Social media gives people a much closer connection to your business, which can be very good. But when customers use the forum to criticize, you may find it hard to resist the urge to fire back with an emotional response. And that can be very bad.

“People are constantly getting in trouble for tweeting something they shouldn’t have and then somebody responds with a more emotional tweet,” says Kevin McCarney, founder of the $15 million Poquito Más restaurant chain. “Digital communication is great for information, but not really good for communication.”

McCarney has written a book based on the interactions he has each day in his restaurants. “The Secrets of Successful Communication” offers insight on how to avoid saying things you’ll later regret.

What is the difference between the big brain and the little brain?

I’ve been in the people business all my life, literally since I was about 14. I have been studying people’s reactions and their overreactions as well through all different kinds of circumstances.

I distilled a lot of the things that are happening inside the head into two simple concepts. The big brain gives you that smart, diplomatic, positive, thoughtful response you’re going to get in any situation. The little brain, which I put right next to your mouth, is going to spit out the impulsive, overreacting, sarcastic comment that gets us in trouble once in a while. We all have a big brain and we all have a little brain.

How can the little brain get me in trouble as a leader?

My responses to things will be mimicked by my employees. If you’re in a leadership position or in a management position, your words are far more powerful than a front-line worker. And they’ll have an impact on the front-line worker and the people working underneath and around them.

If I as the owner of a company get upset and angry every time something goes wrong, people aren’t going to tell me anything that is going wrong. They’re going to hide everything from me. So it’s important that my responses are measured, that I’m under control and that employees feel like they can talk to me about anything. Otherwise, I’ll lose control of what’s really going on.

How do I keep my cool during tough situations with my employees?

The key that we describe in the book is there are several different traps you can fall in to. If you identify the traps in your life and the things that may push you into little brain, then you can work to not overreact to it.

More importantly, you can teach others. If you’ve got other people in little brain mode, you can know how to handle them. You don’t follow them. If somebody is uptoning in the conversation, they are getting more angry and their tone is going up and escalating, you don’t follow them as a leader.

You realize if their tone is going up, there is something else going on here. Let me just bring that tone back to where it should be, and they will eventually come back.

Is it ever too late to apologize for losing your cool?

There’s no expiration date on an apology. You can go back and if you said something to a co-worker or about a co-worker and they found out, you can just go, ‘I don’t know what I was thinking. I apologize and I didn’t mean to say that.’ And you kind of reset after you apologize.

How to reach: Poquito Más, www.poquitomas.com; for information about the book, go to www.bigbrain.com

Published in Los Angeles

Susan S. Elliott wanted to write a book that would share the inspiring words of wisdom she picked up in her 50 years in business. It would also keep her out of her daughter’s hair.

Elliott launched SSE Inc. in 1966 after a successful stint as a female programmer at IBM. She led the 100-employee IT services firm until 2004, when she transitioned leadership to Elizabeth, her daughter.

“If I could help do the same thing for others who were coming along or leaders who were building their leadership roles, that was what I hoped and dreamed about,” Elliott says.

Elliott’s book is called “Across the Divide.” She spoke with Smart Business about the lessons that helped her be a more effective leader.

What are keys to successful leadership?

If you have passion, there are no obstacles and nothing stands in your way. If it’s important to you, you persevere. A favorite quote I read from Steve Jobs was when Steve believed in an idea, he was both passionate and patient, scratching away over the years until he got it right.

It’s relentless intensity and total commitment. The only way to do truly great work is to adore what you are doing, which is a combination of passion and perseverance.

How do you deal with these times of constant change?

You have to look at change and look to the future right when your business is at the peak of its success. It’s the hardest time to do that. Your revenue is coming in. You’re feeling good about what you’ve accomplished. That’s when you have to make the transition.

IBM almost missed the PC market altogether. They stayed with the mainframes so long. Microsoft, they were late coming up with Internet Explorer, but it did replace Netscape. But look at Bing, it doesn’t touch Google. The last one is Kodak. They had to declare bankruptcy. They missed the whole digital world transition.

How do you get your people to buy into change?

You have to build a team that is responsive and receptive to your vision.

