All my life, through approximately five careers, I have had to read and respond to many poorly written recruiting ads, and also listen to the complaints of people working in everything from tiny start-up companies to major multinational corporations that they weren’t getting good candidates. I have observed that sometimes a single ad overwhelmed the human resource department with so many responses that it was impossible for them to find the good candidates among the “piles” of applications, and yet that ad was held up as “extremely effective”. Improvements in recruiting concepts have long been needed, but it appears they are finally coming about. So what works better than just posting a job description in the media or on the company web page? Read the rest of this entry »
Back in a 2011 Forbes article , a book about psychopathology (“The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry”, by Jon Ronson) revealed that around 4% of corporate CEO’s are sociopaths. (Sociopath: One who is affected with a personality disorder marked by antisocial behavior – www.thefreedictionary.com) In case you were wondering, the term sociopath is often used interchangeably with the term psychopath, but clinically is used to refer to an antisocial person who became that way from being brought up in an antisocial or criminal subculture, while a psychopath has somewhat different personality traits and a condition that is often inherited. (Psychopath: A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse – www.thefreedictionary.com). The most severe among psychopaths sometimes become serial killers or other types of criminal, and many wind up in jail but, more importantly, the less severe cases are much harder to spot without extended interaction and observation. Thinking on this made me wonder if the seemingly predatory behavior of some corporations isn’t indicative of psychopathology at the top. Needless to say, people with this disorder can be very harmful to their employer and the people around them, and often behave in ways business managers, coworkers, and investors would not appreciate, so how can you avoid hiring them in the first place? Read the rest of this entry »
The value produced by managers is difficult to quantify and varies greatly. For the most part, the value a manager produces depends a lot on their personality, which is a product of their attitudes about people, the work at hand, and their general background and experience. Since the essence of the job is the coordination of the efforts of others, communicating effectively and maintaining the commitment of others who will get the work done are of critical importance. In corporations it is rare for a manager to produce much product-related value by themselves. The real value of management is in uniting people who know what to do in coördinated efforts that multiply the value of individual results. Other ways a manager can contribute are in development of strategy, bringing in outside knowledge including customer and business environment-related information, removing inhibitors to productivity, and generally enabling people to contribute to the satisfaction of customers and the success of the business, however they might be able to do this. It is important to recognize that approach is an individual thing, and different managers will have different ways of dealing with people and issues that may be equally effective but strikingly different to the observer. Read the rest of this entry »
This is a rewrite of an unpublished article I wrote in 1994, when many businesses had recognized the importance of their internal culture and its impact on their business. I believe the principles still hold, though the understanding of culture and how to create lasting business success seems to have slipped in the intervening years, at least in the United States.
Where were we going in the TQM era?
The intent of the Total Quality Management (TQM) cultural change effort of the late 20th century was to achieve maximum organizational effectiveness, meaning maximally effective people. To be highly effective, people must be deeply committed. This requires that people care about their work, employer, coworkers, etc., for they will only be committed if they care about what they are doing and whom they are doing it for. Fortunately, people have a natural tendency to care about their work. The sense of accomplishment available through work gives people reason to feel better about themselves, and makes caring and contributing possible and even pleasurable. The positive self-image that arises in this kind of environment is a far more powerful motivator than any externally applied influence and results in far higher quality of work. By comparison, fear is also a powerful motivator, but its effects are detrimental to the quality of work produced in many ways, and they all increase cost without a matching increase in value. But how are business systems involved? Read the rest of this entry »
Standardization of internal business processes, like any other tool (and a concept or procedure can be viewed as a tool), can be a double-edged sword. It can have many benefits if used properly, or can be harmful if poorly designed or misapplied. One of the great challenges for any organization, especially large ones within which many divisions produce different products for different markets, is knowing when and where to standardize processes, structure, and tools. This entry is intended to address standardization in the most difficult circumstances: large corporations with many, diverse divisions. To clarify, horizontal divisions might consist of a marketing group who define customer needs, a design group who dream up products to meet those needs, an engineering group who design the parts of the products and make sure they fit together, a production group who assemble the products in quantity, a logistics group that transports products to customer locations, and a sales group to complete the transactions with customers. Vertical divisions could exist to address parallel product or customer types, or unrelated products that shared other synergies such as a common resource or common technologies. So what do you need to know to use standards effectively? Read the rest of this entry »