Fathers Are Critical in Today’s Families

fathers-day-2016

In 2012, Desmond Hatchett, a Knoxville resident, made a big impression in the news. At the time, the 33 year old man was requesting relieve from his child support payments. According to news sources, Hatchett had 30 children by 11 different women.  However, Hatchett struggled with his financial commitments with his children due to his low paying minimum wage job.  For many people across the nation, this story struck a moral cord. Continue reading

Disruptive Technology in Today’s Business

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In life, sometimes it is the simple things that count, despite modern technology. In the next few months, I will be able to see 3-4 of my books published. Traditionally, it takes most large publishing houses 12-18 months before their books are published. As an independent publisher, I learned that the speed of products to the market place is a good way to beat a large competitor.

In fact, my success relates to a simple website called Elance.com, a freelance website that allow customers to solicit work from a variety of outsourcing services, which include programmers, designers, office support, translators, marketers, researchers and many other disciplines.

Elance.com allows a business to post a job opening and invites freelance workers who believe they have the requisite skills for the job to make a bid. The company charges a $10 fee to each business to post a job and also takes a small portion of what gets paid to contractors. Through this website, I have found some of the most talented individuals from across the world. For these services, it is a buyer’s market. Some people would argue that it is all about buying cheap labor for profitability.

In this scenario, developed countries appear to be exploiting underdeveloped countries. This is not always true. I have paid more in the past for the best talent. With that said, potential employers see a website that attracts over 500,000 talented freelancers. For the freelancer, there is an opportunity to bid on 48,000 jobs, worth $480K.[1] Therefore, a differentiating strategy can defeat a low-cost strategy on a global playing field.

Technology must be a management tool that is used strategically. Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, provides a framework for understanding the interrelationship between technology changes and a business success. Christensen demonstrates how successful companies have been overtaken by small disruptive technologies.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGzXWO_anLI

The cell phone, undermining the profitability of the established communication networks such as AT&T, further showcases the impacts of disruptive technology. Sadly, more executives are unwilling to think strategically due to the wrath of their investors and financial pundits.

For example, Amazon’s revenue grew in 2012, but the details were lacking. Amazon.com’s revenue rose to 17.4 billion (35% increase) in the fourth quarter. However, it fell short of Wall Street predictions. According to VentureBeat, Amazon sold as many as 6 million Kindle Fires and its older tablet prototype.

Given this reality, the Fire would move ahead of Android tablets from Samsung and Motorola, making it only second to Apple’s iPad. Analysts were concerned that the $199 Fire would not make a profit. Additionally, Amazon.com is spending capital on clouding technology.

Maximizing profits on Fire as an industry leading tablet is a near-term strategy. However, CEO Jeff Bezos appears to have disappointed Wall Street with a long-term perspective instead of sacrificing shareholders with profits in the near term.

Innovators take note of disruptive change as positive turbulence in the market. John Gamble and Arthur Thompson, authors of Essentials of Strategic Management, explain, “Understanding the nature of competitively important resources allows managers to identify resources or capabilities that should be further developed to play an important role in the company’s future strategies.” Therefore, organizations which do not understand the importance of making sustainable growth by being more efficient will not be successful over the long-term.

Please discuss application of this topic in your organization and industry.

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green

 

[1] Elance.com

Scientific Management in Organizations

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Scientific management has many advantages for today’s organizations, including a systematic approach. Fredrick Taylor is credited with being the Father of Scientific Management. He transformed the Industrial Revolution. In fact, this approach brought a lot of productivity. However, the difficulty with Scientific Management is that it requires sales managers to select employees that fit the job and train them effectively. Additionally, it increases the monotony of work. This reality could cause some salespeople to be uninspired in their jobs. 

Whereas the Scientific Management approach was a focus on tasks, the Behavioral Management approach was a focus on people. Historically, Fredrick Taylor didn’t disregard the importance of workers. In fact, the study of behavioral science and organizational behavior resulted from a criticism of the human relations approach as ‘simplistic’ and ‘manipulative’ in addressing the relationship between worker attitudes and productivity. Therefore, each management approach has its weakness.

Yet, Scientific Management has a lot of drawbacks if you want to build personal relationships with people. One of the sticky points about Scientific Management is its impersonal approach to managing people. People are a resource, but not machines. There are several other issues associated with this classical approach of managing workers, which include: (a) heavy reliance on experience and unproved assumptions, (c) failure to consider informal operations, and (d) operations assumed under static conditions. 