Elizabeth, my daughter, pulled together people from various aspects of the company. She did not include me or the gentleman who had been president when she took over. She pulled together people who were technical, business office, back office, that type of thing.

What they did was figure out, what can we be the best in the world at? What can be we passionate about? What do we have that is an economic engine that will make it work?

By pulling the various entities into this discussion, they came out with this manifesto as to what SSE should be doing going forward. That filters through the whole organization because it bubbled up from the people.

What is a leadership trait of your daughter that you really admire?

The ability to make a decision and follow through. It’s not shoot from the hip. It’s well thought out, carefully prepared in her mind and then executed. There are so many business executives that just weeble-wobble and can’t bite the bullet. You have to make decisions. You have to follow through.

If you don’t, your employees look around and they think, ‘Well, they tolerated this, they won’t care because this is OK.’ You have to be strong. Don’t second-guess yourself.

How to reach: SSE Inc., (314) 439-4700 or www.sseinc.com

Published in St. Louis

Donna Fisher had written about networking already and wasn’t necessarily looking to write another book about it –— until Jerry Teplitz asked her to collaborate with him on an element of networking that had never been written about before.

The result was “Switched-on Networking: Balance your Brain for Networking Success,” a 253-page book that shows how to do Brain Gym exercises and movements combined with Fisher’s networking strategies to have a positive impact on your business success.

“In this book with Dr. Teplitz and the Brain Gym processes, he’s able to demonstrate very specific processes to assist people to switch their brain regarding any aspect of networking that’s been challenging, uncomfortable, difficult or awkward for them,” Fisher says. “So it does give a whole new element to it.”

Q. What is different about the approach you and Teplitz describe?

The idea is about balancing the right and left hemispheres of the brain so you are working with the whole brain. Then you’re not just working logically or just working creatively with all aspects of the brain. The Switched-On part applies to the fact that we basically switch off that part of the brain that relates to some negative networking experience that we have.

So let’s say that we have a negative networking experience, or let’s say we really bought in to the idea that our parents told us not to talk to strangers. That’s in our brain, and that part of our brain possibly will override wise choices for common sense where we are in an environment to network, and it’s appropriate to meet someone new. The idea is to switch off that part of the brain that is causing us to relate to that past negative experience and switch it so that we become able to make wise, positive choices based on current information.

Q. Would people who are already familiar with networking find the techniques helpful?

I think it can be helpful to people at any level of networking. I just have this philosophy that we always have the opportunity to grow, learn and expand. We are learning more and more about the brain, how the brain works and how we can utilize that so the data is new information for a lot of people — for people who have been networking to be able to now apply that is a whole new thing.

Basically, the first half of the book is the brain optimization information. The second half is the networking skills information with the brain processes applied to each situation. For instance, one area is on how to approach people and how to have conversation. If people had difficulty in that area then they are told which brain process will help them best in switching that to a positive. So they are able to go through the process and the great thing is that people can say, ‘I’m already good at that, that’s not an issue for me,’ or then they can say, ‘Oh yeah, that shows up sometimes as an issue. I think about calling someone and then I talk myself out of it, or I think about going over to say hi to someone and then I avoid doing that, or I know it’s important to follow up right after I meet someone but I procrastinate.’ So they can see for themselves what are the areas that if this was switched for you, your networking would become easier, natural, effective and efficient.

Q. What is the major component that drives successful networking?

My thing all along, even before this book, has been to share information about networking so that people can have more fun with it. When they have more fun doing something, they are going to do more of it. Then they are going to get more value from it, and so are the people around them. Networking is not necessarily about meeting people. It’s very easy to meet a lot of people. But the thing is, are you connecting with people? So instead of thinking about meeting people, think about are you connecting with people, and what would have you connect with people more.

How to reach: Donna Fisher, (713) 789-2484 or www.DonnaFisher.com

Published in Houston

Mike Figliuolo was tired of leadership constructs that resulted in cookie-cutter leaders. Using his idea that a leader must follow a philosophy that is truly his or hers, he began to teach others how to state their leadership values using maxims.

“Write down, on one sheet, 15 to 20 emotionally powerful statements or reminders of personal events that will serve to guide your behaviors on a daily basis,” says Figliuolo, managing director of thoughtLeaders LLC. “Your maxims will become your leadership conscience. They will help you make difficult decisions.”

