- Friday, 02 May 2014 10:15
The latest hot topic is the “wearable technology” revolution: eyeglasses with photo-shooting capability, pens harboring recording devices, and video recording on cell phones, leaving the individual vulnerable to abuse, misuse and exploitation by organizations and predatory plotters. Yet, it may also serve to expose lack of performance, dishonesty and corruption in the workplace, helping to improve both efficiency and ethical standards. What are the benefits and dangers?
Linked-In’s HR group tackles the ticklish question with some observations…
“I revert to one of the old reliable answers - prevention is better than cure…we had better make sure that the people we recruit and employ are not ‘spy-types’. - GS
“There are the obvious concerns surrounding privacy and security, and these new devices bring more challenges in this area. The current version of Google Glass is pretty distinctive, but what happens as the design evolves and it’s not apparent that someone is wearing Google Glass? How do you monitor and control a device that captures everything that a person sees and hears? There are also opportunities that come with wearable technology, especially when it comes to health and fitness. Imagine incorporating a wearable fitness device as part of a wellness incentive program. This could be another way to effectively reduce your health care benefit costs by capturing a vast amount of data around activity levels and sleep patterns.” - PH
“Tons of analytics could be used from this data to determine routes employees take frequently, congestion, structure redesigns and even amount of time an employee is sedentary and not working.” – DK
“Another area of opportunity for individual and team performance is wearable technology's potential role in helping people assess their stress level (perhaps continuous Heart Rate Variability monitoring?), as they prepare for and participate in a client or team meeting. Imagine an app that helps people inhibit their defensive/fight-flight response so they can stay focused and present and therefore more effective when the conversation takes a surprising turn. Maybe wearable tech can help support more team peak performance.” - CA
“The ability to steal sensitive information is already there…the ability of disgruntled employees (to record ‘evidence’) could help to improve the performance of less than honest employers.” - JB
“This goes both ways…Technology in the hands of someone who uses it with proper intent is invaluable. Technology in the hands of someone with ill intent is detrimental”. - CN
As we go forward with rapidly developing and potentially intrusive technologies, companies must consider and create clear boundaries for the use of wearable technologies to safeguard workers from negative overreach, while capitalizing on its opportunities.
- Monday, 28 April 2014 06:50
Thought for the Week: “Imagination Sharpens the Dull Blade of Routine.” - Terry Braverman
Keeping employees energized, enthusiastic, and engaged in their work is a constant challenge in these shaky times. I have ventured into countless numbers of companies to facilitate seminars, where cultures of terminal seriousness are pervasive, and staff looks as if theyre on death row. A recent study showed that almost 80% of all work-related injuries, and illnesses, are stress-related. Companies are starting to acknowledge the need to "lighten up," and inject some fun into the fundamentals of business. Here are just a few suggestions that can improve morale, teamwork and productivity
Start a Monday morning off with humor impact aerobics. Within a time frame of two-three minutes, this will re-energize your staff after a long weekend and re-connect everyone in the spirit of teamwork. Everyone stands next to each other in a line or circle. Direct them to raise their right arm and shake out their hand, then left arm/left hand. Now have them shake out their right leg, then left leg. Next, right arm/right leg, left arm/left leg, right arm/left leg, left arm/right leg. It will look like an epileptic support group, and the room will fill with laughter as some struggle to maintain their balance. Now, using their right hand, they take the left hand of the person on their right, and shake their hand (the person on their left will be shaking their left hand). Finally, have them face the front of the room and take a deep breath with a slow exhale. Now they are primed and pumped for the days tasks!
If you find staff morale or energy levels sagging in mid-day, take them aboard the massage train. Have them stand one behind the other, throw their hands way up in the air and stretch, then drop the hands onto the shoulders of the person in front of them and rub. Then reverse the line 180 degrees and repeat the process. This need not take more than a few minutes, just to reignite the energy level via some fun interaction by kinesthetically connecting everyone.
An employee at a local department store found a fun-filled answer to the problem of learning new company guidelines for clerks. She's also an aspiring singer, and with management's blessing, created a "compliance choir" that sang the new guidelines over the store's sound system just prior to opening the store. The tune was not only catchy, but the clerks caught the message as well, and there were far fewer mistakes made during new policy changes.
