ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition — August 2003

In This Issue

Changing Attitudes and Accelerating Change
Coaching and Performance Reviews—Time for Some Changes
Leading Wholeheartedly: A Quality Approach
Negotiating for Quality
Looking Toward the Future

In A Nutshell
Proven Strategies on Service and Life


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

Book Nook

August 2003 News for a Change—Home Page

NFC Index

AQP Home

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

June 2003

Business Contacts A-Go-Go
It’s a Wednesday night at the posh Williams Club in midtown Manhattan. For decades it’s been the kind of place where graduates of America’s elite colleges have hobnobbed to make important business connections. Tonight, though, the scene in the wood-paneled rooms is anything but traditional.

Twenty-five people sit in a long row of chairs, trying to look their best. Another 25 face them, sitting almost toe-to-toe. A bell rings and suddenly 25 manic conversations fill the room. One of the participants, a publicist, rolls through his success stories, and then launches into a detailed description of his ideal client—all in less than two minutes. A few seats down, a real estate attorney leans forward earnestly to tell his partner that he needs retail distribution for a new product he wants to import, kosher plantain chips.

Every four minutes a bell rings. Then everybody in one of the rows slides over a seat, and the mile-a-minute conversations start all over again.

This is speed-networking, and if you’re looking for a better job—or just for contacts that’ll help you do a better job—you may want to give it a try. Speed-networking nights are popping up around the country, usually at alumni association or professional group meetings, and they could well replace trade show hospitality hours, Rotary Club meetings, and online chat rooms as the preferred way to make new contacts.

HR Magazine
June 2003

HR in Rotation
Sometimes a company’s biggest hurdle to effectively communicating with employees is a lack of attention to properly managing the content or distribution of the message. Consider the following examples of communications gone wrong:

  • Many employees at a major Midwestern energy company first learned of the organization’s merger plans not from internal corporate sources—such as HR, a corporate announcement, or their individual managers—but from a radio news broadcast they heard while driving to work.
  • When a small publishing company implemented a peer evaluation process for employees, the first time many heard about it was when co-workers started making casual comments about having received “a survey about you.” HR expected managers to tell their employees; managers thought HR would “take care of it.”

Do such communication glitches have a negative impact on employee trust, commitment, and loyalty? Many communications and HR professionals say yes.

Those opinions are backed up by a study by Watson Wyatt Worldwide, a global consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. The study, “Work USA 2000,” surveyed 7,500 U.S. workers at all job levels and in all major industry sectors about their attitudes toward their workplaces and their employers. Results showed a clear link between organizational success and a management culture that encourages employee involvement and communicates effectively with employees.

Inc. Magazine
March 2003

Employers Try New Rules to Promote E-Mail Etiquette
As e-mail overload buries computer users worldwide, much of the blame is falling on the cc line, which allows e-mailers to share correspondence with countless colleagues, friends, or strangers. For e-mail writers who play office politics, deciding which recipients belong on which lines—“to,” “cc,” or “bcc” (blind carbon copy)—has become a daily struggle. Many resort to unnecessary cc-ing and sneaky bcc-ing, inadvertently spilling proprietary information or inappropriately copying an underling or boss.

The “cc” gridlock isn’t just impeding worker productivity. It’s also increasing management’s legal risks, according to a recent study. As a result, Internet consultants are advising companies to develop e-mail rulebooks and recommending new technological tools, such as the color-coding of less vital cc’d messages.

Why Leadership is the Most Dangerous Idea in American Business
Maybe you’ve noticed: Never in the history of management science has leadership been more studied, worried over, theorized about, and debated than right now—probably partially because the world has supplied leaders-in-training with a (mostly unhappy) curriculum for the past two years. The stock bubble collapsed. The economy soured. September 11 came and begat whole new anxieties that prompted unprecedented questioning about vocational life and leadership in communities of every kind. Corporate scandals and greed brought CEO reputations low and raised ethics concerns high. And now Iraq.

Throughout the contentious diplomatic run-up and then during the conflict itself, leaders were dissected everywhere. You’ll recall the stories. Bush the autocratic unilateralist versus Blair the participative consensualist. Rumsfeld versus the generals. Churchill circa 1942 versus all of the above (an op-ed smackdown that somehow Winny always wins). By the time this is published, there will have been more stories: How to lead. How we’re being led. How we want to be led. The world’s curriculum, like it or not, is rich with object lessons.

The problem is that, for entrepreneurs, those lessons are all wrong. Not because they’re necessarily bad in themselves, but because they all have to do with the wrong kind of leadership. Almost the entire fevered leadership discussion of the moment is focused on one broad category of the art. Call it “charismatic” leadership, the label most often used by academics and experts (you’ll hear it called “heroic” or “inspirational” leadership, too). Please note that the practitioners of charismatic leadership don’t actually have to be charismatic themselves. In fact, plenty of charismatic-style leaders are as vibrant as brick (think Bill Gates).

It’s the approach—the system—that matters, and you’ll find it in nearly every tiny business, as well as most big ones. The charismatic approach is in play (whatever the personality of the organization’s leader) as long as an organization is designed to be fueled by the personal energy and vision of a single individual, a larger-than-life figure. Charismatic leadership is leadership attempted or executed by force of personality and inspiration. It’s the kind in which the leader is counted on to be tireless, indomitable, never out of answers. Do you know any companies like that? Thought you might.

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