To reach even more would-be leaders, he has written “One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership.”

Why do you feel the leadership maxim approach is effective?

What is different about the book is that it looks at leaders holistically, and it looks at four aspects of leadership to make sure you are well-rounded and you have integrity: leading yourself, leading the thinking, leading your people and leading a balanced life.

For many years, the standard was to pattern yourself after your boss. If extroverted new leaders try to model themselves after introverted predecessors, is it a train wreck waiting to happen?

Often. Leaders are going to have a different set of experiences that defines them and their philosophy. There’s really power in saying, ‘You can go ahead and be you.’ And that’s what authenticity is about. It’s being real and basing it on your experience.

One of your maxims is, ‘What would Nana [his grandmother] do?’ Give an example how that came into play.

Once, while in the military, I bartered through a gray market to replace a missing tool. I ignored, ‘What would Nana say?’ I might have learned better ways to resolve my situation. The only redeeming aspect is it regularly reinforces my belief in the strength of my maxims to help me make the right decisions regardless of the circumstances.

In the second case, I noticed a client’s error in a contract that would have paid me substantially more than was agreed. I asked myself, ‘What would Nana say?’ I told the client about the error. The long-term value of doing what Nana would say was far greater than the short-term benefit of some extra cash.

When choosing your maxims, how do you know if they are going to be workable?

There’s a little test of a maxim in each chapter that forces you to go back and say, ‘Is this maxim a solid one?’ If it doesn’t evoke that emotional, visceral reaction in you or you look at it and say, ‘That’s really not me,’ then you are on the wrong path because this whole method is all about saying who you really are. Getting back on track is so easy because, inherently, everybody already has all the answers. All the book does is give you a method to pull them out and articulate them.

What is the real benefit in writing down personal maxims?

If you want to really unlock your potential as a leader, you have to just share who you are. People don’t follow a title; they are going to follow an individual. It’s actually a good thing to be you. So if you want to be effective as a leader and build that trust with your team, they need to know who you are. Stop pretending … stop using words like synergy, leverage and optimize, and for crying out loud, tell your story!

How to reach: thoughtLeaders LLC, (804) 241-9757 or www.thoughtleadersllc.com

Published in Columbus

From Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers to Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, America has long been a nation of inventors and innovators.

But Gary Shapiro says we aren’t doing enough of it anymore, and it’s why other nations have closed the competitive gap on the U.S.

It’s why Shapiro, the president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, wrote “The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream” (Beaufort Books, 2011). Shapiro’s book offers readers perspective on where America went off course, and what can be done to correct it.

Smart Business recently spoke with Shapiro, who is primarily based in the Washington, D.C. area but maintains a Detroit-area residence with his family, about his book and what CEOs can expect to learn from it.

Could you explain what you think business leaders will learn from reading your book?

I have heard from many business executives and CEOs who have read it who believe the fundamental message is true: That innovation is important to our national strategy and their corporate strategy. Almost every week during 2011, I spoke somewhere in the world about the book, and I’ve heard from so many of them. For American CEOs, when it comes right down to it, they feel the success of their business is tied to the health of the U.S. economy. They are concerned about the health of the U.S. economy and feel the book provides a strategic plan for a way out. In terms of how innovation will make a difference in their business, it is a competitive world out there and you have to run just to stay in place. The book challenges them to take a similar approach to their company as for the country.

What drove you to write this book?

In the beginning, I had an experience in China, which affected me. I was raised to believe that if you are not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. I have never served in the military, but I'm appalled by the fact that we have hundreds of thousands of Americans risking their lives and limbs while the rest of us are doing nothing for the country but taking from it. The best you can do is to wake up people to make a difference, and do what they can to improve the country.

Why is innovation such a central concept to getting America back on track?

We have three choices now as a country. We can cut spending dramatically, we can raise taxes dramatically, and we can grow. And growth comes from innovation. The numbers don't lie. We have to do something pretty dramatic as a country, and we have had a failure in leadership to do so. So as we wait for the next presidential election, and nothing really significant happens, that is a challenge for us, and hopefully we have this presidential election year where we can refine the debate and challenge Americans to focus on what is truly important in the future.