Much resistance can show up when implementing new company guidelines and policies, blocking retention of information. One time I was hired to announce a company's new safety regulations as several of the celebrity characters that I do. This not only entertained and disarmed the disgruntled staff, but it proved to be effective in helping employees retain the new information, because they connected it to what my characters (Jack Nicholson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Julia Child, and other celebrities) said about it.
You may want to render your own version of what I call the "Worst Work Experience of the Week Award." I worked for a bank that was beset by low morale among the tellers, who constantly feared dealing with troublesome customers. So on Fridays we started to reward the teller who was voted the best (most horrific) story about a difficult customer with a prize. It dramatically improved morale and increased customer satisfaction because tellers were now seeking out those hard-to-please patrons to win the award. Customers responded by becoming more civil, as a result of the increased attention.
When appropriate humor and fun becomes embedded in a companys culture, employees feel more relaxed, resourceful, and ready to contribute to the business.
Service with a Smile
A couple years ago I was the Sunday guest speaker at a church service. My topic was, “The Healing Power of Humor”. After the service I was standing outside chatting with the minister. A few feet away from us was a young boy, staring at a plaque on the church wall. The kid came over to the minister and asked, What is this plaque on the wall for? The minister responded, Why son, thats to honor all the people we knew and loved, who died in the service. The little boy replied, Which service? The nine oclock or the eleven oclock?
- Friday, 11 April 2014 02:57
(Reprinted from Entrepreneur Magazine) Brent Gleeson, Internet Marketing Inc.
San Diego-based digital marketing agency IMI is the second company started by Gleeson, who served as a Navy SEAL before setting his sights on the business world in 2005 with NewCondosOnline.com, a real-estate search engine he founded with business partner Brandon Fishman. That same year, as the housing market took a turn for the worse, they diversified into digital marketing. That's when things really took off: IMI has doubled in size every year since 2007, with projected 2013 revenue of $25 million. With a staff of 65-plus already, Gleeson is constantly recruiting talent from bigger-name agencies and beating them out for enterprise accounts, including the likes of Belkin, Polycom, Time Life and a major credit card company.
On creating opportunities:
Brandon and I both have finance and economics backgrounds, and we always keep an eye on opportunities. When we saw what was going on in the market, we thought about alternative services we could offer. We'd learned a lot about SEO and driving traffic to our site, which had helped us become digital marketing experts. So we started IMI as a small agency for clients we already had, and kept expanding from there.
On keeping employees inspired:
Obviously, my background as a SEAL is something I use to motivate myself, but the most difficult thing about motivation is consistency. People won't come to work motivated every day, so you have to do different things because everybody responds to different motivators. Maybe it's letting someone speak at a trade show, or offering a flexible schedule or having a fitness-oriented culture.
Our philosophy on motivation is not about running around being like Tony Robbins. First of all, we recruit the right types of people that fit our culture, but one thing that motivates is providing employees with resources for learning and professional development. As the owners, Brandon and I set guidelines for strategic direction, but we try to let employees be entrepreneurial within IMI. Directors have their own budgets, allowing them to be creative and drive their own business. And we do knowledge shares, where employees present new topics to others.
On attracting clients:
We want to create business partnerships, and they know we care. When we pitch someone, we talk about creating opportunity for everyone, to create jobs. I think we motivate clients by creating a personal connection. We win when we pitch based on passion and performance.
It's hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse. - Adlai Stevenson
The key to being a good manager is keeping the people who hate me away from those who are still undecided. - Casey Stengel
When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often, that person is crazy. - Dave Barry
The leadership instinct you are born with is the backbone. You develop the funny bone and the wishbone that go with it. - Elaine Agather
Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men -- the other 999 follow women. ~ Groucho Marx
- Friday, 18 April 2014 18:58
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in the USA is tackling vague “no gossip” policies. It is part of a focused effort to prevent employers from violating sections of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Their concern centers on employers who maintain overly broad “no gossip” policies and suspend and terminate employees for violating ambiguous policy.