There are no magical bullets when you are dealing with employees as human beings. The Scientific Management approach was built on the shoulders of the Industrial Revolution. Behavioral Management followed suit later. Both approaches have their shortcomings. I suggest taking the best from both worlds. Some aspects of Scientific Management can be used to further develop and standardize an organization’s operations. Employees then understand what’s expected of them. 

With the Behavioral Management approach, sales managers can push performance by understanding what motivates each employee intimately. Quality expert George Peeler argues that the task of personalizing and communicating product value through interactive discussion is the task of the sales organization. Therefore, the best scenario would be to use all of the best management practices, including Scientific Management and Behavioral Management, for enhanced relationship customer relationships.

  Organizations may look to a Theory Y environment for creating the right manager’s mentality that builds trust in people to do the right things. When managers demonstrate they believe in their people and set clear expectations, most individuals will work harder. Management expert Stephen Covey explains that having trust fosters confidence. Salespeople are then motivated to go the extra mile for the organization (i.e. work longer hours, work harder, etc.). Therefore, Scientific Management has its own share of problems when discussing relationship selling.

Please discuss application of this topic in your organization and industry.

 

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green

Living With Criticism

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No one wants to be criticized. Dr. William Watley, Senior Pastor of the St. Phillip African Methodist Episcopal Church observed, “Criticism’s certainly something that you can’t be delivered from…From the womb to the tomb, you can’t escape it.”

Criticism can be defined as ‘the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.’ No one can avoid criticism if they are active in an organization or serve in a leader’s capacity.

Yet, individuals can also be criticized because of lack of action. Dr. Watley argues that criticism is all that some people know how to do, which indicates to him that ”these people need to get a life.” Perhaps, actress Ava Gardner summed it up best about critics: “Hell, I suppose if you stick around long enough, they have to say something nice about you.” 

On the contrary, a Constructive Critic points out things that will assist in the personal or professional development of a person. A Petty Fault Finder can always locate some short coming in an individual that is not helpful and a fault that he or she does not have a problem with.

In fact, no matter how hard you attempt to correct a problem noted by a Petty Fault Finder, he or she will not be satisfied; a Petty Fault Finder will seek to only locate another problem in this individual’s life.

Great leaders know how to use criticism in a way that can transform an organization. Most people are unwilling to change even when it is out of necessity or survival. Richard Daft, renowned author of Management, notes that change can be problematic for organizational growth.

Employees and managers often resist change. Dr. Daft explains, “Yet most changes will encounter some degree of resistance. Idea champions often discover that other employees are unenthusiastic about their new ideas….People typically resist a change they believe conflicts with their self-interest.”[1] Most managers understand how to control and oversee their organizations.

Few managers have the innate ability to inspire their employees from mediocre to extraordinary performance. That position description requires a leader, not a status quo manager. All great leaders, from President George Washington to Albert Einstein, had their own share of criticism and a merry band of Petty Fault Finders.

Sadly, some individuals never are effective in their positions because they can never seem to manage because of fear of negative criticism. Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, authors of Contemporary Management, explained how bad leadership damages an organization: “When leaders are ineffective, chances are good that their subordinates do not perform to their capabilities, are demotivated, and may be dissatisfied as well.”[2] Consequently, it is important that leaders develop strategies for managing criticism effectively in order to move their organizations to exemplary performance. 

Please discuss criticism from your professional experience.

 © 2014 by Daryl D. Green

 

 

[1]Management by Richard Daft

[2] Contemporary Management by Gareth Jones and Jennifer George

 

Performance Measures in Today’s Businesses

blind-leadership

Finding the right performance measure in today’s organizations is like trying to determine for each swimmer the right temperature of the water to swim in the Gulf of Mexico (a great place to vacation).  There are many variables to consider. Certainly, the amount of revenue produced for each customer would speak to the bottom-line of most organizations.  In relationship selling, you have the personality factor.

In fact, Mark Johnston and Greg Marshall, authors of Relationship Selling, maintain that customers pick up on a salesperson’s attitude. Does good chemistry exist between the salesperson and the customer? That’s an important performance measure. When developing performance measurement with relationship selling in mind, good chemistry between the salesperson and customer should be a factor.

