Quantcast
Subscribe!

 

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

 

E-mail Steve
This form does not yet contain any fields.
    Listen to internet radio with Steve Boese on Blog Talk Radio

    free counters

    Twitter Feed

    Entries in work (157)

    Tuesday
    Jul192016

    The best, or at least most fun, workplace reaction to Pokémon GO

    There are two possible reactions to the current Pokémon GO craze for the owner/boss/supervisor who is concerned that their employees are wasting too much time playing the game and are subsequently shirking their workplace duties and responsibilities.

    1. Issue a ban or similar crackdown on playing the game, up to and possibly including blocking access to the app on company-issued devices

    2. Ignore the phenomenon completely, continue to manage to organizational and individual norms and expectations for performance, and treat people as adults, more or less. This approach treats and categorizes Pokémon GO as just the latest in the endless and endlessly updating list of 'shiny things that are more fun than work, and will distract our weak-minded staffs from their tasks.' 

    And like the other distractions that have come before it, (the Internet, March Madness, Facebook, fantasy football, etc.), if you and your organization finds itself having a real Pokémon GO problem, well, your problem is not really Pokémon GO, if you know what I mean. The problem is one or more of hiring the right people, giving them engaging assignments, management not up to the task, inefficient process design, or something else - Pokémon GO only helps you to realize something more fundamental is going on that won't be fixed by taking away people's Pokémon fix.

    You know, now that I think of it, there is a third possible organizational reaction to the Pokémon GO craze - make playing the game a required activity for employees.

    Check out what the folks over at The Next Web office in Amsterdam are up to:

     

    Sounds to me like the best, (and geekiest) workplace reaction to Pokémon GO yet.

    Have a great day and I hope you Level Up!

    Thursday
    Jul072016

    Signs of the corporate death spiral #4 - Dress Codes AND Report to the Office

    I have hit 'too much attention being paid to dress codes' as well as 'no more working from home' both on the blog in the 'death spiral' series previously, so it should come as no surprise to regular readers that this week's announcement from Charter Communications caught this death spiral watcher's attention.

    Here's the important bits from the Fortune piece titled, 'No More Working From Home for Former Time Warner Cable Employees', then some FREE (and damn insightful) commentary from me.

    Here's what you need to know:

    Charter Communications closed on its acquisition of Time Warner Cable less than two months ago, but it’s already moving to replace a somewhat more relaxed corporate culture at the new unit.

    In a memo to employees at corporate locations, including the New York City office that used to be Time Warner’s headquarters, St. Louis-based Charter restricted a series of common practices at the acquired company. No more jeans in the office, no more working from home without high-level approval, and no more early departures on slow summer Fridays.

    The move echoes a controversy that broke out after Marissa Mayer took over as CEO at Yahoo in 2012 and banned working from home for most employees. A few other companies followed Mayer’s lead, but most workplace research shows that the practice enhances productivity.

    The new Charter memo also banned jeans in the workplace without approval from an executive vice president. “We will provide a harmonized workplace dress policy in the coming months, however unless approved by an EVP for a specific department and location, jeans are not deemed professional attire,” Marchand wrote. “In advance of the policy, if you are in doubt as to whether your attire is appropriate, better to not wear it.”

    Nice shot, Charter - the double whammy in one memo. 

    Quit it with the jeans you Time Warner hippies, and while you are at it, make sure you turn up to your assigned office as scheduled no matter how long you have been successfully working under alternative arrangements in the past. 

    There's a new sheriff in town, and his name is Charter, (and he is wearing a snappy blazer and tie AND at his desk gosh darn it at 8:30AM ON THE DOT).

    It is tiresome to still have to read and gripe about this kind of stuff in 2016. 

    You know what Time Warner and Charter need to be worrying about instread of dress codes and work from home policies that made sense in the 1970s?

    How about cord cutting? How about the next generation of consumers who don't want or need Cable TV?

    How about social networks like Facebook and Twitter increasingly moving into live video feeds of sports and entertainment, making the need for Cable TV packages even less necessary?

    How about the next competitive pressure coming down the road that has not even been invented yet?

