ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition — June 2003

In This Issue
When Executive Coaching Shifts
to Clinical Consultation
Observations From a “Reinvented” Coach
Leading Wholeheartedly:
A Quality Approach
Full Engagement Leadership
Looking Toward the Future
AQP’s Team Excellence Award Evaluation Criteria

 

Features

AQP Connections
Articles in Brief
News Bites
What’s Up?
The Help Desk

Book Nook

Our Readers Say

June 2003 News for a Change—Home Page

 

NFC Index

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Articles in Brief
A quick synopsis of what other publications are saying about topics related to leadership, employee involvement, quality, and organizational performance

Fast Company
www.fastcompany.com
April 2003

You can do Anything—but not Everything
You know the drill. It’s Monday morning. You arrive at work exhausted from a weekend spent entertaining the kids, paying bills, and running errands. You flick on your PC—and 70 new e-mails greet you. Your phone’s voicemail light is already blinking, and before you can make it stop, another call comes in. With each ring, with each colleague who drops by your office uninvited, comes a new demand—for attention, for a reaction, for a decision, for your time. By noon, when you take 10 minutes to gulp down a sandwich at your desk, you already feel overworked, overcommitted—overwhelmed.

According to David Allen, one of the world’s most influential thinkers on personal productivity, this is the “silent trauma” of knowledge workers everywhere. We inhabit a world, he says, in which there are “no edges to our jobs” and “no limit to the potential information that can help us do our jobs better.” What’s more, in a competitive environment that’s continually being reshaped by the Web, we’re tempted to rebalance our work on a monthly, weekly, even hourly basis. Unchecked, warns Allen, this frantic approach is a recipe for dissatisfaction and despair—all-too-common emotions these days for far too many of us.

Allen argues that the real challenge is not managing your time but maintaining your focus. “If you get too wrapped up in all of the stuff coming at you, you lose your ability to respond appropriately and effectively. Remember, you’re the one who creates speed, because you’re the one who allows stuff to enter your life.”

Fortune Magazine
www.fortune.com
April 14, 2003

Company Town
It’s an icon of American life. You know the kind of place: where the big boss lives in a mansion on the hill, where half the plant shows up at the bowlarama on Tuesday nights, where the well-being of the citizenry is directly related to one firm’s bottom line. The company town should be gone by now, victim of an economy that long ago shifted from manufacturing to service. But a few—Corning, Deere, Wal-Mart, Maytag, and Smithfield—continue to survive and thrive well enough to see their companies sit firmly in the Fortune 500.

HR Magazine
www.shrm.org
April 2003

Forging a Partnership
CEO churn is at an all-time high. Increasingly, new CEOs enter a company, fail to deliver, and are sent packing. Sometimes, if they do produce results, other companies snatch them up. Either way, the process starts all over again.

Turnover among chief executives soared 53% between 1995 and 2001, according to the 2002 study “Why CEOs Fall: The Causes and Consequences of Turnover at the Top,” conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton of McLean, VA. The number of CEOs who left their jobs under pressure more than doubled during that period, and average CEO tenure plunged more than 23%, according to the study of 2,500 publicly traded companies.

A different study—“CEO Turnover and Job Security,” released by Drake Beam Morin (DBM) in September 2002—estimates that two-thirds of the world’s companies have changed CEOs at least once in the last five years.

Denis St-Amour, president of DBM’s Center for Executive Options in New York, says executives typically are “gone in three years—not necessarily because they’re not doing the right thing, but because they’re not doing it fast enough.”

CEOs are under enormous pressure to deliver results quickly. And that, in turn, places pressure on HR executives to offer proper and timely support. It is vital for an organization’s health—and for HR executives’ prospects of continued employment—to help a new CEO hit the ground running fast.

For new CEOs, the die is cast within the first six months or so, and HR leadership in that period can be decisive, says Dan Ciampa, a former CEO who advises leaders moving into new positions. “If you look at people who haven’t made it versus people who have, the HR person has been better, has played a more central role in helping the CEO get better in the first six to 12 months,” says Ciampa.

