August 1997 Issue


Chairman's Message

Rewarding Employees by Bob Nelson

Money Sense by Christine Cook

The Ideal Organization by Tom Payne

The Blanchard Management Report by Dr. Ken Blanchard

"Wanted" by Kathy Tichenor

Managing Change by Mary Ruth Austin

Being Fired by Dr. Ferne Cherne

Resumes in the Right by Natalie Bortoli

How good are you at telling when someone is lying? by Dr. Terry L. Shawar

Personnel Decisions by Val Arnold

The Resurrection of Value Engineering by Paul N. Romani

Promises! Promises! by Dr. Ichak Adizes

Chairman's Message

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The Three Rs

The three Rs for this article are not Reading, Riting and Rithmetic but rather Recognition, Reflection and Renewal. That is what the 1997 NMA National Conference in San Diego at the Princess Resort is all about. In San Diego beginning on 5 October, your NMA will recognize excellence, reflect on the year past and renew the drive for the future.

Recognizing Excellence
Sincere recognition for a job well done marks many of the activities at the National Conference. Chapters, councils and individual members will be recognized for exemplary work and accomplishment. Recognition is the engine upon which NMA depends. It carries us from achievement to pride, from pride to teamwork and from teamwork to even more achievement.

Starting with the American Enterprise Speech Contest, the conference recognizes excellence in those who will someday lead communities, families, business and society. Then, recognition of the Member of the Year celebrates through one outstanding person the very best that comes from being involved in NMA. The achievements of chapters and councils are the highlights of the Recognition Luncheon. The Hall of Fame Breakfast recognizes one who has given a lifetime to excellence. The conference closes on recognition as we honor the Executive of the Year and recognize the new NMA leadership team for 1998.

Reflect on the Year Past
The National Conference finishes the job that the Chapter Management Conferences began. One of the greatest benefits from the CMC experience is the networking and sharing that takes place in addition to the leadership training. At the National Conference, that networking is expanded many times over. In the workshops and Educational Forums is where networking and sharing goes on. Reflection on what has worked and what has not worked is good for identifying the fundamental foundations upon which success is built. Reflection then is a time for learning and looking to the future and not just looking backward.

A High School Superintendent in Richardson, Texas once said that he did not want to go back to the basics, but rather he wanted to go forward with the fundamentals. Reflection on the Year Past helps to identify the fundamentals and to go forward with them.

Renew the Drive for the Future
This last of the three Rs joins with recognition and reflection to complete the National Conference experience. Webster tells us that to be renewed is to be made ready, to be refreshed and to make new. Throughout the conference every effort is made to give those that attend a sense of being renewed. The NMA even renews itself as the 1998 Leadership team is introduced to the members. A hint of what is to come is captured in the remarks of the newly elected Chairman of the Board, Area Chairs and Standing Committee Chairs are beginning to think about what "their" year will bring. What an exciting time!

Beyond the National Conference
The conference itself does focus on Recognition, Reflection and Renewal. But if those words lose meaning when we get back on the plane to come home, then the lasting value of the National Conference experience has been lost. What a shame that would be.

In my view, the conference serves to remind us of how important Recognition, Reflection and Renewal really are. They make a big difference in the success of the companies and organizations that sponsor NMA chapters. They will make a big difference in each member's career and in their life.

Come to the National Conference and learn about the three Rs first-hand. It will be a great experience.

Harris W. "Bill" Swan
1997 Chairman of the Board

Rewarding Employees
How to get a Praise
by Bob Nelson
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I recently read an article entitled "How to Get a Raise." It discussed strategies for asking your manager for more money to improve your financial outlook. I think it's just as important to be able to ask your manager for a praise to improve your emotional outlook. After all, if you're not appreciated enough to have your heart in the job, for most people it doesn't matter much what they are paid to stay in the job.

A fundamental principle of all human behavior is "You get what you reward." When you get sincere, specific praise from your manager you want to continue to perform and to do so at higher levels. When you don't get recognition or praise, you start to feel abused and burnt out in your job. Instead of getting energy and excitement from their jobs, unappreciated employees tend to be drained by their jobs. They can even come to feel like a victim as if they do not deserve to be appreciated, that is, they can come to feel that they could never do a good enough job to be thanked and valued for their contribution.

When you get sincere, specific praise from your manager, you want to continue to perform and to do so at higher levels.

Fortunately, no one needs to feel they are a victim when it comes to praise. If you want more praise, you can and should ask for it. You can do so without seeming egotistical or trying to curry your boss's favor by being honest and direct and emphasize the positive and practical aspects of receiving immediate and specific feedback about your performance.

As the saying goes, "Feedback is the breakfast of champions!" Don't be afraid to seek an adequate serving. Following are some strategies you can use to get more praise from your manager.

Ask for praise
Many people feel awkward in asking for praise.They feel that 1) they shouldn't have to ask and 2) asking for a praise will diminish its value. I disagree on both accounts.

If the activity is important to you, you should ask for it. Asking for praise is also not just an ego boost, but serves a practical function as well; namely, making sure you know specifically what you did well so that you are better able to repeat the desired performance.

After all, no one is a mind reader, and getting praise makes it easier to better focus future efforts for any performer.

You can bring up the topic in a general way such as by saying "Mary, I've never told you, but it really means a lot to me when you give me specific feedback about projects I do after they are finished. I learn from your comments, and if you liked my work, hearing what you liked about it not only makes me feel good, but also reinforces those aspects of the job that I am doing well so I can be sure to continue doing those things." After all, no one is a mind reader, and getting praise makes it easier to better focus future efforts for any performer.

Model the behavior
For individuals who I hear complain about their manager who never praises them, I often ask when was the last time they praised their manager. For many people the idea of praising their manager seems ludicrous. "Isn't that why the manager gets paid more?" some ask.

Yet I've found that one way to subtly influence the behavior of another is to treat that person as you'd like them to treat yourself. You might, for example, say to your manager, "Gary, yesterday when we had our key client in the office, I really appreciated the way you took time to explain my role on the project to him. It made me feel valued and glad to be on your team. Thanks for doing that."

A typical manager might respond with, "Oh, I didn't realize that was so important to you" and then, human nature being what it is, almost inevitably be a little more attentive to watch for similar instances to acknowledge your efforts.

Plan for recognition
Praise and recognition can be planned along with all the other elements of getting a task or project accomplished. When planning a project, for example, you can also plan for the type of praise, recognition or celebration that will occur if the project is completed within the stated schedule and budget. You could ask, for example, "If our team accomplishes its objective, can we present our finished work to upper management together as a team?" In fact, determining the recognition at the end of a project creates an added incentive for getting the job done.

Give visibility to successes. A final way to get more praise is to keep your manager posted about your achievement. This can be done on an ongoing basis by providing him or her copies of reports and relevant correspondence or through specific status reports of your various tasks and responsibilities. Your manager has to have specifics of your achievements before he or she can act on that information to thank you.

