Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Corporate Bully

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According to a survey conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 35% of Americans reported being bullied at worked.  Workplace bullying was found to be 4X more common than sexual harassment and racial discrimination.

Does this mean that those who have risen to the level of President/CEO have managed to escape workplace bullying?  Here is an excerpt on the matter from Meg Whitman, former President/CEO of eBay and current President/CEO of Hewlett-Packard:

“I know and have worked for executives who relish few things as much as the fear                    they see in a subordinate’s eyes.  Some even have rituals designed to keep those who report to them in a constant state of fear and uncertainty.  They purposely interrupt staffers when they are speaking.  They keep them waiting to establish superiority.  They sift through an otherwise strong report or presentation and play up its weaknesses.  They needle, needle, needle.

I have two thoughts about this management approach.

First, life is too short to act like this.

Second, I don’t think you can create the Power of Many by bullying people into doing what you want and trying to make every day an excruciating mind game to figure out what the boss really wants.” (The Power of Many, pg. 200)

Corporate Bullies who work to establish a corporate culture of fear are not operating from a source of strength (see blog How Fear Interferes in the Workplace); it is a sign of their own fear(s).  It is unresolved baggage, unfinished business, that is manifesting itself as a show of power, when it is usually a case of feeling like a loser, or feeling powerless in some other respect, such as rejection, emotional discomfort, or constantly being wrong.

A healthy workplace includes validation.  (For humor and to illustrate the point, see this short film entitled “Validation”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cbk980jV7Ao).  Validate someone for who they are and what they have done, then ask him/her for more. Get their input and incorporate it into your vision, if possible, to sharpen it.  When your direct reports see that you listen and utilize their ideas, they feel validated.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Listen & Enlist.  This was the successful technique of Roman rulers who would ask their advisors as to what the people said, as well as Paul Bocuse of the gastronomic center of the planet, Lyon, France, who became successful from incorporating his customers’ comments into his culinary creations.
  • All Breadcrumbs Lead Back to the CEO.  The problem will continue to persist, if the CEO chooses to cast a blind eye on the situation.  S/He needs to do her/his job and demand that all recruited employees are treated as prized resources and humanely.
  • Create a Policy of No Bullying.  Unlike legal protection against sexual harassment or racial discrimination, there are no anti-bullying laws.  This issue and policy-making relies on corporations.
  • Reward Supervisors on Trickle-Up Results.  A system of anonymous 360-review results provided on Senior Management should indicate whether the supervisor is practicing healthy workplace behaviors.
  • Take a Stand.  Fewer than 1% of co-workers surveyed have taken a stand when they see their colleagues tormented.  They fear losing their own jobs.  This is called collusion or tacit consent.  How can we “Be the change we wish to see in the world” and concurrently question, “Why do the worst employees rise to the top as Senior Management?”  Our silence grants permission for dysfunctional behavior.
  • Retain Leadership Development & Organization Development Practitioners.  Coaching is required at all levels, beginning with the top.

Pride before a fall…if Senior Management believes it is too good to receive input, then the organization is in serious trouble.  Advice: Jump ship, Mateys.

Thank you.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator.  CorporateLookingGlass.com.

Sources:

Meg Whitman, The Power of Many, (New York, NY: Crown Publishers, 2010).

workplacebullying.org

©Rossina Gil, 2013

The Evolution of International Business

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Successful domestic organizations follow four distinct and progressively complex stages of evolutionary growth before reaching, if ever, the final stage of the Transnational Corporation. This blog is set to define the five types of evolutionary corporate growth – Domestic, Export/International, Multinational, Global, and Transnational – its characteristics, and to understand the opportunities that exist to link them to the next stage.

STAGE DEFINITION CHARACTERISTICS OPPORTUNITY
1. Domestic Primarily defined according to where it sells its products. – Operates only within its own country

– Uses domestic suppliers

– Only follows domestic market trends, resources, environment

Competitive strategies, plans/tactics remain inside a domestic marketplace

Will find itself losing market share to foreign competitors. Need to scan the global environment for trends.

With the advent of the internet, the world marketplace has erased or blurred the distinction between domestic and international.

2. Export/

International

Export corporations have a product/service/technology that they send overseas and is managed by distributors, and they have zero to few personnel expatriated as staff.

International corporations have an int’l division which travels frequently overseas to work. This includes manufacturers (or maquiladoras, for example)

– Its product is sold in other countries, but operates from it sense of domestic competition

– Studies data of off-shore market trends

– Re-organizes its resources, technologies, systems, networks, etc. in response to emerging opportunities

– Understands the importance of cross-cultural needs

Needs to be flexible in order to adapt to destabilizing changes, such as entering or withdrawing from foreign markets.

For example, one organization  suffered its property seized and proclaimed by the foreign government, and had to cease operations. Hence, higher monetary reward may require higher fiscal risk.

3. Multinational A centralized HQ, as well as localized national or regional operations that handle the following decisions: marketing, sales, manufacturing, customer service, and competitive tactics.  Localized structure reduces need for cross-cultural awareness.