“When you don’t have competent HR people—and I don’t think enough are competent at what I’m talking about—they’re going to leave the CEO high and dry.”

From Work Force to Armed Forces… and Back
These days, the U.S. military is increasingly counting on citizen soldiers to fill in on the home front for active duty troops sent to potential war zones, and, in many cases, to fight alongside regular troops in combat situations. While the military is attempting to remain sensitive to the needs of members of the National Guard and Reserve, deployment can be highly stressful—personally as well as professionally.

Thousands of men and women, as well as their employers, are feeling that stress. A record number of reserve troops have been called up since September 11, 2001. By mid-March this year, nearly 200,000 members of the reserves and Guard were on active duty, and that number was likely to rise with the U.S. confrontation with Iraq. So even if you and your employees haven’t yet faced this situation, you may not be able to escape it.

These vital members of the armed services may have to leave behind their civilian jobs—not to mention their families—when they are deployed. Many of the reservists mobilized since the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington have been on duty for more than a year, and these tours could last up to two years. While many employers are taking steps to help support these workers, often going beyond what is mandated by law, others may be struggling with how to balance the needs of the troops with those of the business and the workers who remain on the job.

To illustrate the hardships of being called to active duty and the special steps that companies can take to help deployed employees, HR Magazine interviewed four worker-warriors who were called to active duty after the September 11 attacks but who have since returned to their everyday lives and jobs. Their stories show that continuing pay and benefits is only one way that concerned companies can ease the transition from civilian to military life and back again, and they also show that it doesn’t necessarily cost a lot to help your patriotic employees get back in step at work.

Inc. Magazine
www.inc.com
April 2003

Grist: Down With Bossocracy
Though many large companies have rushed to support the diversity policies at the University of Michigan, how many American businesses, large or small, really encourage diversity of thought?

Three cheers for diversity! Have you read that dozens of big companies support the University of Michigan in its landmark affirmative action case, which the Supreme Court is currently deliberating? According to Eastman Kodak, Intel, Coca-Cola, American Airlines, and other corporate icons, American business benefits from a diverse work force—ethnically and intellectually—and they want everyone to know where they stand.

The author, Adam Hanft, doesn’t plunge or even wade into the treacherous issue of affirmative action. He just laments, “As for corporate businesses on a larger sphere—a macro kind of diversity—I wish that companies had the guts to practice the commitment that they so proudly trumpet to the Supreme Court: the cultivation and guardianship of divergent, challenging, rainbow-hued ideas within their own organizations. This is a far more difficult and systemic challenge than gestural diversity—a couple of African-Americans, Latinos, and women in a chummy and cheery annual-report photo.”

It may be 2003, but the bossocracy still reigns supreme. And it’s no nano-problem. We are suffering from a pallid homogeneity of opinion. Despite all the blather about rule-blasting ideas—summed up in that vile phrase “out-of-the-box thinking” —a truly hot, original idea is pursued relentlessly, if not viciously, by management death squads.

And, despite all the talk about squished hierarchies and pushing decision-making down, enormous and unquantifiable sums of time and money—billions, no doubt—are wasted in attempts to anticipate the bossocracy’s whims. To survive you need to work around its biases. You need to temper, trim, and tailor your comments, purging the PowerPoint of offending language likely to yank the CEO off on a favorite sidebar. We are obedience-training our management. Like suburban houses with an invisible fence that stands ready to jolt a golden retriever ambitious enough to lunge across the property line, the corporate landscape ropes off a safe perimeter—and electrocutes the adventurous.

Don’t think this is a problem that is limited to big companies, either. Smaller companies, led by opinionated entrepreneurs, often create some of the most thought-controlled bossocracies. They have succeeded by an undying belief in themselves and their ideas—often by specifically not listening to the “wisdom” around them—and they are not about to stop now.

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