This week I wrote an article for the Jamaica Gleaner on the topic of networking. I explored the problem we have of networking with friends that fall within our comfort zone.
Some awesome news arrived at Framework Consulting – the home of 2Time Labs.
My proposal to present a speech at the American Society of Training and Development’s 2013 Annual Conference and Exposition was accepted! Am headed to Dallas in May to make a one hour presentation to the world’s largest training and development conference.
The topic will be How to Stop Failing At Behavior Change Training: The Case of Time Management. Click on this link to be taken to a description of the one hour session.
It hasn’t been a short journey to this point.
For the last six years, I have turned a longtime passion for this subject into a full-blown area of expertise after being disappointed at the lack of options that people like me had when we underwent major life changes. In my case, it was a move to Jamaica from Florida that threw me back to levels of un-productivity that I thought I had long left behind.
I helped myself, and now I’m helping others answer some of the same question I had by focusing on the following topics:
- Helping to give time management coaches more than tips, tricks and shortcuts.
- Providing a way for time management trainers to find fresh, new materials that they can use without fear of legal repercussions.
- Describing why a time management consultant can’t set as a goal that everyone will end up doing things exactly the same way.
- Showing ways for all the above, plus professional organizers, can earn more revenue as expert time advisers.
For some reason, the following article wasn’t printed in the Gleaner this Sunday.
It’s a worldwide assumption: universities are safe havens for free thought and self-expression. The recent chasing and beating of a supposedly gay student at UTECH undoubtedly violated this ethos.
Unfortunately, Richard Florida, through his extensive research on the most creative cities in the world, shows a clear correlation between the presence of college campuses (with their tolerant, free thinking) and economic progress. This gives the recent event at UTECH national importance, and provides its leaders with a unique opportunity to not only demonstrate a real-life transformation for corporate Jamaica, but also to restore itself as a model of free thought.
Firing a few guards and expelling a few students will help little, if at all. In 2011, in a similar incident, a thief was caught and assaulted by a mob of UTECH students. In 2003, a robber was stoned to death in a cesspool by another UTECH mob. Small actions do not solve big problems, and it’s obvious that the responses in 2003 and 2011 were pitifully inadequate.
Based on this short history, this sorry episode is likely to be repeated if the administration, once again, fails to do enough to change the campus’ culture. Defensive arguments that “we did enough” only demonstrate an unwillingness to do what’s necessary, and what’s right.
In every corporate transformation that I have witnessed, the leadership team has hit a turning point that has caused a monumental internal shift. But it only happened after the easy options were exhausted. In this particular case, it might start when a critical mass of UTECH managers, faculty and students realize that nothing will be different after the “guilty” guards and students have departed.
The intractable nature of the university’s culture indicates that leaders need to take the next step and give up blaming and finger-pointing as tools for change. This particular act of violence was complex, and an inquiry may only end up showing that no-one at UTECH, or even in Jamaican society, is entirely innocent, whether they were part of the chase or not. Such a conclusion renders the act of punishment useless.
If no one can be blamed and punishment is ineffective, should we immediately resign ourselves to a repeat of this tragedy? Should UTECH simply invest in a faster-acting public relations machinery to deal with the next expected act of mob violence?
My research and experience show that true corporate transformations don’t involve giving up. Instead, leaders take an extraordinary step — they demonstrate a public willingness to discover their personal contribution to problems and issues.
At UTECH, this would mean more than making showy cries of “Maxima Mea Culpa.” Genuinely transformative leaders would search their motives and actions for insight into how their missteps, ignorance and foot-dragging made it easier for this particular act of mob violence to occur. Obviously, this isn’t an activity for the faint of heart.
Most of us resist this kind of rigorous self-examination. Instead, too many of us play “the blame game,” a pursuit that blinds us to real solutions. The handful of brave souls who persevere in this inquiry typically come up with a raft of changes to make, and start to show others how they, too, can take responsibility and empower themselves. Fixing tough problems like mob violence and homosexual hatred become possible.
That’s where a corporate transformation always starts: when at least one person freely decides to constitute him or herself as the cause or source of an undesired result. It’s what Gandhi meant when he said, “If you want to change the world, become the first change.”
Transformation requires an act of radical responsibility, and it’s available to all professionals, in every company. It needn’t start at the top, but when it does, executives can set a transformative example for others that gives them the courage to try it for themselves, on their most difficult problems. The kind of power that comes from this act is contagious, attractive, but elusive.
Early in his career, Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor for a comfortable, middle-class church in Montgomery. His career was set, and he didn’t need to take responsibility for the end of local segregation in his new hometown. But as he later said, “An individual has not started living until he/she can rise above the narrow confines of his/her individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” UTECH’s leaders have the opportunity to lift us all to a different place, starting with their transformation and a new degree of responsibility.
