Browsing the archives for the management tag.

Employee Appreciation Day – “What You Reinforce, You Get More Of”


“Bosses across the United States have the chance to support, thank and reward workers on Employee Appreciation Day on the first Friday in March.”

As the founder of Employee Appreciation Day noted, “what you reinforce, you will get more of. It is absolutely guaranteed.”

Great article via Business Insider: 11 Things Your Employee Wants You To Tell Them Every Day

Of course, I enjoyed this little gem of a find…

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Quality professionals as leaders…


Bill Troy discusses quality professionals as leaders this month in the latest View From the Q post.

“The idea is this: Every quality professional, a leader.”

This sounds great, no doubt.  But, I don’t buy into the idea that everyone needs to be a leader. I think it’s possible you can equally contribute in profound ways even if you’re not.  But, I’m confident we could have a conversation that would conclude the definition of leadership in general is somewhat subjective.  To simplify things, I’m thinking about something Drucker said here, “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.”

And, then we must consider Deming in regards to “quality is everyone’s responsibility.”

But, I would absolutely agree regarding the necessity for leadership at the management level. Troy did clarify later in his post:

“Simply put, the quality professional, wherever he or she may be and at whatever level of management, must be a leader to be effective.”

That vision and drive found in leaders is exactly what we need to get quality into the C-suite.  It’s that formulation of attributes that will be required for the powers that be to see and support the overall quality initiative and focus. As quality professionals, maybe we just need to be better communicators?

One of the questions I always include in management exams is whether or not all managers are leaders.  I’ve received all kinds of interesting responses. And, I also revert back to Drucker:

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Troy concludes the post asking if I think I’m a quality leader and inquiring about what kind of training I’ve received.  This leads me inevitably to Trait Theory. I’m just not so sure leadership is the result of training. Are leaders ultimately born or made? It’s an existential debate I enjoy… Stogdill defined the following traits and skills as critical to leaders:


But, I’ll conclude with this though:

“Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.” —Peter Drucker

And, we do need quality professionals to get results!

Leadership quotes you can’t resist:

25 Great Leadership Quotes (Business News Daily)

75 Inspiring Quotes You Need to Know About Leadership (Inc.)

100 Best Quotes on Leadership (Forbes)

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What happens when you pick a manager’s brain…


It only took one or two semesters of teaching from a textbook until I realized that the fun was really in the application.  Well, the fun and the most important learning component for the students.  It really boils down to the reason why I’m such an advocate for in-class education.  It’s so hard to duplicate that one-on-one exchange. Any type of learning is better than no learning though, obviously.

To break up the semester and pull it all together for my Principles of Management class, I started inviting people I knew in and continue to choose 3-4 that represent diverse industries and roles to join me for a casual question/answer session. The feedback has always been really positive, and I think I have the most fun of all.

A funny thing happens when you take management outside of a book.  That theory we talk about all semester gets a little more challenging to apply.  I can almost see students making that contingency connection.  It’s cool.  They also usually realize that they need to go back and look over some of the concepts we’ve discussed.

This semester, I invited a few folks representing IT, agriculture (non-profit CSA), restaurant/entrepreneur and financial/entrepreneur. With a wide range of experience and diverse backgrounds, I asked each of them the following questions:

  • Please briefly describe your background and responsibilities in your current position.  How did you end up where you are and what do you do?
  • What aspect(s) of your job do you enjoy most?  What do you find to be the most challenging? 
  • What do you look for when hiring people, or working with others within a team?
  • How do you manage your time?  
  • What words of advice do you have for others wanting to enter management
It’s always really interesting to hear the different responses to these questions.  For about five years now, there’s been consistency too though.  They want to work with passionate people that are self driven and motivated.  They’re honest about the time requirements management demands and how challenging a work-life balance can be.  Many of them speak of relying on their “gut feelings” to make decisions, especially the entrepreneurs.
This semester, I made time for some networking prior to the discussion. I think the panel participants were more relaxed, anyway.  We extended the invitation this time to a few groups on campus, and I promoted it probably too late online.  We were expecting anywhere from 10-50 people and probably got 15? The discussion is a 10 point essay question on the final exam, so my students are usually very timely and attentive.  Teaching night classes though, I find most people are really engaged for the most part.  Best compliment yet was in last night’s class where one student compared the first few minutes of each evening’s current event discussion to TMZ.  Nice!
Either way, I think the management panel adds a lot of value and continues to be a positive takeaway for all parties. Oh, and the follow-up is that the students must interview a manager they know and then present a summary to the class.  That has provided quite an introspective look into businesses of all kinds!
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GTE gets happy…


logoTeaching management classes, you do tend to get some insight into local employers.  There’s good and bad, but occasionally there’s that story that just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

