Who was your best boss?

This Inc. article reminds me of a couple of great bosses I have had, but Bruce is the one I have been thinking about lately.  I can’t seem to find him on LinkedIn.com and don’t know what happened to him after I left Johnson Controls.

Bruce was my boss when I was in sales at Johnson Controls.  #3 probably describes him best–he pushed control down to me, never tried to take it away.  I remember once when I had a big meeting with Coke in Atlanta and I was pretty nervous, he gave me a pep talk and told me that I could do it.  I expected that he would want to come with me to take over the meeting, but he let me go and handle it.  He had confidence in me (at 27) that I could handle Coca-Cola all on my own.  It worked out fine and I came away feeling more confident about myself.

Bruce was also focused on the big picture, which was work-life balance.  I didn’t have any at the time, because there were just two of us, but Bruce reminded me to leave on time and have dinner with my husband.  I appreciated the fact that he wanted work-life balance for himself and would want it for me, too.

This article reminds me of many of the bosses we profile in our book and the one coming out later this year.  After you have had such a great experience, even once or twice, you want the best boss for everyone because you know how much better work and life are with them.


By totaltrust Posted in Trust

Just be thankful for the little things…

We have a little friend, Preston, who is battling Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).  Preston is 4 and is our neighbor.  We met him when he was trick-or-treating with his sisters, Abby and Stephanie.  Our 17-year old daughter Maggie introduced herself to them and offered to babysit.  I asked her why she offered to babysit them and not anyone else and she said, “They were the most polite children and I knew that I wouldhave fun with them.”  She didn’t know at the time that Preston had been battling AML for two years and would continue his battle.

Preston is going through his third round of chemo right now and will undergo another bone marrow transplant soon.  We pray every day for Preston that the medicine all works the way it is supposed to and the God gives him this miracle to be healed from this terrible disease.

Preston’s mom, Celeste, is such a strong Christian, sharing her frustrations with Preston’s illness and struggle, while praying that he would get his miracle.  She is right in reminding us that we need to be thankful for the little things in life and remember that our problems are also insignificant, in comparison.  We have many friends in our life who are battling major diseases right now, including cancer, ALS, and one friend who just died from a long struggle with MS.

Are we thankful for the little things in life?  Do we focus on thanks only when things are big and eventful or should we remember that an attitude of gratitude will take us a long way toward a more positive outlook on life?


image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/sadiediane/3528468519/

Groupon Needs to Grow Up

I haven’t used Groupon in quite some time.  Their deals are for stuff I don’t need or use for the most part.  Clearly, the company’s efforts to target market to me aren’t working.

I shouldn’t be surprised given the many problems that Groupon has been having.  This CEO’s latest effort to right the ship appears that under his helm, he is DUI, according to the Wall Street Journal today:

Groupon Inc. GRPN -1.39% Chief Executive Andrew Mason told the company’s employees on Wednesday that the daily-deals site needs to grow up—right after he apologized for drinking too much beer.

In a wide-ranging town hall meeting with employees that lasted about an hour on Wednesday, the 31-year-old CEO at times swigged from a beer bottle while he set corporate priorities for the next six months, including beefing up financial controls and hiring more finance staff. Mr. Mason also discussed how the Chicago company doesn’t “have any margin for error.”


CEO Andrew Mason, shown in January, says Groupon needs to grow up.     TJ Proechel for The Wall Street Journal“We’re still this toddler in a grown man’s body in many ways,” Mr. Mason said during the closed-door employee meeting, which The Wall Street Journal observed via webcast. At one point during the address, Mr. Mason’s voice broke and he said, “Sorry, too much beer.”

A Groupon spokesman said the meeting was part of a series of informal weekly town halls, where employees have a chance to ask questions of executives. Beer is available for everyone in the room, said the spokesman, who declined to elaborate on Mr. Mason’s comments during the session.

Mr. Mason’s comments come as Groupon, which went public in November, is trying to steady the ship. The Web company has been under pressure following a revision to its quarterly financial results last month, when Groupon said it underestimated the amount of customer refund requests for its coupon-like offers and disclosed a “material weakness” in its internal controls. Some investors also have questioned whether Mr. Mason is experienced and mature enough to be at the helm of a multi-billion-dollar public company. The revision prompted an examination from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Journal previously reported.

BusinessInsider also details a number of other disturbing actions by the company as well.


