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Archive for the ‘Management’ Category

A CORPORATE POLICY FOR PERSONAL ELECTRONIC DEVICES

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 20, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Is it necessary to write a formal policy for use of electronic devices in the workplace?

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

A couple of years ago I created somewhat of a ruckus when I wrote an article on “Music in the Workplace.” In it, I suggested there should be restrictions on using personal audio devices in the workplace. This created a bit of a stir particularly with I.T. personnel who staunchly defended the use of their iPods and MP3 players while programming. In the course of the ensuing dialog, I asked what companies, if any, had developed a formal corporate policy regarding the use of such devices. Remarkably, nobody seemed to have one, or if they did, they didn’t want to come forward with it. However, recently I received one from an HR Administrator, perhaps the first of its kind. As this is considered somewhat of a trailblazing effort, the company asked to remain anonymous. All I can tell you is that they represent the North American unit of a global manufacturing company. Nonetheless, here is what they came up with:

“It is critical that employees working in the manufacturing areas remain focused on the tasks at hand and do not have any unnecessary distractions. It is for this reason that our policy on portable personal electronic devices such as cell phones, blackberries, computers, I-pods, CD players, MP3 players, radios, video games and pagers are prohibited in the manufacturing areas.

Company issued cell phones, computers, blackberries and pagers are acceptable as long as they do not create a hazard for the environment.

In non-production areas such as an office, the use of personal portable electronic devices are at the discretion of the manager.

Disciplinary Action

Disciplinary action may be taken against any employee who does not adhere to this policy.”

Frankly, I thought this was well written and quite practical; on the one hand, the company highlights the safety issues involved, and on the other they recognize it might be acceptable in other areas of the business where safety is not an issue. As for me, I might have taken it a step further and added some verbiage whereby such devices should be prohibited from customer service situations where it is necessary to pay attention to the customer. It might also make sense to ban such devices from meeting and training situations. Come to think of it, situations where these devices can be used in the workplace without having an adverse effect on business is becoming rare.

A “BusinessWeek” article (6/23/2008) reported that the amount of time the average U.S. worker loses to interruptions is 28%. This figure pretty much jives with the 70% effectiveness rate figure we have reported over the years (whereby in the average eight hour work day in an office setting, 5.6 hours are spent on direct work, and 2.4 hours are spent on interferences). Frankly, interferences are a natural part of office life (nobody can be 100% effective), but now with these personal electronic devices in play while employees are working, one has to wonder what effect it is having on worker concentration. Some people, particularly programmers (who tend to be somewhat introverted), thrive on such devices. However, these devices can be very distracting to other job functions requiring more extroverted personalities, such as Sales and Customer Service.

So, is a corporate policy on personal electronic devices really necessary? Frankly, I think it would be very irresponsible on management’s part not to have such a policy. It must be remembered that the distraction resulting from these devices can impact three areas:

1. Worker safety.
2. Product/service defects and errors (workmanship).
3. Worker productivity.

If it’s between entertaining the workers and putting the company at risk, I think it’s a no-brainer; the employees can wait until break time to enjoy such devices.

I would like to thank the individual for sharing the above policy with us. It may not be perfect but it’s a good start.

First published: July 9, 2008

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  JUST SAY ‘NO’…TO BUSINESS? – Is the customer always right?

LAST TIME:  IS THERE REALLY A CASE FOR PRES. TRUMP’S IMPEACHMENT?  – The short answer, No.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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SOME MONOTONOUS WORK: JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 18, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– The therapeutic effects of collating and punching paper.

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

The original purpose of our company was to develop and market a methodology to walk people step-by-step through the design and development of information systems, from soup-to-nuts. We implemented this as a series of manuals and forms for people to reference during the process. Actually, there were three manuals in the set which were housed in 22-ring binders: a manual to explain the methodology, another to show examples, and a third with training materials and an installation guide. This was done at a time before there were quick copy shops. Based on our artwork, a printer would produce copies of the manuals and forms on an offset press which was returned to us for coallating, punching, and insertion into the binders. This was certainly not a glamorous job, but it had to be done regardless. To implement it, we setup long tables and organized the pages around them. We then began the arduous task of coallating and inserting the paper by encircling those tables for hours. On a good day, we could assemble forty manuals which was considered a respectable pace. Inevitably, we began to experience the effects of monotony and boredom. You couldn’t go on autopilot completely during this assembly as you didn’t want to make a mistake, but it certainly wasn’t complicated either. We did this for several years until we were able to automate our manuals for access via the computer. I cannot honestly say I miss those days, but I appreciate the necessity of the work.

