Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Posts Tagged ‘management practices.’

There Is No Crying In Business, Yet

Monday, March 7th, 2011
Image: Bob Rosner

Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner cries on “60 Minutes.” He cries during a swearing in ceremony. He cries in another interview. Will it be long before he cries over a lost parking spot?

In fact, enter the phrase “John Boehner cries” into Google and you’ll get 351,000 links.

Holy Tip O’Neill, what is going on here?

Then the Miami Heat, a.k.a. the Heatles, lose their fourth game in a row. Coach Erik Spoelstra observes in a post-game interview that a couple of players were crying in the locker room.

Sure, the coach said that to show that his players care. But crying? In the locker room?

Try as I may, I just can’t see former Boston Celtic Bill Russell cry. I can see him make other players cry as he blocked shot after shot, but not Bill himself.

Now I’m going to show my age. I remember in 1972 when Edmund Muskie choked up in a speech in New Hampshire, and it promptly ended his presidential campaign.

I can remember when Tom Hanks said, “There is no crying in baseball” in the movie “A League of Their Own.”

How did the very thing that used to end a career, or serve as a punch line, suddenly become the thing to do?

The crying game, clearly the game has changed. Crying appears to be the new high five. A way to bond with your audience, to show your emotional presence and to put a capital “E” for empathy on your forehead.

So business people, let’s tear up, the time has come for you to emote.

With employees, customers and vendors. Let them see that you care.

You don’t have to put it on your sleeve, it can run down directly onto your shirt. No worries.

Of course you can always go against the grain and keep your eyes dry. But why fight the sudden tsunami of tears?

Ironically, Boehner’s predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, did cry a time or two. Mostly she was savaged by opponents for not being genuine.

That’s the remarkable irony here, crying used to be owned by women, appears to now be a guy thing.

Ladies and gentlemen in the world of business, start your tear ducts. Crying is now officially in fashion.

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via bob@workplace911.com.

One Strike and You’re Out

Monday, November 9th, 2009

Image: Bob RosnerNEWS FLASH: A recent Working Wounded column on the “battle of the sexes” generated the most negative mail that I’ve received in almost ten years.

I’ve gotten a lot of angry mail through the years—people who challenged my credentials, those who attacked my point of view and even some who really hated my photo. I thought I’d heard it all. That is until the “battle of the sexes” column ran a few weeks back.

The emails were angry. Really angry. You could tell it just by the subject lines: “My God, how could you get it so wrong” and “More female apologist crap.” And those were two of the printable ones.

I could argue in my own defense that the content for the column was based on a book written by a best-selling business guru—Tom Peters, the pioneering author of “Search For Excellence.” I could point out that although the tips in the article were provocative, they have been made in other publications. Finally I could say that men and women really do manage differently and that there is a value in exploring these differences.

But that isn’t the point of this blog. No, I would like to focus on one email that I received and what it says about where disagreements seem headed. So without further ado, here is the email in question:

“As a mental health therapist in private practice for over thirty years, I frequently deal with gender issues. Your column was one of the most biased collection of generalizations I have seen in some time. No doubt many males do not have it together but it appears from your writing that all women are positive in the work environment and men are just a negative. I asked my wife of 35 years for her reaction and she gave several examples opposite to each of the points you listed. I have written a letter to the editor…which carries your column in the Chicago area, asking that they consider dropping your column and considering one that gives a more balanced view of workplace issues.”

Criticism is a part of the life of a workplace columnist. A very big part. And I accept it. But I did find it fascinating that someone would read one column and decide that I should be fired. One strike and you’re out. Why should my column be dropped? According to this reader, because publications should provide a “more balanced” view. Is it balance he’s looking for or someone who is unbalanced and actually tips in his direction? (Ouch, and I was doing such a good job of not coming across as defensive up until that sentence.)

It’s fine for people to not like my stuff. Heck, sometimes I’m not even fond of it. But to take it to the point that you believe that the best way to handle a differing opinion is to fire the messenger, well that seems just a bit extreme to me. Especially when it comes from a seasoned mental health professional.

Diversity of ideas. A range of opinions. Seeing things from a different point of view. These are things that seem to be under attack today. Do I read things in the paper and on the web that make my blood boil? Yes. But as Voltaire famously said, “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.”

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. If you have a question for Bob, contact him via bob@workplace911.com.

Boston’s Hyatt Hotels: Not Much Hospitality Toward Their Own Workers

Friday, September 25th, 2009

An ongoing labor story here in Boston underscores why jobs and employment must remain one of our highest political, economic, and policy priorities. It involves three Hyatt hotels whose management abruptly terminated some 100 housekeeping workers after having them train replacement workers from a Georgia-based contracting company. The workers claim they were deceived into thinking they were training vacation fill-ins.

As reported last week in the Boston Globe:

When the housekeepers at the three Hyatt hotels in the Boston area were asked to train some new workers, they said they were told the trainees would be filling in during vacations.

On Aug. 31, staffers learned the full story: None of them would be making the beds and cleaning the showers any longer. All of them were losing their jobs. The trainees, it turns out, were employees of a Georgia company, Hospitality Staffing Solutions, who were replacing them that day.

Labor advocates and elected officials have responded with dismay and outrage, and with good reason. Hyatt employees with 20 years service were making a modest wage of a little over $13/hour plus benefits, which based on a full-time work week adds up to annual earnings of around $26,000. Their replacements will earn about $8/hour, which leads to annual earnings of around $17,000. Hyatt, in effect, has eliminated 100 jobs that pay barely a living wage and replaced them with jobs that pay less than subsistence wages in an expensive metro area like Boston.

In response to the growing firestorm, the Hyatt Corporation said that it is setting up a task force to help the terminated workers find employment and extending their health benefits to the end of the year. This strikes me as being too little, too late, and a shallow attempt to look better in the public eye.

Contracting has become a common form of replacing full-time employees, and at times, economic necessity may require changes in staffing arrangements. But one has to wonder about the social responsibility and ethics of a major corporation that deems loyal 20-year employees earning $26,000 “too expensive.” And if the allegations about deceiving their workers into training their replacements are true, then we can only wonder if they have any decency.

On a broader scale, this disturbing situation raises at least three questions that are front and center when we consider jobs and employment:

1. How can we create an economy that delivers a living wage for all who work to support themselves and their families?

2. The Hyatt workers were not unionized. How can we encourage unionization as one path toward safeguarding America’s workers from this type of sudden, devastating job loss?

3. How can we ensure a viable safety net of health care benefits, transitional income replacement, and placement assistance for those who have lost their jobs?

About the Author: David Yamada is the Founder of New Workplace Institute and a Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. He is an internationally recognized authority on workplace bullying and psychologically abusive work environments, having written leading analyses of workplace bullying and the law and authored the Healthy Workplace Bill, model anti-bullying legislation that has been the basis of bills introduced in over a dozen state legislatures since 2003.  For more about David’s background, see his bio at: http://law.suffolk.edu/faculty/directories/faculty.cfm?InstructorID=59.

This article originally appeared in Minding the Workplace on September 24, 2009. Reprinted with permission by the author.

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