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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How to Quit Playing Phone Tag

How much time do you waste trying to reach people, leaving messages, only to miss their return call?

Phone tag isn't insurmountable. Some companies, usually larger ones, have ways to forward your desk phone to your cell phone. However, if you work for smaller companies, or yourself, you may not have that luxury.

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Fortunately, RingCentral offers a product that will forward your desk phone to any of four different numbers, so people can find you! Wouldn't it be nice if others had such a service?

RingCentral will forward the call to which ever number picks up first, though you can set a preference. Simply, RingCentral utilizes your internet connection to handle the call hand offs. Additionally, you may need similar services for faxing, which RingCentral also provides.

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Not to be out done, Google is soon to offer a service called Google Voice. Although it is only available by invite only (?), it is said to offer call forwarding, screening, voice mail, etc. It appears this will be a "free" service, but I don't have anymore details as of 01 September 2009.

Here is a brief interview from BusinessWeek that spells out some of the differences.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Easy Ways to Make Your Employees Happier

Are your employees happy? Better yet, are your employees fulfilled in their work?

Harvard fellow Anthony (Tony) Tjan, suggests it can be done in four simple steps. While I agree that his four steps are significant, I would like to expand on them.

Tony's four steps are:
  1. Help the employee create a meaningful role
  2. Provide feedback
  3. Provide professional development
  4. Acknowledge contribution
Mr. Tjan's steps are designed to maximize the interior motivation of the employee, in other words, as he puts it, the love side of the love or money relationship.

While many people have jobs whose compensation is minimal compared with their skills, those people place a significant value on their work. Examples could be military personnel, police officers, clergy, teachers, etc. The work is important to society at large and personally rewarding, though it offers less than exceptional financial compensation.

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Helping employees find what is most important to them in the company fulfills the need to provide a meaningful service. Additionally, an emotionally attached employee will likely stay with the company longer, or until their goals have been accomplished.

Feedback, which I have written about on this blog, provides the employee the critical information they need to stay on the right track, and to fulfill their job expectations. Good feedback can also introduce new opportunities in the business that fit the needs of the employee, as well as providing a clear road map for success.

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Feedback also highlights the need for professional development. Suggesting and providing the resources to achieve the next level of success encourages the employee not only to achieve more, but also to remain with the company. Professional development also creates reciprocity. Many companies offer tuition reimbursement, though they require a one year commitment. However, the retention requirement should be seen as a positive investment in the employee and their career trajectory.

Finally, the three steps above require the fourth step to be successful. The employee be recognized for their achievements and contributions. Recognition, whether in the form of money or a simple certificate, rewards and reinforces the actions of the employee and encourages them to remain and continue to succeed.

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Providing personally rewarding work, directing it, expanding it, and reinforcing its' value is a formula for a long-term, high-performing employee. Psychic benefits are, or in some cases, more important than material benefits. However, the proper balance and fulfillment of the two will make employees happy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Case for Core Competencies

Simultaneously posted at “Dollars and Sense”

Whether large or small, what keeps a business going is its’ core competencies. Those one or two things the company does best that distinguish it from its competitors should be, with customers, its top focus. In three cases, Topps baseball cards, Quiksilver surf merchandise, and Dial-A-Mattress, straying from core competency either ruined, or nearly ruined a successful business.

Topps, a multi-generational, family-owned business, was known in the industry as one of the top two producers of baseball cards. It was successful in the business because it had exclusive rights with players and clubs to the images used on the cards. Additionally, they also were successful selling the formula and base materials for the chewing gum that went into the packs of cards. RingCentral Online - Free Trial plus 10% Off

However, as the founding members passed away and the younger generations took control, the company began to change. No longer satisfied with business as usual, it was decided the business should rapidly expand and begin competing with larger confectioners, such as Wrigley’s and Beech-Nut. This proved disastrous. As the expansion and new products, such as chocolate flavored gum failed, the company neared bankruptcy. In 1984, the firm was bought by the leveraged buy out firm of Forstmann Little & Co.

Quiksilver, a popular surfboard and surf merchandiser is currently suffering from its expansion into Rossignol skis and Cleveland Golf equipment. Rossignol was purchased in 2005. Its recognizable name in Europe and among ski aficionados appeared to fit with Quiksilver’s sports brands. However, the manufacture and marketing of skis and golf clubs proved radically difficult to integrate into the other product sets. Both units have been sold, and in 2009, according to multiple sources, is on Moody’s Bottom Rung list of companies unlikely to pay back their debt. Cheap? No. 100% Free. Trade stocks for free on The Free Trading Community.

