current workforce.

Surviving a rainy day

Lots of organizations have tenuous finances and can’t survive a rainy day, so the first reaction they have is to let people go. While that may be an option, it should be the last one on the list. Once your brand gets sullied, it takes a hell of a lot of polish to restore it.

My suggestion is to take two things into consideration as the wind rises and you have to adjust the sails: focus on your message and on your personal brand. They are both co-joined for eternity.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Customers Are Key, But Employees Are the Most Important Value Proposition

Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customers. I think you build one with your employees first.”
That statement was from Angela Ahrendts, former CEO of Burberrys and now headed to Apple as new retail and online leader. She joins them this week.
Employees First, Customers Second was the title of a book a few years back by CEO Vineet Nayar of HCL Technologies. He wrote that by putting employees first and his customers second, he was able to build the world’s largest IT Firm.
I have always marveled at how leadership within a company always extols the value of building the customer value proposition. They eat, breath, and sleep it. Everyone on the team is striving to make it happen every day.
Employees as a value proposition
However the other — and most important  – value proposition is, and should always be, the major focus of all organizations today,  and that is the proposition around employees.
When I read Vineet Nayar’s book, I got it right away. The notion is that if you take care of your people they will surely take care of your customers. If you do not take care of them, they will not adequately take care of your customers. That is just plain old common sense.
That thinking is more important than ever today because the worker mindset is different. They are in no way obligated to working for you.
If they are talented, they can pick up their ball and move to another playground. No longer are you the only ship in the sea. If you do not take care of them collectively, they can just as easily “walk across the street.”
Actions speak louder than words
If organizations managed their employee relationship as they do their customer relationships, all their important metrics would show tremendous improvement. Saying one thing, doing another and expecting better results is nonsense.
And this has nothing to do with the employee value proposition because in a lot of cases, those are just written words. Like a script, it takes action to bring it to life.
Not only that but the vast majority of the employee population could not recite the corporate mantra if their lives depended on it. However if you lived up to it the way that you would for that top customer, there would be no need for the written sonnet.
If your customers have problem, they become your problems. If you customer calls, you will surely return the call or email. If your customer talks to you, you will surely listen. If they complain about your process or services, you will surely try to arrive at a solution.
The approach is the same
The approach should be the same. The collective concerns should matter as much as the ones from the customer group.
However this whole process of equalization between the 2 groups starts with the individual. AsMichael Jackson so eloquently sang, “If You Wanna Make The World, A Better Place Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change”
As managers we could begin to drive this process within our own teams. Managers that often say that their door is always open, but you can’t get an appointment or response to an email. Yet, even when you do, the glance at the watch and look of indifference shone through. Would you treat a customer the same. I think not.
The truth is this: talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words.
Organizations, leaders and managers should not say one thing and do another. It damages credibility. What has taken a long time to build can be lost with one or two stupid maneuvers.
Once the trust equation is broken the ball game is over. As companies make pronouncements and fail to live up to them credibility suffers.
That is why it is paramount to be upfront and in the open as much as possible, because that is how organizations treat their customers.
Let your actions send the message
Let’s face it — you send a message with what you say AND what you do. If words aren’t supported with consistent actions, they will ring hollow. Someone once said, “Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions.”
What would happen if your organization lost credibility with your customers. Would they be willing to torpedo a relationship that’s taken them a lifetime to build? The answer is no, because they would realize that they are undermining their organization’s success.
I received a note from a good friend last week — Barbara Maier, Talent Acquisition Manager over at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center– who told me she posted on her wall a quote that I had used on Facebook. The quote was, “Hire the best talent and treat them like your best customer.”
If organizations followed that premise, the vast majority of corporate ills would be laid to rest. Focus on the talent and the customer will be taken care of itself.