Everyone needs to be praised and recognized when they do a good job. Everyone needs to know that the time and effort they spend on the job is making a difference and that they are making a contribution at work. If you rely solely on your manager's initiative to appreciate you for doing a good job, you may get less praise than you want and, given today's time and energy constraints, almost certainly less than you need to continue to do excellent work.

Bob Nelson is the vice president of Blanchard Training and Development, Inc., in San Diego, CA, 1-800-728-6000, and author of the best-selling book, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees (Workman Publishing) --now in its 16th printing. His latest book, Managing for Dummies (IDG Books Worldwide) is now available in bookstores everywhere.

Money Sense
by Christine Cooke
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Women need a plan to preserve assets for heirs

Because women have longer life expectancies than men, they are likely to manage assets on their own in later years, whether they have done so all of their lives or are coming to the task for the first time. One of the most important -- yet most difficult -- financial tasks women often face alone is determining how their estates will be distributed among their heirs.

In The Second Annual Merrill Lynch Estate Planning Survey, a survey of about 800 people across the country, we found that women are indeed more concerned about estate planning than men -- 41 percent of women surveyed, compared with 29 percent of men, consider the financial aspects of estate planning extremely important. Yet more than half of the women said they do not understand what estate planning involves, and only 30 percent had established a written estate plan.

In our survey, we found that only about a third of widows were aware that federal estate taxes could claim up to 55 percent of an estate if no steps are taken to shelter assets.

A carefully developed estate and/or business succession plan can make all the difference in preserving a family's wealth. Let's take a look at how you can leave a lasting legacy using good estate planning techniques.

Important Steps for Estate Planning
In our survey, we found that only about a third of widows were aware that federal estate taxes could claim up to 55 percent of an estate if no steps are taken to shelter assets.

The cost of settling an estate -- fees charged by attorneys, executors and administrators -- can consume even more of an estate's value.

With careful planning and regular updating, however, you can make sure your life's work will be of value to your beneficiaries. The following six steps can help you tailor an estate plan that reflects your particular financial situation and the future needs of your family.

Step 1 Talk with your family. The best way to plan for your family's future is to talk together about your goals and determine what resources you will need to meet these goals. An unclear will or a surprise in your will can create havoc for an executor, increase the costs of probate, and cause dissension among family members. Less than half of the women in our survey (48 percent) had designated an advisor to help with family decisions.

Step 2 Prepare a will and nominate an executor. Meet with an attorney to prepare a will. Without one, your estate will be distributed according to the laws of your state, without regard for your wishes. Update your will to reflect changes in your life and financial circumstances.

In your will, you should nominate an executor who understands your wishes and will ensure they are carried out according to the terms of your will. Most people nominate their spouse, an adult child or a close friend. Also consider granting a durable power of attorney to someone who will handle your affairs on your behalf if need be and a durable power of attorney for your health care.

One effective estate planning technique is to remove assets from your estate while you are living, using a lifetime gift-giving program.

Step 3 Transfer assets to your family while you are alive. The unified estate and gift tax law allows each person a tax credit that shelters up to $600,000 of their assets from federal estate taxes. After reaching that limit, your assets are vulnerable to federal estate taxes.

One effective estate planning technique is to remove assets from your estate while you are living, using a lifetime gift-giving program. You can give any number of individuals gifts of up to $10,000 a year ($20,000 for married couples giving joint gifts) tax-free. A full 39 percent of the widows we surveyed, compared with only 24 percent of widowers, were unaware of this provision. Keep in mind, however, that you should consider gifting only a level of assets that will not lessen your desired income or lifestyle.

Step 4 If you or your family own a business, plan for ownership succession. The burden of paying estate taxes after the death of a business owner often causes a business to fail. Yet four out of ten business owners responding to our survey had not sought professional advice in planning for the future of their businesses. Little more than half of business owners (56 percent) had designated management succession and 57 percent had established or updated a business valuation. By consulting with a professional when preparing for the future of your business, you can ensure that your business and other assets continue in the hands of the people you choose with a minimum of cost and delay.

Step 5 Establish trusts and life insurance policies for your heirs. A trust is a legal arrangement that transfers ownership of assets to a trustee, who manages them for your beneficiaries. Some trusts are designed to help minimize estate taxes and meet specific estate planning needs. For example, if a couple's estate is large enough that leaving everything to one spouse at the first spouse's death might trigger estate taxes when the second spouse dies, a trust can be structured to allow the unified credit to be fully used in both estates.

Life insurance can be used to pass assets to your heirs and fund estate taxes through non-income-taxable proceeds. The proceeds of a properly structured irrevocable life insurance trust may not be subject to federal estate tax. Only 36 percent of the women surveyed knew that estate taxes must be paid nine months after the date of death. And more men than women (54 percent vs. 47 percent) had arranged for the immediate availability of funds while their estate is settled.

At the same time they are caring for their own children, women frequently are primary caregivers for their elderly family members. In addition to planning their own estates, women also need to know about the finances of their aging relatives, before a crisis occurs.

Step 6 Meet with qualified professionals to make your plans. Developing an estate plan is not an easy task. A proficient estate planning attorney and a tax advisor can address the legalities involved in managing your estate. Along with a financial consultant, they can review your estate planning issues in light of your overall financial plan. In our survey, women took this initiative more often than men, with 50 percent of women vs. 46 percent of men designating a person or financial institution to provide for management of family assets.

Women in the "Sandwich Generation"
At the same time they are caring for their own children, women frequently are the primary caregivers for their elderly family members. In addition to planning their own estates, women also need to know about the finances of their aging relatives, before a crisis occurs. By discussing these issues now, you will be able to handle matters the way your parents or other elders would want them handled later.

Review with them the same six steps we've discussed here, determining whether they have drawn up a will and made arrangements for durable and medical powers of attorney. Ask whether they've consulted an estate planning attorney and have an estate plan in place that considers how they will make bequests to family, friends and charities. Learn who their legal, tax and financial advisors are and know where their key documents are located.

Poor Planning Can Be Costly
As in any good plan, you must know what you want to accomplish with an estate plan and how to achieve it. Good planning can put tax laws to work for you and save your heirs a great deal of money and anguish. Work with your attorney, financial consultant and tax adviser to structure your estate to your best advantage.

Christine Cooke is Vice President and Manager of Education Services for Merrill Lynch's Private Client Group.


If You Can't Visualize It, You Can't Have It
by Tom Payne
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On the TV show, Sixty Minutes, the wife of violinist, Yehudi Menuhin, when describing her famous husband, stated, "Great music comes out of him." Interviewer, Ed Bradley, asked, "Why?" and she said, "Because that's what's in him."