    No, let's not worry about that, or at least let's take some time to make sure that we are CRYSTAL CLEAR that wearing jeans is no longer acceptable. And while we are at it, let's make sure all of our Chino wearing staff is at the office every day. 

    And let's make sure that everyone working here who has some better options begins to think about doing some 'cord cutting' of their own.

    Talking about dress codes? Issuing blanket 'No working from home' edicts?

    Surely signs of the corporate death spiral.

     

    Wednesday
    Jun292016

    Which questions are too personal?

    I am sure at least 50% of the folks who read this will think I am nuts, (and probably do think that anyway), but I have to break from the regularly scheduled fare to go a little bit off topic here.

    This post is called 'Which questions are too personal?' and was inspired by two separate but related interactions I had yesterday, both of which, (possibly because I am crazy), bugged me in a similar way. First the run down of what happened, then why it did get to me a little, and then tossing it open to you for comments/feedback.

    Scenario 1 - An introductory business call set up by a mutual contact with a person whom I do not know, but is in the same industry. The purpose of the 30-minute call was to learn about a new product/service offering from this person's organization and to get some context around some additional correspondence related to said product/service.

    Scenario 2 - A lunch time trip to a fairly busy local establishment to get some take out. A location I have been to many times before, but this time was being helped by a person I have never seen in the past. 

    Both of these scenarios are completely normal, run of the mill, and typical kinds of interactions that most all of us have all of the time, if not many times a day.

    Why did they both stand out from normal life and end up bugging me at the end?

    In scenario 1, the person on the call asked me where I lived, how long I have been living where I live, if I had a family there, and if so how many kids did I have? Again, this was a business call with someone whom I do not know and have never met before.

    In scenario 2, the person behind the counter asked me where I grew up, was I watching the Euro soccer tournament, and which team was I supporting.  Again, this was in a small, local take out place and a person I have never seen before.

    Now I know that many of you, perhaps most of you would think, 'What's the big deal? Those are just casual, small talk kinds of questions that people ask when they meet someone new. It's just being polite.'

    And at some level, I guess I would agree with those of you who feel that way. I am sure that both of the folks were just being polite, and were not trying to pry into the life of a total stranger (me).

    But some people, (me), are really private and almost guarded (for myriad reasons, none of which matter), about their personal lives and take questions like 'So, how many kids do you have?' as a question and topic they would rather not discuss with someone they just met, particularly in a business context like the two described above.  For some people, (again me), getting asked those kinds of personal questions by complete strangers is really uncomfortable.

    I know you may think that question, and others that are similar, are totally benign and mundane even, given the norms of civilized society.  

    But perhaps making the mistake of falling into the trap of 'If I feel this way, there must be plenty of others who do as well', I think that it's smart when in a business context to avoid wading in to personal questions when making small talk.

    If you have to make small talk, ask about something relevant or at least tangential to the purpose of the interaction - maybe the industry overall, or a particular piece of professional work the person did that you are familiar with. Again, this might just be my hang up, but 'I read what you wrote about XYZ, tell me why you think that' is a much more comfortable and proper conversation to have than 'So, what grade in school is your kid in?' when we have never met or spoken before.

    Ok, that's it. Rant over.

    Am I off base?

    Should I feel compelled to tell people about my personal life the first time we ever speak?

    Monday
    Jun202016

    Reunion

    Yesterday was Father's Day here in the US and I hope any Dads reading this had a fantastic day basking in the adoration of your kids and the rest of your family. I am sure you deserved all the gifts and accolades you received.

    I am a Dad myself, and I had a great day with my son even as he was applying a pretty comprehensive beat down on me in tennis. I chalk it up to a slightly injured shoulder. Let's not quibble about the fact that the injury is to my right shoulder and I play tennis as a left hander.

    Father's Day naturally makes you think about family, and the value and importance of taking time to get away from the grind and spending time with family, friends, and even just doing the things that make your happy, and that help you remain energized to come back to the office on Monday ready to kick some butt.Maesta - Sean Scully

    I don't think we, as individuals and as organizational or HR leaders think about that as much as we should. I mean consciously thinking about how what we do and how we spend our time outside of work (usually) matters far more than the 36 new emails we are going to have in our inbox by 8:40 Monday morning or whether or not we got invited to the 'big' meeting on Thursday.

