Senin, 14 Juli 2008

Tales from the Corporate Frontlines: Shifting Culture and Climate in Todays Corporate World

This articles relates to the AlphaMeasure core competency Culture and Climate. AlphaMeasure defines climate as the effect an organization has on the employees, while culture refers more to the acceptable behaviors, attitudes, and habits of the organization as a whole. Knowing and understanding workplace culture and climate leads to a better understanding of what factors are influencing employees. In relation, the level of service your customers receive is almost always influenced by the culture and climate of your organization. This competency can be especially insightful if your organization is experiencing customer service related issues or problems working together internally.

A Tale from the Corporate Frontlines: An Employee's Perpective on Culture and Climate. This short story is part of AlphaMeasure's Tales from the Corporate Frontlines.

When large, multinational corporations acquire medium-sized, locally-oriented businesses, huge shifts in the culture and climate of the workplace can occur.

I experienced such a shift while working for a prosperous company with a rich local history and plenty of prestige in the community. When I started there, years ago, the culture was very friendly and laid back. This may have been due to the fact that although an eastern company, it was owned and directed by a larger west coast entity.

The culture and climate was relaxed and friendly. Occupants of executive row could be seen mingling with "regular employees" at company functions, which were many- the bill nearly always footed by the company. They recognized employees and their families by name, and were regularly spotted in offices, hallways, and the cafeteria, catching up with fellow workers, and enjoying themselves. Morale was high, along with productivity and profitability. It reminded me of working for a family business, even though 500+ people worked in the building.

Then came the sale. At the first of many employee meetings, the details of the huge corporate transaction, of the kind so common these days, were outlined. This new parent company turned out to have a climate and culture exactly the opposite from what we were used to for years.

Change didn't occur overnight, but gradually the shift began. Then it washed over our little company like a tidal wave. Executive row was walled in like a fortress, and its occupants stayed inside. We were barraged by memos, new rules, more rules, dress codes, building regs, vacation regs, holiday changes, work process changes, changes for the sake of making changes (or so it seemed to the employees), layoffs, restructurings- the climate became tense and chaotic. Morale suffered, as well as productivity.

Eventually, things worked out. Communication between various levels of management improved, understandings were reached, and the company survived and thrived again. But I always wondered---couldn't someone have done something to make the shift easier and smoother? With sales, mergers, and acquisitions so common these days, there has got to be a better way. It seemed to me that if a little consideration had been given to the radical climate and culture changes involved, the company could have handled the transition more smoothly, to the benefit of everyone involved.

This article may be reprinted provided it is published in its entirety, includes the author bio information, and all links remain active.

2004 - AlphaMeasure, Inc. - All Rights Reserved

By Josh Greenberg

Ethics in Business...A Lost Art

While watching Face the Nation one Sunday earlier this year, Bob Schiffer discussed the airline industry, his mother and ethics in business. Like Bob, I think it is a sad commentary today, that we have to police businesses. Whatever happened to going into business to provide a needed service, being loyal to employees, and keeping promises.

It seems like no one today is concerned about doing good business or being ethical in the process. Our forefathers would be ashamed at what this society has come to. I know I am.

Chuck and I teach our students how to run a good business, by being ethical, and making sure that everyone is happy. We run our business using the adage, "The customer is always right". We know, however, from looking at others in business both on and offline, that we are in the minority. For most it is all about making money. They don't care who they have to step on, how many lies they tell, just "show them the money". As I pointed out in my article regarding "The Almighty Buck", this should not be your only incentive for going into business, and if it is, you won't be in business long.

We see sites every day that you can't find a telephone number on, an address for, they just want you to take it on faith that they are on the up and up. Years ago, a business would never even think of operating this way. Their name, address, phone number, slogan etc. was very prominent on everything they did. Unfortunately today, you can't take people on faith anymore. It's very sad, but it seems if you do so, most of the time, you will get burned.

Years ago, companies were known for their honesty, their integrity, and their good products. They had to be to stay in business and keep the good image they wanted to project. This gave their company a good name. As many of you know, we come from New York. Kodak, Grumman, and IBM were major companies in down and upstate NY. If you got a job with them you had a job for life, and once you retired you didn't have to worry. Today, people are losing their medical benefits, their pensions, their life savings; due to businesses thinking of only the bottom line.

Every time you open a newspaper or watch the news today you hear about another business' unethical business practices. They cook the books, take bonuses they don't disclose, while they expect employees to work for less. There is something very wrong with this picture. It also says to our future entrepreneurs, that this behavior is alright, just don't get caught.

Like Bob Schiffer, I'd much rather go back to the time when businesses dealt with us in an ethical manner and didn't only concentrate on lining their pockets, like today. Also, like Bob, I think what we need are different teachings in our business schools. The philosophy of today's teachers, needs to re-vamped to reflect the philosophies of old. What we need is to "throw out the new, and bring back the old". As Bob said, if his mom was teaching today, students would get a completely different view?an old fashioned one. Kudos to Bob's mom!

