Posts Tagged ‘economics’

I felt I had been here before.   Image a large room full of marketing types and business leaders, all wearing name tags and juggling coffee and folios and talking about how great they were doing.  It was the new incarnation of the Business Rally, and I was happy to be back in a room of artificially happy people. The smiles were nice, even if they were forced.

Ron Brumbarger, CEO of Bitwise, had pulled this together, and was happy with the turnout.  I was happy for a free cup of coffee and getting some energy from a room of marketing types.  I think everyone needs a dose of happiness every now and then, even if it is partially artificial.  The rules on the invitation were clear – this was not a job search event, so if you were looking for work, look elsewhere.  That also meant that the requests for 20 minute networking meetings were eliminated.

What was different and refreshing was the presence of several key Human Resources professionals, and how they might have the answer to the turnaround.  Yes, there were bankers in one corner talking about cash flow and operations types in another corner talking about new tracking systems.  The surprise was a pair of HR experts, and the answers that they had for american industry.

Chuck and Chris make it simple for us

Chuck and Chris make it simple for us

Chris Woolard, whom you may already know, is a national expert on employee engagement at Walker Information.  Chuck Gillespie, ex-senior HR person at a local logistics company, is now leading the charge at Peoplebase, with a new take on HRIS systems.  Between the two of them, an organization could make sure that their high performers were fully engaged, and then use that knowledge to produce a better outcome.

It just made me feel proud that, here at ground zero of the business turnaround, that HR was at the table along with the money and the operations.

It also made me proud that people clearly knew who they were.  All of that work that HR has done to be taken seriously is starting to pay off…

The coffee was brewing, the suits were talking, and HR was in the room.  This was good.


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I attended the Indy SHRM lunch today, and ran into an old friend at the sign in table.  She had seen the postings about performance management and the notes about Jack, and wanted to vent a little.

“I was a big believer in the power of performance reviews and the importance of documentation, but now, looking back on it, I guess that all of that guidance and corrective advice we were giving never really did change behaviors.  Maybe it wasn’t worth the time.”  She laughed.  “Maybe, I’m just getting old and cynical.”  I assured her that she was….and that that was OK.

We all need a little watering, some encouragement, and occasional pruning.  Without the attention, we wither and die…

I was reminded a while ago when I found a dessicated and VERY dead office plant in an office, a great metaphor for performance management in our modern world.

When you feel old and dried up, like this plant, it's time to change jobs.

When you feel old and dried up, like this plant, it's time to change jobs.

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Well, hey.  Remember that speech that Jack gave at the SHRM conference?   Some of his remarks made the paper…and, not in a good way.  You can read the story here or, if you’re like me and don’t pay for internet content unless necessary, read the Salon post about it here. My savvy Uncle Tony saw it and forwarded it.

Hmm.  When I was sitting there listening and he delivered the  quote that is controversial, I looked around and saw a shocked sea of female faces.  They had come to see a big shot who was “good at HR”, and they were seeing a curmudgeon who is unapologetically cranky and not family friendly at all.

The quote in question:

“There’s no such thing as work-life balance,” Mr. Welch [said]. “There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.”

Mr. Welch said those who take time off for family could be passed over for promotions if “you’re not there in the clutch.”

“The women who have reached the top of Archer Daniels, of DuPont, I know these women. They’ve had pretty straight careers,” he said in an interview with journalist Claire Shipman, before thousands of HR specialists.

“We’d love to have more women moving up faster,” Mr. Welch said. “But they’ve got to make the tough choices and know the consequences of each one.”


What makes this more interesting to me was the reaction of a woman I met on the shuttle bus that night.  She was still fuming, but from a surprising perspective.  “I’m mad, but because I WORKED for him.  I was in one of the GE divisions that he talks about, and we all knew that the window dressing did not match the world we saw from the inside.  Now, he’s starting to reveal that truth.”

Employer of Choice?  Perhaps, only in the marketing.  Not in the execution…

Take a minute and read the comments on the WSJ article – no subscription needed, and very enlightening…

Your thoughts?

Smilin' Jack

Smilin' Jack

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You don’t have to be high tech to “get it.”

Thinking about Hank’s comment to my last post as I drove by a car wash a minute ago.  The staff was out front in neckties and white shirts, waving in a line of cars and selling the service of a clean car.   Me?  I’m cheap and I use a discount gas station.  It’s $3 cheaper.

The local car wash chain ran an interesting series of advertisements a while ago.  They weren’t selling their service directly.  They spent their advertising dollars to have their hourly staff talk about the high quality of their bosses and how much they enjoyed the opportunity for personal development and what motivates them on the job.  They talked about how tough it was to get a job there and what they thought of having to wear a necktie.  They were clearly proud of it all.

And, they clearly think we have more intelligence than the average terrier or sheepdog or whatever breed it was that I recently saw in a parked car.

Seen on the street near my house...

Seen on the street near my house...

They never talked about washing cars or coming to Mike’s Car Wash.

My takeaway was that they are clearly a group of high performers at the bottom of the corporate food chain, and that I get more than $3 of additional service at their place. Also, I am impressed that the leadership team is proud enough of their culture to spend advertising $$$ to sell HR, not coupons.

To me, it is proof that good performance management and communication and high standards for hiring all pay off.  I’m going back there this afternoon for a wash…and I’m expecting a good experience.

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