How about respect, admiration and esteem for the organization that pays our salary? If we don't have those feelings, they can't come out -- honesty.

Simple enough -- if it's not in us, it can't come out.

How about respect, admiration and esteem for the organization that pays our salary? If we don't have those feelings, they can't come out -- honestly. If they can't come out honestly, we certainly don't want to be in front of an impressionable assembly of our troops, for their good and ours. We should probably be behind bars as con artists.

So, let's get personal, and necessarily a bit selfish, forget everybody else, and look at our ideal organization -- the organization that for us is worthy of respect, admiration and esteem. After all, if the suits in the suites haven't figured out what the ideal organization should look like, why don't we take a shot at building our own.

First, some assumptions:

Organizations must meet their financial obligations to survive.

Organizations were not formed to meet the workers' needs for an extended family.

Organizations are the sum total of the people who make them up.

The previous statements, like them or not, are true. Employees must accept this reality, and leaders must lead to them, but beyond that how would we like our ideal organization of the future to function?

Following are ten attributes of a model organization that I have acquired over the years. Because it's imperative managers be OK with their organization, consider your personal preferences. Then rank the following, 1 (most necessary) through 10 (least necessary).

A model organization is one that for me:
_____ Articulates a vital vision and a compelling mission.
_____ Supports employees goals.
_____ Encourages open, honest communications.
_____ Promotes personal growth.
_____ Operates in an environment of mutual trust.
_____ Provides job security.
_____ Rewards people in accordance with their contributions.
_____ Values the environment.
_____ Contributes as a member of the community.

Review your top five. Does your current organization provide you your top five? If not, and it's not the organization's responsibility to insure your top five are cared for (see assumptions #1 and #2), whose responsibility is it? (Hint: see assumption #3.)

If we want the ideal organization, we must create it. If we choose to do nothing to make the ideal happen, then we must stop whining because we've done our part to create what is for us, and by logical extension, for our people -- an unhealthy garden in which to toil.

This brings up the obvious question. "If my current organization does not match any ideal organization, what can I do about it?"

If your answer is "nothing," think again. If you won the $40 million lottery and stayed on the job, could you think of what you might do to create an organization in which you would thrive?

If you cannot, or choose not to, work on changing your organization, consider what Robert Waterman said in his book, The Renewal Factor, "The only power we have over our organization is our willingness to walk." How much power do you have over your organization?

How do we ever expect our organizations to meet our expectations, if we, who ARE the organization, don't make it happen?

Our tie to any job is temporary (always was), and since the job could change at any time, doesn't it make sense to go for the gusto now, to go for and help create the environment that fills our lives with enthusiasm, intensity and passion.

Tomorrow's work is a whole new game. The old rules don't apply anymore, and the new rules are as rare as blank paper in Steven King's house.

For the first time in 100 years, since we went from the farms to the factories, we workers are back in a powerful position to determine what our futures will be -- what our organizations will look like.

It's an exciting time to work. Today, we have a window in which tomorrow's organization can be defined. Those committing to create an organization in their own image will not be committed to work in an organization of someone else's image. We, each one of us, must do it. We can indeed carve out a future about which we can be genuinely wild.

Tom Payne is an international business speaker and author of the book, FutureWork: Five Rules for a New Game and other books which deal with human drama of our changing relationship with work. Tom is the founder of LODESTAR, an Albuquerque, N.M. -- based performance enhancement company.

For information on Tom's books or interactive programs,
PHONE 505-296-2940
FAX 505-294-6942
E-mail: or browse the LODESTAR web site at:


by Dr. Ken Blanchard
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When I graduated from college in the early Sixties, a friend of mine got a job with AT&T. When he called home his mother cried. She said, "You're set for life!"

No organization can guarantee you job security anymore.

That was our expectation then. If you got a job with a big company you could imagine your entire career being with that organization. Would you be set for life today with AT&T? No, nor could you be set for life with any company.

No organization can guarantee you job security anymore. As a result, a lot of lives are in turmoil and people are feeling insecure. Is there anything you can do about that? I think there is and it all begins inside.

Years ago, I heard Larry Wilson, founder of Wilson Learning, do a session in which he talked about the "ABCs of Personal Power." I think the concept originated with Albert Ellis.

"A" stands for an activating event -- what happens to you whether it be bad or good. You get promoted or downsized. You get praised or criticized. A child is born or a child dies. Good and bad will happen in your life.

"B" stands for your belief system. It's all the thought and feelings you have about yourself and other people. Hyrum Smith, founder of Franklin Quest talks about your belief window. That's the place from which you view the world.

"C" stands for consequence -- how you react to what happens to you. The longer you live the more you realize that we cannot control activating events in life. Good things and bad will happen, it's how you react to those events that make a difference in your life.

If, to a great extent you can't control a lot of the activating events in your life, what do you have going for yourself?

You have your belief system.

I have seen the same event happen to two different people and one respond in a positive way and the other in a negative way.

Consider something as simple as a praising. If you praise some people, they are suspicious. They are wondering what you really want. You praise someone else and they feel good. They are glad you noticed.

In the world of work with all the downsizing, rightsizing and every type of reduction in the work force, a lot of people find themselves in tough situations. They can respond by becoming victims and blaming others or they can accept adversity and make lemonade out of the lemons life has handed them. This is not always easy but what other choice do you have?

That's why I like the game of golf. It really spells Game of Life First. In any one round of golf you'll get good breaks you do deserve and bad breaks you don't deserve. Sometimes things will be going better than you anticipated and you have to deal with success. Sometimes things will be worse than you anticipated and you have to deal with failure. This all happens within a four-and-a-half to five-hour round. Life is not much different.

Your mind is like a computer. It doesn't know the difference between the truth and what you tell it. Garbage in -- garbage out! What you focus on and think about is incredibly important. I certainly learned this in my years of working with Norman Vincent Peale. As the father of positive thinking, he knew the importance of programming your mind positively. One of my favorite sayings is attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission."

As I travel around the country working with managers today, I tell them I am going to bombard their belief systems because beliefs drive behavior. As Hyrum Smith says, "Any time you're not getting what you want out of life you must have a belief that is clouding your window." Any situation that isn't working for you is driven by a false belief. There has never been a time where it is more important to realize that "As a man thinketh so he becomes." Zig Ziglar often puts it this way when he works with people, "I'm going to give you a check up from the neck up and get rid of your "stinkin thinkin!"

What can you do to make life work? Look at what is happening to you in life. If it's not working, look at your belief system and see how it is impacting your life. The ABCs of Personal Power can be the most important concept you've heard of this year: please use it.

by Kathy Tichenor
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If you solicit your employment applicants through the print media, you will be wise to choose your words carefully. The improvidently chosen word may land you in deep trouble! You may have opened yourself up to a discrimination claim even before your prospective employee sets foot in the door. Language that commonly appeared in employment ads just a few years ago is now unacceptable.

