ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - September 2000

Issue Highlight - Remembering What Matters
-  Peter Block explains the need to look deeper than fashion and technological trends to find meaning in our homes and workplaces.

 In This Issue...
Living Impossible Dreams
Ouch! Is it Time to Redesign Your Systems?
Searching Ourselves: Avoiding Office Boxing Rings
Believe It or Not— Workplace Bias Still Exists

Bedtime Stories for Your Organization
Economy Breeds Short-Sightedness

Peter Block Column
Views for a Change
Heard on the Street

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

It’s Who Knows You That Counts

  It seems as though many young executives are relying on speaking engagements and publishing articles to boost their careers.

  According to a recent Wall Street Journal, public exposure has helped Robert Gerber, a 37-year-old chief strategy officer at Commtouch Inc., get ahead in the technology field. His contact with conference organizers exposed him to a whole new world of influential people. Gerber claims that he rarely updates his resume and headhunters find him when attractive job opportunities arise.

  Gerber feels he doesn’t need a piece of paper to list his achievements when so many people understand who he is, what he has done, and that he is capable of achieving goals. While this sort of exposure may help individuals personally, executive recruiters caution that certain achievements, such as being an ‘expert’, could get overblown.

  “You have to find that delicate balance between self-promoting and team promoting,” he said.

Battle of the Sexes

  Men may be from Mars and women from Venus, and nowhere may that be more apparent than in how they view their jobs. recruitment studies recently surveyed more than 1,600 students and found that males and females have dramatically different views on employment, work environment and compensation.

  Although salary was valued equally (85 percent) by both genders, men appeared more interested in financial incentives while women were more concerned with job security.

  The study shows 51 percent of men and 27 percent of women expected to receive a signing bonus. In addition, men anticipated an average of $13,300 as a year-end bonus as opposed to $8,400 by women.

  According to Steve Pollock, president of, “Anyone hoping to attract and retain top job seekers needs to understand and respond to the different preferences of males and females while also making sure they provide an equal playing field.”

Genetic Discrimination

  Scientists have mapped out a human genetic code, raising the hope that someday genetically linked illnesses will be banished for good.

  This may open up a new, healthier world for the majority of us, but many benefit managers will soon embark on a multi-decade, controversial battle in the workplace.
Business Insurance recently announced that Congress has already begun considering potential disasters, and “genetic discrimination” bills have already been presented to the House and the Senate.

  New questions have surfaced concerning employee benefits, privacy and business ethics and employee practices liability. For example, how does an employer or an insurance company respond to a job applicant’s genetic make-up if it is predisposed to a fatal disease? Who should have access to this information and who is liable for it?

  The answers to these questions will not come anytime in the near future, but the issue is not likely to disappear.

Let Failure Be Your Inspiration

  Telling an employee they are failing on the job without crushing their motivation and confidence is becoming an art form, according to a recent Wall Street Journal. Managers realize criticism is essential to employees’ success, yet they constantly struggle with giving them honest feedback.

  It is difficult to tell people things they don’t want to hear, but a manager has the added challenge of turning that failure into inspiration. How do you tell someone they haven’t adequately handled an assignment, or that their sloppy appearance is holding them back?

  Steve Kerr, vice president of leadership development at General Electric Co., feels that feedback should be presented in a nonthreatening way. At GE, employees are encouraged to tell their bosses if they feel they are doing something wrong, which helps build a mutual trust.

  Some managers treat each employee differently depending on that person’s personality. Jenet Noriega Schwind, vice president and chief people officer of, likes to preface her conversations with, “I want to explore something logical with you.” Or start out by asking them, “how are you feeling about this situation,” if they tend to be more emotional. She feels that careful formation of your statement is essential to getting the employee’s attention and acceptance.

 September 2000 NFC Homepage


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