Since this structure is hierarchical, information is power, there is a chain of command, and people resources act as boss/subordinate.

-Each hub acts independently and communicates back to HQ only

– Collects/Uses info on multi-domestic trends, environmental conditions and strategic resources

– Adapts market model to cultural contexts; systems/processes to int’l competitive conditions

-Develops multi-national alliances/ventures

– Adapts to destabilizing change by flexibly reallocating resources across national markets

National or regional boundaries can serve as barriers.

Needs to shift away from such a hierarchical model to a flexible, entrepreneurial, matrix structure.

4. Global A balance of structure and flexibility, global and local needs, and on-time product delivery with low costs.  The differentiation is strategy integration with operations.  Flexible, entrepreneurial, matrix structure.

Since this structure is more networked and organic, the people resources are more interactive.

-While the centralized global strategic plan remains, there is a localized customer focus and competitiveness that reacts to local conditions.

-Decisions are made to deliver products in the best markets, at the lowest cost, with the appropriate management resources, regardless of where they (e.g. funds, people, raw materials, tech) reside.

-Creates global strategic partnerships; inter- and intra-organizational linkages.

– Managers must transcend cross-cultural situations effectively

A strong global corporate culture is only possible if the mission, values and vision is exercised visibly by the most senior levels of management and is understood, felt, and incorporated right down to the janitor.

Managing this level of complexity is successful if the cultural norms are aligned with the stated mission and values.

Walking the talk is imperative.  Humility must be repeatedly displayed.  There is no room for egos when diversity is present.

5. Transnational Resources/Responsibilities are allocated freely across boundaries while maintaining a strong connection to a solid HQ identity.

Information is a resource; not a power.

-All levels require cross-cultural management skills for maximum flexibility

– So well integrated that all resources flow freely between its interdependent units.  Every part of the org must collaborate, share info, solve problems, and collectively implement strategy.

– Allocation of worldwide product responsibilities to different national subsidiaries according to their strengths.

– People are rotated around the world.

Conflicting, parochial interests and overlapping responsibilities may pose as problems.

Must retain its ability to facilitate organizational learning by fostering an inclusive environment of ideas, best practices, and knowledge around the organization.

Aristotle was noted as the first to claim the world is round. Thomas Friedman was noted as the first to claim the world is (metaphorically) flat.

Thank you.

 

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator. CorporateLookingGlass.com.

Source:

Training Management Corporation, Doing Business Internationally, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Training Press), 1995.

©Rossina Gil, 2013

Termination. Up in the Air?

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There comes a time when every organization needs to make the tough decision to lay-off or terminate its employee(s).  And then there are the political assassinations.  Regardless of the cause, there are certain steps and measures an organization can take to protect itself.

Organization-Specific Protective Measures:

  • Risk of Intellectual Property (IP).  The IT department must be notified before notification is sent to the employee.  Reason: There have been cases of employee retaliation by deleting files &/or sharing the IP with the competition.
  • Property Risk.  Security must be alerted prior to notification delivered to the employee.  Reason: There have been cases of employee retaliation by stealing equipment, e.g. hardware.
  • Financial Risk.  Human Resources (HR) must close all corporate credit cards.  Reason: There have been cases of employee retaliation by making extravagant personal purchases.
  • Legal Risk.  The Supervisor must always have HR present as a 3rd party.  Reason: There have been cases of employees retaining legal counsel because of contradicting accounts of the separation.
  • Fall-Out.  Eliminating beloved colleagues dampens morale; and, observations/stories of how the organization treats those dismissed will only hasten the departure of other talent.  Human Resources must be synonymous with “Humane” and “Resourceful.”
  • Physical Endangerment.  Security must be alerted prior to notification delivered to the employee.  Reason: There have been cases of employee retaliation by striking or shooting co-workers.

Employee-Specific Protective Measures:

  • ReviewTypically, there is a 21-day window to review your Separation Agreement and sign.  Do NOT allow HR/Supervisor (or his/her boss) to place pressure on you to sign before lunch that day.
  • Note.  Separation AGREEMENT is not the same as Separation NOTICE.  Make sure you have both.
  • Seek Counsel.  While you are still an employee, you may use the Corporate Legal Counsel or you may wish to seek your own.  Private attorneys usually charge by the hour to review contracts.
  • Third-Party.  Do NOT hold private conversations with HR/Supervisor upon having received your notification.  This can get you into a one-said versus other-said situation.
  • Don’t Vent.  As well as you think you may know HR, keep your venting in until you reach non-company friends.
  • Forward.  Any personal emails you may have on your work computer (e.g. compliments, emails, etc) should be back-upped by either being forwarded to a home email or placed into DropBox.