The employer who placed the above ad has unwittingly exposed itself to four different claims of discrimination.

- First, by advertising for a "young and energetic" person the employer implies that age will be a factor in its hiring decision, a violation of the age discrimination laws.

- Second, the reference to "family person" implies that the employer does not wish to hire single, childless, or gay people, all of which are impermissible forms of discrimination.

- Third, by using the word "salesman" instead of the gender-neutral "salesperson", the employer raises the issue of sex discrimination.

- Finally, the statement that "superior English skills are required" may be construed as discriminatory towards persons of foreign nationalities, who may speak with accents. Making hiring decisions on the basis of an applicant's race, ancestry, national origin, color, sex, religion, disability, marital status, age, or medical condition is prohibited by both state and federal law. As an employer, you must not only be aware of the many prohibited forms of discrimination, but you must also be wary of language that suggests discriminatory intent. A poorly-worded advertisement alone will not subject you to a lawsuit,. However, you can bet that it will be presented as evidence against you by the 42 year old clerk you fired because he or she could never manage to get to work on time, could not get along with your other employees, and never quite completed any assigned tasks, but nonetheless decides to sue you for age discrimination.

To avoid unwittingly supplying the fodder for discrimination suits, the wise employer will carefully phrase its employment advertisements. Be sure that your ad states only those elements that are requirements for the job, and express them as objectively as possible. Avoid all words or phrases that even indirectly refer to a characteristic protected by the discrimination laws. The bottom line is: if it's not a legitimate job requirement, leave it out.

Kathy Tichenor is of counsel to the San Francisco law firm of St. Peter & Cooper LLP where she specializes in employment law.

Managing Change
by Mary Ruth Austin
The Omnia Group
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The only thing constant is change and these days, change is modem fast. Today's successful companies must change daily to keep up with their customers' changing needs and the competition.

Employees, however, frequently react negatively to being told they must change the way they do their job, especially by their boss or their boss' boss. Some resent having change being handed down "from on high" without being given the opportunity for input.

People who switch jobs want and expect change. Employees, however, frequently react negatively to being told they must change the way they do their job, especially by their boss or their boss' boss. Some resent having change being handed down "from on high" without being given the opportunity for input. Others have more personal questions --

  1. How will the change affect my day to day duties?
  2. How will it affect my future?
  3. What does the change really mean?

The first step in producing organizational change is to understand that many employees, especially those with tall columns 6 and 8, are uncomfortable with change of any kind. Employees with a tall column 6, who are methodical, routine-oriented, and change resistant by nature, generally need a little extra time to adjust to change, so be sure to announce new plans as far in advance as possible. This gives your moderately paced employees the chance to process and accept the change at their pace. Loyal, helpful, and committed team players, these employees will come around, if you do not rush them. Rushed, though, they might dig in their heels or resort to passive resistance.

Employees with a tall column 8, who want and need structure and detail, may have questions about the change. Very sensitive to criticism, sometimes even paranoid, these employees could view the change as a veiled criticism of them or the way they've been doing their job. For them, it is especially important that you explain in detail why the change is being made. Be sure to make it crystal clear that the change is an effort to improve the way the organization operates, not indirect criticism of any employee or the way they have been doing their work.

Other, more independent and self-managing employees, (tall column 7) like the "stubborn change fighter" like to do their job their way and may resist anything remotely resembling hands-on management. Employees with tall columns 6 and 7 are a special challenge. Not only do they believe the best boss is no boss, they dislike change in general and can be very, very stubborn. Calm and cool on the surface, they won't argue with you but they probably won't do what you want either, unless you convince them the change was their idea, is in their best interest or involve them in the decision making process from the very beginning.

The employees most likely to have difficulty with change are those in positions where follow-through, attention to detail and repetitious, tedious work are required: secretaries, bookkeepers, accountants, customer service representatives, clerks, janitors, security guards, tellers, etc. Employees most likely to embrace change are those in fast paced, self-managing positions requiring the ability to shift gears and juggle tasks like salespeople or management.

As boss, you may need to reassure your people that the proposed change is positive and designed to help both the company and them.

Before announcing any change, take the time to carefully analyze exactly how it will affect your employees today and tomorrow. Put yourself in your employees' shoes. What will excite them about this change? What will upset or frighten them? What questions will they have? How will you answer those questions?

As boss, you may need to reassure your people that the proposed change is positive and designed to help both the company and them.

In addition to understanding your employees and their specific, personality-related reaction to change, which a management tool like "The Omnia Profile" will tell you, there are four things you can do to reduce resistance. First, explain, in detail, why the change is needed. If it is being made for obvious or logical reasons, your people, after the initial shock, will probably understand and support it.

The Omnia Profile will tell you, there are four things you can do to reduce resistance. First, explain, in detail, why the change is needed. If it is being made for obvious or logical reasons, your people, after the initial shock, will probably understand and support it.

Next, be very specific when explaining the change. The more detail you can provide, the better. This helps employees know exactly what part of their work will be affected and what will not. This also helps pull the plug on the company rumor mill. The less concrete information your people have, the more likely they are to worry, speculate or object.

Third, ask for each employee reaction, both for and against. Don't be afraid of negative comments. The open, responsive atmosphere you will create by asking for input will far outweigh the effects of any negative comments.

Then, after you have explained why the change is necessary, how it will affect your people and have asked for and listened to their feedback, ask each employee to support the change, even if they disagree with it.

Some employees may be unable or unwilling to support the change because they honestly believe it is unnecessary. Do not argue or become defensive -- neither changes anyone's mind and could do serious long term damage.

And if the change works as well as you hope it will, even your most change resistant employees will eventually come around, anyway.

The Omnia Group is an employee selection and management consulting firm with 8,000 clients in 15 countries, based in Tampa. The Omnia Group will provide a complimentary Omnia Profile and interpretation to readers who call 1-800-525-7117 and request one.

BEING fired
Time of Failure or Opportunity for a Better Future?
by Dr. Ferne Cherne
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You've been fired, and not gently either. Given an hour to clean out your desk, or with a sealed envelope on your work area, you've been let go. Try more neutral words such as termination, downsizing, re-engineering, but you know in your gut, you've been FIRED. If the firing was due strictly to a seniority factor, it would be easier to bear. You know there were choices and options, and the choice was to let you go. Don't underestimate the shock of this event. It is a personal crisis that has to be fully processed so you can make some kind of psychological sense for your self and proceed in a healthy and constructive way to the next stage in your career.

It is a personal crisis that has to be fully processed so you can make some kind of psychological sense for your self and proceed in a healthy and constructive way to the next stage in your career.