When Someone Helps You Look Better On LinkedIn (or Anywhere Else), Say ‘Thank-You’

I’ve given plenty of unpaid help to people looking to improve their professional communications over the years, mostly to my students looking for feedback on their resumes, but also to friends and colleagues who wanted to improve their resumes, cover letters, academic manuscripts, and other important written communications.  I’ve received such help myself as well from many people over the years, and I’ve always been grateful for it.  All I’ve expected for my help is a simple “thank-you,” either oral or written, and most of the time, I have received such thanks.

That is why I get so irked when people don’t express any gratitude, and the more help I’ve given without any thanks, the more irritated I become.  Earlier this year, I spent over an hour helping an MBA student in his job search over coffee, and then introduced the person to several people in my various networks so that the person could request informational interviews and advice about his job search.  I did this as a favor to a good friend, as I had never taught the MBA student and indeed he attended a university with which I wasn’t affiliated.  I never once received any thanks from the student, and recently learned that the person had received a permanent job offer.  I’m glad he got the offer, but I would have also appreciated learning this from the person himself rather than from someone else (who also had provided help to the student and who also had never been thanked as it turns out).

Then today, I learned that someone had viewed my profile on LinkedIn.  Curious person that I am, I checked out this person’s profile to guess as to why they might have wanted to learn more about me.  In reading the person’s profile, I noticed a grammatical mistake.  She had written “works good under immense pressure” when she should have written “works well under immense pressure.”  (Obviously, she doesn’t write well under pressure, even though she has a bachelor’s degree in “mass communication/media studies,” but I digress.)  I thought she’d want to know this, and so I sent her and InMail message on LinkedIn letting her about the mistake.

Several hours later, I was back on LinkedIn, and received a notice saying another person had checked out my profile, and so I went to see who it was.  It turns out it was the same person.  Again, being curious, I decided to see if she had fixed her profile.  Well, indeed she had, but she never bothered to thank me for letting her know about her mistake.

I’m certainly not going to let these two people keep me from helping others in the future.   Their lack of gratitude, however, means that I’ll probably first consider consider whether a person is the type to “pay it forward” to others in the future before I take the time to provide help, solicited or unsolicited.


CEO Of OMGPOP Dan Porter Hires Back Laid-Off Workers and Shares the Wealth

Here’s a good news story you certainly don’t see everyday:

OMGPOP — the creator of the popular Draw Something game available for both iPhone and Android — was sold last month for $210 million to social gaming company Zynga Inc.

This was a huge boon to the once-struggling start-up that was close to going bust, according to Fortune. A few months ago, with sales floundering, Porter made the difficult decision to lay off several Flash developers, PCMag.com reports.

Then, of course, the launch — and consequent popularity — of the Pictionary-like game Draw Something changed everything. Within six weeks, it was downloaded by 35 million users, becoming the most popular iPhone/Facebook game around, Wall Street Cheat Sheet reports.

That’s when Zynga came calling — and Porter quickly got to work getting the employees he fired back in the game.

“He was literally negotiating the deal and jamming the re-hires back into payroll to make sure they were covered with hours remaining in the close,” an anonymous source with first-hand knowledge of the situation told Business Insider. “Their options kept vesting and they benefited from the sale.”

In our research on organizational downsizing, this Compassion-based approach to rebuilding trust following layoffs is exceptional.  If there were more CEOs like Dan Porter, the U.S. economy would be much further along in restoring all of the jobs, and the wealth and incomes that go with those jobs, that were lost in the Great Recession of 0f 2008-.


Don’t forget to thank our men and women in uniform

You know how much I love my local Starbucks, and they would never tell you this, but yesterday, I saw them share their thanks with a man in uniform.  His uniform said U.S. Army on it and he was standing right in front of me in line.

As he stepped up to the counter to pay for his coffee, the manager, Tanya, handed him his drink and said, “no charge”.  This man didn’t say much, but just nodded his head, took his coffee, and walked away.

In thinking so much about giving thanks, it made me realize that there are many ways to say thanks to our men and women in uniform and even a cup of coffee can be a simple, yet powerful way to acknowledge the sacrifices that they have made on our behalf, and to let them know that we are grateful.

best jobs 2012

Best and Worst Jobs of 2012

According to CareerCast.com, as reported in today’s Wall Street Journal, here are the best jobs of 2012:

CareerCast.com, a career web site owned by Adicio Inc. ranked 200 jobs from best to worst based on five criteria: physical demands, work environment, income, stress, and hiring outlook. The firm used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other government agencies to determine the rankings. The 200 jobs were selected for their relevance in the current labor market as well as the availability of reliable data. For instance, enlisted military personnel – the third worst job of 2012 – was added this year thanks to new data released by the Department of Defense.

Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.com, said he wasn’t surprised to see software engineers topping the list. But he was surprised to find human resource managers rising to the No. 3 spot. In an era of layoffs, anxious employees, and cutbacks that often reduce back-office functions like HR, he says, he often hears HR managers complaining about the stresses of their jobs.

But with hiring on the rebound for the last few months and expected to heat up further as the economy recovers, the job outlook for human resource professionals is bright, and that brought the career to its high ranking.

The worst job out of the 200 examined? It’s lumberjack. The job replaced last year’s loser, roustabout, also known as an oil rig worker. With oil prices trending high, hiring for energy jobs is robust, while the ongoing slump in new housing construction has depressed demand for lumber and thus for lumberjacks, says Mr. Lee. Add to that the physical dangers of the job and a midlevel salary of $32,114, and it ranked at the bottom of the CareerCast.com list. 

Here’s an interactive table of the 200 jobs that were ranked.

Do you agree with the rankings?  Where is your job on this list?  Our jobs as professors are not specifically listed, but as we love them, we would say that they should be ranked highly.


Toyota Remakes its R&D Efforts to Speed Decision Making and Reduce Costs

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Toyota is in the process of streamlining its R&D process:

TOYOTA CITY, Japan—Toyota Motor Corp. 7203.TO +1.51% said Monday that it has reorganized its vehicle-development system in order to speed decision making, cut costs and better appeal to car buyers world-wide.

The changes to core engineering and design programs bolster the authority of the company’s chief engineers, consolidate research and development into three groups based on geographical regions and limit final design decisions to smaller teams. Toyota, Japan’s largest car maker, dubs the effort its new “global architecture.”

Mr. Uchiyamada said a major challenge for Toyota is cutting costs while improving product design, a seeming contradiction that he aims to resolve by using more common parts and working more closely with key suppliers.

“We won’t feel we’ve succeeded until we raise the use of standardized parts to about 50% among similar-size vehicles in our lineup,” Mr. Uchiyamada said. He added that it will likely take “several years” to achieve that goal.

Using more standard parts reduces the need for smaller lots of dedicated components that can’t be shared among models. Greater volumes of common components help auto-parts suppliers spread out the cost of production.


Yahoo to Downsize 14% of Staff Initially, But Will That Help the Company?

Update 4-10-12:

Here are some details about the restructuring of Yahoo as reported  in today’s Wall Street Journal:

In a memo sent to employees and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Thompson said he was splitting Yahoo into three main groups: consumer, which oversees the company’s popular media websites as well as its commerce-related, Web search and email services; regions, which he said is accountable for all of Yahoo’s revenues and is broken up into Americas, Europe and Asia divisions that work with the company advertising customers; technology, which will include the data centers and systems that power Yahoo’s Web services as well as its advertising platforms, including Right Media ad exchange, that Yahoo is currently considering selling.

Original Post 4-4-12:

Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that:

Yahoo Inc., YHOO +0.26% in a long-expected move, began laying off staff Wednesday as the Internet company tries to cut costs and change its focus after years of flat revenue growth and declining use of some of its websites.  The company announced cuts of about 2,000 employees, or 14% of its 14,000 work force, but further cuts are expected, said a person familiar with the matter. The layoffs are expected to span Yahoo’s many departments, including its marketing division and product group, which builds and maintains new Yahoo websites and mobile apps.

“Today’s actions are an important next step toward a bold, new Yahoo—smaller, nimbler, more profitable and better equipped to innovate as fast as our customers and our industry require,” Chief Executive Scott Thompson said in a written statement. “Our goal is to get back to our core purpose—putting our users and advertisers first—and we are moving aggressively to achieve that goal.”

Yahoo expects to reap about $375 million in annual savings from the cuts and to recognize the majority of an estimated $125 million to $145 million pretax cash charge relating to employee severance in its second-quarter results. The company said more information would be provided about its future direction in conjunction with the release of its first-quarter results on April 17.

From Forbes.com comes this disturbing picture of Yahoo’s decline in market value:

In our own peer-reviewed research on organizational downsizing, we’ve found that simply reducing headcount is not a successful strategy for improving the bottom line or other positive outcomes.  Dan Farber at CNET.com agrees:

This latest layoff, deleting 2,000 people from its ranks and saving $375 million in costs, is the sixth downsizing in the last six years. The workforce reductions that took place under Jerry Yang and Carol Bartz have not led to greater glory. Current CEO Scott Thompson says he is making Yahoo smaller to be stronger, but there is no indication that he will fare much better than his predecessors in returning the legendary company to its former glory.