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Are There Cassandras in Your Organization?

June 14th, 2017

 

 

 

Are There Cassandras in Your Organization?

 

 

By: Don Phin

(read on site)

I listened to a fascinating podcast interview with James Altucher and R.P. Eddy, co-author of the book Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes. Co -author Richard A. Clarke has written many what I will call disaster or warning books. While I’m not big on being a pessimist (it’s too damn depressing) it makes sense to move forward with eyes wide open. Essentially Cassandras (named after the mythological figure who could foresee future disasters but nobody would believe her) are people who have been ignored when it came to HIV, Katrina, recession of 2008, Fukushima and other disasters. Current concerns include pandemics, the rise of AI, nuclear winters, sea level rise, meteor strikes, vulnerability of the Internet of Everything, and more. Again, I know these things are out there…and so do you. It may be my foolish choice but I’m not going prepper any time soon. At the same time I won’t be reckless and will take any reasonable steps. But…I am fascinated by the idea of the Cassandra. They remind me of the Whistle-blowers (mostly engineers) I represented in my career. Question: Are you paying attention to these people in your organization? According to Altucher’s summary, J.P. says (with my notes in parenthesis.)

  • Cassandras are data driven. Everybody in our book who was right was a proven, technical expert on the topic they were speaking about. (Who are those wonks at your company? What are they saying about things?)
  • They are questioners by personality. They ask hard questions and doubt what most believe. (Which means they can be a real PITA. “Do you have to question everything I say?”)
  • They have an off-putting personality…not always, but it’s common. (Engineers are good at this. So are lawyers. Ever tried arguing with either one?)
  • They have a sense of personal responsibility. “When they walk into a restaurant and the fire alarm goes off, they’re the one who says to everybody, ‘Let’s get out of here,” R.P. Said. “These guys think of themselves as sheepdogs. … it’s their job to protect us.” (Which means they can be trusted but controlling.)
  • They have high anxiety. “Let’s go back to our fire alarm example. These are the guys who look for the fire exits when they walk in. They’re the people who pull the fire alarm when they smell smoke. And when you think about personalities, a lot of people don’t do that.” (Making them great as risk managers and horrible travel companions.)
  • (And I will add- they are not just men.)

I not only litigated whistle-blower cases, I also created company ethics programs and reporting structures. I recommend companies consider Employee Confidential. You want to encourage people to come forth. In my experience, the only people who don’t buy into that approach are those who have a reason to fear exposure. I have zero empathy for them. I also listened to a podcast of the annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting. I was once again impressed by the intelligence of all who spoke but most impressed about the openness of Buffett and Munger to the doubters. To the Cassandras… be they reporters, shareholders or other experts. They wanted that challenge, that feedback, that dialogue. And in public in front of tens of thousands of people where there is no place to hide. Because there is no place to hide. Would you be so bold? Warning: when you are not open to the Cassandra’s input you will be the last to know. And you will pay the price.

 

Don Phin, Esq. 619.852.4580 cell 3200 Fourth Ave., Suite 208 San Diego, Ca 92103 www.donphin.com www.greathr.com www.hrsherpas.com

HR News – Tears and Anger

June 14th, 2017
You are receiving this because you subscribed or you know an HR Jungle “Guide.” You may unsubscribe any time using the link at the bottom of this email.

 
Tears and Anger

“I have an employee who gets very emotional whenever I let them know they’ve made an error or try to tell them how to do something better. How do I deal with someone like this?”

Your HR Survival Tip

Dealing with emotional employees is often stressful for managers. It doesn’t matter whether you’re getting tears or anger, the emotion makes it hard to get your point across to the employee.

Often the employee is so wrapped up in their emotion, they have stopped listening to you. This means the problem is likely to occur again instead of being corrected. How do you get past this so you don’t end up repeating the situation time over time? There are two things that can help. The first thing is you stand up.

CJ Westrick at HR Jungle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Labor and Employment Alert: Changing Coure: Department of Labor Withdraws REcetn Guidance on Independent Contractors and Joint Employers

June 8th, 2017

http://www.vorys.com/publications-2001.html Today, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it is withdrawing two Administrator’s Interpretations on joint employment and independent contractors that were issued under the Obama administration. Both interpretations had the potential to increase employers’ liability for misclassification and for wage-hour penalties for being deemed a joint employer. In 2015, … Read more of the article here: https://peocompass.com/labor-employment-alert-changing-course-department-labor-withdraws-guidance-independent-contractors-joint-employers/
Posted by PEO Compass

Who is Doing What?

