Archive for November, 2011

Lately i’ve been thinking about the leadership characteristic of integrity

Lately I’ve been thinking about the leadership characteristic of integrity. Several years ago, I worked for a leader who lived out that quality. In fact, if you looked up the word “integrity” in the dictionary, I think you’ll see his face posted next to the word. It was great working with a person I could trust – knowing I could believe what he said and that his motives were true.

I recently traveled to China with four businessmen to participate in an ethics and management forum for Global Partners in Hope (GPiH).  During one of our luncheons, two of the men had a very lively discussion about honesty in the workplace, with both agreeing it was extremely important.

As I watched their animated conversation in which they talked excitedly and nodded their heads in agreement, I was blown away by how strongly they felt about this issue.  One of the men said, “Hey, if an employee will lie about a small thing, then count on them lying about the big stuff, and I can’t afford to have employees who are dishonest.”   The book of Proverbs in the Bible states, “It’s better to be poor than a liar.”  I think we underestimate the impact of a lie and how it affects relationships.

During the forum in Beijing, one man told of how dishonesty had affected both himself and his family.  He spoke with tears and it was clear he was wrestling with how to function with real integrity in his business. 

Honesty is important in most cultures, but how we define honesty can be confusing. What one might call “negotiations” another culture might call a “bribe.”  In certain cultures, negotiations are expected as a rule in business. For example, at the Silk Market in Beijing, a person is expected to barter for a certain product. If you don’t, it’s not “sporting” or much fun.  Most of the fun is in the bartering, right? There seems to be a clear definition between a negotiation and a bribe.  The merchant would not consider this process as being dishonest.

How about in the workplace when an employee who calls in “sick,” but he or she actually is just fine and simply took the “sick” day to play tennis. Is this acceptable? Should we just accept this in the workplace? Should an employee lose their job over a “little lie”?

A line should be made clear in the workplace about honesty and what is acceptable. The leader has the responsibility to model this for those they lead. Why?  Because it builds trust, and trust is the foundation for healthy relationships. If trust breaks down, then relationship will break down. Employees want a leader they can trust and employers want employees they can trust.

Regardless of the responsibilities of a leader, some leadership characteristics have universal value. Honesty is a key component of integrity, and any leader looking to lead effectively will not overlook its significance.

The machine tool industry into the boom peak 2010, the boom degrees along the industry chain to the upstream transmission, so that the machine tool industry boom-degree rise, so that in 2010 the economy showed conduction quotes machinery industry

The machine tool industry into the boom peak
    2010, the boom degrees along the industry chain to the upstream transmission, so that the machine tool industry boom-degree rise, so that in 2010 the economy showed conduction Quotes machinery industry. Machine tool industry into the economy will be the peak year. Benefit from the automobile, engineering machinery and other downstream products, the high degree of economy, this year, the economy and ever-climbing machine tool industry, the peak will occur around the second quarter of 2011, which in 2010 will be the peak of the machine tool industry into the boom year, the economy and ever – rose, giving the industry a “buy” rating.
    Measuring the domestic machine tool export situation, the majority of species in the second half of last year sales of the sharp decline in industry sales this year, year on year decline narrowed down or further to achieve year on year growth will be normal. Due to seasonal factors, expect sequential sales growth difficult to sustain, but the industry in June there contrarian growth of the industry chain stabilizing a good pick-up signal.
    Bearing industry to go green line
    At present, China’s bearing industry from the industrial economy of scale has been the world’s total third bearings, but the accuracy of product and technical level with the world’s advanced level there is a considerable gap. Although China’s bearing industry, the development of some growth, but compared with the world bearing industry power, high-precision, high-tech content and high proportion of low value-added products, products, poor stability, low reliability, short life. Is reflected in the market, is what we demand for high-quality bearings rely on imports to meet. But that belongs to the past and catching up with global trends, in 2010, the bearing industry in the New Year a new atmosphere, but also to follow the needs of the community to go green from the road.
    In recent years, businesses have become increasingly concerned about green issues, bearing industry is no exception. Take the green road, but also to ensure that machinery and equipment can be run as efficiently as possible. This objective, the bearings industry is off a green revolution, and continuously towards the development of the following aspects:
    Higher speeds generate less friction, thereby reducing the operating temperature, reduce energy loss;
    Bear a heavy load; the use of environmentally friendly lubricants;
    Live longer; the use of less expensive during the period.
    Car sales case
    Supported by government incentives, China’s car sales in 2009 increased by nearly 50 percent, as of December 31, 2009, China’s car sales 13 million, more than the United States as the world’s largest automotive market. Some analysts have said China’s car sales in 2010 could reach 1,500 million units, achieving double-digit growth.
    In order to better development of parts and components industry, exports of auto parts should be strengthened to monitor the situation, pay close attention to all kinds of trade protection measures, study the establishment of response to anti-dumping early warning mechanisms; support enterprises in independent innovation, enhance the technological content of products and seek to differentiate their products technology to enhance the influence of independent brands, accelerating the country’s auto and auto parts export base, encourage enterprises to develop international cooperation and exchanges to respond effectively to international trade barriers.