Given our culture and our system, how do we speed up innovation?

The way we do it is we attract the best and the brightest. We have strategic immigration. We encourage free trade, we enhance the university system, not only to attract the best and brightest, but to have places that can go and encourage science, math and technical training. And also encourage baseline technical skills. There are three million jobs open in the U.S., and they are not being filled due to a lack of people having necessary skills for the necessary geography.

How to reach: Gary Shapiro, (703) 907-7600 or gshapiro@ce.org

Published in Detroit
Wednesday, 29 February 2012 19:01

Listen, enrich, optimize

Subir Chowdhury has gained a reputation as one of the world’s foremost experts on Six Sigma, the business management process pioneered by Motorola in the 1980s, which is aimed at promoting operational efficiency and minimizing errors. In the years he has spent traveling the world coaching companies on the principles of Six Sigma, he has discovered a need for a concept that is centered on the basics of Six Sigma, but can be adopted by virtually any business.

With that in mind, Chowdhury wrote “The Power of LEO — The Revolutionary Process For Achieving Extraordinary Results,” published by McGraw-Hill earlier this year.

Smart Business spoke with Chowdhury about the concept of LEO and why it matters in the business world.

Can you briefly explain the concept of LEO as explained in the book?

When I talk about it, it’s ‘listen, enrich, optimize.’ The ‘listen’ portion is about seeking input from all the stakeholders in the organization, from suppliers to employees to customers. If you think about what someone like Steve Jobs did, he understood what the consumer wants. If the consumer is a rich guy or a poor person, it doesn’t matter. He truly tried to understand their voice, and when I talk about listen, much of the time senior leadership doesn't take the time to listen. Not just with external customers, I'm also talking about internal customers.

The second thing I talk about is enrich. The way I explain enrich is in a very simplistic form. Any single day, you, myself, anybody, we go to the mirror and look at ourselves, and how many of us asks ourselves what we can do better? That mindset is what I call a continuous improvement mindset. Having that mindset is so critical as to how you can enrich anything you are doing. How you can enrich communities, how you can enrich your family life, your work life, or enrich your customers. It’s having that mindset of enriching. So when you have that mindset, you create new ideas for improvement and new solutions to problems using simple techniques. For example, when you go to the hospital setting, all the nurses, all the physicians, if they don’t have that mindset of enriching, it will lead to medical errors. Because then, people are just going there for the sake of the job. They don’t have the mindset of enrichment.

The third thing is optimize. That is where you come up with the best solution and correct all shortcomings in it. Looking at the example of the iPhone, Steve Jobs realized that the customers may only have the product for two or three years but within those two to three years, he wanted to ensure that customers would have a great experience. With a couple of years, the new versions of products would come out, though within that several year window, he wanted to optimize the customer experience.

What drove you to write this book?

I had been invited in by a lot of companies, after five or six years of applying Six Sigma around the world, and getting the question of why they’re not getting results from Six Sigma.

They invited me because I’m one of the leading authorities on Six Sigma, so when I visited some of these companies, I posed some questions to CEO-level people about what set of tools within Six Sigma they have gained education. They have maybe learned about 20 or 30 percent of the tools. So they go through the training but do not have the overall education.

That was the time when it kind of hit me that every organization is different. Every organization has different requirements. You are teaching the tools that they don’t have a direct education for. People were gravitating to Six Sigma because it was popular without really understanding the subject matter, without understanding the tools and how they are applied. I tried to come up with something centered on what the customer really needs, what their needs are and how they fit into the culture. Every organization has different culture.

I took all the Six Sigma tools and put them in a big office, along with all the different tools of other management strategies. I was trying to find out what is fundamental for all those tools? What it boiled down to was basically three things: listen, enrich and optimize. Everything basically comes back to those three things.

How to reach: Subir Chowdhury, www.asiusa.com

Published in Detroit

When Bernadette Boas was given a pink slip from her very lucrative, global vice president type of role, she was happy.

But she didn’t understand why, so she decided to do some self-reflection.