Tales from the Corporate Frontlines: Diversity And Success, In The Workplace

This article relates to the Diversity in the Workplace Competency, commonly evaluated in employee satisfaction surveys. This competency explores whether your organization provides understanding and supports interaction among diverse population groups while respecting individuals' personal values and ideas. Research shows that by fostering a climate where equity and mutual respect are intrinsic, an organization can create a success-oriented, cooperative and caring work environment that draws intellectual strength and produces innovative solutions from the synergy of its people.

All businesses can benefit from a diverse body of talent bringing fresh ideas, perspectives, and views to the workplace. However, a diverse workforce means that the managers within your organization must be capable of capitalizing on the mixture of genders, cultural backgrounds, ages, and lifestyles present in your staff to respond to business opportunities more rapidly and creatively.

This short story, Diversity----and Success, in the Workplace, is part of AlphaMeasure's Compilation, Tales from the Corporate Frontlines. It illustrates how one manager recognized and used a diverse team to achieve the best possible work product for the company, and win new business as well.

Anonymous Submission

It was a project unlike any our small ad agency had ever undertaken. A new client, selling a completely different product than we usually worked with. And our team had been awarded the opportunity to develop the perfect campaign and win the continued business of this new client. We all looked at our project manager, who was with us now for six whole months, like he had lost his mind. Why not team A? They had twice the experience and were always the group chosen to woo new clients with their work. Surely they were a safer choice. Why risk the client on us?

Our project manager patiently explained that out team had the required diversity for this project. If ever a project demanded workforce diversity---this was it. We looked around at each other, sure enough, we referred to ourselves as the "odds and ends" we were all so different. Our writers and designers represented a mixture of newbie talent, on fire with ambition, more mature people on their second careers, and new hires who earned their stripes far away, in big city agencies. We worked okay together, but our projects so far were small cast offs from the senior teams.

Yes, the project manager continued, this campaign required a diversity that the more entrenched teams lacked. More of our members represented the target demographic, and the deadline demanded quick turnaround. That was one of the reasons our company had landed the project. Times were tight and potential long-term clients were nothing to sneeze at. He was confident that if we pulled together, we'd achieve the best possible outcome for everyone--- a brilliant campaign that would lure the new client onto our roster forever.

Still thinking that he was crazy, we began our work. The entire process was amazing. Our brainstorming sessions produced several great concepts that we developed eagerly. The newbies provided smart, stylish slogans, while the latecomers worked overtime to combine them with vibrant design. Our client loved it. So much so that our firm was awarded three more projects with the expectation that our team would do the required work.

Yes, our project manager was crazy. Crazy enough to go against the usual procedure and capitalize on the workforce diversity of our team to the benefit of the company. We succeeded ---with his guidance, of course.

© 2005 AlphaMeasure, Inc. - All Rights Reserved

This article may be reprinted, provided it is published in its entirety, includes the author bio information, and all links remain active.

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By Josh Greenberg

Business Ethics: An Oxymoron?

Why do I believe good PR and business ethics are inextricably linked? It comes down to definitions. Ethics is learning what is right and what is wrong and then doing the "right thing." PR involves providing counsel on the "right thing" to do and then helping the organization get credit for it.

The business and political excess of the last 10 years have taken some PR practitioners to the dark side because they felt it was the only way for their company to profit. Although I personally believe doing right for right's sake is enough, there are some who may not share this view. OK, here's a reason that any good capitalist can embrace: research now shows that socially responsible behavior is good for the bottom line.

A recent analysis of overall financial performance of the 2001 list of 100 Best Corporate Citizens shows that this group of firms did significantly better than the remaining companies of the S&P 500. Professors at DePaul University found that the mean ranking of the 100 Best was more than 10 percentile higher than the other firms of the S&P 500.

Additionally, they had a significantly better reputation among corporate directors and security analysts based upon results of the Fortune Magazine survey of most admired companies.

So, you see, it really does pay to do the right thing.

By Harry Hoover

Ethics? How To Take the Measure Business

When asked to write a small piece pertaining to ethics and integrity in the business world, my first inclination was to draw on personal experience.

Everyone has bad experiences to relate. We deal with a business, determine that we were treated shabbily therefore that business has no integrity. Or perhaps we disagree on the implementation of a refund, hence the business or owner has no ethics.

Rather than using ethics or integrity to describe business practices, a better definition might be "character".

My dusty old copy of Webster's New World Dictionary provides the following definitions for use in this context:

-ethics...the study of standards of conduct and moral judgment; moral philosophy.

-integrity...the quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity. individual's pattern of behavior or personality; moral constitution. moral strength; self-discipline, fortitude, etc. reputation.

If you will look at these definitions you can see that ethics relates to standards of conduct. Period. Ethics good or bad comes into the mix. Integrity either is or isn't. Sound moral principle is relative to the observer or end user.

It stands to reason, therefore, that the best measure of good or bad practice falls to basic "character".