The culture treats people as commodities i see it everywhere – people working in jobs which carry little meaning and provide little support for personal development

The culture treats people as commodities

I see it everywhere – people working in jobs which carry little meaning and provide little support for personal development. Worst, the culture treats people as commodities. Performance review systems, manager-employee meetings, and even rewards are set only on recent performance. The recent performance is everything that matters. As a result people feel like they are treading water in their jobs.

Lack of support for people development at work

Part of it starts at the top of the organization. If the leader values people development, then the organization will place a high priority on education and new opportunities. But, unfortunately, people development is not an organizational priority and is left up to individuals to find their own ways. The BEST manager encourages their people to take risks and gives developmental opportunities at work.

What happens when people development is ignored in the organization?

People drag themselves to work only for the money. This is another extreme from doing voluntary work. Creativity goes down, motivation goes down, and spirit at work goes down too. Unfortunately, the bottom line is seldom measured against the amount of joy the workers have at work. However, it is a very real factor to pay attention to. When people feel joy and happiness at work, they will go the extra mile to offer suggestions for improvement. When people feel they can take risks at work without the fear of punishment, they will try new approaches, implement new ideas, and everyone will benefit from this.
The Best manager always has people development as a key priority. This impacts team assignments, new role opportunities, and educational opportunities at work.

What does people development really mean?

I would take this to the extreme. For example years ago I had an employee whose husband had just passed away. I knew she liked to work in her garden. When she returned to work, I paid for her to attend a one day inexpensive class on gardening. This had nothing to do with her job as an IT technician. It had everything to do with her development. She came back refreshed and appreciative of the opportunity to learn something new, which she was deeply passionate about. Did this help her productivity at work? Yes and in fact it helped to ease her transition back into work after a difficult time in her life. Of course, later, other employees wanted their own one day class which I also accommodated as one-time exception. The BEST Manager knows that sometimes doing an extra effort towards employee development will provide great leverage for management. Too many organizations have silly rules that only allow education for job related topics. This narrow interpretation prevents people from exploring new areas and new ways of thinking. The rules based manager will protest and suggest that the organization should not fund education (they call this training) which does not directly relate to the job. This is the usual short term thinking which contributes to why so many people separate their work and the rest of their life. Encouraging traditional and a blend of non-traditional education will encourage intellectual growth, creativity, and actual loyalty to the organization over the long term. This is something that will impact in a positive way the bottom line of any organization.

How do you implement a personal development program at work?

I can tell you the way not to do it! Give people a checklist form which has three columns. They read: Development opportunity, Class, and Date done in this order. This process will guarantee the opposite effect. People will feel pressure to sign up for a class, managers will feel pressure to assess, and the results will be poor.

A better way

People development starts with a plan from the person. The Best Manager encourages each person to make a list of their abilities (things the person is able to do if motivated) and interests (deep interests). The next step is to have the employee align the areas which match. This is where the development should focus. The development should focus around a combination of education, new work opportunities, and self-study. What if a person’s matrix suggests that their current work does not align with what they are currently doing? The Best Manager will encourage a frank discussion of how to get closer to the work the person really wants to do. In some cases this can be a creative exercise to find a better position in the organization. In other cases there might be a plan developed over time to move the person out of the company which is best for all involved.

Motivation comes from inside

Just because a person has a competitive salary, nice office, and 2 weeks’ vacation doesn’t mean at all that the person will be motivated. This is a very personal issue. To get to the root of motivation requires two-way communication between manager and employee around what is most important. Sadly, managers jump to conclusions around poor performance and as a result people start to feel like commodities as they are sorted, ranked, rated, and judged. It is very similar to the work B.F Skinner did with animals in the cage watching which one would find the lever to raise and escape from the cage. This is not different from the person who has been labeled as a poor performer at work and thus placed under a performance improvement plan. Once in the plan (or in the cage) a person will do what he can to escape and improve their condition. This is only short term and in the long run harms motivation and interest in the organization.