“I was that bitch with the walls up, and there was no internal dialogue going on at all,” she says.

She recognized that her ruthless attitude had taken a toll on her health, as her body was mocking symptoms of a heart attack because of the stress and angst she was experiencing. She also saw that she had all the luxuries of life, but she didn’t have the things that really mattered — loving relationships and warmth.

“When I realized it was because of that nasty attitude, I was horrified at how many people I had hurt over the years,” she says.

She decided to write her book, “Shedding the Corporate Bitch,” as an apology to all the people she’s hurt over the years and to address how people can shed the ruthless leadership shell.

Smart Business also spoke with her about how business leaders can more effectively handle difficult people in the workplace.

How do you recognize toxic behavior in your team?

Any good, aware manager is going to see that an individual within their team or department or organization is toxic. It’s whether or not they’re willing to address it and not just look at their productivity.

For instance, that attitude for me produced a lot of great results for our customers. Our customers appreciated the fact that I would go at it with my own internal team and fight for them, and therefore I and created a lot of great results. But internally, what I did was create a lot of toxic environment among our organization.

The manager, they know when they have someone who is toxic, so they have to confront it and address it. When somebody is toxic, there’s something underlying that. There’s something underneath that. When someone is productive and good at what they do and is very much a leader but is taking on these attitudes and mindsets, they’re doing it for other reasons. Businesses don’t want to get under the covers and play therapist. When you think about coaching and why coaching and executive counseling is so effective, it’s because they are addressing that underlying motivation and underlying agenda underneath the behavior. Managers just need to pay attention to it, confront it and then just recognize that it could be easily addressed once they do — it’s not a lost cause when you have that individual.  It doesn’t automatically mean they have to be fired. It just needs to be addressed.

How do you effectively address it?

Often times the person afflicting on to other people, they don’t really see it. They don’t see they’re being as damaging as possible. Some of them breed off of it. They love the idea that they’re intimidating people or they’re making people uncomfortable or they’re demanding. At the same time, they’re not seeing what it’s doing to themselves personally and professionally. A lot of times it’s confronting that. If someone had confronted me, I’m a smart woman; I would have woken up to it eventually. I would have saved a lot of the personal and professional damage I did to myself.

Unfortunately, a lot of companies don’t do a lot of training and coaching on managing people in difficult conversations in the workplace. They need to arm their HR organization or their managers with the tools to sit someone down effectively and needs to facilitate a dialogue with someone. Depending on that manager’s own personality, some can just call you out on it right away. Some will just sit you down and say, ‘Look, you’re hurting yourself in your career with the attitude you’re bringing to the business.’ Other people aren’t very good at dealing with confrontation. They may need training or have someone in the HR to facilitate and mediate that type of conversation.

Very simply too, performance reviews, [need to be] done more regularly and effectively. They have performance review processes but they’re done reactively — they’re not proactive with a purpose or effective to where it shifts or creates change in that individual. Unfortunately, a lot of companies fall short on being able to leverage those opportunities where they sit down and have a conversation with their employees or managers to address those kinds of issues. That’s the time to do it — whether it’s during the process or a one-off because of an issue because someone is creating havoc within the organization.

How to reach: www.sheddingthecorporatebitch.com

Published in Atlanta
Tuesday, 31 January 2012 19:01

Project Execution

G. Michael Campbell and his company MCA International LLC specialize in business transformation projects from launching or developing new products to changing organizational structure. Campbell, who is president of MCA, has seen countless project undertakings that have both ended well or turned out to be project management nightmares.

From planning and tracking to specifications, budgets and timelines, strong project management can be a very big differentiator in your company. To aid companies in project management and how to develop the best techniques, Campbell wrote his latest book, “The Idiots Guide to Project Management, Fifth Edition.”

While Campbell says that you don’t have to be a genius to run a project, you do need to understand that doing a project by following some best practices will make a world of difference.

Who would get the most out of this book?

The book is really targeted for a more experienced manager who has suddenly been handed an important business project for them to manage. They understand the importance of it and they recognize the business need, but they really don’t understand how to manage a project beyond sitting down and preparing a checklist. They’re really looking for some practical guides and some practical tips that they can apply right away to increase their chance of success on this.