The amount of customer referrals can be an extremely good indicator, because this friendly act speaks to the issues of customer trust.  Quality expert George Peeler argues that the key to designing and using systems that will build the traditional product source relationship in the Quality Era will be the creativity and commitment of management and customer insight provided through empathy.  Successful organizations understand the attitudes and emotions of their customers. Therefore, connecting with customers would be a vital performance metric.

In being effective, businesses need to understand what to measure.  Many times, organizations are measuring the wrong objectives or doing the analysis incorrectly. Johnston and Marshall argue for designing an effective measurement system which includes (a) what do we want to measure, (b) when do we want to measure, and (c) how do we measure. Therefore, it’s important that organizations create effective performance measures.

Yet, performance measures are very difficult.  Management expert Stacey views performance measures as a process rather than an event, involving a series of specific activities for creating, implementing, and using performance metrics. Organization must be careful about using the right data collection tool to measure performance. For example, most people hate doing surveys.

Given this reality, organizations must carefully analyze the survey data for bias. Are they truly getting a picture of their customers?  I found focus groups more useful. Peeler further explains that management must facilitate the processes of quality innovation through prompt action, removing barriers to employee performance by continually attending to process improvement. Regardless, management must establish a reliable performance measurement system for organizations. The bottom-line is that there is inherent risk with customer surveys.

Finally, businesses should be strategic and focused in their performance measures. If an organization wants to spin its wheel and go nowhere, having unclear direction is a great pathway.  It’s important to have clear objectives and desired outcomes.  The transformation process from where an organization is to where an organization wants to be is a clear application for performance measures.

Johnston and Marshall argue that specific, realistic, and measurable objectives are essential to a sales training program. They further acknowledge that salespeople exist in a highly competitive environment where a great deal of information must be assimilated for effective customer sales.

Please discuss organizational performance measure from your professional experience.

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green

Value Perceptions Among Customers

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Organizations should think strategically when creating value perceptions of their products or services.  In fact, they should seek to establish a formal tiered system where possible. Strategic leaders have a long view on value creation.

Strategic thinking is defined as ‘the generation and application of business insights on a continual basis to achieve competitive advantage.’ In fact, strategic thinking focuses on value creation by enabling a provocative and creative dialogue among people who can affect a company’s direction.

Marketing expert Ken Favaro maintains that putting value creation first gives businesses two advantages over their competition in driving for profitable and sustainable growth: the first is capital and the second is talent. In fact, he argued that successful value creators never suffer from capital shortage. 

Yet, this process shouldn’t be done in a vacuum. Customers and all members of the supply chain should provide input so that the expectations are clear. Businesses that pay more would get more benefits (i.e. certain perks, discounts, etc.). Therefore, the value proposition would be enhanced.

However, being strategically conscious about these business relationships isn’t simple.  Value must be understood and sought out.  Value is viewed as the perceived experience and worth gained from a product or service.  Organizations should make their product clear to customers; some businesses need to introduce a tiered system, based on value-added services.

For example, if I want cheap fast food, I go to McDonalds. Therefore, my expectations are lower than going to a five star restaurant.  Customers are very understanding when the seller’s value proposition is clear. Favaro further suggests that putting value creation consistently first requires leadership skills, discipline, and perseverance. He further challenged organizations to demand higher standards from managers who would jeopardize these business relationships.

Mark Johnston and Greg Marshall, authors of Relationship Selling, discuss that perceived value is in the eyes of the customer and varies.  They further argued that customers expect and deserve consistency in the way an organization’s value-added message is put forth.  Therefore, sales professionals’ biggest challenge is selling value.

Please discuss value perception of customers from your professional experience.

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green

 

Time Management for Professionals

global-sourcing-man-strategy

As I teach working adults at the university level, the biggest complaint is the lack of time to fulfill academic requirements.  Of course, many working professionals must juggle their jobs, family obligations, and other priorities. It’s very difficult to be successful with these priorities. However, being successful is possible. 

Everyone can benefit from good time management.  Let’s examine professionals in the retail business. Professionals who interact with customers must be good stewards of their time.  Yet, most people have so much trouble with time management due to conflicting priorities in their lives in a busy society.

For salespeople, life can be pretty demanding; attempting to connect with customers often means taking away from one’s personal life. Understanding how to navigate one’s time is essential in managing our priorities. 

