Monday, April 23, 2018

How to Cure a Bad Case of Metric Fixation

strategy+business, April 23, 2018  

by Theodore Kinni

The Tyranny of Metrics is a pearl of a book. And like all pearls, it was born of an irritation. As chair of the history department at the Catholic University of America, Jerry Muller found himself — and his school — devoting more and more precious time and resources to performance measurement and reporting.

Some of this activity was useful, admits Muller. “But much of the information was of no real use, and indeed, was read by no one,” he writes. “Yet once the culture of performance documentation caught on, department heads found themselves in a sort of data arms race.” In one instance, Muller was urged to add more statistical appendixes to a yearlong department survey, because “the report would look less rigorous than that of other departments” without them. Moreover, the university found itself hiring more and more data specialists, up to and including a new vice president for assessment.

This experience, which Muller describes as an irritating pinprick, inspired him to look more closely at metrics. And that investigation resulted in a concise and clearly argued polemic, which, Muller writes, is “for anyone who wants to understand one of the big reasons why so many contemporary organizations function less well than they ought to, diminishing productivity while frustrating those who work in them.” Read the rest here.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Are American Workers Dying for their Paychecks?

strategy+business, April 12, 2018

by Theodore Kinni

Jeffrey Pfeffer, the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB), hasn’t been particularly sanguine about business management for a couple of decades now — perhaps he never was. From his Machiavellian take on power to his skepticism about leadership education, his recent books have punctured conventional wisdom and challenged executives to do better. In his brutal new book, Dying for a Paycheck, Pfeffer steps up the attack.

The book’s thesis is straightforward and blunt: American workplaces and management practices are destroying individual and organizational health. To prove it, Pfeffer partnered with GSB colleagues Joel Goh, a doctoral student (now a professor at the National University of Singapore), and Stefanos Zenios, a professor of operations, information, and technology, and surveyed a broad range of employee health and wellness research.

They identified 10 workplace exposures within the control of employers that significantly affect human health and longevity. And we’re not talking about the industrial accidents that plagued the American workforce a century ago. Rather, the exposures in the 21st century include: being laid off; not having health insurance; irregular work shifts; working more than 40 hours weekly; confronting job insecurity; facing work–life conflicts; having low control over one’s job and job environment; facing high job demands; having low levels of social support at work; and working in unfair situations. Read the rest here.

Monday, April 2, 2018

How Leaders Can Play the Loyalty Card

strategy+business, April 2, 2018

by Theodore Kinni

In his 2007 book Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life, a well-known real estate developer and reality television star discussed employee loyalty at length. “I value loyalty above everything else — more than brains, more than drive, and more than energy,” he wrote.

But is that an effective people strategy for a large-scale organization? Probably not. The idea that leaders should place personal loyalty above all else when appraising employees is something of an outlier in the literature of management. Experts have a lot to say about the duty of CEOs to employees. But vice versa? Not so much. In the few instances I’ve found in which loyalty arises as an employee duty, it’s always framed as loyalty to the company or the company’s mission, not as personal loyalty to the CEO.

That doesn’t mean that employee loyalty isn’t important to leaders. It is, in fact, vitally important. Leaders need people who will stand by them when the going gets tough, who won’t undermine them as they seek to execute plans, who will trust them when the way forward isn’t entirely clear, and who won’t sell them out at the drop of a hat.

But how do you get loyal employees? It seems there are three common approaches. Read the rest here.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Global Mobility Involves a Top-down, Bottom-up Effort

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

Boss, April 2018

by David Mallon

Getting the right people to the right place at the right time is a perennial challenge for large, multinational companies. Recently, however, the need to address that challenge has become more pressing.

One reason is rising nationalism and the backlash against globalization that often accompanies it, which is making it more difficult for companies to execute effectively on global talent strategies. On the opening day of the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi called out the globalization backlash as one of “the three most significant challenges to civilization as we know it,” along with climate change and terrorism.

Another reason is the division of the world’s talent markets, which can exacerbate the need for a mobile workforce and a strong employer brand. According to the International Labor Organization, the job markets in developed economies, including Europe, the U.S., and Canada, are likely to continue to tighten, while in developing economies, particularly in Latin America, the pool of available talent is likely to expand.

A third reason is the growing demand among top talent for more productive, engaging, and enjoyable work, which, for many, includes international assignments. Millennials want to work for global companies with aspirations beyond profit-seeking. The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017 found that millennials view business positively, but they also believe that multinational businesses are not fully realizing their potential to alleviate society’s biggest challenges.

Together, these conditions are raising the mobility stakes for multinational companies. They also explain why more and more executives are asking my colleagues and I at Bersin, “How can we improve global mobility?” Read the rest here.