What do leaders often overlook in project management?

Leaders should keep the project focused more on the business goals and objectives. You need to stop at certain points and do a recheck and say, ‘Is this project still on track to deliver the business goal that I was looking for?’ Project managers want to deliver on budget and on time and that’s good. From a leader’s perspective you want to be focusing on the business value that you were looking for. The business leader is the one that has to focus on that. Business leaders can read this book and begin to make the connection for keeping that business focus on any of their projects or initiatives.

What are common mistakes that this book addresses?

The first one is keeping the project aligned to the business objectives that where the reason the project was sanctioned in the first place. Some projects, particularly the business transformation projects, can often take two or three years to complete. The business landscape can change pretty dramatically over a two- or three-year period and one of the problems is that the project team over that period of time really didn’t adapt to the new business landscape. If they had kept abreast of changes and built those into their project, they would have been much better aligned with the business and the business goals when they finally delivered on the project.

Another one is the scope of the project. What I’m going to deliver and how it’s going to be judged is really not well-defined. When you don’t have a project with a well-defined scope, you’re really not certain what exactly you’re going to deliver and what kind of requirements it’s trying to achieve and you begin to wander around and you waste a lot of time and money bumping into walls.

The last one is just keeping your stakeholders aligned and informed with what you’re doing. Particularly in these larger projects, you have a lot of people that get impacted by the projects and making sure they’re all informed and understand and ready for it is really critical.

What is the role of senior management during a project?

The problem with senior managers in these things is typically when they’ve decided to do a project they’ve been thinking about it for a while, considering it against other options and alternatives, and once they make a decision, they’re ready to dust off their hands and move on. The fact is as a project manager, occasionally I’m going to need their help for certain kinds of business issues. Senior managers need to understand they still have a role in this when the project starts. They’re not going to be in the day-to-day operation of it, but I’ve got to be able to have them ready when I need them.

HOW TO REACH: MCA International LLC, (281) 768-8014 or www.mcaintl.com

Published in Houston
Tuesday, 03 January 2012 15:11

Creating value

When Robin Sacks was a sophomore in college, her grandfather passed away, leaving the family business to her dad. She had no interest in business — she was a writer and theater person — but she helped run it full-time and went to school full-time.

After graduation, she ran it for six years, and what she learned from everyone was that her grandfather was a man of integrity.

“This is about relationships,” she says. “That’s what I learned from my grandfather. It’s about people; it’s about knowing each other, standing by each other. It’s a relationship thing and not so much to do with payables and receivables — it’s about people. That changed my perspective on business.”

Later in life, as she pursued other career options, she decided to write a book, “Get Off My Bus,” and Smart Business spoke with her about the book.

What are the key principles for business leaders in your book?

Here’s something I see a lot. You’ve got a boardroom of CEOs and executives who are in one end of the building and they’re trying to come up with a solution to a challenge — whatever it is. Somewhere at the other end of the building is an hourly employee and, at that same moment, says to his co-worker, ‘Why do we do [insert problem]?’  Often in companies, everyone is, ‘Here’s your title, your department, your level, your responsibility,’ and nobody’s talking. You have people who have solutions to your challenges, but there’s no reason for those people within a corporation to connect.

One of the concepts with the bus is to realize that any moment you have a challenge, there’s probably somebody sitting next to you who has the answer, but we’re so busy looking so far out at who’s out there that we don’t look next to us, and we miss opportunities constantly because we’re not on the same bus. We’re not together. We’re ‘Here is us; here’s you. And why would that person ever have an answer to what I’m trying to do now.’

Oftentimes the leaders will go at it the wrong way. ‘Oh fine, we’ll bring all these people together but we don’t want to give them too much information. What is it they can possibly help us with?’ The reality is within a company’s culture, you have to have an encouraging culture where you’re encouraging employees — ‘Hey you may be there and I may be here, but we are all in this together and we have to work together. The bottom line is if our challenges don’t get solved, it hurts all of us.’

How do you get out of that mindset?