You know how to contact the headhunters, use your network, and send out your resumes, but unless you spend some time analyzing and processing your firing, it will eat at your self-esteem, cause you to interview with a defensive stance, create enough stress to cause physical symptoms and affect those near and dear to you.

The event can be either positive or negative for you. It can be reframed as a time out for analysis, review and possible correcting of your course.  It is all in how you process it. Maybe you weren't really happy in your position, but you squelched those insistent little voices because of the financial returns, security, or upward mobility. A firing can be an early wakeup call. A warning bell. Something, somewhere wasn't right. An opportunity for adjustment or realignment.

You should attend to the basic issues the firing brings forth. At some deeper level, a firing says to you, you are incompetent, inadequate, or at least someone doesn't like you. Arrange some quiet time alone. Maybe at home, or go away for the weekend. Borrow that cabin. Sit on the beach or a park bench and let the full impact of this happening emerge. You need to examine honestly what we call "job fit." Did you get yourself in a position where your work style and personality traits are admired in one position and suddenly become negative in another. What caused the problems? Your boss? Your inability or reluctance to change? The good old boys power structure? Be relentless with yourself. Could you have changed? Would you have wanted to? At what cost to yourself? Did you find yourself in a large organization when you feel more comfortable in a small one? Did the demand for extra hours conflict with your desire to spend quality and quantity time with your family? Go even deeper. Perhaps more than a lack of job fit, this occupation does not fit you. The introvert as sales person? Do you work better alone, yet find yourself in a position that requires extensive social interaction? Were you happier in a line job rather than management?

When a project, proposal or idea flops at work, you don't just try it again. You review to see what went wrong. As you should do with this job situation. You have been presented with an opportunity for self-evaluation, and review. Your own personal review.

You may want to bring in the advice and counsel of someone who has known you for a long time. It may be a co-worker, or someone you used to work with, or a person close to you. This person can point out areas that are difficult for you to access. Are you a creative person whose ability to suggest change is too much for others to handle? Does your need for structure and detail overwhelm those around you? Dig deep.

When a project, proposal or idea flops at work, you don't just try it again. You review to see what went wrong. As you should do with this job situation. You have been presented with an opportunity for self-evaluation, and review. Your own personal review. Perhaps this is the time to simplify your life and go back to the line job you truly enjoyed. Maybe you have all the entrepreneurial qualities which conflict in a large corporate situation. Is it time for you to strike out on your own? Have your own values and priorities changed over the last several years? Is the fire in the belly extinguished? This is your very own window of opportunity to see into the past and create a new future. The quality of your self-analysis will depend on the depth to which you probe. Once over lightly, or an extensive internal audit. It's your choice. While you are working it's very hard to get the distance, and create the time for this type of self-assessment. Tom Peters is creating his own sabbatical, wondering at his own direction and priorities. You don't have a sabbatical but a unique opportunity to look at your own path, and then decide if you want to continue the present journey or self-correct to a new course.

Any business that wants to succeed and prosper must continually take a needs assessment. If you want to succeed and be in a position that satisfies your needs, financially, spiritually, and psychologically, you will take this life event and turn it into your own needs assessment.

A firing or termination can be a personally devastating event. It can also be a unique opportunity for assessment and analysis. It is within your own power to take this crisis and turn it into a challenge, use it as a catalyst to renew, and review your dreams, wants and desires. This is not the end, but a chance to create a new beginning. It's all in how you look at it.

Dr. Ferne Cherne
R. R. 1, Box 371
Park Rapids, MN 56470

Resumes in the Right
New Rules Make Writing a Winner Easy
by Natalie Bortoli
(back to Contents)

What makes a "gem" of a resume today? It's not flashy fonts, pricey paper or expensive extras that make a resume stick out in a pile. Instead, "succinct" and "clear" are two of the words that best describe a winning resume according to executive recruiters Karen Morgan and Linda Burtch of Smith Hanley Associates, Inc. The two have reviewed over 10,000 resumes and have seen examples of the best and worst. Following a few guidelines will keep your resume on track and will save you from spending unnecessary hours agonizing over details.

Keep it short.
One page is preferable, two if you have been working for more than 10 years.

Never lie.
You will get caught. Lying about your education or experience, excluding former places of employment, or falsifying your salary or skills will only lead to trouble.

Do not include an "objective section," commonly used by many people at the head of their resume. This will only limit you as a candidate. A broad objective will only seem ambiguous. Instead, consider using such information in a cover letter. It will be more appropriate there, and it can be tailored to a specific position.

Use backward chronological style when you describe your work experience.

When you did things is extremely important.
This is your "history," and it shows how recent your skills are.

Avoid "functional resumes" which list responsibilities of all jobs in one large mass, leaving out company names and dates until the end. "People do this to disguise their age or gaps in their work history," Morgan says. "In result, the reader tends to become suspicious."

Use short paragraphs to describe job responsibilities.
If you can't be succinct in a short paragraph, use bullet points to mark important responsibilities and skills.

Go without the fancy "extras" (i.e. colored paper, graphics, plastic covers).
Flashy resumes are inappropriate for corporate situations, according to Morgan. Such resumes will not bring you any extra attention. They can, however, make a negative impact.

Do not "quantify" your contribution to a company by listing dollar amounts unless this was a specific part of your job responsibility(i.e. sales position).

Place your education section at the top of your resume until you have been working for at least two years. Then, move your "work experience" above your education.

Do include a section for computer and technical skills. List software packages that you use regularly.

A "special interest" section can be helpful. Sometimes it will grab the attention of a potential interviewer. "Stay away from politics and religion," Burtch advises however.

Keep personal information such as marital status, age and family off of your resume. You may, however, want to make a special note if you are open to relocation. This can make you more marketable.

Say no to typos!
"In most cases, people will not be interviewed if they have typos," Burtch says. "Have friends proofread." Morgan advises.

Most of all, Morgan and Burtch say, "Don't overthink your resume. If you spend more than 3 hours updating it, you're thinking too hard. Just get in the essentials of your experience."

Smith Hanley Associates, Inc.
Phone 312/629-2400
Fax 312/629-0615

How good are you at telling when someone is lying?
by Dr. Terry L. Stawar
(back to Contents)

An often neglected communication skill is the ability to determine if others are being truthful. Over the past decade behavioral scientists have discovered several effective methods to uncover deceit that you can now put to good use. The quiz following can help you ascertain how proficient you are in detecting deception in others.