At the heart of the controversy was Joslyn Henderson, who, in 2007, was an admissions representative at Laurus Technical Institute. At the time, the employee filed a sexual harassment and retaliation suit with the EEOC against her employer; however, during the investigation of the incident, the employer reprimanded the employee for speaking to a manager outside her “chain of command.” Ms. Henderson was told she could not discuss the suit or any of the alleged events with anyone other than her direct supervisor, the HR director or the CEO.
The technical institute then implemented a “no gossip policy,” stating such personal and unprofessional communication would not be tolerated that employees found to be “gossiping” would be disciplined. Their definition of gossip included “talking about someone’s personal life when he wasn’t present; talking about a person’s professional life without a supervisor being present; making negative, untrue, or disparaging comments about other people; and creating, sharing, or repeating rumors about others.”
Some time later, the technical institute replaced several admissions representatives and the HR director. Ms. Henderson and other remaining co-workers discussed the situation and their concern for their continued employment. When she took medical leave, her supervisor was told she had solicited employees to leave the institute and instigated a work slow-down. When she returned to deal with an issue about her medical leave she was suspended. Soon after, her employment was terminated for “willful breach of company policies and counter-productive behavior,” including violating the no-gossip policy.
But the NLRB Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) determined the “no gossip” policy violated the NLRA because it prohibited employees from speaking to co-workers about discipline and other terms and conditions of employment.
According to the ALJ: “A thorough reading of this vague, overly-broad policy reveals that it narrowly prohibits virtually all communications about anyone, including the company or its managers. In fact, read literally, this rule would preclude both negative and positive comments about a person’s personal or professional life unless that person and/or his/her supervisor are present.”
Since the NLRB is expanding its role (even into non-union settings) to protect employees from policies that are overly broad or too ambiguous, is it time for “no gossip” policies to be scrapped? Were they ever realistic or enforceable in the first place?
(Reprinted from Linked-In HR Group)
MEMORABLE QUOTES ABOUT GOSSIP
Show me someone who never gossips, and I'll show you someone who isn't interested in people.
No one gossips about other people's secret virtues. --Bertrand Russell
The only time people dislike gossip is when you gossip about them. --Will Rogers
If you haven't got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me. --Alice Roosevelt Longworth
- Friday, 04 April 2014 06:24
Quote for the week: “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” – Unknown
Recently, a computer-based glitch on the United Airlines website allowed passengers to book flights to Hong Kong — or other places in Asia connecting in Hong Kong — in exchange for a paltry four frequent flier miles, plus government taxes. The advertised actual price of the ticket was accurate; the technical slip-up occurred in the transaction process. United eventually corrected the error and announced it wasn't honoring tickets already sold. People could get a refund without paying a penalty or have the proper amount of miles deducted. Anyone who had already started their trip would be allowed to complete their travel. Several people who booked tickets are complaining to the DOT, which is now investigating the matter.
A 62-year-old retired teacher from Aiken, S.C., is one of the people who bought a ticket. She knew it was a computer error but booked a trip anyway. "United just made a big mistake and needs to honor it," she said. "That was their mistake, wasn't it?" The most disturbing aspect of this mindless justification is that it comes from the mouth of someone who was educating our children for a living. If she was given too much change back from one of her students, would she keep it, rationalizing “that was their mistake”? How many other ethically vacuous educators sanction this behavior? I would fire them immediately if the power was mine to do!
Let me be clear…I'm no fan of United Airlines. Customer service is atrocious and the temptation to rip them off is almost irresistible...but to take the ticket and run, knowing the advertised price and that the error was computer-generated in the billing, is poor integrity and a microcosm of what's askew in this world.
ORIGINS OF THE GOLDEN RULE
The Golden Rule never wears out its welcome: Treat others as you want to be treated. Then you can live with minimal drama, a good night’s sleep, and a clear conscious. The seeds were planted as early as 2040 B.C in the ancient Egyptian story of the The Eloquent Peasant: “Do to the doer to cause that he do thus to you.” The Code of Hammurabi (1780 B.C.) in Babylon addressed ethical reciprocity in various ways. The Golden Rule existed among all the major philosophical schools of ancient China, including Taoism and Confucianism. Some examples:
“Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.” Confucius
“Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and their loss as your own loss.” Lao Tzu
The student asked, “Is there one word that may serve as a rule of practice for all of one’s life?”
The teacher replied, “Is not reciprocity such a word?”