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In this week’s article in the Jamaica Gleaner, I show that un-clientable companies actually have deeper problems.
My trip to give a keynote speech at the HRMAB Conference was interesting, not so much for what I said, but for what I learned.
This Gleaner article comes directly from a panel discussion headed up by Kim Tudor on the topic of employee engagement in Barbados.
What to do about employee engagement
I came across some disturbing news last week in Barbados. A recent study by the National Initiative for Service Excellence led by Kim Tudor revealed that the country has a serious challenge with employee engagement.
Compared to the world-class companies, the average Barbadian company has a ratio of only 1.2 engaged employees to every disengaged employee.
It means that an average of three out of 10 employees in Barbados are engaged. That’s a shocking statistic, if only because the ratio in a world-class company averages a whopping 9.57 to 1.
How did they come by these statistics?
The fact is, there are three groups of employees in every company: the engaged, the committed and the disengaged. Only the engaged employee makes the most of the chance to use his/her potential to the fullest, seeing work as an opportunity.
The job is an avenue of self-expression, and a chance to give his/her best. This employee goes the extra mile.
The committed employee feels as if he/she belongs, putting in time, but little or no energy and passion.
The disengaged employee is not only withdrawn, but also looks to undermine the work of others. He/she is mostly concerned about getting as much as possible, and giving as little as possible in return.
It doesn’t take a great leap of faith to imagine that the average Jamaican workplace is probably close in character to that of its Caribbean counterpart.
While we regularly beat the rest of the world in some areas, our productivity is not only among the lowest in the hemisphere, it’s been declining steadily in recent years.
Barbados’ productivity, on the other hand, has been increasing.
According to Douglas Orane, chairman of GraceKennedy Limited, we Jamaicans seem to have stopped caring about employee productivity. We hold the world record of decreasing productivity in the past 40 years – a time when most other countries have produced an increase.
What should you, a corporate leader, conclude?
1. It’s a mistake to think employees are all the same:
Engagement is not something that one feels today and not tomorrow. Instead, it’s a reflection of deep-seated relationships to power, work, and personal responsibility that are not easy to change. This means that you must treat each group differently.
2. Different messages must be crafted for distinct subgroups:
Talking to a group of employees as if they are all engaged, committed or disengaged is a recipe for disaster. If you can’t physically separate the sheep from the goats, then make sure that you identify different groups at the onset, and issue distinct calls-to-action that are tailored to each subgroup.
As an example, pay attention to the next altar call you witness. Skilful preachers appeal to different constituencies when they make their final appeals, ensuring that they maximise the flow of parishioners to the front of the church.
3. Good tools are needed to distinguish engagement:
What are the specific behaviours that distinguish one kind of employee from another? These are deeply cultural, and specific to your company.
In other words, don’t try to borrow data from Barbados, or even from your competition across the street.
You must determine how to separate these three groups using the information that you have in front of you, and some of it may have to be gathered in surveys or focus groups.
4. The disengaged are not all passive:
Some of them are activists for their cause and look for ways to increase their numbers. They operate in quiet defiance of the goals the company is trying to accomplish.
Given their nature and the energy being invested, it’s important to act early and decisively, especially when employees in other groups are being influenced. It’s a time to be open and transparent.
5. Engagement is not satisfaction:
Many of your committed employees might be quite satisfied, but it’s not a powerful driver of superior performance. Instead, satisfaction often devolves into efforts to keep employees happy by giving them enough goodies.
A satisfied employee is not necessarily engaged. Also, a highly engaged employee might be dissatisfied with the status quo; this attitude demonstrates the engaged employee’s high potential.
While we wait for a similar study to be conducted here in Jamaica, it’s not too early to act. Do your own surveys and discover the truth about employee engagement before the low bar of satisfaction makes you complacent.
Executives sometimes don’t maintain enough of a commitment to their integrity, and cross the line into doing what’s profitable, or simply convenient. This from my latest article in the Jamaica Gleaner.
From the Trinidad Newsday: How Executives are Turning Their Employees Into Idiots
I recently wrote an article for the Jamaica Gleaner on “How to Reward Staff Without Spending a Fortune.” It was picked up by TVJ and I subsequently appeared on their morning show to discuss the book – in a 7 minute segment!
I also made a radio show for CaribHR.Radio on the same topic, in which I interviewed Brenda Pope of KPMG. Talk about repurposing content…
An article I wrote for the Jamaica Gleaner on the reasons why senior executives hire others who are less capable than themselves.
This article from the Jamaica Sunday Gleaner hits on the same theme as my prior post on this blog – Caribbean executives need to be very careful not to overwhelm their direct reports with their ideas. This is especially true in planning situations.