We’ve probably all performed some form of monotonous activity, be it collating and punching paper, stapling, folding, photocopying, applying adhesive labels, or some other task that doesn’t require a lot of brain power, but still has to be done nevertheless. Every now and then, I find such work to be a welcome departure from the trials and tribulations of the day, where you can “zone-out” for a while and yet do something productive in the process. Some might call this “idiot work” but that does a disservice to the necessity of the task and those performing it. Actually, it is rather remarkable how people can become somewhat robotic in performing repetitive tasks over and over again without frequently making mistakes. Occasional breaks help clear the head and allows the worker to re-focus.

Some “professionals” consider it beneath their dignity to perform such work. Actually, it can be rather therapeutic. Not only is it a good distraction to clear the mind, it should also be a reminder of the dignity of work in general. It may not be rocket science, but it is still necessary. For those who suffer from an inflated ego, there is nothing better than a little “idiot work” to bring them back down to earth.

Monotonous work may not be glamorous and seem somewhat boring, but we must be mindful of the fact that just about every business or nonprofit has some form of repetitive task to be performed. I, for one, am cognizant of the need for it and certainly do not demean anyone having to perform such work. My company would certainly not be here today without it. Whenever someone asks for some help in this regard I am glad to assist if time permits. As I said, I see it as a great stress reliever and do some of my best thinking under such conditions. It’s just what the doctor ordered.

By the way, for those asking, “Why did you use 22-ring binders?” Actually, this was done by design. Most binders only have two or three rings, which means it would be easy to insert additional pages into them. We didn’t want that. In fact, we wanted to make it as difficult as possible to insert more pages, hence the 22-ring binders. You see, there is a method to our madness.

First published: May 11, 2012

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  IS THERE REALLY A CASE FOR PRES. TRUMP’S IMPEACHMENT? – The short answer, No.

LAST TIME:  A TRIBUTE TO TYPEWRITERS  – In praise of the look, feel, and smell of a typed letter.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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MANAGEMENT A LA 1961

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 11, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Some management lessons from the past.

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Recently, I was going through some of my father’s old papers back when he worked as Product Planning Manager at Remington Rand in New York City, the makers of the UNIVAC computer at the time. In particular, I came across a training manual entitled, “Creative Management Development” from 1961. Evidently it was used as part of a training class to groom managers for the company. Being curious, I picked through the manual carefully to see the perspective of management back then.

The manual was rather thick and consisted of several sections featuring different lessons. In particular, I came across a chapter entitled, “Elements of Effective Supervision” which included the following:

“The most effective supervisor is the one who…

1. Delegates authority

2. Makes definite assignments and supervises by results

3. Minimized detailed orders

4. Uses low pressure

5. Trains subordinates

6. Does different work from that done by his subordinates

7. Spends his time on long-range rather than short-range problems

This is the pattern of what we call general supervision.

As superiors intrude on matters that rightfully should be handled by their subordinates, problems have a tendency to snowball. One subordinate described the situation this way:

‘As long as the boss gives us the right to make our own decisions, we cooperate with him. We report to him all the information he needs to answer to his boss, but the little things we don’t bother him with. But if he doesn’t give us any freedom we can make his life miserable. We can bombard his office with reports on everything we do. We can refuse to make a decision until we talk to him about it. We can stop saving his time by sifting the important from the unimportant and we can keep him on the run.’ “

Each of the seven sections were then explained in greater detail in the manual. The only problem I had between then and now was the distinction of supervisor versus manager. Whereas I tend to see a supervisor as someone working more closely with workers to assure work is performed properly, I tend to see a manager as more as a leader assessing priorities and plotting direction. Although the chapter referred to a “supervisor,” I believe they were actually describing the duties of a “manager.”

For some rather old management advice from over a half century ago, I found it rather refreshing and interesting. It confirms what we’ve been saying for years, that managers need to learn to manage from the bottom-up, not just top-down. Employees should be properly trained, empowered, and allowed to assume responsibility. In other words, managers should manage more and supervise less, which is just the antithesis of today’s micromanagement philosophy.

