Sunday, 24 February 2008 19:00

Talent attraction

With no disrespect to former President Clinton’s once-famous mantra, the most pressing issue facing American CEOs today isn’t the economy, it’s people.

Nearly every CEO or business owner I know pines about the challenges they face finding good, qualified employees to add to their staff. And once they find them, they’re even more concerned about how to keep them.

It’s no secret that retaining high performers is an ongoing process with no magic formula. A study of more than 16,000 employees nationwide by the Washington, D.C.-based research center Leadership IQ found that a startling 47 percent of high performers are actively looking for other jobs. That means they are posting and submitting resumes, and even going on interviews, often on your company’s time.

Compounding this are two other troubling bits of data. First, the problem appears to be generational. Sixty-one percent of recent college graduates say they expect to stay with their first employer for no more than three years. And from a slightly broader perspective, only 30 percent of workers between the ages of 21 and 30 say they would strongly recommend their current organization as a “good place to work.”

What’s truly disturbing is the second piece of data. While top talent packs their bags in anticipation of leaving, their counterparts at the other end of the performance pole are putting away their suitcases and settling in for the long haul. A meager 18 percent of low-performing employees say they are actively seeking other jobs, while only 25 percent of middle performers are actively hunting so-called greener pastures.

So what can you do to ensure you’re attracting and retaining the best and brightest people and aren’t either a leap pad for top performers or a repository for mediocrity?

Plenty, and it all starts with investing in your people and building an organization with a culture that screams, “I care about my employees.”

To better understand how Northeast Ohio CEOs are doing this, Smart Business has teamed up ERC to conduct our eighth annual Workplace Practices Survey. Take the survey online at www.sbnon-line.com/workplace and tell us how you approach work force issues. The results, along with an analysis of the state of human resources in Northeast Ohio, will be published in our August 2008 edition.

Contact Editor Dustin Klein at dsklein@sbnonline.com

Published in Akron/Canton
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 19:00

Location, location, location

What do Beaverton, Ore., Omaha, Neb., Redmond, Wash., and Wichita, Kan., have in common with Cleveland and Akron?

None are considered major markets and all are home to some of the largest household names in the world — respectively, Nike, Berkshire Hathaway, Microsoft, Koch Industries and LeBron James.

Location, apparently, hasn’t hurt any of their success, and it shouldn’t hinder James’ ability to cash in on his abilities or business acumen either.

No matter how you try to argue against it, success in the corporate world is not dictated by your company’s address but rather by such factors as the quality of your product, the cost to produce it, and your ability to market and sell it to a targeted audience.

The same holds true for James, who at age 23 is the NBA’s top earner.

Last year, including endorsement deals and business investments, he earned an estimated $25 million.

Despite this, the national media continues to scream that when James’ contract with the Cavs is up in 2010, it will be in his best interest to pack up his sneakers — and his LRMR Marketing organization — and settle down in a major metropolitan media market, such as New York City or Los Angeles.

The false logic in these continued suggestions by would-be experts continues to amaze me.

First, let’s use James’ own assertion to Fortune that, “I want to run my own business. I want to be my own business.”

If that’s the case, then his success should hinge upon traditional business factors rather than the usual sports arguments that unless you play ball in a major media market where the spotlight of the world is upon you, the personal cash registers won’t ring and the championships won’t come. But it’s been six years since Los Angeles won the NBA Finals and 25 since New York’s players earned championship rings.

Second, the reality of location has changed dramatically over the years. We live in a digital, virtual and on-demand world. Where James plays — just like where a company’s corporate headquarters is located — doesn’t really matter.

As we enter the new year, it’s time for the national media to wake up and drop its antiquated argument and recognize that there’s a reason why every major company’s HQ isn’t in New York or Los Angeles: It doesn’t need to be. And neither does LeBron James.

Contact Editor Dustin Klein at dsklein@sbnonline.com

Published in Cleveland

You probably have read much about the basics of ethics, leadership, stewardship, morality and social responsibility. Accordingly, you have most likely formed a good understanding of them based on your experiences and thoughts.

However, most people do not really take the time to understand the true meaning of values, ethics and morality.

Values are core beliefs or desires that guide or motivate our attitude and actions. What one values drives his or her behavior. Some people value honesty or truthfulness in all situations; others value loyalty to a higher degree in certain situations.

Ethics is the branch of philosophy that theoretically, logically and rationally determines right from wrong, good from bad, moral from immoral and just from unjust actions, conducts and behavior. Some people define ethics simply as doing what you say you will do or walking the talk.

