ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum


Online Edition - February 2001

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Issue Highlight — Back To The End Of The Line
- Peter Block explores why the customer has become less important and what this means for those who care about employee development and organizational change.

 In This Issue...
Quality At Lightning Speed
My Hero!
Two Heads Are Better Than One
Leader Of The Pack


 Features...
Peter Block Column
Views for a Change

Pageturners
Heard on the Street


Return to NFC Index


   Heard on the Street        For Those Who Don't Have Time To Read

                                    ne From Column B                                             

Before it's too Late

Whether it’s the desire for a promotion, unsatisfactory salary and benefits or frustrating workplace politics, we all have our reasons for wanting to leave a company. A recent survey conducted by The Nierenberg Group, in conjunction with New York University’s Management Institute, asked 900 working professionals what it would take for them to reconsider staying at a job they planned to leave.

  Results show there was no one response that dominated the poll. However, 24 percent would stay if there were more opportunities for advancement. An increase in salary and benefits would persuade 22 percent, while better recognition of contributions would make 20 percent reconsider. Change in management and making the job more exciting came in last with 17 percent each.

  Creator of the survey Andrea Nierenberg says, “The results tell us that when people have reached the ‘end of their rope’ at a job, there is no easy fix from management to keep them.”

  It is important for employers to recognize the need to monitor the effectiveness of their training and incentive programs by making them equitable, yet flexible. In addition, employees need to speak up about their dissatisfaction before it’s too late in their minds.



Desk Rage

It has sparked countless debates across the country, it’s plastered over prime-time television, famous musicians preach it over the radio waves and now it’s invading your office: violence.

  Cramped office quarters, one of the most recent after-effects of the economic boom of the last decade, are now taking the blame for a new phenomenon, “desk rage.” According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, a survey completed by the Marlin Co., North Haven, Conn., reported that, “forty-two percent of office workers said they had jobs in an office where yelling and verbal abuse happened frequently.”

  While recounting the details of the latest shouting match or fistfight may provide just the entertainment needed to fire-up Monday water cooler-conversations, it is important to make sure these situations don’t elevate out of control. Several tell-tale signs can help to tip you off that a coworker may be approaching dangerous levels of anxiety. Experts recommend watching for employees that frequently come to work late or not at all. Those who feel they can’t get a break at work will give themselves one instead. Colleagues who obsess over insignificant matters may also pose a potential problem. This may show they can no longer handle the “big picture.”


Good Employee, Bad Manager

What do you do when an ultra-talented employee turns out to be a mediocre manager? You don’t want to lose the employee’s talent; after all, he or she was promoted to a managerial position for a reason. But you can’t let other employees suffer under the power of a micromanager. So where’s the answer that makes everyone happy?

  According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, this situation can turn into quite a balancing act. On the one hand, you want to avoid hurting the manager’s feelings. On the other, you have to make sure the situation is handled. So, do you tell the manager about the level of incompetence, or do you sugar coat the situation by offering an alternative, non-managerial position with improved compensation, benefits, etc.?

  Several professionals who have dealt with this have similar resolutions. The best first-step involves monitoring the situation. Once a problem spot is identified, let the manager know there is a potential problem and you plan to watch for improvements in style. Be careful not to come off as insulting. This could hurt your relationship with an otherwise valuable employee. If no progress is noted within a month or so, don’t criticize the manager; just let him or her know that they aren’t fitting into the position. Find a position that better utilizes their proven skills and offer it as a replacement. Remember, it’s possible your struggling manager is as discouraged as you and will breathe a sigh of relief in the new position.



One Number for All

Do you feel like you’re adding a new number to your business card every year? Several years ago we added fax numbers, then came e-mail addresses and next we all got cell phones. We now have four or five addresses at which our colleagues can reach us. A new innovation may allow us to erase all other numbers and leave just one—a phone number.

  The idea called “Enum” is working its way into the Internet and (according to the Wall Street Journal), promises to let us send e-mails, simply by using the recipient’s phone number.

  The system will convert a telephone number into a unique Internet address, which would have an entry to the Internet’s domain-name service. This would make corporate connections through cyberspace virtually free.

  With the new concept of tapping the Internet from cell phones or attaching e-mails to faxes, this is another way of saving money with cheap Internet phone calls. It sounds simple, but Enum will require support from Internet and phone companies.

  Some are skeptical of the system. Mike O’Dell, the chief scientist at WorldCom’s UU-Net unit, feels it is dangerous to tap into the Internet’s phone book. “The fastest way to kill the domain-name service is to overload it with things it wasn’t designed to do,” he says. “And if it breaks, the Internet is down.”

  Whether or not the program catches on, it serves as a reminder that the evolution of the Internet continues on, despite the recent dot-com downfall.

 

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