The management advice from 1961 is every bit as applicable today as it was back then, making it something we should reconsider. Fascinating.

First published: April 16, 2012

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  MANAGEMENT A LA 1961 – Some management lessons from the past.

LAST TIME:  THE FOUR STEPS FOR AMERICAN SUBVERSION  – A warning from a former KGB agent.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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LESSONS LEARNED FROM IRMA

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 19, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– A lot of the problems were our own doing.

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Well, we survived Irma… not just the hurricane, but a ratings hungry news media, power and gas outages, and lack of reliable news. Frankly, I’m surprised we still have a sense of humor. Contrary to what the media told us, Irma was not the most devastating hurricane to hit Florida “ever, ever.” Have we already forgotten Andrew of 1992 which wiped out Homestead and left thousands homeless? What about the legendary “No Name Storm” of 1993 which produced more debris, downed trees, boat damage, and power outages than Irma? Or 2004 where hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Ivan crisscrossed the state leaving a swath of destruction behind? Of the storms I have witnessed in Florida since 1985, I would place Irma a distant fourth.

So why all the hubbub? Hurricane Katrina in 2005 showed what a real hurricane could do to a grossly under prepared area. The public was also keenly aware of the destructive images recently coming out of Texas from Hurricane Harvey. Destruction and the possibility of death seems to have a way of unnerving the strongest of us.

What was different though between the Florida storms of the past and Irma? Irma shut down the state and created panic conditions, the others did not. Three important lessons emerged in its wake:

First, the news media used fear to prod the populace. Fear is a powerful motivating factor. Have you ever noticed how animals in the wild react when they smell the smoke of a wild fire? They all retreat from it in their own way, but can be coerced to stampede under the right conditions. The human animal does likewise. Most of us calmly and methodically prepared for the coming storm, but many panicked and stampeded out of the state. We see this same use of fear used by the media in political campaigns.

Pandemonium reigned on the Saturday before the arrival of Irma. You didn’t dare go out on the roads unless you absolutely had to. Tempers flared on the roadways and in long lines. People began to hoard more supplies than they really needed, booked hotel reservations up north which they never used, and there were accusations of price gouging.

All of this in the name of ratings.

The second lesson was the anger created from ghost town conditions. When the power went out, and the gas stations closed, a domino effect occurred. One-by-one, all of the stores, restaurants, car dealerships, and public service institutions closed their doors. Even the post office closed and refused to accept mail. The old adage of, “through snow, wind and hail…”, is now an obsolete notion. Basically, the area came to a standstill, something I have never seen in Tampa Bay in the 32 years I have lived here. There is something eerie about standing in an empty Home Depot parking lot with tumble weeds around you. Virtually all stores and malls were closed, with no gas or water to be found anywhere. Super markets looked like the food shortages of Venezuela. Frustration grew.

The power grid of Florida is obviously inadequate to serve the state. It is frail and barbaric, and led by people who prefer to react to situations as opposed to planning. Let me give you a small yet typical example; in my neighborhood alone, my house is on a circuit that always seems to be the first to lose power and the last to regain it. Due to the many pine trees in the area, they fall and snap the lines hanging from above. Obviously, they should have buried the lines long ago but refuse to do so, claiming the cost would be exorbitant. In reality, it would be cheaper in the long run to bury the lines and keep their paying customers on line. The point is, they are content putting their fingers in the dyke as opposed to permanently fixing the dyke. This is a classic example of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Immediately following the storm, there was a noticeable absence of power company trucks, cable operators, and county utilities helping to clear debris from the roadways and neighborhoods. The only group that appeared to know what they were doing was law enforcement who safeguarded our streets and maintained order. Everyone else was “evaluating and assessing damage” as opposed to getting the job done. Even now, days after the storm, many people are still without power and access to the outside world. Even if the service providers are working, their low visibility creates the impression they simply do not care about the public.

The loss of power and utilities caused many people, including yours truly, to become nomadic in search for a place to relax and breath air conditioning. Several thousand people sought refuge in public shelters, mostly under crowded conditions. All of this required patience to maintain sanity.