One of my students that I’ve also had the pleasure of having in other classes works for GTE Financial.  Since I’ve known her, she’s only had positive things to say about her employer and future with the company.  But, last night she told me about the Happy Conference and I swear I got chills.

GTE’s CEO knows what’s up… As a banking holiday, they had an opportunity to gather all of their employees and celebrate happiness, quality of life and all that stuff that creates an ideal work environment. The employees were compensated for the day and treated to a host of engaging, quality speakers (including Zappos that we had just talked about in class), various discussions and other events.  They were encouraged to create a Twitter account and share the love with others.  The entire day was about connecting the employee to the importance of happiness and reinforcing its importance in the corporate culture there.  This was the real deal.

From what I heard, one lady that’s been with the company 50 years was asked what her favorite moment in life was. When she had advised it was a company trip to Hawaii that she had taken with her family many years ago, the company decided to thank her by sending them back, first class. What did it for me here was that my student says this lady just honestly doesn’t want to retire because she enjoys what she does there so much.  Hmmmm…

This Happy Conference ended with everyone getting an envelope with two $5 bills (and 2 GTE cards).  They were told to go pay it forward and distribute it however they wanted.

My student was legitimately excited to talk about this event and shared it with the class.

I’m switching banks.

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What’s keeping CEOs up at night, and the answer to it all…


I just read through the latest View from the Q post and related white paper discussing CEO challenges for 2012.  Not surprising stuff here…

What CEOs are failing to recognize is how the majority of what “they’re thinking about” all ties together with a quality program that is closely knitted into all of the organization’s strategies and subsequent activities.  The issue is ongoing and quoted from the report referenced, but I argue we’re in the process of a management evolution that is drifting away from this paradigm.  It’s just happening kind of slow…

For some organizations, ‘quality’ remains a set of tools and techniques associated almost exclusively with quality control. For others, quality has evolved into a critical partner, closely linked with business model development and the enterprise-wide execution of long-term strategy to achieve results.”

This has been THE issue when it comes to “selling quality” and rationalizing with executives regarding the investment in terms of returns and not costs.  But, it seems this remains the challenge, and changing thinking is not easy.  Going from short-term thinking to long-term thinking requires more than just a mandate.  Fayol gave us four functions of management that start with planning… Start there.

Some positive examples that we are moving in the right direction to address the issues that are keeping these CEOs up at night include:

1) I’ve noted a change in textbooks, in as short of a time as six years, where quality is concerned.  Where it wasn’t mentioned at all when I started, there’s now a focus on ensuring quality though continuous improvement and not just how it relates to production control.  It wasn’t something we focused heavily on even through my graduate program.  In speaking with other professors and students, this is changing as well.  Super good news here!

2) Social media has only scratched the surface of how CEOs stay connected with successful case studies and current research.  I see these executives taking advantage of this more often and their primary source of media is moving into the digital age as well.  Podcasts, interactive publication apps and public forums are talking more and more about quality throughout the supply chain as an absolute must.  Let’s face it… quality is “in.”

3) I see younger people starting to care more.  I think their power lies in what kind of consumers they’ll be.  And, with an education system focusing on how to get it right, I expect they’ll be good decision makers as well.  If today’s CEOs pave the road, the executives of tomorrow will follow.

I recently read an article in Harvard Business Review that included an interview with Unilever’s CEO, Paul Polman.  It was such an inspiring interview to read because it was obvious that he got it.  He got how all of these things CEOs say bother them most come down to meeting and exceeding expectations with a focus on the long-term.

Innovation, human capital, global political/economic risk, government regulation, global expansion, cost optimization, customer relationships, sustainability, corporate brand and reputation, and investor relations… Incorporate quality into corporate culture and strategy and the rest falls in place.  Use the tools to keep you on track.  Quality control certainly has a purpose, but it’s not the goal.

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