We have all these default fears going on — fear of, ‘Hey, if that’s not my idea then I don’t want to use it. I’ll take the idea, but I want to put my name on it.’ That encourages people not to share, and that, unfortunately, is one of the defaults we’ve got in our society — it’s mine, it’s mine, it’s mine; if I put it out there, even though it’s a phenomenal idea, someone’s going to take it — so we stop creating. We’re afraid.  

That’s not a corporate mindset; it’s a human mindset. One way to change that is study some of the companies that are absolutely phenomenally well known for having those types of encouraging, inviting environments — the Progressives, Nordstroms of the world. We have a bunch of them here in Cleveland.

How do you study them?

Don’t reinvent the wheel and say you have to change everything. That’s not going to happen. Study some of the companies that have implemented encouragement programs because those companies are not only wildly successful, but they get it. They understand that your greatest asset ever is your human component and just because somebody has this job title — you’ve put this label on them by virtue of what they do — there are a ton of skills that person has.

Encourage employees. Say, ‘Look, this might be your job title, but you all have a wonderful skill set that we know nothing about and by encouraging you to share some of those things, all of sudden, you become such a more valuable employee to us, and because of that we have to create more value for you.’ You start to see symbiotic things that happen. It all affects the bottom line. The more value I can see in you, it starts to solve our challenges, but also I need to compensate that value. It doesn’t have to be monetary. There are a lot of ways to do that.

How to reach: www.robinjsacks.com/get-off-my-bus-.html

Published in Cleveland
Wednesday, 30 November 2011 19:01

How to adapt to changing work force demographics

It completely baffled Julie Overholt when her daughter graduated from college, got an amazing job offer, but turned it down because it wasn’t in a place where she wanted to live. But as she started to look into it more, she saw this was a new trait emerging with the generation entering the work force.

“It is very millennial that this age group really takes into consideration their personal value and their personal vision of what they want their life to look like,” she says.

As a result, she was inspired to co-write “Exiting OZ,” a book that compares different workplace personalities to those of the classic story, “The Wizard of Oz.”

Smart Business spoke to Overholt about the important principles the book can offer leaders.

What’s the basic idea of your book that leaders should look at?

OZ stands for organizational zeal. That describes those companies that believe that the rules and profits are more important than the people who work there. This book is directed to those leaders that are in the boomer segment. The wizard of Oz was that all-knowing, all-powerful, angry spirit that nobody really knew who he was or where he was. He just had this booming presence.

Taken off of that, we started to identify leadership models inside organizations that were taking place when Oz looked the other way. We immediately started to identify the tin-man leader, which is the leader that is disengaged from his heart. The scarecrow leader is disengaged from his brain, and the cowardly lion is disengaged from his courage. If you go through the book, it continues to relate back and forth to the story of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and how that’s showing up today.

How is that showing up today?

Munchkins are the little employees coming out to do things they’re told. The flying monkeys are the individuals that are just at the beck and call of leadership and just want to be told what to do. The most interesting demise in all of Oz is how Dorothy, who represents the millennials, actually surprises the witch by taking her down very simply. How does she do that? Throwing water on her, which is like a fresh drink of water — ‘Here’s the reality, lady — bam!’

Why is it so important for leaders to recognize these different personalities and characters?

There’s so much chaos in the world right now, and there’s so much information. People are overwhelmed by it — they’re not managing it. We’re in the information age. You could be confused and think observations are really ideas, but they’re not. We’re not generating a lot of ideas — we’re generating a lot of information. People in leadership roles need to be aware that while they may be in an OZ organization right now, they can transform their organizations and departments simply by realizing they have a disconnect that has served them up to this point in time, but is no longer going to serve them.

How do they change to adapt to this new work force?

One of the things we need to do is assess our talent pool and start creating environments that are a match to what our talent says is important to them. We have to strategically look at our global enterprise and start anticipating the economies that continue to do well and find creative ways to leverage new opportunities in economies that are not doing as well.

What will happen to companies that don’t adapt to each of these changes?

I think they’re going to go away. I really do. Many of them have been treading water for the last five to 10 years thinking that this is just temporary. The truth is the opportunities for them to continue to do business the way they’ve always done it are just diminishing every single day.

How to reach: www.julieoverholt.com/exitingOZ.htm

Published in Dallas
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