The third lesson of Irma was when the power went out, cable and the Internet died along with it. Cell phone tower coverage was spotty at best. All of this meant reliable information was limited. Even our local newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times, stopped deliveries. It was rather amusing to receive the Sunday paper on the following Tuesday. Why bother?

The one medium that got us through this period was AM/FM radio which provided news during the day, and entertainment at night. While it is being claimed AM/FM radio is obsolete technology and on its deathbed, they were the only ones there for the public 24/7. Thank God for AM/FM.

So Irma has passed Florida and gone into the history books. What was left in its wake was an incredible amount of angst caused by fear, anger, and the unknown. It was difficult even for the best of families, thereby creating high levels of stress. Aside from the laborious task of cleaning up their homes and restocking food supplies, Floridians need to regain their composure. This was a highly charged emotional roller-coaster we have been on for several days that left the populace burned out. All of this would be funny if it wasn’t so exhaustive. And we must remember hurricane season will not be over until November 30th.

Throughout this ordeal, we had several friends and family from the north pray for our safety, for which we give thanks. Next time though, I would ask them not to pray for us, but for some sort of sanity to deliver us from the madness of the media, power companies, and information blackouts.

The next time a storm like this occurs, I believe I will take a vacation to Las Vegas until it has blown over. I am confident my home will survive, but my personality will not.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  IS SOFTWARE HARD? – WEDNESDAY (SEPTEMBER 20, 2017) – “Systems are logical, programming is physical” – Bryce’s Law

LAST TIME:  THE OFFICE SHRINK  – Who fulfills the role in your organization?

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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THE OFFICE SHRINK

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 18, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Who fulfills the role in your organization?

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Are there any Industrial-Organizational Psychologists out there anymore? After looking over the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the numbers don’t look very promising. Pity; It’s a useful profession aimed at studying human behavior in relation to the work environment and making recommendations for improving productivity. I’m afraid the position has diminished and defaulted to individual managers who are not properly trained to be office shrinks.

I am not such a psychologist by training but I have an appreciation of the work involved and understand the fundamentals. Bottom-line, the Office Shrink considers such things as worker intelligence level, motivation and attitude towards their job. From these observations, the office shrink will formulate a style of management, either autocratic or allow more worker freedom and participation in the decision making process. See “The Three Theories of Management” (X, Y and Z) in my PAPER.

Whether you are looking at your workers collectively or individually, these analysis tips will help. Perhaps the best place to start is to analyze in-house Employee Evaluation Forms which, in theory, should be performed on a regular basis. Here is a SAMPLE. Where such forms do not exist, the Office Shrink will be forced to evaluate workers based on nothing more than interviews and personal observations.

For each individual, the Office Shrink needs to consider:

Intelligence:
– What formal education does the worker have and what were his/her grades?
– What training certificates does the worker possess?
– What is the skill set of the worker?
– What is the IQ of the worker?
– What is the level of the worker’s intellectual curiosity? Is he/she apathetic or do they ask questions, read trade related publications, participate in groups, volunteer to help, etc.?

What motivates the worker?
– Job security?
– Money?
– Recognition/praise?
– Special attention?
– Personal/professional integrity?
– Other

How does worker respond to:
– Criticism (Good/Bad)
– Praise (Good/Bad)
– What are the “likes” of the worker, incl. hobbies (develop a listing)
– What are the “dislikes” of the worker (develop a listing)

Senses; How acute are the senses of the worker (sharp/dull)? Such analysis may provide some insight in adjusting the physical environment.
– Sight
– Sound
– Smell
– Touch (incl. sense of temperature)
– Taste
– 6th senses – intuitiveness, reaction to clutter, etc.

Attitude about job:
– Professional vs. ambivalent vs. wishes he/she were elsewhere.
– Output – Very industrious vs. minimum effort vs. sub-par performance
– Discipline – Consider work space, personal appearance, and approach to work; Clean, organized, methodical, punctual versus sloppy, tardy, many errors in workmanship.

Socialization skills:
– Communications skills – communicates well? (oral and written)
– Interpersonal relationships – Extroverted versus introverted.
– Courtesy – refined versus crude

From this analysis, the Office Shrink will understand a few things; first, the personality types in his work force (A, B, C, and D); (see “Personality Types”). More importantly, the shrink will form an opinion on the workers collectively in terms of their capabilities and note patterns of personality traits. From this, the shrink will determine two things: a suitable approach to management and how to manipulate the Corporate Culture to suit his needs.