Paying very close attention to the words that a person uses is the easiest way to detect deception. TRUE FALSE

In general, people can disguise their facial expressions better than other body language. TRUE FALSE

When the pitch of a person's voice suddenly becomes much higher than usual, this is an important sign of deception. TRUE FALSE

Unless a person is a expert liar, there generally will be some incongruence between their body language and the verbal messages they send. TRUE FALSE

Facial expressions involving the inner eyebrows are very easy to fake. TRUE FALSE

The ear is generally better than the eye at detecting deception. TRUE FALSE

The old notion that liars wear a crooked smile on their face may be borne out by modern research. TRUE FALSE

If the pupils of a persons' eye start to dilate (get larger) you can be fairly sure that something has caught that person's interest. TRUE FALSE

When a person talks about something they perceive as pleasant, there is usually a brief upward movement of the eyebrows. A downwards movement is also usually seen when unpleasant topics are considered. TRUE FALSE

When you ask a question and someone's eyes move in an upward direction, this is a sure sign that the answer will be a lie. TRUE FALSE

A person's words are easily disguised. Psycholinguist Suzette Haden Elgin says that words alone are poor clues to deception. They can be carefully worked out in advance and rehearsed until flawless. Unless they contradict some other source of information, they generally tell you nothing in regard to the truthfulness of a statement. Like the traditional lie detector (polygraph) the best way to determine if a person is lying is to focus on those language-related behaviors that are difficult to voluntarily control.

2. True
Most people have practiced all the obvious facial expressions to some degree, so in general they are less reliable than other clues (body or voice). Some important exceptions are mentioned later.

3. True
Higher voice pitch than usual may be the most telling sign of deception that you can perceive without some type of instrumentation (polygraph, voice stress analyzer, etc.).

4. True
Most amateur liars will show obvious incongruencies such as saying they are happy but with teeth bared or with a clenched fist.

5. False
Although general facial expressions can be faked, certain muscles of the face are mostly under involuntary control and are very difficult to deliberately manipulate. California psychologist, Paul Ekman has discovered that the inner eyebrows often provide important clues to a person's emotional state. When an upside-down V is seen, with the eyebrows higher over the nose than the cheeks, this is a reliable sign of distress. When a person says they are upset and this sign is missing, it is a important clue to deception.

6. True
Elgin recommends blocking out visual information when possible. She believes that talking on the telephone is often the best way to tell if a person is being honest. The higher voice pitch is readily heard as are stress patterns on words and parts of words that signify a verbal attack pattern. With practice she claims you can easily hear the "sneers, snarls, smirks" coming clearly through, despite the mollifying content of the words or misleading facial expressions.

7. True
This is another important finding of Ekman. Evidently two distinct neuropathways govern voluntary and spontaneous facial expressions. One major difference is that spontaneous expressions tend to always be more symmetrical, with both sides of the face being more equally effected. When a facetious expression is made voluntarily, this symmetry is always less obvious. Thus, a crooked expression where the sides of the face are mismatched, is a reliable indication that the expression is not genuine but is being voluntarily created. Ekman is referring to relative facial symmetry. Some people naturally have more asymmetrical expressions than others, but when the expression appears more mismatched than usual, that's when you should become suspicious.

8. True
The involuntary dilation of the pupils has been widely known by marketing psychologists for years and is employed in a variety of product research applications. Thus, narrow eyes in a person claiming to be interested in something is another reliable sign of attempted deception.

9. True
Ekman found that the synchronization of eyebrow movements with emotional states is almost impossible to fake. He also noted that there are strong involuntary correlations between upward and downward eyebrow movements and increases and decreases in voice volume, respectively.

10. False
Communication experts John Grinder and Richard Bandler demonstrated that upward eye movements are not directly related to deception. They suggest that when this happens the person is usually thinking in pictures or images. However, if a person's eyes go up and to the right (in a right handed person), it usually indicates that they are mentally constructing a novel image that they have never actually seen. If the person then says that this image represents something they have actually seen, it would suggest an attempt to deceive.


9-10 Correct
You're virtually a human polygraph.

7-8 Correct
People can't pull much over on you.

5-6 Correct
You'd probably break even at poker.

3-4 Correct
I'd like to have you on my jury.
You need to study up.

2 or less Correct
I've got some property in South Florida in which you just might be interested.

Terry L. Stawar, Ed. D.
1321 Lake Miriam Drive
Lakeland, FL 33813-2929
941-534-7020 ext. 125

Tips for How to Manage When You're Promoted Over Your Peers
by Val Arnold
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Being promoted is wonderful, but it also can be a source of anxiety, both for the person who is promoted, and those who aren't. Managing people, who were once peers, is a challenge many people face as they advance in their careers. These are tips to help people make the often tricky transition from co-worker to boss:

Recognize that authority affects relationships. When you become someone's manager, you simply cannot have the same relationship with that person that you had before. Authority changes what we expect from people, how we treat each other and how we interpret behavior. The first step in making the change positive is expecting things to be different.

Characterize the new relationship. What kind of boss do you want to be? How do you want to treat your employees and how would you like to be treated? Reaching your goals for the position will be easier if you clarify these aspects of the relationship.

Don't take it personally. Former peers may react to your change in status with anything from envy, anger or mistrust, to sudden friendliness. Recognize that their reactions may have less to do with you personally than they do with your new role. Remain focused on building a positive relationship, and try to see beyond the initial responses of your co-workers, whatever they are.

Don't try to assert your authority all at once. Instead of becoming "the boss" overnight, ease into it gradually. Discuss the change in the relationship with your co-workers. Talk about how you see your role and what you expect of yourself and of them. Then listen to what they have to say about their expectations for the new situation. This can be an invaluable way to spot potential problems early.

Learn from past experience. Think about your best boss. What kind of relationship did you have with that person? How was it different from peer relationships? Focus on how your best boss asserted authority positively and effectively and apply this to your emerging management style.

Talk to others with similar experience, and take their advice with a grain of salt. You may get advice that ranges from one extreme to another, from "stay friends" to "let them know who's boss." Find an approach that fits your personality, needs and goals.

Create a joint vision with your employees. You will need a vision for your group that incorporates your own and your employees' values and goals. By making everyone in the group a part of building this vision, you can take a leadership role while fostering an environment in which all employees can contribute.

Val Arnold is Senior Vice President of Personnel Decisions International, formerly known as Personnel Decisions, Inc. It is a firm of organizational psychologists and consultants specializing in assessing and developing managers and organizations. The firm is headquartered in Minneapolis; has domestic offices in New York, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, and Denver; and overseas offices in Brussels, London, Paris, Royal Learnington Spa (UK), Stockholm, Tokyo, and Singapore; and serves clients worldwide.


by Paul N. Romani
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For half a century, value engineering has been available to industry and government to encourage ingenuity and sustain motivation to decrease costs, particularly in continuously changing environments. Its corporate roots date to 1947 when Lawrence Miles tested and refined it at a General Electric facility in Schenectady, New York. The Department of Defense implemented value engineering programs in the early 1950s. In 1964, 1965 and 1967, DOD issued circulars which broadened incentives to defense contractors to do value engineering. Savings accruing to the DOD resulting from contractor cost reduction suggestions are shared with them; often hundreds of thousands of dollars are returned as "pure" profit. In spite of this, value engineering never has reached its predicted potential.