Okay, so what does all of this have to do with business. Well, I wish I had a nickel for every time someone has asked me the following questions:

"How do I tell if a business is good or bad?"

"How do I know where to shop?"

"Are they a good business?"

My response is always the same...check the fruit on the tree. What is the pattern of behavior? What is the company's reactive personality? Is the moral constitution flexible rather than rigid? Check the reputation.

The offline world provides numerous resources to determine the patterns and trends of businesses. Trade associations, chambers of commerce, better business bureaus etc.

In the online world, however, we are still treading murky waters when it comes to measuring the "character" of a business. By far, the best route to take are testimonials.

Testimonials on your website are powerful. But, they must be honest and sincere. Don't just make them up. Add a link back to the provider and it will increase your credibility TENFOLD!

Now I know what you're thinking, "Who wants to be answering tons of email for ME?" Nobody. That's why you use the technology available at your fingertips. With the permission of the author, use a line or two of their testimonial on your site with a link to an autoresponder for the full message.

Now, sit back and watch your credibility soar!

By Patty Baldwin

Work Ethics - A Paradigm Shift

Work ethics is a hot topic in today's business and educational worlds. Yet, how do we define this hybrid phrase with the word work meaning more than a specific outcome and the word ethics being more than the values that enhance that outcome?

When we say we are going to work, work becomes the place of employment. When we say we are working, the implication is that we are engaged in a work-related activity and should be performing one or more specific tasks. However, the word work in today's global economy does not easily denote specific outcomes much less measurable ones.

Years ago when our economy was agrarian based, farmers said they were going to work the fields. Their work or more specifically the outcomes of their work could be viewed from the plowed fields to the stacked bales of hay. In today's technology and service driven economy, workers outcomes are not as nearly recognizable, but what is noticed is their behavior.

Now, ethics is a difficult word to define, as it is more than the enhancement of outcomes. This is aptly demonstrated by the variety of expectations such as being to work or school on time, performing quality work, being self-directed, having self-initiative, or being positive to both fellow contributors and customers. Ethics, from these expectations, encompass the internal behaviors of the contributors or what I really believe are attitudes.

Let's step out of the box and construct a new and more accurate term that meets the expectations of both the business and educational worlds. First, let's ask ourselves are we more concerned with the behavior or the attitudes? If we recognize that it is the attitudes that drive the behaviors that generate the outcomes, it would suggest that the contributors' attitudes have the greater impact on the outcomes.

Next, since behavior has numerous meanings, possibly we can substitute performance for behavior. Performance can be measured provided the organization has accurate and complete expectations, valid assessments that do not penalize the contributors along with a well-communicated strategic plan. Through clearly articulated goals with consistent leadership and management, contributors have the opportunity to improve their performance thereby achieving measurable results.

Attitudes of performance appear then to better describe the desired outcomes and expectations that we have as employers, educators or even parents. As we all are contributors, by focusing on attitudes early in our performance experiences, we have the means to improve ourselves, our businesses and more importantly our communities.

By Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Business Ethics

There is much talk today about ethics in business - as there should be, but there should be more than talk; there should be a high moral code for all executives who are responsible to both their customers and their shareholders.

I have been the president and CEO of one publicly owned company and also was president of another that was responsible to customers who traded equities. This carries a high responsibility to all concerned. You have to be more than worried if you do something wrong because you will go to jail. You must have the desire to try to always do your best for everyone who works for you as well as all the customers or investors that deal with your company.

Ethics is supposed to be either black or white, right or wrong, but today it is many shades of grey. If any company does shady business you can be sure it starts at the top and filters down because the president is the one who sets the example for the actions of the entire company. This is as true for actions of our elected officials as it is for corporations or individuals. We have had some pretty sorry examples of that in Washington.

Each time there is a new scandal the public seems less disturbed. The recent disclosure that mutual funds have been allowing hedge funds and other large traders to take positions after the closing bell is a brutal example. Maybe investors are not aware that someone is writing checks on their account. This is stolen money that is no different than a guy with a gun holding up a 7-11 store. Yes, the one difference is that the mutual funds have allowed millions of dollars to be siphoned off from those to whom they owed a fiduciary relationship. The fund manager is a crook and deserves jail time. He just took the money with a click of the computer keyboard and that was his weapon. White collar crime deserves the same punishment as the guy with a gun.

When you give a brokerage company, a mutual fund or any financial institution your money you expect, in fact, you demand, that they treat you fairly within the rules of the industry. When you are short-changed you should not accept it.

Because of the huge amounts of money available and accessible to people in the financial industry it is easy to understand how they can be tempted into criminal actions. That is why all publicly traded companies are required to have their books audited annually. Lately we have seen that even these audits are tainted.

Investors rely upon the numbers set before them in order to make decisions about owning stock in a company. If the information is dishonest a proper decision cannot be made.

Today we are seeing another type of corporate officer being created. He is called the Governance Officer. It is his job to see that the company maintains high ethical standards. I applaud this action and hope he cannot be seduced by big bucks.

By Al Thomas