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- Quotable: They Said It
- Be Kind to Your Staff
- Is Your Gut Trying to Tell You Something?
- The Stress Solution: How to Win in Business without Sacrificing in Life
- Subscription Information
Quotable: They Said It
“Do Lipton employees take coffee breaks?” – Steven Wright
“You don’t have to be a ‘person of influence’ to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they’ve taught me.” – Scott Adams
BE KIND TO YOUR STAFF
If you’ve been following the recent woes of Wal-Mart as described in the New York Times and The Economist (October 29 issue), you know that the world’s largest retailer is in the midst of a public relations nightmare.
It was caused, in part, by an internal memo from a Wal-Mart benefits executive to the Wal-Mart board of directors that was reported in the Times article. The point of the memo was to suggest ways to slash benefits costs.
The memo, according to the Times, included a suggestion that all Wal-Mart jobs include some kind of physical activity, because that would dissuade “unhealthy” people from applying for work there.
The result of publicity about the memo has been a backlash of criticism from unions and others. And in business, as in comedy, timing is everything: Tomorrow a documentary entitled “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” is set to be released.
The relationship between profitability and the treatment of employees has been a longtime subject of study by Jason Jennings. Jennings is a journalist, author and business consultant who has shown through his research that among the things correlated with long-term business growth (as measured by increased revenue and profits) is how companies treat their employees. And Jennings’ research, which you can view at his website, gives both the profit picture and the inside story about how successful companies treat their people.
For example, in his interview with Dennis Highby, CEO of Cabela’s, a 44-year old company that is now the world’s largest direct marketer of outdoor gear, Jennings asks how Cabela’s has been so successful at keeping many long-term employees – many who have been there for more than 20 years.
Highby says, “…People get along together. I mean, there’s no back stabbing here. We don’t allow it. It’s a well run business. It’s like a big family.” And what about the benefits? Highby says, “ … we have a bonus incentive program for salaried employees that it’s a lot of money. It’s very generous. Our benefit program is very generous.”
The key is not just having good policies, but in truly believing that treating employees well is the best way to do business. And the results, in terms of profits, speak to the wisdom of that approach.
And it’s not just big companies that benefit. In fact, Jennings makes the point that big profitable companies tend to do the things they did when they were small companies. And I’ve personally seen this at work. Literally. The other day I was walking through the parking lot of an office building. There were several mobile car washing vans parked throughout the lot, and they were washing cars.
I walked up to one of the supervisors and asked him what was going on. “The owner of one of the companies in this building washes all of the employees’ cars once a month,” he told me. I asked him the name of the company, and checked them out. They are not a huge company in terms of number of employees. And they don’t make a common product. But they are the number one supplier of the product they make. In the country.
I know, I know, the washing of cars doesn’t mean their employees are happy, and that may have nothing at all to do with the bottom line. But what if it does?
If there are things you’re doing right now to treat your staff right, I’d like to know about it. And if you’re interested in learning more about Jason Jennings’ research, check out his website, or his book, Think Big Act Small.
IS YOUR GUT TRYING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING?
If you’re like many leaders, you may do some of your best business thinking when you’re not thinking about business. Perhaps the answer to a tricky problem occurs to you while you’re taking a shower in the morning. Or a choice that’s eluded you while concentrating on it at your desk suddenly becomes clear while you’re on the golf course. And once you arrive at a solution, you tend to trust it, even if it’s hard to describe exactly how you arrived at the decision. It’s called a “gut instinct,” and it’s not based on a logical cost-benefit analysis, but on a more subtle process described by words like “intuition” and “hunch”.
So what exactly is the intuitive process that allows leaders to make major decisions? It seems to be fueled by two related phenomenon. First, your mind is capable of receiving and processing information outside your conscious awareness. For example, information that protects you from physical harm is usually transmitted directly to the parts of the brain that control motor activity. That’s why you jerk your hand away from a hot stove before seeming to consciously realize that you touched the burner.