The BEST Manager always looks at performance from a systemic view and seeks to understand the reasons for behavior and motivation. The BEST manager helps people learn how to motivate themselves.

The economic crisis needs better managers

During difficult times people will always generate their own crisis and anxiety. The last thing people need during this time is further threats, rewards, punishments, and motivational programs to keep the spirit up. This all can increase instability. The BEST Manager instead focuses on better utilization, better communication, and better planning with their people. The results will be long term and better serve the people and the organization.

Craig Nathanson

Employee recognition does this sound familiar

Employee recognition

Does this sound familiar? It’s a Friday and another day at the office. Today is employee recognition day. As usual once a month the department manager gathers the whole group for a one hour meeting. Employees come to the faceless conference room and await the monthly employee recognition celebration. A committee of managers and a human resources representative meet monthly to decide which employees will be given the award. The group selects 5 people around some subjective criteria and the award winners are announced in this team meeting. Each winner gets a $50.00 coupon for dinner. As the names are announced everyone in the audience shifts uneasy in their seat hoping their name won’t be called. The winners feel a little embarrassed to be picked and wonder if this will affect their relationships with their peers who didn’t get selected. They also worry if they will have to work even harder next month. The meeting ends with a cake and all in all around 2 hours of productivity is lost which accounts for thousands of dollars. Still, management and human resources go away feeling good they motivated the staff!

It is not possible to motivate others

It is not possible to motivate others. Yet, we still try. Managers assume that implementing programs to motivate with the promise of reward or the threat of punishment is just what people need to stay alert at work. From my experience it’s quite opposite. More emphasis should be spent teaching people how to motivate themselves which in turn leads to greater productivity and overall benefits to the bottom line of the organization.

More emphasis on alignment

People feel good at work when they can align their abilities and interests. People feel even better without the threat of punishment or reward. Managers should hold off the temptation to reward or punish. They both work only short-term. As the British researcher Herzberg suggested, most people want the same basics at work (good boss, nice office, competitive salary, and interesting work). When this is in place people are more interested in their own personal growth and at some level making coherence out of the work they do.

I can remember early in my work career a sales contest. The manager brought all of us into a room and told us how poorly one product was doing. He announced that the person who would sell the most in the following month would win a trip to Hawaii. I can remember thinking to myself, how silly this was. I figured even then that this contest would actually drive down sales. The overemphasis on the prize would cause loosing the focus on the customer. I was right. Sales dropped 30 % the following month during the contest. It would have been better to explain to the sales team the problem with the underperforming product. Also, it would have been better to work on improvement of the product so that the sales staff would be proud to sell it to the customers.

The famous Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu said ‘It is better not to make merit a matter of reward less people conspire and contend.’

Quick and efficient

Modern management likes quick results. Placing emphasis on reward and punishment is easy to measure. It can scare people enough to get short term results. Long term it robs the soul out of people and their work. There are many dangers with rewards. When reward is the goal the focus gets very narrow. I can remember my senior management days when our bonus targets were set in January. We reviewed our goals monthly to make sure our large bonus numbers could be met. This can be a huge incentive when the bonus can be up to 10 times your base salary. The problem can be as the business requirements change management still remains focused on the bonus goals from earlier in the year. Instead would be much more important as the business changes to focus on the work which needs to be done.

Rewards lead to bad habit

When rewards are at stake, the easiest route is taken. When this occurs, courage, creativity and risk taking goes down.

Studies by Deci and Kohn and others have even suggested that at best by rewarding a person who does not like his work, he gets satisfied only until the next bonus. Worst, when rewarding a person who likes his work, his performance goes down with the new threat of monitoring for an activity which once a person found enjoyment out of.

The aim is collaboration

Ask any manager and you will hear: ‘We want our people to work together’.
Yet if you study the management system you will find processes, programs and reward activities which force competition between people.

Stop the overemphasis on rewards and punishment

Pay people competitive salaries and provide work worth doing. Help people to do right work which gives challenge and matches their abilities and interests.

Where possible give employment security, eliminate all forms of competition between people, and encourage open communication and a trusting environment at work.

Throw out old ideas

The time is now for new approaches to enabling success at work. Think if you had to enable people development at work and you couldn’t reward or punish what would you do? This is the most important question for the best manager to ask.

Craig Nathanson

Craig Nathanson is the founder of THE BEST MANAGER™, workshops and products aimed at bringing out the best in those who manage and lead others

Craig is a 25 year management veteran, Executive coach, college professor, author and workshop leader. Craig Nathanson is also The Vocational Coach helping people and organizations thrive in their work and life.

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