After a period of dormancy, value engineering has reappeared in American industry as a management tool to help reduce design and acquisition costs. Its re-emergence is owed to two factors:
1) the important role it plays in lean production, encouraging supplier-assembler cooperation; and 2) the success of its advocates in getting it included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996 (Public Law 104-106) dated February 10, 1996 an amendment to the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act. The President's "Reinventing Government" initiative undoubtedly had much to do with the inclusion of the amendment. It reads as follows:

"(a) General: Each Executive Agency shall establish and maintain cost-effective value engineering procedures and processes."

"(b) Definition: As used in this section, the term "value engineering" means an analysis of the functions of a program, project, system, product, item of equipment, building, facility, service, or supply of an executive agency, performed by qualified agency or contractor personnel, directed at improving performance, reliability, quality, safety, and life cycle costs."

This article will explore five areas which account for value engineering's past inability to capture the imagination of business and government contractors and suppliers and offer suggestions for correcting them.

1 Defining Value Engineering
Value engineering has come to mean many different things to many people. Thus, one of the obstacles to the successful and widespread implementation of value engineering is obtaining a single, good definition of what we are dealing with and talking about. Most people would agree that value engineers are essentially trying to relate cost to function without incurring a corresponding reduction in quality. From this point on, the terminology is generally vague. For example, some definitions make value engineering synonymous with cost reduction in all its variant forms. The DOD is partly to blame for this. There have been times when value engineers have claimed credit for savings generated by cost reduction techniques in place before value engineering's introduction into the Department. Such practices are not confined to value engineering nor are they new. One need only look at the Energy Department. It is the governments undisputed leader in dollars invested in total quality management (TQM) training. Unfortunately, almost every dollar the Department saves is credited to TQM. So prolific are these savings that the Energy department's reports have lost credibility.

Most people would agree that value engineers are essentially trying to relate cost to function without incurring a corresponding reduction in quality.

2 Human Relations Problems
The human element plays a critical role in the success of every value engineering program. Thus, resistance to value engineering must be recognized and overcome. For example, the complaint that value personnel have persistently attempted to assume credit for all cost reduction achievements whether or not they were within the scope of value engineering is heard too often. There is concern among engineers that value engineering is just a "ruthless cost-cutting device" that could endanger the quality of end products. Also, they are concerned about what they feel is a loss of status. They contend that they are losing authority and prerogatives when their work is subject to the criticism and correction of "outsiders" and "second guessers." Finally, some technical people believe that management doesn't understand them or their function and will allow cost-cutting specialists to build little empires of their own, with veto power over engineers.

There is concern among engineers that value engineering is just a "ruthless cost-cutting device" that could endanger the quality of end products.

Fears of a value engineering takeover must be dissipated if value engineering is to be incorporated successfully into the widest range of organizations possible. This problem largely can be overcome by dispelling any fear of criticism on the part of design teams, and making it clearly understood that value specialists act only in advisory capacities. In few cases do value engineers make the final decision with respect to product or processes. Their job is to supply information that will lead to better and more profitable decisions by those responsible for making them.

3 Value Engineering and Design
There are those who believe that when a value engineering committee is put on the job, it is only doing the work the regular engineering section is doing, or should be doing. Such persons completely deny the validity of some of value engineering's most significant cost reduction areas. These include: 1) the utilization of feedback data from usage tests and trial runs; 2) the possibilities of product or equipment revisions due to changes in the user's needs; 3) changes in technology not apparent at the time of the original design, or 4) time and money restrictions imposed on original design. Other critics of value engineering contend management has been ignoring the techniques of good design, and skeptics say that if a product were designed properly in the first place, there would be absolutely no need for value engineering. This latter group appears to ignore completely the technological advancements burgeoning around them.

On a differing plane are persons who believe it philosophically wrong to offer an incentive to rectify a poor engineering design. They believe the purpose of an incentive is to preclude poor design, rather than correct the design in the postproduction period. As above, the employment of techniques, components, or processes not available at the time of the original design effort are overlooked, as are product improvements brought about by developments occurring in a dynamic environment.

A company's suppliers are generally specialists. It is only natural for them to know of parts and materials superior to those known by an organization's engineering staff whose primary consideration is most often the end product.

4 Using Supplier Expertise
Many firms fail to reach potential value engineering savings because they continue their value engineering activities to the "internal organization" only, and do not consult suppliers for new ideas. Such practices severely handicap value engineering programs. Alert value engineers can expect many of their ideas and innovations to originate directly or indirectly from suppliers -- if relations with them are cultivated. In Japan, vendors are "cuddled, coerced, controlled, and cajoled. (see Xerox: American Samurai), because the vendor relationship is seen as so important."

Many firms fail to reach potential value engineering savings because they continue their value engineering activities to the "internal organization" only, and do not consult suppliers for new ideas.

A company's suppliers are generally specialists.It is only natural for them to know of parts and materials superior to those known by an organization's engineering staff whose primary consideration is most often the end product. For this reason, many companies invite suppliers to participate in their cost reduction brainstorming sessions while others have come to realize that supplier knowledge is one of their company's biggest assets. This seldom used asset is available to any company, regardless of size. Consequently, it is the value engineer's responsibility to assure that this valuable corporate resource is employed to the fullest extent.

5 Implementing Value Engineering Proposals
Two additional obstacles to the successful implementation of successful value engineering programs are: 1) a lack of upper management support and participation in the value engineering program; and 2) excessive time spent evaluating Value Engineering Change Proposals (VECPs).

Upper management's support for the value engineering concept and a complete and sympathetic understanding of its goals are absolute prerequisites to a successful program. Management must do more than just endorse value engineering and place it in an organizational slot. It has responsibility for establishing and vigorously pursuing definite cost-reduction goals. It also should provide value engineering with access to all company specialists to assure utilization of the widest pool of knowledge in the cost-reduction effort. In government, such support is mandated by Public Law 104-106, passed February 10, 1996. Industry should follow suit to contain costs, increase product quality, and be in a position to assist one of the world's largest purchasers of software, hardware, supplies, and systems. There is no better time than at present.

A system for reaching decisions promptly on the usability of VECPs is essential. Many DOD vendors quit developing them (e.g., much work is entailed in modifying weapon systems) when decisions on the acceptability of the suggestion takes six months or more to reach. Considerable labor goes into the development of a VECP. That labor could have been employed profitably elsewhere. This problem, simple as it seems, has been an Achilles heel to the growth of the VECP program for many years. Unless addressed, value engineering will remain largely an internal value enhancement effort. A system that requires a supervisor to document in writing, within thirty days of receipt of a VECP, why he rejected it, with a contractor appeal process that goes one level above the decision-maker, seems like a good way to show good will to contractors and reinvigorate this crucial reservoir of ideas.