June 7th, 2017

“A couple of my employees don’t finish their tasks or miss deadlines fairly frequently.  They always have a reason they’re aren’t to blame.  How can I get them to take responsibility for their job?”  CJ Westrick @ HRJungle.com

Reasons for Termination

May 31st, 2017

“I want to fire an employee but would rather just say he’s being laid off.  How do I explain it to him/her?”

http://blog.hrjungle.com/

Good information as usual from our friend CJ Westrick.  If you have any staffing needs or questions please do give us a call.  Judy Lawton CEO, The Lawton Group  858-569-6260

 

When Not To Pay Employees

February 28th, 2017

“This recent storm resulted in a loss of power at the shop so I closed early. I need to know whether or not I have to pay employees for the full day when it wasn’t my fault they couldn’t work.”

Harassment is a BIG deal and can land you in very hot water!

September 30th, 2016

Read the rest of this entry »

Do your sales incentives help or hurt your organization?

September 29th, 2016

https://hbr.org/2016/09/wells-fargo-and-the-slippery-slope-of-sales-incentives

Reprint from the above….

Wells Fargo and the Slippery Slope of Sales Incentives

Andris A. Zoltners, PK Sinha, Sally E. Lorimer

SEPTEMBER 20, 2016
In early September Wells Fargo agreed to pay a $185 million fine and return $5 million in fees wrongly charged to customers. The settlement stems from the bank’s employees allegedly opening more than 2 million bank and credit card accounts without customers’ permission. The CEO of Wells Fargo, John Stumpf, apologized in front of a congressional panel Tuesday, saying in a statement, “I accept full responsibility for all unethical sales practices.”

That speaks to why they did this in the first place: To meet sales quotas and earn incentives.

This is certainly not the first time that a high-profile sales scandal like this has hit the press. In the early 1990s Sears sought to restore its reputation with $46 million in coupons because some employees of its automotive repair division (who were paid a commission on sales of parts and services) had allegedly enticed customers into authorizing and paying for needless repairs. In 2005 the world’s largest insurance broker, Marsh Inc., paid $850 million in fines in the aftermath of accusations that it had received kickbacks from insurance companies for steering business their way — a scheme at odds with Marsh’s commitment to finding the best deal for customers.

Beyond the fines, Wells Fargo has fired at least 5,300 employees for “inappropriate sales conduct,” and the bank is making changes to its quota system. Stumpf said in an earlier statement: “We are eliminating product sales goals because we want to make certain our customers have full confidence that our retail bankers are always focused on the best interests of customers.” Politicians, predictably, have railed against the leadership at Wells Fargo and have called for Stumpf’s resignation. One of the intriguing facts to come to light is that the fraudulent account openings continued even after the bank was aware of it and had fired employees for it starting in 2011.

That suggests that firing employees was not enough to curb the actions. Will eliminating sales goals do it? Before answering this question, it is useful to understand why and how such sales practices begin and spread within an organization.

In these and many other similar (but often less high-profile) cases, much of the blame gets placed on the sales goals and incentives. Salespeople are offered a large monetary reward linked to the achievement of sales goals — goals that employees perceive as excessively high. Sales managers, too, are rewarded for goal achievement, so they put pressure on salespeople to deliver. Salespeople are enticed by the promise of the large reward, or perhaps they are fearful of losing their jobs. Either way, they do whatever it takes to make sales goals.

But large rewards tied to challenging sales goals do not have to be a deadly combination. Many companies have great success using incentives and stretch goals to motivate the sales force and drive revenue. The culture in such sales forces may be sales-oriented and even competitive, yet salespeople still behave ethically and remain focused on meeting customers’ needs.

What differentiates sales teams that play by the rules from those that break them?

Large-scale unethical sales practices often begin with minor ethical compromises. Things escalate and spread from there. Consider the following sequence:

A bank account manager, under pressure to make a sales goal, pushes a customer to add a credit card, even though the account manager knows it’s not in the customer’s interest
Still short of the goal, the account manager asks his friends and family to open accounts. (The accounts are to be closed shortly thereafter.)
With the goal still not achieved, the account manager opens accounts without asking customers and transfers a small amount of money. (The accounts are closed shortly thereafter and the money is transferred back.)
As soon as the account manager gets away with the first unethical act, it’s not a big step to the fraudulent ones. The justification moves from “it’s legal” to “no one is harmed” to “no one will notice.” When such practices are tolerated, they escalate in severity and spread throughout the organization.

To prevent that, the sales culture has to stop the first level of compromise, because the slippery slope begins there. As Wells Fargo has discovered in the last five years, even a strong compliance function — one that began firing people in 2011 — can’t counteract a compromised culture. When things escalate to such a scale, the problems won’t stop with salespeople. Managers and leaders may be looking the other way, or aiding and abetting the behaviors.
What’s most insidious is that managers and leaders may be engaging in similar behaviors in their spheres and domains — in how they deal with other people inside the company, with partners, and with suppliers. Often, bringing about change requires going right to the top of the sales organization and bringing in a new leader who isn’t connected to the history of what’s happened. This individual can build a new culture based on appropriate values and the right workstyle.