If the Office Shrink perceives the workers as people possessing low intelligence and motivation, most likely the shrink will recommend more supervision until the problem is rectified (aka, “micromanagement”). However, if the workers are perceived as intelligent, take initiative, and produce superior results, he will be more inclined to recommend worker freedom and empowerment.

The Office Shrink may also recommend modifications to the corporate culture, such as dress, protocol, ethics, office layout, ergonomics, paint and lighting, possibly even adjustments to sound and smell which may affect the focus of workers.

As I said, I have considerable respect for Industrial-Organizational Psychologists. In the absence of such a person, the manager must assume the role. Unfortunately, without proper training the manager makes decisions based on his rudimentary perceptions of the situation. The smart manager though has no problem playing the role of Office Shrink. With a little education and/or consulting assistance he can take charge of his area of responsibility and run it like a fine watch.

For more information on these management concepts, see my e-book entitled, “THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! – Empowering Managers in today’s Corporate Culture.” If you also need consulting assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

First published: January 30, 2012

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  LESSONS LEARNED FROM IRM – A lot of the problems were our own doing.

LAST TIME:  THE SWEETENING OF AMERICA  – Whether we are aware of it or not, our tastes are changing.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

THE PROBLEMS RESULTING FROM MORAL DECAY

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 11, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– How it impacts business.

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I recently went out to dinner with a business friend who owns a medium sized manufacturing company with just over 50 employees. Over a couple of cocktails he started to express to me his frustration with his people. He claimed to pay them well, provides a comfortable work environment, and offers a respectable benefits package. Regardless, he wished his people were more dedicated and professional in their attitude. He yearned for the old days when there was more pride in workmanship (and you thought I was the last of the whiners). I’ve known my friend for a long time and know his management style; he works well with people and although he insists on organization and structure, he tends to empower his workers to assume responsibility as opposed to micromanaging them to death. Frankly, I know a lot of people who would love to work in his environment, yet he still had this problem of employee attitudes and asked me for my thoughts on it.

I told him what he was experiencing was a simple matter of moral decay. Regardless of the work environment he provided and his interpersonal relations with his employees, there are other forces at work, namely our eroding system of values. I explained the following to illustrate the point:

* It used to be a person’s word was his bond. If he made a verbal commitment, you could count on it. Today, lying and deceit are commonplace in just about every corner of our society. Consequently, our expectations to honor a commitment have been lowered and, even worse, we have lost faith and trust in our fellow man.

* We used to have dedicated workers who cared about their work and doggedly saw a task through to completion. Now, we no longer associate our reputations with our work products. This may be because we have laws today making it difficult to reprimand or fire anyone regardless of their performance. Further, we now suffer from the “99% complete” syndrome whereby we never seem to finish anything with the excuse that, “We’ll get around to it.” In other words, determination and pride have been replaced by indifference which erodes production and opens the door for competition.

* We used to respect our bosses and were loyal to our companies. As long as you were employed by someone, you bit your tongue and endeavored to help the company succeed. For example, I knew a loyal Boeing employee who steadfastly refused to fly on anything but Boeing aircraft. Today, concepts such as corporate loyalty and respect are a thing of the past as employees no longer trust management, and management doesn’t trust its workers, all of which leads to an inordinate amount of back stabbing and political maneuvering. It’s no small wonder that today’s employees are regarded more as free agents as opposed to team players.

To me, morality means giving of one’s self, putting aside our self interests for the common good of all. However, if in fact such things as honor, courtesy, pride, respect, sacrifice, courage, dedication, commitment, loyalty, honesty, perseverance, integrity, and professionalism, are adjectives of the past, then we are indeed witnessing the moral decay of our society. Actually, it’s rather remarkable we have progressed as far as we have as a species, but it makes you wonder how much farther we would be if we had the moral fortitude to overcome greed, corruption, and other vices. As Samuel Clemens correctly observed, “Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.”

Interestingly, American morality seems to change whenever we change presidents from one political party to another. I can think of no other single event which benchmarks a change in our culture than the passing of the presidential torch. Consider for example, the social changes incurred in the transition from Eisenhower to Kennedy, from Carter to Reagan, Bush to Clinton, and now Obama to Trump. A change in Presidential party signals a change in social norms and moral priorities.

