Managing and Mending Woman

Managing and Mending Woman

Can you remember the first time you learned about Clara Barton?

She has recently shown up in a mini-series and most people probably just nodded and thought, “Of course, Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross.”

Did you know that she was also a patent office clerk? Seems that being paid the same amount as her male colleagues was quite the problem – and a first for a female government clerk.  Yet being in Washington, D.C. at the outbreak of the Civil War put her in the right place at the right time to find her life’s calling. 

As we watch images of refugees leaving Ukraine in the latest of the world’s conflicts, someone like Clara Barton springs to mind — someone with an incredible knack for organization, skill at tending to the wounded, and, importantly, raising the funds to do the work.

A recent piece on Marketplace focused on how best to help those fleeing Ukraine mentioned, yes Clara Barton, who handed out cash in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War.

Wait – she was even helping in the Franco Prussian War?

Take a few minutes to read a bit about her life. 

She was painfully shy as a young girl, but when did she feel most comfortable? Helping others. 

She got rather good at it.

Totally Rewarding

Totally Rewarding

Some of us have been predicting this.

Once the hourly wage reached a certain point, companies would have to augment their offer with other forms of:

Rewards

Compensation

Remuneration

Whatever you want to label it, that day is here.

A recent Forbes article suggested that there are four things that employers should be considering to augment whatever they are currently paying their employees:

Reimbursement for work-from-home expenses

Increased focus on employee financial health

Student Loan Benefits

Sick time and personal leave for remote workers  

The article stresses that it is important to understand the value these benefits have for YOUR cohort of employees, if they will have a bang for your buck. The statistics on productivity gains from reducing employees’ stress about financial worries certainly seem to be worth the investment. 

A recent article in Bloomberg reported that Apple stores will start offering

“Part-time employees … as many as six paid vacation days for the first time. Another first: They’ll get paid parental leave. That benefit will cover up to six weeks and will include the ability to gradually ramp up work time for the first four weeks back.”

Joseph B. Fuller and Manjari Raman of Harvard Business School have just released a study called: Building from the Bottom Up:  What business can do to strengthen the bottom line by investing in front-line workers.  The executive summary of their work, which started prior to the pandemic, was that few in the Executive Suite

“…do little to understand or address the reasons why low-wage jobs are hard to fill and low-wage workers hard to retain. Most employers show little engagement in workers’ lives …”

Based on the changes Apple is now making in their stores, and other employers are crafting or contemplating, perhaps upper management may now be starting to understand.

Mentors

Mentors

Many of us have probably spent the last week or so reflecting on the things that we are thankful for … I wonder how many of us went beyond food, clothing, and shelter to spare a few moments for the mentors in our life?

Some of us have been blessed with amazing mentors.  The extremely lucky have been blessed with several outstanding mentors.  Recently, a group of fortunate people assembled to celebrate the life of an amazing man who had been an outstanding one to so many – from attorneys to adolescents to apprentice advocates.

Without ever having met the man, I was nevertheless touched by all I heard and reflected upon what his mentorship had meant for so many, including many people I know.  Without his generosity, one of my high school classmates wouldn’t have sat in front of me, class after class, and probably wouldn’t be a doctor today.  Without his tutelage, many a current judge wouldn’t be on the bench, meting out just justice. Today there are businesspeople, not-for-profit leaders, and educators, who pursue their life’s work influenced by his work ethic, wisdom, and wit. It seems that this gifted, good, and generous man understood the part that luck and a break or two had played in his own life and felt that others were entitled to the same.  For so many assembled, they credited his influence that started at a very young age, many times as their after-school job in high school.

We tend to think that a mentor comes later in life, as part of a formal workplace program.  Tim Ryan, current US Chair of PwC, often tells a pivotal story in his life, career journey, and management approach – that came from his boss at his high school job in a grocery store.  That only reinforces how early these lessons CAN be learned, and perhaps SHOULD be learned.

As this crazy year comes to an end, here’s hoping that you have time to reflect on a mentor or two in your own life. If you haven’t been lucky enough to ever have one, or an amazing one, perhaps resolve to become one for someone else? It might be that break, that chance, that bit of luck, that changes their outlook … or even the outcome of their life.

Connecting the Dots

Connecting the Dots

This chart is eye grabbing.

Most reading this blog will easily recognize the vast majority of these logos.  You aspired to work at some, you DID work for some.