Salespeople are no exception. Mark Johnston and Greg Marshall, authors of Relationship Selling, maintain that the ability to manage time and territory is essential for salespersons for three reasons: (a) increase productivity, (b) improve customer relationships, and (c) enhance personal confidence.  Therefore, good time management assists salespeople and other business professionals in mapping out their priority obligations. 

Successful people distinguish the trivial from the important.  This reality is true in sales, as well as other industries. In my technical field, I see many people operating in crisis mode because they are engulfed in trivial matters. Working only on trivial matters is unproductive when an individual is ignoring the important things. Time management speaks to what is really important to you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XUmPKxDXfg

Stephen Covey, author of Seven Habits for Highly Effective People, argued that highly successful people know how to manage their time (aka ‘Put first things first’).  He notes, “Effective management is all about putting first things first. While leadership decides what the ‘first things’ are, it is management that puts them first, day by day, moment by moment.

Management is the discipline carrying it out. The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do.”  Therefore, distinguishing the important from the trivial is part of good time management.

Developing effective time management skills is not a simple or short process. When a salesperson is young and single, he or she has different priorities. The individual may be willing to make huge concessions, such as long hours, to move ahead or make additional income.

Yet, the individual may transition into a different stage, where he is married and has children.  This reality can shift his priorities. Some people balance this strategically. Therefore, different life stages can impact an individual’s time management. 

Discuss your professional experience on this topic. 

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green

The Nature of Effective Problem Solving

Whiteboard--business man-strategic-planning-on-the-whiteboard

Our youth program continues to grow at my church.  Of course, it is a simple formula as our church is one of the biggest in the area.  Church going parents make it mandatory for their children to attend church and participate in church services.  However, when the children graduate from high school and became young adults, their attendance becomes very low or non-existent. 

At that time, Velma Biddles was the youth leader and fairly new to the position.  She and her youth advisors have seen the shift of young people’s attitude.  If churches want to be effective with youth, they must change their underpinning message of: “Children are to be seen and not heard.”  Our youth advisors started to deal with the root causes of matters concerning our youth. Sadly, many businesses are spending millions on symptoms. What about you? 

Good problem solving can be an asset in an organization.  Some organizations find themselves solving the wrong problems and getting less than desired results.  Other managers assume that good technical staff members are naturally good problem solvers.  However, this observation is not necessarily true.  Effective problem solvers often have an intuitive skill set or enough training in problem solving for finding the right problems and making the best decisions.  

 John Gamble and Arthur Thompson, authors of Essentials of Strategic Management, outline the importance of filling key managerial slots with people who are good at figuring out what needs to be done and possess skills in effective implementation and in producing desired results.  They note, “No company can hope to perform the activities required for successful strategy execution without attracting and retaining talented managers and employees with suitable skills and intellectual capital.”  A problem can be defined as ‘an obstacle that stands in the way of achieving a desired goal.’ In fact, problems are divergences from the preferred outcomes.  

The basic problem solving stages include: (a) Identify the problem, (b) Gather information, (c) Clarify the problem, (d) Consider possible solutions, (e) Select the best option, and (f) Make a decision and monitor the solution. High performing organizations move beyond superficial problem solving in order to get to the root causes.  Good businesses realize that uncovering the real problems can be beneficial in many ways, such as reduced risks, cost savings, and greater efficiencies.  

Jeff Butterfield, author of Problem Solving and Decision Making, argues about the benefits of talented problem solvers: “People who can identify, define, and solve problems are valued members of an organization.” 

 

Like our youth advisors recognizing the problem and adapting appropriate solutions, today’s managers must be willing to move beyond their own bias to discover the real causes of problems.  Too many managers seek to major in the minors.  High performing organizations cannot afford to let this happen. 

In general, effective problem solving can be a great competitive advantage for organizations.  Formulating better decision making happens with more effective problem solving.  Businesses with talented problem solvers will have a greater capacity for sustainable success. 

Discuss your professional experience with problem solving in your industry or organization.

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green

Ethical Decision Making

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Ethical decision-making is important for businesses. Trust and integrity must not be lost. There are three ethical concerns for the sales organization, which are (1) cheating, (2) misuse of company resources, and (3) inappropriate relationships with other employees.  

