Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Help Balance

Appropriate balance is a critical key to survival and success. Balanced tires create a smoother ride while lengthening the life of the tire. Our very existence relies on the balance of the earth and its rotation in the solar system.

While a certain amount of imbalance can be tolerated, gross imbalance creates a destructive scenario – tires fall apart, societies crumble.

Balance is critical in business, education, and economics. Currently, there is a significant movement toward imbalance in the business and economic world. There is a growing disparity between the rich and the poor. According to the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty, that imbalance is becoming more significant.

In the current situation there are record profits, record salaries and benefits for top management, yet, high unemployment, and some of the worst wages, and poorest benefits seen in decades for the average worker. According to the Wall Street Journal corporate travel is up 6.2% over last year. And many of those jets are going to resorts. As reported in the Washington Post, the executive paycheck has increased dramatically while worker pay remains low. For example, recently, a job applicant was offered a position by his previous employer at the rate he was originally hired at five years ago. That was below the salary he was paid when he left the company.

Exasperating the situation is a destructive myopic focus by leaders. The desire to achieve the greatest income and profit is focused not into the future, but today. There appears to be an “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” attitude.

Not only is this situation destructive and dangerous for the low end, it is counterproductive for the rich and upper class.

In a tight economic environment, it is critical that people make purchases. Those on the lower end of the financial spectrum are the real purchasers. If they have higher wages and more money to spend, they buy more expensive food, electronics, cars, pay off credit cards, etc.

The rich, on the other hand, are already spending what they need to maintain their livelihoods. They have already paid for their cars and homes. Instead of putting their money back into the system through purchases of goods and services, they are more likely to invest and to an attempt to increase their wealth.

The irony is that if the populace does not purchase goods and services, cannot afford cars and homes, is unable to pay off debts, ultimately, as recently experienced, the economic system plunges. That plunge affects the rich as well as the poor.

Help! The wheel is out of balance. It dangerously wobbles. It is critically important that organization leaders and executives pay attention and accept the responsibility to make a positive difference. It is important that instructors in business teach future focus and responsibility.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Maximize Success - Deception or A Better Way

To maximize success, every organization, business, and individual ought to evaluate what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. My objective in these articles is to suggest philosophies and practices to be examined. Some of these should be encouraged, maintained and proliferated. Others ought to be changed or eliminated.

Disagreeing with my opinion is totally appropriate; not being willing to examine your situation, is not. Drop your shield and any defensiveness, and take a look. Are there areas in which you might improve? You probably have some ideas and suggestions that might be of benefit to others. Feel free to contribute them; I will be happy to pass them on.

Deception or A Better Way

The operations of organizations and businesses run a spectrum from the most reliable and honest to the dishonest and illegal. Obviously, there are a lot of practices in between. It is not necessary to push ethics aside. It is not necessary to use deceptive practices; doing things right is not contrary to success. In fact, it has been my experience that the more ethical and honest operations can also be the most successful.

Let me share a couple of examples of deceptions that could be changed and not jeopardize success, in fact might increase it.

Free software
You need some special software. Perusing the web, you find some free software that will do the job. The downloaded program seems to work. But to complete the work, you discover that you must purchase the program.
Why did they not provided that information in the first place? Some do. Would it hurt sales? Are customers really more likely to buy a product when they have been “tricked” into loading it? My response is that nothing has been achieved and they have wasted my time. I will not purchase from them.

Financial institution – small print
You received an offer from a reputable financial institution allowing you to pay off other debts for a period at 0% interest. What a deal! Well, maybe.

On the back of those little checks and somewhere on the letter, in much smaller print, is the information that you will be charged a 4% transfer fee. That means the $20,000 you are going to transfer will cost $800 right up front. It still may be worth your while, but why the small print?

A less deceptive way
Like the salesman who before he makes you an offer, looks both ways as if he is concerned someone might hear, both of the examples seem a bit sneaky. I am much more inclined to deal with organizations and individuals that are straightforward. There is a lot of software sold with the listed price. Some explain that you are downloading a limited version.

The financial institution might actually use the transfer fee to their advantage particularly if they can capitalize on it. For example, they could advertise their 0% interest with a “lower than other institutions 3.99% transfer fee,” and make that proclamation in a normal sized print.

No one likes to feel they have been deceived or misled. I use the word “feel”because like the software price and the transfer fee, it is not the number but the way it is presented.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Careful with Policies

In every business and organization it is important to have policies. However, sometimes policies can get in the way. Additionally, sometimes too many policies can be a problem.

I was asked to accept a position where there was considerable turmoil. That particular enterprise had a policy book approximately 3 inches thick. A procedure book that provided instructions on how to follow the policies took up another 3 inches. Obviously, no one could remember all of the policies and exactly how they were to be enacted or maintained, or even if there was a policy on a particular issue. Many of these policies were necessary and helpful. Others were not necessary and created a legal concern. Let me explain.

When a policy is created, adopted, and included in policy books or written contracts, it is assumed it will be followed. That applies to each and every policy. Should you not follow all of your policies, then attempt to take strong action on others, you make them all legally vulnerable. That is, in court, inconsistency in following policy weakens the argument in a policy adherence dispute. It can be successfully argued that because of the lack of consistency in following policies, it would be difficult for those affected to know which policies were seriously adhered to, and which were not.

Let me make a couple of suggestions.

First, determine those areas that need absolute control. For example, who is given the combination to the safe. What specific restrictions, requirements, and controls must be followed. In hiring practices, what is required of a new employee – I 9, etc.

Second, in those areas where specific legal requirements are not needed, general procedures will suffice. For example, in hiring, your usual process may be to include a number of individuals reviewing candidates. This process may also include the stipulation that the final decision will be made by the HR. Director. This process does not need to be in policy. In fact, in hiring for a highly technological position, the HR person may defer final decision to someone skilled in that area.

Perhaps it is time to review your policy manual and/or contractual agreements; there may be changes you would like to make

[Next article: Policy, Practice and Common Sense]