Finally, Dial-A-Mattress, the firm started in 1976 allowing customers to order mattresses over telephone is being sold to it rival, Sleepy’s Inc. The Wall Street Journal reports in the July 14, 2009 print edition that “…the two major changes in his business were largely to blame: an expansion into brick-and-mortar sales and a culture clash brought on by new management.”

While the story from the Journal sheds light on how new, big company executives squashed the entrepreneurial, employee-input driven culture, the real story is that Dial-A-Mattress strayed from its direct sales model into competing with other established storefronts. Find high-end jobs on Doostang. It takes 30 seconds to join. JOIN TODAY.

In these three cases, failure to adhere to core competencies has ruined or nearly ruined the businesses. While many find a core competency approach too conservative and not growth-oriented, it can be clearly argued that in many cases, such a conservative approach rewards businesses and investors. While I don’t discourage risk taking, it should be done fully understanding the consequences. While Boeing was able to radically change air travel with the release of the 747, many other companies failed miserably. For companies, understand the risk and prepare for it. Investors, do the same. However, don’t be ashamed to make a profit from doing that at which you do best.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Are Pay Job Search Sites Worth It?

First, I apologize for taking so long to post a new article. I am now among the ranks of those who have lost their job. However, with a decent network, a solid education and experience, everybody tells me I should be all right. However, should I be using the pay-for-search sites?

There are several companies that offer recruitment services like MRI, Sterling-Hoffman, etc., at no charge. There are also companies like, Doostang, and RiseSmart that offer a fee for service. Does it make sense to use them? Executives & Professionals: Changing Jobs?

I have used in the past and found the information, particularly the names and contact info of recruiters excellent. targets job seekers whose salaries are above $100,000. I didn't particularly like to pay, however, the content was easily available and accessible. Additionally, if has a very strong search function for specific positions, though it can be very granular. A Better Way To Search for $100,000+ Jobs. Join!

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I have never used Doostang, because it is new to me. It has a particular niche, targeting "elite" universities. This is how they describe their service:

"Doostang is an exclusive career community for elite young professionals. Doostang has over 500,000 members, the majority of which come from elite educational backgrounds and are interested in the finance, consulting, media, entertainment and technology industries."

While is not specifically targeted like Doostang, both are focused on the higher income job seeker. Find high-end jobs on Doostang. It takes 30 seconds to join. JOIN TODAY.

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RiseSmart is another site which I haven't used personally, again, as it is a new site. Like and Doostang, RiseSmart targets the $100,000 job seekers.

From their site:

"The Human-Powered Job Search Portal Making $100K+ job searches easier than ever! RiseSmart is the first service of its kind: a human-powered job search portal that prescreens online search results for time-starved managers and executives. The RiseSmart team matches opportunities with jobseekers based on each member’s unique profile, saving our subscribers countless hours of Internet searching."

RiseSmart appears, at least according to their material, to have a slight edge of With, you have sort through the results. If you have a good search criteria, that may not be an issue, however, RiseSmart indicates they do the ordering and sorting for you. Top High Paying Jobs. Use our services and find your dream job fast. Register now!

Is it worth it? Should I spend my money on these sites? From my experience, they are worth investigating. I used, but probably not to the fullest. Doostang and RiseSmart appear to have capitalized on the things didn't do very well. If you are in the $100,000 salary range and looking for a new opportunity, check out the sites. See which ones are the best fit. If they meet your requirements, it could be the best money you have ever spent. Good Luck!

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Create Your Story

We all have our personal story. However, when it comes to telling it in an interview, it is usually done horribly. We want to play it safe and minimize gaps in employment. Unfortunately, that makes for a very boring story.

Hermina Ibara and Kent Lineback published an article in the Harvard Business Review (January 2005) titled, "What's Your Story?" The article explains how as people, our attention is captured and focused by a good story. RingCentral Online - Free Trial plus 10% Off

A good story is one that has drama, structure, and follows some basic themes. Whether it is overcoming adversity or discovering your best self, your personal narrative has to be compelling, and most importantly, true.