Though not a question for customers and regulators, companies such as Wells Fargo have to ask how they can succeed in a sales world without heavy reliance on goals and incentives.

In 2011, about the same time that Wells Fargo began firing employees for questionable sales practices, we wrote a piece for HBR.org addressing that very issue. We called it “Is Your Sales Force Addicted to Incentives?” As we wrote back then, the key to success will be a new culture built around a more balanced approach to managing sales. This new approach will require using tools other than incentives — for example, interesting work, enhanced processes for selecting salespeople and managers, training and coaching, information sharing, empowerment, teamwork, manager assistance and supervision, and improved performance management systems — to motivate salespeople and guide and control sales behaviors.

If the bank is successful in transforming to this balanced sales culture, then perhaps the money it once used for employee incentives can instead go to customer incentives — for example, a no-fee credit card or a better interest rate for opening a new high-balance account. Other companies would be wise to take the time to examine their own sales culture and ask whether incentives might be clouding otherwise good judgment.

Andris A. Zoltners is a professor emeritus at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois. He is also a cofounder of ZS Associates, a global business consulting firm headquartered in Evanston, and a coauthor of The Power of Sales Analytics.

PK Sinha is a founder and cochairman of ZS Associates, a global business consulting firm, and a coauthor of The Power of Sales Analytics.

Sally E. Lorimer is a marketing and sales consultant and a business writer based in Northville, Michigan. She is a coauthor of three books on sales force management.

Protected: “Every career move—even the ones that don’t work out—will teach you something about who you are and what you want.”

September 21st, 2016

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Doing the Right Thing in an Irrational Economy

July 16th, 2016

How do we reflect and encourage a commitment to “do the right thing” despite daily pressures make regaining or sustaining profitability our top priority?

A leader can start by admitting mistakes and encouraging other to do the same. Hiding findings or blaming others very often comes from a very natural need to protect ourselves from harm. The best companies understand this and work hard to foster open communication and avoid the tendency to make issues more complex than they are. Very often all it takes is a “gut check.” Put more simply: doing good, feels good.

Sometimes a commitment to values comes at a high short-term cost (admitting mistakes and fixing them is almost never without cost to the client or stakeholders.) But living by a set of values that focus on doing good by employees and customers creates a stronger company over the long haul.

Developing–and living with–a set of principles that guide decision making throughout an organization is no simple task. It involves the kind of soul-searching that not all people are prepared to engage in, especially in difficult economic times.

The value of doing good
I feel fortunate to be in a business where we can do well by doing good. As a staffing firm, the work we do impacts the lives of the people we touch in a powerful way. We must be ever vigilant and mindful of this impact. What impact do you have on the lives of others? I suspect it’s more than you realize. If you are a manager, do your employees understand your values and commitment to doing the right thing? As an employee, do you feel empowered to do what’s right, and admit mistakes along the way? Or is your first thought about how to mitigate the cost before understanding the impact on the lives of others?

Balancing work and life

“Quality of life” issues, such as balancing one’s work and personal lives, are still thorny issues at many firms. Thirty years ago, if you’d talked about these issues, management would question your commitment, or even your sanity. But most people are trying to balance their business lives with their personal lives, their professional needs with their health, social, and spiritual needs.

In these difficult times, there is a lot of pressure to work harder and longer, for the very real fear of losing ones job. Good business leaders know, however, that squeezing as much out of workers as possible, may increase productivity for the short-term, but is not sustainable for the long-term. Long-term profitability is sustained when employees are motivated and committed out of a sense of loyalty.

Managing for the short term as well as the long
As much as leaders understand that we must manage for the long term and keep employees happy, we must be realists and manage for the short term, as well–and that’s tough in the current economic environment. Just as people must manage their personal and work responsibilities, so, too, must companies balance their priorities –all companies must manage for the short term to some degree. We all need to understand the tradeoffs.

Of course, we would all love to work for a company that only manages for the long term, but that is not a reality today. Cash reserves have dwindled, and funding sources have tightened or disappeared altogether. Many of us are simply trying to keep the wolves at bay, and must ask more of ourselves, our colleagues and our employees. But we must not let our fears cause us to lose sight of our values and our commitments to do the right thing!

Shannon Erdell is the President of TLC Staffing and author of “Temporary Sanity: Managing Today’s Flexible Workforce”, SOCAA Publishing 1995. Headquartered in San Diego, with offices in Southern California and North Carolina, TLC Staffing is a 24 year old, multi-disciplined temporary and permanent placement firm. Their specialty divisions include: Business Services, Accounting and Finance, Legal, Human Resources, Engineering and IT. www.tlcstaffing.com 858-569-6260

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