Also, studies have shown that data presented to subjects below the threshold of conscious awareness can affect future choices the subject makes. That means that you have absorbed information about your business that you did not necessarily intend to learn. And that data, along with all of your conscious thoughts, becomes available to you for decision-making purposes.
Second, data that you collect both consciously and unconsciously can be processed quickly and in a seeming endless number of ways by the brain. While this process is not completely understood, it is clear that when decision-makers are presented with data, the brain sets to work trying to identify patterns in the huge number of discrete memories and facts that reside in your head.
An example of this is when a football quarterback looks across a crowded field but is able to identify a receiver who’s about to break open and pass the ball at precisely the right time. In business decisions, when this process yields a result, you have the “a-ha” experience – your conscious recognition of that sub-conscious connection.
Gut instincts, then, are the product of all of the experiences that reside in your mind, and the connections you’re capable of making among those experiences from which patterns — and the answers to many questions — emerge.
So should you trust your instincts or not? Before answering that, it’s important to consider some potential decision-making pitfalls.
First, some people will take unnecessary risks to recover a loss, also known as the gambler’s syndrome.
Second, we may think we see patterns where none actually exist. Also, we have a tendency to recall when we didn’t trust our instincts but should have (e.g., “I knew I should have bought that building in 1968 for $1,000 … it’s worth $1,000,000 now.”), forgetting when we were lucky to have disregarded our gut instinct.
Finally, there’s the insidious “self-fulfilling prophecy,” compelling us to make sure that someone we backed for a promotion actually succeeds, justifying our original decision and blurring whether or not the choice was in fact a good one.
To protect yourself against making unwise decisions, consider these important steps:
- Check to confirm if your judgments are correct. Follow up on your decisions and the results in all of the areas they concerned.
- Make sure you examine the bad decisions as well as the good ones.
- Look at the entire decision-making process, not just the final choice.
- Try to identify the moods, emotions and drives that you’re experiencing during the decision making process.
- Consult with trusted friends or associates during the decision-making process, particularly when you’re uneasy about a decision.
Even if you employ these checks, there are some people who gravitate to fact-based decisions rather than relying on intuition. If you’re the databased type, you may rarely trust your gut, or you may view gut feelings as irrelevant data in the decision making process. It’s probably best to stay with your preferred method of decision-making.
Your decision making style is something that can be easily assessed using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Please call me at 610/642-3040 to learn about how information from the Myers-Briggs can help you identify your preferences and make even better business decisions.
THE STRESS SOLUTION: HOW TO WIN IN BUSINESS WITHOUT SACRIFICING IN LIFE
Working in a leadership, management or professional position has lots of rewards. But, like anything in life, those rewards have a price. And that price is stress.
Numerous sources have referred to chronic overstress and burnout at the executive level as an epidemic. But here’s a simple-to-use solution you can use to reduce your own stress – or the stress of a co-worker or direct report – and start living the terrific life you deserve.
The Stress Solution is a concise, information-rich guide with effective ideas you can use today to begin recognizing and coping better with stress.
The Stress Solution teaches you:
- How you can recognize the “warning signs” of stress to stop problems before they get out of hand.
- How you can distinguish between real and imagined stressors, so you can decide what problems to focus on.
- The key techniques that can keep you cool under fire.
- How to radically increase your physical and emotional energy so you are prepared to tackle any challenge!
The Stress Solution is not a “touchy feely” self-help guide. It’s a practical, concise business workbook that highlights the essential points quickly and directly.
For more information or to order your copy of The Stress Solution today, click here.
ABOUT DR. WEIMAN
David A. Weiman, Psy.D. is a psychologist who specializes in executive assessment, development and consultation. For information or a confidential consultation, please call 610/642-3040.
333 East Lancaster Avenue, Suite 202
Wynnewood, PA 19096-1929
(610) 642-3040; Fax (610) 642-3041
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