Each of us has suffered ups and downs not just in life, but also in our careers. Sometimes things have gone terribly wrong and it has taken time to correct them. Other times, events outside of work have required us to make changes that have taken us down paths we would have never thought to go. These events are compelling! They are certainly more compelling than a resume recitation. Find high-end jobs on Doostang. It takes 30 seconds to join. JOIN TODAY.

Here are some common themes from the Ibara and Lineback:
  • A protagonist the listener cares about - a struggle we all can relate to
  • A catalyst requiring action - often found the first act of plays
  • Trials and tribulation - the struggles and questions we face
  • A turning point - When clarity is achieved and action is taken
  • Resolution - The results of our decisions
Like any good story, our personal narrative should explain our career in a way familiar to listeners. As our lives are full of twists and turns, so are our careers. There is no shame in being laid off or fired, so long as you learned from the event and are better prepared for the next step. Communicate how you had to make hard decisions, difficult changes, but are better for it. Your life is important, so is your career. Tell your story, people will like it!

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Friday, June 26, 2009

You're Fired, Now What?

It can happen to anybody, like me! Yes, you get the call from your director with the appropriate apologies and warm feelings. Now what? Perhaps you have kids, a mortgage, a pregnant wife, is this the end?

Take heart! Since you are a good manager, you have taken the time to build strong networking relationships in your company, right? You have also spent time getting the right training for this eventuality. You'll be fine, at least that's what everybody tells you. RingCentral Online - Free Trial plus 10% Off

Losing a job is one of the most difficult emotional, financial, and stress-inducing situations a person can face. Like somebody who has lost a loved one, a person who has lost a job often has diminished, higher order thinking skills. They also have diminished short term memory. The physical brain responds to emotional stress by focusing on life-preserving functions. It re-directs capacity from high-order thinking to low-order thinking. Sadly, many are unaware that it is happening. Now that you know what will happen, take action!

If you lose your job, for the first couple of days, make sure you write things down, more so than you normally would. Try to avoid making major decisions for up to 6 weeks, if possible. If not, make sure you consult a trusted friend who can give you an unbiased opinion. Land your next best job. Get started.

Additionally, use your social network. Notify your friends and colleagues on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter that you are immediately on the market. Ask for advice, leads, and support. Consider all opportunities thoroughly and make sure you have folks you trust to give good advice. While Web 2.0 is awesome, don't count on your three, excellently written blogs to generate sufficient income ( and

Finally, when it comes time to leave your current job, do so with dignity. Be positive in your exit interview. Personally give your best wishes to those around you, even the person who fired you. It is a small world and gestures of courtesy and professionalism are well-remembered. Please remember also that your life is more valuable than any job or amount of money. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, get help immediately! Contact, tell a friend, your religious leader, a police officer, anybody, just get help.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Hey Boss, How are You Holding Up?

Stress is a very hot topic in 2009. The global economy is falling or scratching rock bottom and record unemployment is sticking around.

As a manager, you are not immune from these stresses. You may have had to lay off some of your staff. You may have seen some of your best customers go under or quit using your services. Your peers, superiors and staff are all acting a little funny. How are you holding up? All Inclusive for 60% Off! Save Up to 60% on Your All Inclusive Vacation in the Caribbean. Get Your Instant Quote Today!

It is very easy to believe to stick our collective heads in the sand and pretend this stress isn't adding up. We have sent out numerous "Dear Colleague" letters to help focus our staffs on customers and to keep their minds on the business. However, the stress has taken its toll. You have probably worried about your job and how to keep your business running. All of the stress adds up, but you can do something about it!

Annie McKee of Harvard Business Publishing wrote an article titled, "Are You About to Snap? Snap Out of It!" with four great points. A virtual PBX system with voicemail and Internet Fax. Try it free today.

1. Stop, look, and listen - It is time to pull yourself together. Observe what is being said by employees, managers and customers. Listen for subtle cries for help and overt calls for improvement. Acknowledge the reality and plan for action.

2. Ask people how they feel - Most people don't walk around the office telling anybody who will listen their woes. However, in stressful times, people like to know their feelings are important. It is good to folks to opportunity to vent their fears and frustrations. Also, really good creative thought comes out of stressful situations.