One logo immediately caught my eye.  In my days as a credit analyst, I signaled they were facing headwinds. In return, I got an extreme dressing down. The summation of that boss’s lecture? They were one of the largest companies in the country so how could I possibly even think to suggest that they were anything but stable?

The companies that have fallen off of this chart have done so for various reasons, for some it was hubris, for others an inability to pivot, in other cases, tastes change. A lack of innovation led to the demise of many.

Just yesterday, Jack Kelly had a piece in Forbes about the ultimate innovation: tailoring jobs to the individual needs of the various workers. Given the current labor and talent shortage in the U.S., this is exactly the right sort of solution for many organizations.

When firms can keep a clear focus on the deliverable, the output, where or how something gets done is less important.

Kelly says:

Consider how much better work would be if managers held conversations with their team, actively listened to how they’d like to work and then designed the job around their needs. Morning people could start early. Night owls can begin later in the day.

I lived this. Over 20 years ago at PwC, we had a well-oiled team that knew each other’s bio-rhythms and peak productivity hours.  We joked that there were probably only three hours that someone from our group wasn’t awake and available; one person was an extreme lark that got into the office at 5:00 am, while another was such an extreme night owl that we regularly got emails from him at 2:00 am, working remotely.  That is when I started experimenting with working from home … which one secretary dreaded because in uber-efficiency mode I banged through my To Dos, which then required her involvement.

As so many HR experts have reiterated: there are two ways to measure performance – inputs and outputs.  Do you want to measure the hours that you see someone in (or their jacket on) their chair? Or do you want to measure what they deliver? The RESULTS.

Go back to that left hand side of the graphic.  What happened to the temples those companies built? Big Stan in Chicago? GE Headquarters in Connecticut? The Sears Tower? They filled up with employees each morning and emptied every night.

Big buildings don’t matter.  That S&P graphic is based on results.

 

 

If you heard what we heard …

If you heard what we heard …

It happened again the other day.

What I heard would surprise no one in HR.

Someone knew I did something in HR and needed to unburden.

The person, who approached as though THEY were the sinner, wanted some clarity, some understanding, some reassurance.

Meanwhile the transgressors never seem to seek counsel. 

The mindset of many employees was summed up recently:

“They’re actually questioning the whole meaning of the daily grind. Why do we put so much of ourselves into our careers? And are we getting a fair deal from our employers in return for all of this stress and heartache?”  Read More Here

When they vote with their feet, their answer is: NO – we aren’t getting a fair deal. Often it is not about the money, it is about the recognition of the sacrifices or tradeoffs that they’ve been making: maybe for 18 months, perhaps for a decade … or two.

It is one thing to joke that HR folks are like priests in a confessional – we’ve heard and seen it ALL BEFORE … and we will carry some secrets to our graves to protect those that have confided in us. 

It is another when too many in leadership positions fail to have faith in what HR experts try to impart, for decades.

The non-sinner has moved on, with a clear conscience, now free from a non-enlightened employer. 

Leadership’s penance?  Trying to fill roles left vacant by once loyal employees.

Are you late to the game?

Are you late to the game?

We were pretty late to the game. 

A sports-mad 21-year-old kept recommending this show about soccer … so you’re a bit skeptical.

But once the friend that actually went to a Premier League match with you decades ago, tells you that you MUST watch it, you actually do.

Luckily we binged shortly before the Emmy’s so were all caught up and understood why Ted Lasso deserved all the raves. 

You can experience this series on so many levels.  If you like football, or programs about sports and coaching, it is great entertainment.  It also proves that once again, sports remain a wonderful arena for Management 101. If you’ve lived or traveled overseas and tried to adapt to a different culture, there are some overt and some subtle chuckles. Given the international nature of the sport, the team that Ted takes on is a perfect example of how complex global organizations are: not only are there personalities to manage, but personalities layered with national … proclivities. 

What all the characters and story lines underscore is that there is no one perfect way to motivate everyone, and that the best coaches and managers take the time and the effort to understand how best to inspire the individuals on their team. With so many leadership lessons from Lasso, some beat me to it.  Late to the game, I tip my hats to them, and share their insights   Read more here and here.

The agility in Ted Lasso is not just on the pitch.  If you scan a few articles, you will discover that the lines between creators, writers, and producers blur.  Brett Goldstein, who received the Emmy for best supporting actor, began as writer and ended up auditioning for a role.  Not unlike the sport at its center, the show scores because the ensemble relies on assists.  When teammates are generous with each other, they are willing to make that extra pass, to get a better line, to set up for a surer goal, and a better ending.