So what can be done about deteriorating moral values? You would think that our religious institutions would have a significant role to play here. Not necessarily. There are those who go to church simply to absolve themselves of their sins from the preceding week, not to correct any character flaw. After being “cleansed” they revert back to their indiscretions. No, we need to lead by example, reward accomplishments and truly penalize violations as opposed to looking the other way. There will always be those who are morally handicapped and persist in attempting to undermine our system of values, but we owe it to ourselves and our posterity to persevere. Our ability to surmount moral corruption defines who we are as a civilization.

Years ago, Arnold Toynbee said succinctly, “Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder,” meaning our social problems are actually self inflicted. If we can cause the problems, I would like to believe we are strong enough to solve them, regardless of the price to be paid. Going back to my friend’s problem, what is needed is a little inspiration, hope, belief in ourselves, a little brother/sisterhood, and a legal system that doesn’t stifle morality, but rather promotes it. Regardless of the magnitude of the job, from major to menial, workers must believe they are leading an honorable and worthwhile life. There is nothing wrong with ambition, as long as it doesn’t lead to incessant politics. There is nothing wrong with personal achievement/recognition, as long as teamwork doesn’t suffer. There is nothing wrong with criticism, as long as it’s constructive, not destructive. Basically, we just need some common sense and respect for the human spirit.

So, the question comes down to this; Do we still possess the fortitude to do what is morally right? That is a question for each of us to answer and for our heirs to judge.

First published: October 20, 2008

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  THE PROBLEMS RESULTING FROM MORAL DECAY – How it impacts business.

LAST TIME:  EXPANDING GOVERNMENT  – Why it has gotten so.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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TWO TYPES OF LEADERS

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 30, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Which one do you work for?

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There seems to be two types of leaders in the corporate world these days; on the one extreme is the micromanager who supervises everyone’s work, and on the other end of the spectrum is the person who wants everyone to love him. Interestingly, neither approach is effective for true leadership. Whereas the micromanager tends to turn people off simply because he doesn’t respect the workers ability to do their jobs properly, the “lover” commands no respect either as he tends to avoid taking a stand on any issue; he just wants to keep everyone happy and hopes they will somehow work together towards some common goals. Inevitably they do not and chaos ensues. I am reminded of what former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said, “Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.”

Frankly, to be an effective leader, I think you have to find a medium between the two extremes. As many of you know, I am an advocate of worker empowerment where you manage from the bottom-up, not just from the top-down. I think it is important to treat workers as professionals, such as giving them responsibility and holding them accountable for their actions. If they believe their voice is heard, they are more inclined to accept responsibility and direction. I think this is an important part of leading a worthy life, both personally and professionally.

I’m also smart enough to know that a manager is not in a popularity contest and is responsible for delivering results. This means the leader has to know the right direction to be heading, be able to articulate it to the staff, and motivate them to get the job done. As such, it is more important for a manager to be respected as opposed to loved. People will simply not produce the deliverables you want if they do not respect you.

One classic example of how you cannot lead through love is exemplified in NBC’s hit comedy, “The Office.” In the show, Michael Scott (as played by actor Steve Carell) is a regional branch manager of an office that sells paper. Here, the manager desperately wants to be loved by his staff, and the more he tries, the less the staff respects him and the office just stumbles along.

When it comes to leadership, there can only be one captain, you cannot lead by democracy. You have to be able to give an order, and you have to have confidence the workers will respond accordingly. This doesn’t mean you have to sit over people with a whip and a chair as exemplified by micromanagement. It is about empowerment and respect. If you haven’t got respect, you won’t be leading anybody anywhere anytime.

Perhaps the best interpretation of leadership I’ve come across is from President Harry Truman who said, “Leadership is the ability to get men to do what they don’t want to do and like it.”

First published: June 11, 2007

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  AUTO DEALERSHIP ADS – Do they really have to be so bad?

LAST TIME:  BEWARE OF OFFICE POLITICS  – There’s no avoiding it, regardless of the type or size of company.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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BEWARE OF OFFICE POLITICS

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 28, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– There’s no avoiding it, regardless of the type or size of company.