3. Decide on three or four absolute must-do's for yourself at work. Prioritize and execute! Sounds familiar, doesn't it? If you try to do everything, nothing will get done. As headcount diminishes, the amount of work for those still working increases. Focus yours and the work of your staff around the most critical items. Determine what is truly urgent and what can wait. However, have a plan to address those thinks that didn't make the "Urgent" list.

4. Attend to yourself — and the people you love. Life is too short to ignore your loved ones and yourself. Your kids and your spouse need you too, and you need them! Make time to have dinner with your family, and then get back work if you must. Burn out is a real risk. Prevent it with small breaks and short get-aways. Also, don't neglect your physical and mental health.

The current business climate is challenging, to say the least. However, stress is not new. When considering stress and crisis, good crisis management and common sense can help you steer your ship and lead your crew to a safe harbor, even in the stormiest of seas. Observe the conditions, take care of your crew, set the priorities, and take care of yourself. Oh how I wish I were on a boat!

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Experiential Knowledge Interview

In my previous post, "What Do We Do Now?" I wrote about three ways to improve existing customer relationships, as well as build new customers during periods of gross economic uncertainty. I highlighted the need for experiential knowledge, summed up in three words, Ask, Watch, and Do. Find Premium Management Jobs on Doostang. Start Now!

After writing that piece, I came upon a great interview done by Wharton Business School with Rita Gunther McGrath, a professor at Columbia Business School. She co-authored a book with Wharton professor of innovation and entrepreneurship and co-leader of Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs, Ian MacMillan. The book, titled "Discovery-Driven Growth: A Breakthrough Process to Reduce Risk and Seize Opportunity," McGrath and MacMillan discuss ways companies can grow without spending vast sums of money. They also discuss experiential knowledge as way to not only chose the right projects, but also to modify them, as circumstances change. Cheap? No. 100% Free. Trade stocks for free on The Free Trading Community.

Enjoy the interview!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What Do We Do Now?

The economic situation of 2009, with high unemployment, tight credit, and a rapidly changing regulatory climate has made selling to now tight-fisted customers that much harder.

How do managers lead their teams to not just survive these difficult times, but also increase their customer base? Below are some real world suggestions to come out ahead

Face it, we are working on mental overload. The work, government, and social environment is changing so fast that our ability to manage the possible outcomes is overwhelmed. Our customers are facing the same challenges and looking to reduce overall expenditures. This combination requires us to be indispensable to retain our customers. We figure out how to be indispensable by asking, watching, and doing. Cheap? No. 100% Free. Trade stocks for free on The Free Trading Community.

Asking customers about their level of satisfaction and what they really want is a great first step. Besides wanting products that are better, faster and cheaper, asking what they really want provides critical information. Maybe customers want your product found in more places. Maybe they want better customer service. Perhaps they just want to be recognized for their loyalty. Ask! While a fancy, expensive market survey may be nice, why not set up a blog or feedback area on your company's website and monitor the feedback. You will be surprised. Additionally, have customer facing employees ask at the conclusion of the customer meeting, preferably at the register, but also if the customer leaves without purchasing.

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Watching your customers and how they interact with the product is also important. Ask your employees how they use the product. If your product is a service, is your customer able to rapidly integrate your service into their life or business? Is there something you can do to make that integration better? If your product is difficult to use or consume, now is the time to fix it. Organic Flowers & Gourmet Gifts

As I mentioned above, the current world we live in is very different from what most of us know. We lack the ability to think our way out of this. What we should be doing is trying new ideas, little ones, cheap ones, and see what works. If we have asked and watched our customers, we should be able to come up with simple improvements. Here is a simple, but great example. I bought a TV stand. It came with great instructions and the components were clearly labeled. The hardware came in two bags, one for each major assembly. I was pleased and assembled the stand with ease. I recently bought another stand, by the same company. This time, they packaged the hardware for each step, and numbered the bags, so there was absolutely no guessing. This change in packaging, a cheap, easy, action has me talking about the company and recommending it. The company is Slam Brands.

While it may be impossible to predict interest rates and net present value calculations aren't really helping us make decisions, we can survive by asking, watching, and doing. If we ask our customers what they think, watch how they use our products, and take action on that data, we will create lasting customers and better products. We can also use the same technique with our employees.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How to Manage Conflict in the Office

The office climate of 2009 is very stressful, as unemployment hovers below 10% and the next layoff seems just around the corner. This high-tension environment exacerbates underlying conflicts, and may bring many to the fore. Below you will find practical steps for dealing with conflicts between employees.

