“At Leviton, I get to do work that’s every HR executive’s dream.“
My friend Mark Fogel, vice president of HR and administration at Leviton Manufacturing, and the 2007 Human Capital Business Leader of the Year, is featured in November’s HR Magazine and I was lucky enough to visit with him yesterday.
Leviton underwent a paradigm shift last year, when President Donald Hendler initiated a companywide reorganization. As Leviton moved from a function-based operation to a team-based approach centered around small business units, HR became a catalyst for change.
Mark implemented a “management by objective” structure, where now, every company decision and program must contribute to advancing one of these goals: grow revenue, develop business sources, invest in human development (HR), reduce costs and achieve quality. A new performance management system ties directly into these five goals. Senior managers set individual goals for each of the company’s top 100 executives. Then, Fogel and his team review them and make sure they are covered in executive performance reviews.
Fogel and Shephard have worked hard to break down silos that existed under the previous organizational structure—beginning with the HR function. “It took us five years [2002-07] to build the foundation” for the new management structure. It’s not easy work, but he reveled in the challenge.
As a true thought leader, Marc says this about the environment in which he works-
“ “Today, I view myself as a business executive, and the entire HR team as businesspeople. I’m a member of the operating committee, and Kim [Kimberly Shephard, SPHR, senior director of human resources] and I attend strategic planning meetings regularly. We know every big project the company does.”
By the way- Kim is my friend too.
Catch Mark’s video at
A Recent Post from Tim Ferriss, new uber cult figure and Author of the 4-Hour Workweek has applications in the world of work as well. Pardon my adaptation but I don’t suspect Tim would mind… He’s cool that way. In fact, he might be surprised to hear that I’ve outsourced my blog to him today!
The art of irritation can, in fact, be just as valuable as the art of persuasion. How so? Let’s start with the problem: people are good liars and actors… up to a point.
What if it were possible to fast-forward relationships, whether with new employees or business partners? To get past the honeymoon facade of niceties and see their true tendencies underneath all it all?
Catching bad apples early begins with recognizing a truism:
Adversity doesn’t primarily build character—it reveals it.
Therefore, by putting someone under pressure or in a manufactured adverse situation, you can pull back the covers and get a glimpse of what’s in store a few weeks or months down the line.
Here are a few options for doing your own behavioral cross-referencing with a new potential friend, partner, employee or mate.
1. Meet them for dinner or lunch at an appointed time, and indicate upon their arrival that you made a mistake and set the reservation for 30 minutes prior. See how they respond to the change in plans. (Testing: how they contend with mistakes on your part)
2. Same as 1, but tell them that the reservation was accidentally made for 30 minutes after their arrival. Alternatively, travel with them and purposefully orchestrate things so that you miss a bus or train. Obviously, you then fix the problem and cover costs. (Testing: how they deal with waiting and unexpected changes in plans)
3. Take them to a restaurant with good food but bad service. (Testing: how diplomatically they contend with and resolve incompetence, which is the default mode of the universe)
4. Invite them to an event or function and then profusely apologize when you realize you’ve forgotten your wallet. Offer to repay them later or treat them the next time out. (Testing: how they relate to money issues. Wonderful people sometimes turn into irrational monsters as soon as even a few dollars are involved. It drives me crazy to keep a running ledger of who owes whom for a few dollars here and there, especially in social settings. Repaying the favor is mandatory, but dwelling on differences of pennies is tiring.)
5. Take them somewhere extremely crowded where they’ll be inadvertently bumped, preferably where they are exposed to people of different races and of lower socio-economic classes. Large outdoor markets are good, as are subways during rush hour. (Testing: biases against specific races and social classes, which are usually fast to emerge after there is any physical contact.)
6. Explore the most controversial topics until you find something the two of you disagree on. Ask them to explain why people have the opposing viewpoint. I use this mostly for potential romantic partners and potential travelmates. (Testing: how well they listen and both consider and summarize points-of-view or feelings opposite their own. I always look for both friends and girlfriends who fight well. Not in the physical sense, but in the intellectual and emotional sense. If I travel with one of my best friends for even a week straight, there will be times when we butt heads and fight. It’s inescapable. In those cases, are they civil and good at listening and finding compromises? Good at identifying common ground, picking their battles, and laughing off the unimportant? Or, do they lose control of their emotions and make hurtful personal attacks or generalizations? Do they use guilt or other negative emotions instead of taking time to discuss things logically? Hold grudges?)
Life is both too long and too short to suffer through toxic relationships. Rather than hoping for the best and getting trapped in relationships you are unwilling to end due to guilt and inertia, test drive and get a taste of what’s in store.
From the Blog of Dr. Mark Goulston
As leadership expert, Warren Bennis, has said:
“There are none so blind as those who will not see;
none so deaf as those who will not hear;
none so ignorant as those who will not listen and
none so foolish as those who think they can change those who will not see, hear or listen.”
The best laid plans of mice, men…and CEO’s are minced meat against a “can’t do, won’t do” culture. What’s the solution to keep a dysfunctional culture with more “naysayers” than “doers” from spoiling your company’s chance for success?
It’s simple, but it’s not easy:
1. Quarantine — if you can’t exterminate — the “can’t do, won’t do” people away from everyone else
2. Gather the “can do, will do” people in a group
3. Give them a vision that makes sense, feels right and is doable
4. Provide them with the skills and tools to turn that vision into a reality
5. Get out of their way
6. Watch them lap the course and turbo charge your company
7. Then watch the “naysayers” put up, shut up or leave
I’m not yet on my four hour work week so I still indulge at reading emails at all times throughout the day. One phrase from one friend caught my attention and upon further investigation, I’ve uncovered, not the source, but an expert. Here is some background and 7 ways to make sure that your positive culture radiates throughout your organization according to Ed Horrell.
Ed Horrell, a Memphis-based speaker and author, was speaking to group in Atlanta the phrase ”Culture eats strategy for lunch” was offered by one of his attendees.
Simply put, the statement implies that companies who establish a particular culture in their business will be superior in practice than those who forsake culture for strategy or process. Culture will win every time.
Take a look at the finest companies in providing service, such as LL Bean, Nordstrom, The Ritz-Carlton, Chick-fil-A and others. A close look will reflect an actual culture that permeates throughout the entire organization from top to bottom. It is not their process that sets them apart, it is the way that they deliver their product or service; it is their culture.
You buy the same stuff at Nordstrom that you do anywhere else; their culture sets them apart. You get fast food at Chick-fil-A, cooked on the spot, served with a Coke, but it’s not the cooking process or the food that sets them apart; its their culture. The Ritz-Carlton checks you in, gives you a room, and feeds you just like hundreds of other hotels; their culture of service sets them apart. Note that the process and strategy of each of these companies is the same as their competition. It is their culture, their people, which separates them.
The question here is “How does a company establish a culture?” You show by example, discuss what is going on, compassionately correct and encourage when things are right. This creates a culture. The result is what is called “constancy of purpose”, a never-ending focus on an end-result.
Here are some ways to make that happen.
1) Establish in detail how you want your customers to be treated. Make it clear and concise, remembering that your employees have internal customers as well as external customers.
2) Make sure your managers understand these basics down pat. Clearly. Also make sure they know the importance of this employee/customer treatment.
3) Reinforce these with management constantly. This results in the above described “constancy of purpose”.
4) Teach the basics to all employees and require management to coach and enforce the practices.
5) Hire employees who “fit” the new culture.
6) Remember that the way we treat employees is the way they will treat our customers.
7) Talk about the culture every day.
The result will be a shift towards a culture that will be observable.
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