In fact, losing a customer or client’s trust is fatal stroke for businesses. Famous management expert Stephen Covey suggests that trust is the cornerstone for productivity in the market. Once customers lose faith and trust in an organization, that organization has lost ground in the market. 

Employees are motivated by different stimulus.  In fact, different employees have different motivations.  Motivation produces psychological forces that determine the direction of a person’s behavior in an organization.  In my technical field, there are few things that are impossible to accomplish; it’s a matter of time versus money. 

However, finding these solutions depend on a personal drive.  In many organizations,  supervisors search for the magical ingredient to improve employee performance so that the organization can be successful.  This initiative isn’t easy!   

For example, a salesperson might be motivated to earn high commissions at any cost. He knows his management is only concerned with the bottom-line. At the end of the year, his sales manager responses in anger to this salesperson, “You’ve committed the company to something to which we cannot commit.” Therefore, being promoting selfish behavior can cost a business in the long run.

 

Organizations must train and create a good ethical environment.  Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, authors of Contemporary Management, further argue effective managers fully utilize their human resources to gain a competitive advantage.  Developing the desired behavior in employees is invaluable. 

In many cases, employees exist in a transactional relationship (if you do this, you will get that).  For example, a sales representative for Mary Kay will get a pink Cadillac if she reaches the designated sales limit. In fact, business perks are pretty routine. 

Most people have an internal compass that allows them to distinguish right from wrong.  For example, an employee might be tempted to take a bribe from his company’s competitor.  Johnston and Marshall make a clear distinction between a gift and a bribe. A bribe is a financial present given to manipulate the purchase decision. 

In an effective ethical system, an employee would not compromise the trust with the company, including any internal customers (supervisor, manufacturing group, etc.). 

Finally, there will be numerous situations that test a person’s moral behavior in organizations.  Ethical decision making is a way of life. Businesses must create good ethical systems where employees are accountable for their conduct.  Trust must be at the center stage of the process. 

Discuss your professional experience with making ethical decisions in your industry. 

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green

Quality of Life & Corporate Responsibility

depression-business-women

Life keeps getting tougher for folks to survive.  While politicians and media pundits seize the opportunity of each life-changing event, families seek to make the best of a struggling economy.  According to the latest government job report this month, just 74,000 more people were employed in December versus 205,000 expected by USA Today’s survey of 37 economists.[1] 

Life will become tougher for job seekers as globalization sweeps down on country after country.  For some countries, they will become industry leaders while others will fade into the night of obscurity.  Many Americans are retreating from the workforce, causing the unemployment rate to fall to 6.7% in December. 

In fact, only 62.8% of the adult population is participating in the labor market now; participation rates relate to those individuals who have employment or those actively seeking employment.[2]  Heidi Shierholz, an Economic Policy Institute economist, explains: “We’re going to have a long-term unemployment crisis for a long time.” 

This current low participation in the job market matches the lowest level since 1978.  According to USA Today business reporter John Waggoner, the economy could be puzzling to the average American: “…corporations have plenty of cash in their coffers to expand and meet future demand.  But the job numbers don’t reflect that yet.”[3]  

Companies taunt their corporate responsibility to the community with such public relationship activities as sponsoring local events.  Yet, more workers wish these companies would renew their social contracts with American employees to ensure them of a decent wage.

 

Consequently, some workers often become victim of their company’s good fortune.  Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, explains, “The best companies outsource to win, not to shrink.  They outsource to innovate faster and more cheaply in order to grow larger, gain market share, and hire more and different specialists—not to save money by firing more people.”   

The world’s poor stands at more than 1.1 billion people, mostly rural Africans, Indians, and other South Asians.  In fact, the poorest fifth of the world’s people earn just 2% of the world’s income.[4]  With companies moving into emerging markets, they can raise the standard of living for millions.   

Today world’s middle class earns an average of $700 to $7,500 per family member according to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Report.  Many companies would argue that their global reach has improved the quality of life for millions around the world and this is a small price to pay for the loss of a few jobs domestically.  

Discuss if American businesses must deal with the search for cheaper labor and the consequences on the quality of life for millions of individuals locally.                                                                              

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green


[1] “Weak jobs report is not all bad for investors” by John Waggoner

[2] 2013 ends with weakest job growth in years by Annalyn Kurtz

[3]“Weak jobs report is not all bad for investors” by John Waggoner

[4]How Much Is Enough by Alan Durning