The first step is to identify why the conflict exists. Is there an old argument that has been simmering? Perhaps there is a structural, corporate issue that brings out the aggravation. Without a clear understanding of why the conflict exists, it can not be dealt with appropriately. Try RingCentral Fax FREE for 30 days

The next step is to stay focused on the present. If the conflict precedes your leadership, you can only hope to acknowledge the emotions, but can't be responsible for that done by others. If the conflict is fresh and the responsible party can be identified, have the party accept responsibility and make amends.

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A third step is to refocus the conflicted parties on the shared vision of the company and business unit. While the disagreement is obvious, the points of agreement have drifted into the background. Remind each side that as employees of the company, their first priority is the customer and the success of the company. Also remind them that any actions detracting from serving customers and promoting the business will not be tolerated. Executives & Professionals: Changing Jobs?

Finally, once the argument has diminished, insure the two parties are indeed fulfilling their obligations to customers and the company. If they can't find a way to work together, it may be necessary to move them into different business units or areas where they won't be in conflict. If that is not possible, reminding them of the possibility of termination may be a very quick remedy to the conflict.

Stressful economic times often bring long-forgotten hurts to forefront, and generally put people on edge. Confrontation and conflict are more likely, but manageable. By keeping employees focused on the customer and the mission, vision and values of the company can help mitigate the conflict or at least make it easier to resolve.

The primary source for this post is "How to Defuse Discord on Your Team," by John Baldoni of Harvard Business Publishing.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How to Deal with a Difficult Manager

I received a very interesting question in my inbox from a person known as "travellingfellow." The note was in response to a previous post, "Are You a Jerk?"

From the note:

Well, I'm not a jerk. My boss, however, is. Actually, "jerk" is too kind a word. Even "bully" doesn't cut it. I think the proper term for her is "psychopath."

TF goes on to provide some examples:
  • Criticizing employees in a group setting
  • Demeaning employee suggestions
  • Harsh and rude comments in public and private
TF is concerned that they can't approach either HR or the next senior managers. Further, due to the poor economic conditions, TF doesn't feel as though they can leave their position. What is a person to do? Executives & Professionals: Changing Jobs?

First, TF has provided good examples of inappropriate behavior. Managers are best to "praise in public, criticize in private." Additionally, personally criticizing an employee for a suggestion leads to reticence among other employees. Why volunteer a suggestion when the response may be so unpleasant?

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To help in this situation, I would suggest the following actions. First, document the dates, times and participants where the criticism has occurred. Second, request a meeting with the manager. While this may seem both daunting and possibly futile, there is a chance the manager is unaware of the inappropriateness of the behavior, or just needs to be called on it. Protect your Medical Identity with TrustedID. $1,000,000 Warranty & Great Customer Service

In a calm tone, explain the events, providing the specifics, and request that the behavior cease. Third, be prepared to speak with the next level manager about your meeting, as well as be prepared for a meeting with HR. Review your company handbook and Code of Conduct. Make sure you are meeting all of those guidelines. Sometimes, by presenting the case in terms of what the company expects, a positive outcome is more likely.

If these steps are taken in a courteous, professional, and calm manner, there should be positive results. If there isn't, continue to document, and ask others if they have been harmed by this managers behavior as well. There is a likelihood it won't change, so be prepared to move withing the company. Organic Flowers & Gourmet Gifts

Managers, like everybody else, have their own fears, weaknesses, and idiosyncrasies. Given the opportunity to do better, most people will do so. A frank, polite, and professional conversation may be just the opportunity the manager needs. In short, don't give up, and don't passively accept bad behavior, especially from managers!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Great Distraction

Huh? What did you say? Are you distracted at work? You may think you are not, but your employees seem to be.

Is it any wonder? Difficult economic conditions, combined with a 24-hour news cycle, make it easy for employees to become distracted. Combine that with fears of layoffs, cutbacks, and other unknowns, and you have the makings of a very inefficient workplace.

Managers can combat the big distraction in many different ways. Some of which are direct, and others down right funny. Executives & Professionals: Changing Jobs?

