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    Entries in workplace (75)

    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.

     

    Tuesday
    May102016

    Signs of the corporate death spiral #2 - no more free lunches for you

    Quick shot for a super-busy day where I am simultaneously juggle attending an event, sorting out numerous technical issues, (I know, no one cares), and trying to keep the content engines humming around here.

    Thought it would be time to resurrect my 'Signs of the corporate death spiral' series that has long been dormant. Although I could just write about Yahoo every day and that would cover things.

    No, this post is not about Yahoo, but rather another Silicon Valley tech company Dropbox, who you may know from their pretty large data and file storage business. What signal is there that Dropbox may be lurching towards the dreaded death spiral? Check an excerpt from a recent piece on Slashdot:

    Not everything is working out at Dropbox, popular cloud storage and sharing service, last valued at $10 billion. Business Insider is reporting a major cost cutting at the San Francisco-based company. As part of it, the publication reports, Dropbox has cancelled its free shuttle in San Francisco, its gym washing service, pushed back dinner time by an hour and curtailed the number of guests to five per month (previously it was unlimited). These cuttings will directly impact Dropbox's profitability. According to a leaked memo, obtained by BI, employee perks alone cost the company at least $25,000 a year for each employee. (Dropbox has nearly 1,500 employees.)

    Look, no doubt Dropbox's pretty lavish perks package would be considered incredibly excessive by the average organization. I mean, have you ever worked anywhere that let you bring in five friends each month to the open bar on Fridays? Have you ever even had an open bar at work? And I am not talking about that bottle you think is 'hidden' in your bottom drawer. Everyone knows about that by the way.

    But why this benefits/perks cut at Dropbox could potentially be more serious longer term to them than the average organization's occasional need to cut benefits (which can usually be survivable), is that Dropbox exists almost entirely in a world where 'excessive' benefits are not considered excessive at all, rather they are more or less expected components of their Employer Value Proposition.

    That's right, I went all EVP on you all. But it is the best, most concise way to describe what I think is going on here and the potential warning signal this kind of a benefit pull back might end up having at Dropbox.

    No workplace or employee needs free dry cleaning service at work in order to be considered fairly compensated, and (hopefully), happy with their organization. No one needs this for sure.

    But at Dropbox, and maybe 100 other companies in the Valley that are chasing similar pools of workers?

    The end of free dry cleaning and posh gym memberships and open bars?

    They might move towards the need category a lot faster than you think. For you and your organization? It would be good for you to know what is your version of free dry cleaning before the CFO decides to come down with the cost-cutting axe.

    Thursday
    Apr212016

    What makes a workplace human

    Remember the classic Marvin Gaye song, 'What's Going On" from 1971?

     

    Sure you do. In the song Marvin lays out a kind of meditation on many of the issues and problems facing America in the early seventies. What is interesting about the song to me is that 'What's Going On' is not phrased as a question, as in, 'What's going on?', but rather it is presented as a statement, i.e. this is what's going on.

     

    I am taking the same approach to this post, 'What makes a workplace human', in that I am not asking, but rather I am going to try and make a statement too, at least a statement on what a human workplace means to me.

     

    If I think about all the places I have worked, and the attributes from each of those places that were the most human, three things come to mind, (there are certainly more that three 'humanizing' elements in workplaces, but I kind of think they all can be abstracted into three main categories).

     

    So what are the three common features of a more human workplace? 

     

    1. Respect for the person - The most human workplaces and experiences that I have had in my career were with organizations, or more accurately, within work teams where people were respected and treated with dignity at a basic, simple level. These were teams that were made up of smart, high-performing individuals, and led by demanding leaders, but they never forgot that the organization was not some abstract entity, but rather was made up of individual, and real people. How do you know if your organization respects and values people as real people? Check the 'official' response when a team member has a personal crisis, a family emergency, or in the worst case, a death in the family. Does the team rally to support the person in need? Or do they worry, (primarily), about project deadlines, insurance forms, and leave of absence policy compliance? A human workplace treats people as people, not as cogs to keep in line.

     

    2. Respect for the mission - The other side to the organization caring for its people as real human beings, is the people caring for what the organization stands for, and the larger mission that the organization exists to try and fulfill. The most human organizations consist of real people who (at least most of the time), feel energized by the mission and purpose of the organization, and can invest emotionally in doing their part to see that the mission is successful. When people can genuinely invest at an emotional level in a cause that is greater than just making sales or earning a profit, the 'humanity' of the organization increases dramatically.

     

    3. Respect for the community - Every organization exists as a part of some kind of community, whether it is a small, local business that sits on a main street in town, or a global organization that operates in hundreds of locations. Either way, every organization makes an impact on its community, however that is defined. The most human organizations never forget the influence that they have over these communities, and the best organizations attempt to make their communities better places. Organizations that have a strong commitment and demonstrate caring to their communities are likely the same organizations that are going to be more human in their interactions with their people too.

     

    The inspiration for this post is the upcoming Work Human Conference presented by Globoforce that is taking place from May 9-11 in Orlando. The event is about increasing the engagment of the organization, releasing the energy of your people, and helping you and your organization reach your potential. I will be attending and you can join me by using registration code WH16SB300, at the following registration link http://bit.ly/whstbotw and receive $300 off the current registration rate.
    Monday
    Mar212016

    The smart leader's approach to dress codes, (or any other policy)

    Happy Spring!

    It's Spring right, at least here in the USA, (and I suppose some other places as well, I was never all that great at geography). But with Spring comes the return (hopefully), of warmer weather and the shift to our 'summer' clothes - both for work and for not work.

    And the first time Gabe from accounting or Marcia in customer service turns up to work wearing some cargo shorts or worse, you or your organization's leaders might be tempted to send one of those beloved 'all employees' emails from HR that run down the ins and outs of the official dress code, as you know, we don't want to really treat folks like adults, at least not at work.

    But before you do send that email listing just what types of concert T-shirts are acceptable and which ones are not, I would encourage you to read this piece from ESPN.com, on how one organizational leader is wrestling with these same workplace policy issues as you are: Joe Maddon, (Chicago Cubs manager), on dress code: 'If you think you look hot, wear it.' 

    Get past the title for a second and read the whole piece. Here is a snippet to prod you along:

    Cubs manager Joe Maddon met with his “lead bulls” on Sunday to go over team rules as 11 players and their boss discussed everything from a dress code to kids in the clubhouse.

    “The biggest topic of discussion was shorts or not on the road,” Maddon said after the meeting.

    Maddon isn’t a stickler for a lot of written rules, instead preferring a common-sense approach. He believes players know the line not to cross. He used last year’s policies -- his first on the team -- as a guideline. They worked out pretty well.

    “You have like a force field, not an actual fence. Guys know if they go past a certain point you might get stung a little bit, but you don’t have to see the fence there,” Maddon explained. “I like that.”

    “Exercise common sense with all this stuff,” he said. “There are so much archaic stuff that baseball stands for. I’m here to manage the team, not make rules. I learned my lesson with that to not go nuts about it.

    Just about everything you need to know about dress codes or most other workplace rules right there. Treat folks like adults, let them know what is really important for the organization to be focusing on, (it isn't the dress code), and involve a larger group of leaders and influencers on the staff as you talk about expectations and whatever policies you have. Not only will they help you define the rules, they will likely help you self-enforce them as well.

    It is actually really simple. Simple enough for even the Cubs to figure out.

    Have a great week! 


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