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

When we join a new company, we’re all hoping for a fresh start and clean slate. The last thing we want is to get embroiled in political intrigue, regardless of how petty it might seem. Most of us just want to do our work and move along with our lives. Even if this were so, which is rarely the case, we must still deal with “political correctness” as defined by society; we have to recognize certain protocols in our mannerisms, language, and conduct. So, even before we get started in a new job, we have to recognize there is going to be some form of politics, like it or not. I remember visiting a manufacturing company in the Midwest where a Vice President proudly said to me, “You’ll like this place Tim, there’s no politics here whatsoever.” And I think he firmly believed it too. In reality, they had more cutthroat politics than I had ever seen before.

Whether you are a new employee or a visiting consultant, one of the first things you have to determine about a company is its pecking order. An organization chart makes a convenient road map in this regards, but it doesn’t truly define the power structure in a company. For example, a weak manager may actually draw his strength from a powerful assistant. Nonetheless, it is important to identify the fiefdoms of the company, who the key players are, and who the allies and adversaries are. Without such knowledge, you will inevitably trip into some political dispute or become an unwitting pawn in a power play. The best advice in the early going is to simply keep your eyes and ears open, and your mouth shut.

Aside from the power players in an organization, the three most common types of political animals you will encounter are the Suckup, the Radical, and the Saboteur. The Suckup (aka “Brown Noser”) essentially has no spine and is the perennial “Yes Man” to the boss. The boss says “Jump” and the Suckup says, “How High?” But the Suckup has a political agenda of his own which typically is an advancement through the assistance of the boss. He therefore bends over backwards to please the boss at the expense of losing the respect of his coworkers.

The Radical represents “the bull in the China shop” or “loose cannon” and is best known for revolting against the status quo, not quietly but loudly, and is not afraid of stepping on a few toes along the way. In many ways he is like Sherman’s march to the sea. Perhaps his mission is correct, and perhaps it isn’t. Regardless, this type of person has a slim chance of succeeding as his detractors will work overtime to undermine him. When dealing with such a person you basically have two choices: either join him and hope for the best, or get the heck out of his way so that you are not run over.

The Saboteur is perhaps the most viscous of the three and can probably best be characterized as the “conniving weasel” or “backstabber” who schemes to make the lives of others miserable. He is driven by petty jealousy and wants desperately to be seen as a power broker in his institution. Since he has no real life of his own, the Saboteur gets his jollies by undermining anybody that garners more attention than he does. Whereas the Suckup and the Radical can be dealt with politically, the Saboteur is a pest that must be exterminated.

Office politics is about loyalty and trust. At some point, you will be asked to choose sides and this to me is what makes office politics ugly. I might understand this in government politics, but not in a company where we are all suppose to be on the same team. Politics is an inherent part of the corporate culture; some companies deplore it, others thrive on it. I guess it’s a matter of whether a company values the concept of teamwork or rugged individualism. I have found there is much less politics in companies promoting the former versus the latter. Either way, my advice to anyone joining a new company, be it a corporation or nonprofit organization, is actually quite simple: “En Garde!”

First published: March 31, 2008

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  TWO TYPES OF LEADERS – Which one do you work for?

LAST TIME:  OFFICE GOSSIP  – Does your business promote or squelch idle gossip?

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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OFFICE GOSSIP

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 25, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Does your business promote or squelch idle gossip?

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I have a problem with gossip in the office but I think we are all guilty of some infraction of it at some time or another. Petty gossip is one thing, viscous slander is something else altogether. Not surprising, there is a lot of misinformation floating around in an office regarding people and corporate direction. We often hear of rumors of people bucking for a certain job, looking to leave and join a competitor or customer, to sabotage a key project, or that the company is going to down size or outsource the operations to Timbuktu. Naturally, such rumors can put a damper on employee morale, making it harder to concentrate and see assignments through to completion. Managers should be sensitive to rumors and squelch them as soon as possible. If not, productivity will suffer. To do so, the manager should always keep in ear open as to what is being said around the water cooler or lunch table. Meeting with key members of the staff periodically for a drink after hours can also be useful for detecting what is being said as well as to build camaraderie and trust with the staff.

Perhaps the best way to overcome gossip in the office is for the manager to keep an open line of communications with his workers. This means the manager must be viewed as approachable and trustworthy by the staff. In addition to an open door policy, managers should hold routine meetings and issue memos on what is going on. This can be done through such things as bulletins, e-mail or a private departmental discussion group, but if the manager maintains a closed-door policy, rumors will inevitably circulate.