With U.S. unemployment in 1Q2009 near 10%, most people know of someone who has been laid off. That is a terrifying feeling on any day of the week. However, as the value of most peoples' homes has fallen, as well as retirement savings, this fear takes on a new dynamic. As a manager, if layoffs are planned, be honest and provide as much lead time as possible. Don't be coy. Folks need as much time as possible. There is a risk that some employees will leave at the rumor of a layoff, but focus your attention on the core of employees. Organic Flowers & Gourmet Gifts

If you have finished reducing staff, you need to motivate your remaining staff. Organize a contest to promote teamwork and achievement. Set motivational goals and reward them with a sign of recognition. The purpose is to demonstrate confidence in the future. Focusing on delivering high customer service and quality is critical in a down economic environment. Find a way to incentivize the behavior and acknowledge it very publicly. The rewards don't have to be expensive, just meaningful.

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Finally, acknowledge the stress and distractions. Be willing to talk about employee's concerns. For folks really stressed out, consider offering a day off. Make sure to remind people of the Employee Assistance Plan (EAP), if your company has one. The goal is help people express their concerns, be relieved of them, and get back to work at hand.

Fear, uncertainty, and doubt create distractions. While you may not be able resolve macro distractions, such as a recession or unemployment, you can certainly create a positive atmosphere and provide a listening ear. Don't forget about yourself either!

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Value of Human Life

As reported in many news outlets, David Kellermann, the acting CFO of Freddie Mac was found dead in his home on 22 April 2009. Initial reports indicate suicide. His death should be a reminder to all of us that human life is more valuable than career, wealth, houses, or just about anything else.

As we are all aware, the financial crisis of 2009 is taking an incredible toll on millions of people world-wide. As a manager, you spend a significant amount of time with people like David Kellermann, people exposed not only to job stress but also to personal financial stress. This stress can lead people to make desperate decisions.

As a manager, one of your greatest responsibilities is to ensure the well-being of your employees. If you discover an employee is faced with an exceptionally difficult set of circumstances, engage that employee immediately and provide, at a minimum, moral support. Look to provide any available assistance, such as an EAP (Employee Assistance Plan), or even some time off. Reassure the employee and provide encouragement as well as a safe place to listen.

As each of us views the difficulty we are under, never believe that your life or the life of another is no longer worth living. While the stress appears crushing, it can be managed. Help can be had and the choice to live should be made. Great resources can be found at

While I didn't know David Kellermann, or his family, I remember them in my thoughts and prayers, and ask you to do the same. If you know someone who is suffering, offer them any help you can. Take all signs or warnings of suicide seriously and get help!

Life is worth living and protecting!

Many thanks to "Dollars and Sense," as it was the inspiration for this article.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Innovation for Survival

A study of past recessions has shown that companies who focused on R&D and innovation came out of the recession stronger than before. While this may sound like daunting, it is easier than you may think.

There are few companies in the global economy in 2009 that haven't seen some diminishing of their business. Further, fewer investments look as attractive as they once did and there is nothing wrong with having a ready pile of cash. Cheap? No. 100% Free. Trade stocks for free on The Free Trading Community.

So how does a manager convince a company to spend its hard-earned capital on a program of innovation or increased R&D? Nobody said it would be easy and the answer to more capital will likely be "no!" Lest it seem hopeless, consider the alternatives to increased capital spending. Try RingCentral Fax FREE for 30 days

Innovation doesn't necessarily mean coming up with the new "killer app." It can mean simply considering the environment for the creation, production, distribution, and sales of the company's products and improving them incrementally. Can your company improve how a product is manufactured? Can your company improve how it processes receivables? Have Sales and Marketing considered a YouTube channel? Executives & Professionals: Changing Jobs?

While these potential areas for invention seem very droll and boring, consider how the Post-it note from 3M. Here's the story:

Dr. Spencer Silver, a 3M scientist, discovered the formula... in 1968. But it was Silver's colleague, Art Fry, who came up with a practical use for it. The idea for repositionable notes struck Fry while singing in the church choir. His bookmark kept falling out of his hymnal, causing him to lose his page. So, taking advantage of a 3M's "bootlegging" policy, Fry used a portion of his working hours to develop a solution to his problem. Now the world is singing the praises of his pet project: Post-it® Notes.

The lesson for managers is that recessions free up some valuable thinking time. Allow your employees to explore past projects, reconsider failed experiments, and apply new purposes to existing products. While most of these trials will fail, it only takes one winner to make the difference.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Respecting Religous Diversity

Managers regularly hear the words "respect" and "diversity," and generally do a good job of exercising those behaviors. However, one area that requires significant work and a little common sense is how to respect religious diversity.