    In what might be classified as ironic, I spent a decent amount of time over the weekend reading and thinking about a recently published study titled Overworked America, by Heather Boushey and Bridget Ansel. In the paper, Boushey and Ansel report that average working hours, particularly in many higher wage, professional occupations continue to climb, at the same time as hours for many lower wage and hourly positions are falling.

    You really should read the entire report, but here is the overview so you can get a feel for the research:

    Hard work is part and parcel of the American Dream, but at a certain point, working excessive hours can be detrimental to families, businesses, and the U.S. economy. While there are federal laws that govern work hours, these legal protections have slowly eroded, and some Americans are putting in more time at work than ever before. What's more, the United States has seen a polarization in working time, meaning that some segments of the labor market have seen a rise in work hours and others are working much less.

    This report looks at the rising number of employees working long hours—sometimes earning high salaries or overtime pay, but too often not—and the implications for individuals, families, businesses, and the U.S. economy.

    There's a lot to take from the report - not the least of which is the really interesting theory that the job roles where people tend to work the longest are also the one with the most supply ready, willing, and able set of lower-paid replacement workers. But the big takeaway from me as I read the report was that we all probably should be doing more to find better balance - as individuals that often should be more available and present for our families and friends, and as organizations who should realize that working people excessively is bad for business and for employees too.

    I have to admit I did not think about or do any 'real' work on Father's Day. 

    I hope you didn't either.

    Have a great week!

    Monday
    Jun132016

    Signs of the corporate death spiral #3 - Fifteen years between new products

    Some death spirals are shockingly abrupt, (the 'Secret' app, Theranos), and some others are so slow, and play out over such a long time horizon, that at times it must seem like the organization really isn't in a death spiral after all.

    But then something happens to reassure and remind everyone that indeed the organization is on the decline, just a little bit slower and a little harder to detect unless you're watching closely. Submitted for your consideration a recent announcement from the good folks at General Mills, a company you probably have not thought much about, if at all, in ages.

    From the piece 'This is General Mills' first new cereal in more than 15 years'

    General Mills the creator of iconic cereals like Cheerios, Lucky Charms, and Trix, is adding a new brand to its fleet. The cereal is called Tiny Toast, which the company describes as “tiny pieces of crunchy toast covered with even tinier pieces of delicious fruit.”

    It’s available in two flavors, strawberry and blueberry, and it’s made with whole grains and flavored with real fruit and other natural ingredients. According to a press release obtained by Fortune, the cereal contains no artificial flavors or colors.

    Though the food giant has consistently released new versions and flavors of its already-existing brands, this is the first all-new cereal that General Mills has launched in more than 15 years.

    To be fair to the folks at General Mills it isn't as if they have not introduced any new variations of their products in 15 years. After all there are at least 14 different varieties of Cheerios, many of which have been launched more recently. So it's not like the General Mills folks have been doing nothing over the years and have been just sitting back, contentedly counting those great Lucky Charms profits.

    General Mills is kind of in a rough spot for a few reasons. Cereal sales have been in decline for a decade or more, and folks that eat cereal tend to be loyal to one or two brands. So from General Mills perspective, it probably has not made a ton of sense to invest too much in new product development and market research in order to launch new brands of cereal into a declining market. 

    But still, nothing truly new, (and the 15th variety of the Cheerio isn't really 'new'), in over 15 years is definitely a sign of the death spiral, even if it is a long, slow, and hard to notice decline.

    What is the larger message that we can try to take from the General Mills situation?

    Probably that if you are thinking about your career, and the kind of organization you want to be a part of, taking a close look at the pattern and cadence of new product/service development and innovation is an important consideration. 

    Would you be happy sitting in a brainstorming session discussing what other fruit flavor you can sprinkle on top of a Cheerio? How about Pineapple Cheerios?

    Or would you rather be a part of an organization and an industry that is constantly looking to create, to invent, and to re-invent?

    Have a great week!