If rumor control is left unchecked, it can turn particularly nasty. No doubt we have all met people who are past masters at spreading rumors for political maneuvering. Some people thrive on political back stabbing which, unfortunately, I believe is a part of the fabric of our society. If it were not so, we wouldn’t have the tabloid media which thrives on drama, intrigue, and innuendo.

Like it or not, office rumors affects the corporate culture. We can either have peace and tranquility through open communications, or a lot of backbiting and finger-pointing. Interestingly, I have met managers who prefer the latter and use it as a means to set one employee against another in order to determine who is the stronger of the two. Kind of sounds like a new version of “American Gladiator” to me, and something I do not believe any of us signed up for when we were hired. As far as I’m concerned, there is no room in the office for malicious smear campaigns or character assassinations. Any manager promoting such an environment is simply an idiot and should be removed from power. But I have to be careful, it kind of sounds like I’m starting a rumor of my own doesn’t it?

First published: March 17, 2008

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  BEWARE OF OFFICE POLITICS – There’s no avoiding it, regardless of the type or size of company.

LAST TIME:  DEALING WITH OFFICE CLUTTER  – The fundamentals are not as complicated as you might think.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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DEALING WITH OFFICE CLUTTER

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 23, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– The fundamentals are not as complicated as you might think.

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I cringe when I hear someone say, “A cluttered desk is the sign of a brilliant mind.” I don’t know who invented this little gem, some claim Albert Einstein, but I can’t seem to find any record of it. More likely, it was some slob who got called up on the carpet by his boss for running a pigpen.

It has always been tough to run an organized and efficient office, but this seems to have been compounded in recent times when PC’s started to pop-up all over and we allowed employees to eat at their desks. Now it is not uncommon to see a number of wires running everywhere, overloaded electrical sockets, and empty fast food bags and cups laying around. We used to complain about ashtrays, but this appears to be a thing of the past. Instead, we find cigarette butts on the ground just outside of the office or outdoor ashtrays overflowing with them. Very professional.

Since I believe our work is an extension of our personal lives, I tend to think of the office as our home away from home. This makes me wonder what we might find if we visited some employee homes. Are they as big a slobs at home as they are at work? If not, why do they find it necessary to trash their office as opposed to their homes?

Office clutter is indicative of management’s organization and a part of the corporate culture. Some believe the sloppier they look, the more they give the appearance they are hard at work. Not necessarily. More likely, sloppiness is indicative the person is trying to hide something and is actually quite lazy.

The military understands the need for organization and keeps their facilities spotless; you are expected to either work on something, file it, or throw it away. If you need new file cabinets, buy them. Your work is obviously not important if you keep the same clutter on your desk all of the time. In fact, such clutter will grow over time. For example, have you ever seen someone with a plastic tray on their desk? Theoretically, such trays are used for work in progress, but you’ll notice the trays never empty and, if anything, the paperwork grows. Every now and then you have to simply throw the contents in the plastic tray into the garbage can.

Programmers typically like to keep a cluttered desk. To overcome this problem we warned our programmers to clean them up or they might find the debris in the trash. At first, they thought this was a hallow warning. They found we were serious when they came in one day and found their desks spotless (and their paperwork in the garbage). We didn’t have a problem with office clutter after doing this a couple of times. Some programmers are aghast when I tell this story, but following our cleanup of the office we actually experienced an increase in productivity simply by enforcing a little discipline in the workplace. This required the programmers to organize themselves better and they were able to focus on the problem at hand as opposed to wading through the mess on their desks. I guess I see programming as a profession in the same sense as I see engineers, architects, and accountants as professions. They also require discipline in order to productively perform their work.

Office clutter is a reflection of a person’s professionalism and, as mentioned, a part of the corporate culture. It can be remedied if management is so inclined to do so. I admire an office that is well run and organized. It tells me the people are serious about their work and a company I want to do business with. Just remember, a cluttered desk is the sign of a lazy mind, not a brilliant one.

First published: February 4, 2008

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  OFFICE GOSSIP – Does your business promote or squelch idle gossip?

LAST TIME:  SMALL BUSINESS OWNER CONCERNS  – Are they any different than large companies?

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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