Overall, ethics establishes the rules and standards that govern the moral behavior of individuals and groups. It also distinguishes between right and wrong conducts. It involves honest consideration to underlying motive, to possible potential harm and to congruency with established values and rules.

Applied ethics refers to moral conclusions based on rules, standards, code of ethics and models that help guide decisions. There are many subdivisions in the field of ethics; some of the common ones are descriptive, normative and comparative ethics. Business ethics, more specifically, deals with the creation and application of moral standards in the business environment.

Morals are judgments, standards and rules of good conduct in the society. They guide people toward permissible behavior with regard to basic values.

Consider the following dilemma and how the terms values, ethics and morals apply.

A thief named Zar guarantees that you will receive the agreed upon confidential information from your competitor in five days. Zar is professing a value -- he will deal with you honestly because you, as the customer, are very important to his business. When Zar has delivered the proper documents within the agreed upon time (five days), one can say that Zar has behaved ethically because he was consistent with his professed values.

The following year, you ask Dar, who is a competitor to Zar, to do the same thing. He makes the same promise as Zar by professing the same values. Five days later, Dar only delivers part of the information, which is not totally accurate, and at the same time, blackmails you for more money. Dar says that if does not get more money, he will go to the authorities and the competitor to report this business dealing.

One can say that Dar has behaved unethically because his actions were not consistent with his professed values. And, you can conclude that all three parties involved in stealing insider information have acted immorally as judged by majority of the population.

Overall, values are professed statements of one's beliefs, ethics is delivering on one's professed values and morals are actions of good conduct as judged by the society that enhance the welfare of human beings.

With an understanding of values, ethics and morals while using ethical principles, a business owner or leader can form a framework for effective decision-making with formalized strategies. The willingness to add ethical principles to the decision-making structure indicates a desire to promote fairness, as well as prevent potential ethical problems from occurring.

Corporate ethics programs are part of organizational life, and organizations can use such sessions to further discuss the meaning of values, ethics and morals in the context of their businesses. Organizational codes of ethics should protect individuals and address the moral values of the firm in the decision-making processes.

Corporate codes of ethics are not merely manuals for how to solve problems; they are tools that can empower everyone in the organization to say, "I am sorry, that is against our policy or that would violate our company's code of ethics."

Doing so will increase the personal commitment of employees to their companies because people take pride in the integrity of their corporate culture.

Bahaudin Mujtaba, D.B.A., is an assistant professor and the director of institutional relations, planning and accreditation, for Nova Southeastern University at the School of Business. He is a former senior training specialist and manager of Publix Super Markets. Bahaudin recently co-authored a business ethics textbook published by Pearson Custom Publications. Reach him at (954) 262-5045 or Mujtaba@nova.edu.

Published in National
Wednesday, 30 October 2002 19:00

All marketing is one-to-one

You are a business person, but you are also an American consumer, bombarded by thousands of messages trying to persuade you to act or think differently.

Given this, don't you pay more attention to ads that speak to you? Now, as if it weren't enough that ads speak to us visually, they're promising to engage our other senses as well.

They do this by giving us a directive such as "press here." Companies such as Procter & Gamble and Virgin Records are testing bus stop posters in London that emit scents of news shampoos and audio of new songs.

But back to magazine or newspaper ads. I like ads that give me a directive. That way, I can read the instruction, quickly decide if I'm interested, and either read the rest or move on.

With all of the clutter in the marketplace, it is a courtesy to get to the point. When I read things like "Get the lowest price ... " or "Come join the fun" or "Make your next event unique," I appreciate the efficiency with which the communication states the benefit to me.

I feel like the company has respected my time. Whether I need its products now or not, it has left a good impression. I will remember it ... for a while, anyway. And if it is consistent about putting a good message in front of me, I'm more likely to think of it when the right time comes.

Ads that make me work hard to get the point just make me mad. And ads that never get to the point make me even madder.

So what's my point? When planning an ad or marketing message, imagine you're face-to-face with someone and you need an opening line. Write the headline as if your prospect will walk out of the room if what you say is boring, stupid or obtuse.

If you're not a writer, hire one. If you're not a designer, hire one of those, too. But by all means, recognize that you're selling to one person at a time, even if the circulation of the publication the ad will appear in is vast. Andrea Fitting is CEO of Fitting Group, a Pittsburgh-based agency that specializes in helping companies transition to deregulated markets. Visit www.fittingroup.com for more tips on marketing your business.

Published in Pittsburgh
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