As more companies expand their global presence, their employees begin to represent that growth. While the presence of Indian and Chinese workers are nothing new in technology companies, other companies are beginning to see increases in employees who practice Islam.

In the U.S., religious freedom is enshrined in law, yet experience with employees of faiths other than Christianity is not common outside of major cities. In other countries, this may be more so, particularly in countries that are beginning to see an influx of foreign workers. Now hiring elite grads. Join Doostang Today!

As managers, we have to find a way to balance an employees religious expression with the needs of the business and the requirements of the law and policy. This balancing act need not be onerous. Rather, an increase in cultural literacy will improve employee relations and encourage open communication.

Some practical examples of this cultural literacy are really quite simple. Suppose there is an employee from India that celebrate Diwali. A manager can ask if the employee celebrates Diwali, and then give them best wishes. The same is true for Muslim employees for the holiday of Eid ul Fitr.

The general understanding of the religious holidays and practices allows management to connect in a very intimate way with employees. Understanding that Ramadan and Lent are periods of fasting help the manager to plan work schedules. Also, improved cultural literacy around employees' religions helps prevent embarrassing gaffes, like serving beef and pork barbecue at a company picnic where most employees are Hindu and Muslim. Executives & Professionals: Changing Jobs?

Religion is a very personal and significant element of many peoples' identity. Managers need to learn the general sensitivities and personal religious sensitivities of their employees. Further, while wishing someone "Happy Easter!" is a nice sentiment, employees may not care to have a manager too deeply involved in their religious practices, nor do they want to be proselytized at work. Protect your Medical Identity with TrustedID. $1,000,000 Warranty & Great Customer Service

Respect is a very easy concept to understand, but can take work to exercise it
effectively. As a general rule, managers should have some knowledge of the key aspects of their employees identities. This knowledge and understanding allows a manager to be sensitive to the individual needs of their employees. While religion is a very challenging topic in the workplace, it can be dealt with respectfully and the recognizes the uniqueness of each employee.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Value of an MBA in the Economic Crisis of 2009

Is an MBA as valuable in the first quarter of 2009 as it was in the first quarter of 2007? According to Matthew Stewart, an MBA is "...overvalued piece of paper." I happen to have earned the degree, and while Mr. Stewart hasn't, he makes an interesting point.

His statement that short term, with the contraction of the financial and consulting markets, MBAs are going to be hurt, is generally a fair statement. It is also true for mortgage brokers, commercial Realtors, and bank personnel in general (Goldman Sachs). Executives & Professionals: Changing Jobs?

However, MBAs can be very successful as entrepreneurs. A thorough understanding of accounting, finance, marketing and broader management topics provide a one of three critical pieces for a successful business. While speaking with a major VC firm, the firm stated that they would invest in a company that had a "B" business idea, if they had an "A" management team. Further, they would not invest in a company with an "A" idea and a "B" management team. The VC firm continued that the management team either had to have significant experience and success or had to have at least one MBA with a less experienced team. Elite Jobs for elite professionals! Let Doostang help accelerate your career.

In this financial crisis (2009), MBAs can also be success in leading restructuring or streamlining activities. They can also use their academic knowledge of quantitative and qualitative management to help develop new products, strategic vision, as well as train existing personnel on any number of business topics. Personally, having an MBA in difficult economic times is a strong differentiators in a field crowded with candidates seeking work. Try RingCentral Fax FREE for 30 days

Does this mean that everybody should run out and start an MBA program? No! An MBA is an expensive and time consuming investment. If you can't justify the expense, as it won't relate to your current or desired field, spend the time and money getting the training that will. I am a proponent of broad, life-long education, but I am not a fan of wasting money. Cheap? No. 100% Free. Trade stocks for free on The Free Trading Community.

This economic crisis will end and companies like Goldman Sachs, GE, and McKinsey will start to hire MBAs again. There will always be a need for people skilled in qualitative and quantitative analysis, as well as financial management, human resources, and supply chain management. While some will argue that an MBA is not particularly valuable, they may a true statement in a limited context. However, in a broader context, they may be even more valuable in the economic and financial crisis we face today, and will face in the future.

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