Paul N. Romani is President of R3 Consulting Services, 2913 Richmond Lane, Alexandria, VA 22305, a firm specializing in cost containment, proposal development and network selection and configuration. Earlier in his career, he served for nine years at the White House, three as deputy director of administrative operations for the White House and the 17 agencies of the Executive Office of the President. He holds a doctorate in public administration and an MBA in information technology.


Five Myths about Management in the 90s
by Dr. Ichak Adizes
(back to Contents)

Today's market is filled with promises of guaranteed business salvation and prosperity if only one embraces this or that management solution. But what is desirable behavior at one stage of a company's life cycle can be disastrous in another.

The approach is as hopeless as describing an emotionally mature adult to a child and telling him, "Now, be like that." Or, telling an old person that "the way to rejuvenate yourself is to be like that young, athletic neighbor of yours."

Absolute principles create myths: Delegate! Use Teamwork! Decentralize! Reengineer! Downsize! Manage with - or by -- Chaos!; Manage by Objectives not Process! Manage by Process not Objectives. The list goes on and on.

For me there are no absolute solutions. It all depends. What is right at one stage of the lifecycle of a company can easily be the wrong thing to do at another stage. Here are five myths that are especially misleading in today's management thinking.



Companies don't thrive under autocrats.

That is not always true. An infant organization needs autocratic, no-nonsense, nuts-and-bolts leadership. It needs the dreamer-doer who brought it from the founding vision to its advanced infancy. A participative management approach at this early stage may be inappropriate. Teamwork, by definition, calls for delegation of tasks. Delegation requires capability and sufficient experience to articulate what to do and what not to do. In infancy it is too early for the founder to achieve this level of articulation.

Infant companies, or aging companies, cannot progress swiftly without directed leadership. What all infant companies need is more, more, more: more sales, more production, more new markets, more products, more services. Leaders -- the founders who are struggling to transform their visions into realities -- need to control their experiments or they lose interest and abandon their creations which die from neglect.

Autocratic management does not mean being obnoxious and disrespectful. It means being strong, decisive, and fair to help others get the job done. During Infancy, founders are like the wagonmasters who led the pioneers across dangerous, uncharted territories to reach the West.

But be aware: If you don't delegate and systematize in the next stage, Go-Go (a rapid growth stage when everything is seen as an opportunity), you may face disaster.


Always use teamwork.

A pre-condition of teamwork is that individuals have well defined roles. That means structure. Too many young companies on the "Go" preach teamwork as an attitude when they should be clarifying roles and interdependencies.

Teamwork has been abused rather than used by managers who didn't want to act. They wanted to avoid leadership in times of crisis: Those are the times that call for action, and commitment to a direction despite opposition and ambiguity.

For me, teamwork is, necessary at the right time -- when you can afford the time it takes to achieve consensus. Everyone knows how frustrating it is to have a leader start a meeting by saying, "We have a very important decision to make, and you have to make it in two hours. I expect you to reach agreement, and make a decision that you will all support. I want teamwork and full consensus." It will not happen. It cannot happen.

People need time to air differences of opinion, fears, and hopes. But under pressure they will act as if they agree, and they will support a decision out of fear and it only appears there has been teamwork. That's worse than no decision at all.


The companies that win are those with the most flexibility.

This is a good one because it is a fad of the 1990s. In the attempt to rejuvenate bureaucracies of older companies, many management-fad gurus recommend doing away with structure and hierarchy. "It will increase the flexibility of companies," they assure us.

A company with excessive flexibility is unable to accomplish much in a predictable manner because people are flying off in too many different directions. While that complete flexibility is acceptable in a growing company in its Infancy, it will prove disastrous for a company in Go-Go.

On the other hand, an older company, for example, in an Aristocracy stage has already been weakened by excessive control. Introducing less controlling structure and process and a culture that encourages risk taking -- one that embraces flexibility -- will introduce forces of rejuvenation that will retard the company's decline.


Strategy precedes structure.

It makes sense, doesn't it? How can you structure an organization without knowing what it intends to do -- what its strategy is? Architects and design engineers will all agree that form follows function.

My experience has led me to a different conclusion: Strategy should precede structure but in reality it does not. In reality, structure precedes strategy.

The reason is that strategy is neither decided nor implemented by an individual. It is set by a group of people who interact, decide, and implement their decision. What they decide and implement is a result of their interests as they perceive them. Their interests are brought about by the power and responsibilities that the organization chart offers them. If there is a vice president for sales and marketing, and a CFO to whom finance, the controller, accounting, internal audit, human resources, legal services, information technology, and facilities maintenance all report (Bureaucrats of the world, unite!), chances are the company has a very short-term, conservative outlook on the market.

The CEO might be an entrepreneurial, risk-taking individual, but in a structure as described above, he or she will encounter plenty of resistance from the vice president of sales and marketing and the CFO.

The power structure -- partially reflected in the organization chart -- determines the future strategy and subsequent behavior of an organization. A high percentage of strategic plans never see the light of day.


Downsizing improves efficiency.

That's as good as saying that losing weight is good for your heart. Sure it is! But the real questions is not why; the question is how we do it. Downsizing can be outright dangerous to long-term organizational health if it is done in a way that destroys mutual trust and respect. That can leave organizational scars that increase the costs of internal marketing.

Cutting costs is exhilarating to the cutter. If you cut the workforce by 30 percent, you will see results almost overnight. But, what about the effect on revenues? The depleted workforce will certainly have trouble increasing the top line.

How about downsizing if the company is going under? Yes. It is an acceptable option when there are no other choices. But the situation reminds me of a person who has a heart attack and needs a bypass after years of eating badly and maintaining other unhealthy habits. Downsizing in a race against time to avoid bankruptcy is a sign that management was not doing its job. How did the company get to that sorry stage in the first place? Surgeons bury their mistakes. Managers downsize.

The liposuction and other quick weight-loss solutions, which we are inflicting on our corporations, leave us looking attractive for a while, but we are destroying our self-image, and, unless we change our eating habits, we will get fat again.

In a chapter of Dr. Adizes' new book, The Pursuit of Prime (Knowledge Exchange, 1996 Institute) he discusses 20 management myths in today's management thinking. Dr. Adizes is Founder and President of the International Adizes Institute and the Adizes Graduate School. The Pursuit of Prime is available through the Adizes Institute, 820 Moraga Drive, Bel Air, Los Angeles, CA, 90049, Phone: 310/471-9677. Dr. Adizes is a noted lecturer and author and lectures in 4 languages and has spoken in more than 35 countries. His work consistently featured in leading journals and newspapers, including Inc. Magazine, Fortune, Business Week, The New York Times, London Financial Times, Investor Relations Daily, Nation's Business, Manage, and Executive World's Digest.

(back to Contents)

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