Month: April, 2009
This past Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer had an article entitled, “Obama Asks for Help With Belt Tightening.” Apparently he announced a plan for federal workers to come up with savings ideas. He had the following quote, “After all, Americans across the country know that the best ideas often come from the workers, not just management.”
Thoughts Joe and Wanda?
Joe Kerr: Last time you brought up religion. Now you bring up politics. You’re going to spend a lot of time with HR, bud.
By the way, I have a suggestion. How about they drop the price they pay for hammers from 2 grand to 20 bucks?
Wanda B. Goode: I think that was a great move on Obama’s part. People want to be part of the process. They want to have some ownership. Even if they don’t come up with a lot of stellar savings ideas, at least they will have had the opportunity to contribute. It’s important that Obama gives them a clear target (with method of measurement and timeframe) to include an explanation for how he came up with the number. He also needs to make it clear that if they don’t make it, management will have to step in and do the rest.
Here’s a related post from Ken Blanchard called, Make Sure Your Employees Trust You or Else
In his book, Developing the Leader Within You, John Maxwell reprints a Pontius’ Puddle cartoon in which Pontius states, “Sometimes I’d like to ask God why he allows poverty, famine, and injustice when he could be doing something about it.” His friend asks, “What’s stopping you?” Pontius responds, “I’m afraid God might ask me the same question.”
Thoughts Joe and Wanda?
Joe Kerr: You’ve crossed the line with this one, bud. Don’t invade my State with your Church!
Wanda B. Goode: I’ll have to remember that cartoon next time I whine about something… Maxwell also includes the following quote…
I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
– Edward Everett Hale
Good call to action, huh?
Here’s a post that talks about a leader’s approach to challenging times – I’ll Have the Gain. Please Hold the Pain
Hall of fame Philadelphia Phillies play-by-play announcer, Harry Kalas died on April 13th at the age of 73. His memorial service was held this past weekend at Citizens Bank Park. For almost four decades, Harry was the voice of the Phillies. He was beloved, not only for his incredible voice and proficiency behind the microphone, but because he was such a nice person.
His death triggered an outpouring of emotions and memories from Phillies fans. The common theme – For Harry, it was never about him. It was about the game. It was about the fans. Although he reached the absolute pinnacle of his profession, he didn’t big-time anyone. He made ordinary people feel special. He somehow even managed to influence the players (those spoiled young men that play baseball for a living), to want to please him. Steve Sabol from NFL films captured the essence of Harry in his quote…
“Harry wasn’t a class act because there was no act with Harry. He could sell anything with that voice, and he did. But the one thing he never sold was himself.”
There is a message for managers here, isn’t there? It is not about us. It is about the company. It is about the team. It’s about the people on the team – the ones that do the work.
Joe Kerr: I’ll be the first to admit that Harry was a great announcer. They don’t allow just anyone into the Hall. He will be missed by many to include me.
I don’t see how you can relate his style to management though. Let’s face it, Harry didn’t manage anyone. Try the “Mr. Nice Guy” routine as a manager and you’ll get eaten alive.
Wanda B. Goode: I suppose if more managers treated their team members like Harry treated the average fan, we’d have a lot more engaged employees out there. We’d have a much better world for that matter.
Here’s a humorous post you may enjoy – The Jerks Shall Inherit the Earth
A few weeks ago, I exchanged notes with a change management consultant who was telling me about his website. He was apologetic indicating, “Not everything is groundbreaking, but it’s got some interesting content.” I responded, “I wouldn’t worry too much about being groundbreaking. Frankly, there haven’t been a whole lot of breakthroughs in change management lately. We don’t need more books. We just need people to follow what’s already been written.” Of course this is not only true for change management, it’s also true for management in general, leadership, etc.
There’s a quote by Amrose Bierce – “There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know.” I like that one, but I’d like to add to it, “There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know, or that we simply ignore.”
The main breakthrough we should be concerned about is getting people to take action after they read the article or book. Management fundamentals are not glitzy and they aren’t fun. When executed with regularity, though, the result is gold!
What do you two think?
Joe Kerr: You stole that line from me didn’t you? I know you’ve heard me say it before. That’s the reason I don’t read anything. There’s nothing new. I’ve been there, done that.
For the longest time I thought you were un-teachable. It appears that the master has managed to teach an old dog.
Wanda B. Goode: I see where you are coming from. The “new and improved” is a popular marketing technique, right? Most books that I’ve read don’t have brand new concepts. They usually have variations on existing concepts or different ways of looking at concepts. That’s fine as far as I’m concerned. Different teaching techniques resonate with different people. I say, go with whatever works.
Here’s a post that elaborates on the importance of the fundamentals – Management-Leadership Chaos
I just finished Samuel Becket’s novel, Molloy. It was a very challenging read with many colorful and notable phrases. There is one where the character Jacques Moran states, “Don’t wait to be hunted to hide, that was always my motto.” That tells a lot about how he lived his life. Immediately I related this statement to what has been going on within corporations during this recession. Isn’t that what we are doing now? Too many of us are hiding for fear that we may be hunted.
Not everyone is playing along though. I just read a post on the Employee Engagement Network by Chris DeNigris that references a CEO with a novel approach. He’s Kent Taylor, CEO of Texas Roadhouse, and he’s spending millions (yes millions) on rewarding his employees.
Joe, do you think you can move out from behind that rock to comment?
Joe Kerr: Excuse me? What was that?
Wanda B. Goode: These are tough times. It’s easy to do what everyone else is doing. It takes guts to go against the tide. Hopefully those that do will be greatly rewarded.
In his book Enough, Jack Bogle references a piece of mail he received from the Center for Corporate Excellence recognizing GE as the winner of their Long Term Excellence in Corporate Governance Award. In it they mentioned GE president, Jeffrey Immelt’s comment on the importance of “sound principals of corporate governance.” It was obviously a typo. They meant to write principles instead of principals.
That got Jack thinking that it might not been such a mistake after all. We all know what sound ethical business principles are. Most companies post them for all to see and they are remarkably similar from one company to the next. Unfortunately we don’t seem to have enough principals that adhere to the principles!
Jack talks about the moral relativism that has replaced moral absolutism where we’ve replaced “There are some things that one simply does not do” with “Everyone else is doing it, so I can do it too.”
Thoughts Joe and Wanda?
Joe Kerr: I don’t think I even got that mailer. Why wouldn’t they have sent it to me? It must be some sort of a mistake.
Wanda B. Goode: No company is perfect because companies are made up of people, and there are no perfect people. We all stumble, but I get the feeling lately that many don’t even realize they are stumbling. I’ve got to believe we wouldn’t be in such dire financial straits had more principals honored sound ethical principles.
Jack Bogle has also done a speech on the topic above. For a list of his speeches check out this blog post – Speeches and Articles from Vanguard Founder John Bogle