Many of us know and have experienced first-hand how we tend to share a negative experience quickly. Bad news travels faster than good news by 75% to 42%. The large majority of the general population say they advise friends and family when they’ve had a bad experience.  Meanwhile, we tend to take positive experiences for granted.  With Social Media taking center stage in informing today’s workforce which companies actually are “Great Places to Work,” it would behoove organizations to follow these further recommendations…

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Avoid EOY (End of Year).  Plan terminations/lay-offs away from Christmas/Chanukkah, if possible, and not prior to bonus or Annual Incentive Award announcements.  The perception is that the company does not care about the well-being of its employees, and that it is stiffing the employees from monies earned.
  • Practice EQ (Emotional Intelligence).  Relieve employees of their duties upon impact, if requested.  Some do not wish to carry on with their responsibilities, due to the awkward state that may ensue.
  • Nip anxiety and rumor in the bud.  Inform employees at the soonest notice possible.  One company allowed its employees to wait six weeks between its earnings release and the pink slips.  This resulted in much lost productivity surmising who would be let-go.
  • Value Privacy.  Hold a lock-down on each individual’s termination/lay-offs.  One employee was told good-bye by a co-worker and s/he hadn’t told a soul.  Another could read it on the face of his/her supervisor’s peers several weeks before the notification.
  • Pay Earned PTO.  Allow employees an opportunity to use their earned Paid Time Off, or receive a pay-out.

For the organization, remember- a legacy is built upon deeds (ACTIONS).   For the individual, adhere this wise dictum I learned in Washington, DC, “Remember those who you meet on the way up, because you may see them on the way down.”

Thank you.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator.  CorporateLookingGlass.com.

Source:

Marketingprofs.com/charts/2011

©Rossina Gil, 2013

Judgment Day

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Most people dislike judgment and wish to escape it. However, judgment is much like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog’s Day…it is there every day, and there’s not too much one can do about it, but get used to it and make the most of it.

Psychologist Paul Ekman argues that judgment is essential to survival. It is a part of our hardwiring, since judgment stems from our EMOTIONS. In fact, Dr. Ekman asserts that there are seven universal emotions: Contempt, Disgust, Anger, Sadness, Surprise, Fear, and Joy. These emotions are called universal because he found that the expressions for these emotions are understood regardless of one’s cultural origin. To test his theory, he brought pictures of authentic emotions to a remote village in Papua, New Guinea – a place where civilization was left untouched by the outside world and could not have “learned” these expressions through media or human contact. His landmark study revealed that these seven emotions are innate and could be accurately assessed by other humans. So, all humankind is born with the ability to “judge” or ascertain situations.

 

But Isn’t Judgment Bad?

All judgmental comments are helpful in understanding the NEEDS of the individual placing the judgment; hence, the utilization of Performance Management Reviews and 360-Reviews in the workplace. Subjective assessments can be mitigated by including all comments; not just the critical and hypercritical feedback.

Supervisors, and those without Direct Reports, can make more effective judgments in a variety of ways. First and foremost, slow down the knee-jerk reaction by practicing inquiry. Then, contemplate the three areas I reiterate in my blogs, namely: EMOTIONS, THOUGHTS, and ACTIONS.

EMOTIONS. Dr. Ekman found that emotions are a psycho-physiological (i.e. mind/body) experience that drive a person to action. As infants, we experienced emotion before cognitive development. So, when someone expresses an emotion and we do not understand the reason or intensity of the emotion, we have very likely at some point, and under different circumstances, experienced the same emotion and can, therefore, relate to the person using critical judgment. RECOMMENDATIONS: Practice compassion. Ask yourself, have I ever been disappointed, frustrated, confused, etc. by XYZ (e.g. someone offering me direct feedback, not giving enough face-time, not communicating “enough,” using words I can’t understand)?

THOUGHTS. Each employee moves forward making a series of daily decisions based on their thinking process. Reasoning is usually a combination of Nature (i.e. genetic/internal) and Nurture (i.e. environment/external). For example, a supervisor could be a Linear thinker and can get lost if someone jumps from A to C, without having discussed B. Men are typically Linear thinkers. If s/he is Linear and has a Systemic thinker for a direct report, then conflict can ensue because the supervisor could feel frequently lost and may attribute that to the direct report. A Systemic thinker can easily jump from A to D (or even G) because that is how his/her mind works. Women are typically Systemic thinkers, which is why there are jokes about how complicated a woman’s mind is (7-lane highway or massive circuitry) versus a man’s mind (dirt road or a one-push button). RECOMMENDATIONS: Practice Inclusion and Equifinality. This means that “there are more ways than one to skin a cat.” Plus, diverse thinking increases your competitive advantage (See blog Women in Corporate Leadership).

ACTIONS. Since we are the product of the sum of our experiences, we tend to be more receptive towards certain individuals than to others. At work, one supervisor/direct report might think that you’re fantastic, while the next one may not. How does this happen? Experiences vary by individual and that is what impacts and shapes expectations. Lack of experience usually reduces the ability to practice inclusion and equifinality; and if s/he has little to no experience and lacks compassion, then you are S.O.L. (i.e. sh*t out of luck). RECOMMENDATIONS: Recognize how experience contributes “added value.” Experience, unless dysfunctional, never diminishes value contribution and must be optimized.

Suspend judgment. Embrace emotion, question it, and do no harm.

Thank you.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator. CorporateLookingGlass.com.

Source:

Ekman, Paul. Emotions Revealed. (New York: Owl Books, 2003).

©Rossina Gil, 2013