Respect and Appreciation

While I normally devote this blog to directions I wish managers and leaders to take, today I am targeting any reader.  But especially those readers who are dependent on others for financial support.

While this includes anyone living with someone who is financially supporting any or all of their expenses, it includes all employees earning a paycheck.  Everyone getting something from someone else needs to learn and practice the concepts of respect and appreciation.

We in the HR world love to lecture managers that they need to respect their staff and demonstrate appreciation.  Yet managers are not the only people in an organization that need to show respect and appreciation.  Every single employee needs to show maximum respect and visible appreciation for having a job.  Stop taking everything for granted and realize that although it is not a perfect world, this employer is providing you an opportunity and a financial gain.

If you are living with family or friends because you cannot afford to live on your own, it ruffles more than my feathers to see attitude being tossed into the faces of those providing assistance.  Adults that move back home because they hit a financial low expect to take over and run their parent’s home.  Children and young adults that live off their parents and then show little respect for the support, and forget appreciation find themselves feeling entitled to life-long care and feeding.

Yet for those employers, parents, siblings and friends that are being disrespected and unappreciated, if it is allowed to happen you may be enabling the behaviors by not requiring better treatment.  If I ever told a manager which way to stick it, I fully expect to be fired.  If I am not, then my manager is telling me it is okay to show disrespect.

If I keep paying for my adult child to live at home without paying expenses and I find that I need to follow their rules in my house, then I need to understand I am allowing it.  If I am sending a check to my kid every month to pay for living expenses and yet I’m told to keep my nose out of their lives, then I need to stop making payments to the ungrateful.  Too many parents put up with entitled children living off them for fear of losing the relationship.  Parents need to understand that being a parent deserves the same level of respect and appreciation from their children as any other interpersonal relationship.

Bottom line is that we all need to remember to respect those we interact with and show appreciation for what we are receiving.  At the same time, when we are giving of our time and resources to others we must hold these people accountable to a proper level of respect and appreciation or we need to cut the checkbook off.

You Can’t Fix Stupid

Someone once said, “You Can’t Fix Stupid” and if you know who it was, please add a comment below so I can give proper credit in the future to the person who has saved me countless hours stressing about some people.

There are times in life where you run across people who just in your point of view act stupid.  They may be highly intelligent people, but they do and say stupid things.  They value their own worth to such a high degree that they can avoid the obvious solution in front of them because it doesn’t line up with their view of the world.

In training development, performance consulting and day-to-day organizational development I am charged with evaluating business challenges and crafting solutions.  Yet at times I can be so spot on with my analysis and solution choice that it even surprises me.  Then comes along stupid, and I would have an easier time sliding through a brick wall at platform 9 3/4  than to turn around this person’s view of the world.  And while I will give it my best effort to point out both sides to make the conclusion easier to see, there are times when stupid wins out over reason.

This is why I latched on to “You Can’t Fix Stupid” seconds after I heard it.  Wow, I thought, it means know when to give up and fight a different battle.  Walk away and let this soul screw up and suffer the consequences.  I have to remind myself that I don’t control others and only have influence at best.  From my time management training days, I remember stressing that trying to control things we cannot control is a waste of time and energy and it is best to shift into a different mindset.  Move on to people who want to improve their situations.

When I have forgotten this sage advice I have solved nothing, and only made myself miserable in the process.  While I don’t believe people want to fail, I do believe that some people have no control over their own actions as destructive as they may be.  The funny part is that often these folks work together which makes any solution almost impossible to implement because they are all fighting each other.  The best thing I can do for them and for me is to remember when to throw in the towel.


Interim Executives

I have begun to read more lately on the concept of Interim Executives.  Well it is not really a new concept as much as a new buzz word for consultants.  I guess the real difference is that the Interim Executive comes with some clout above and beyond a consultant, and they are stepping into the role with full authority to make things happen.

While I have performed projects for clients that had a fixed price and a completion date, each new project is another engagement and agreement with the client.  If I stepped into a role as the training leader to build a training function, it would be easier for everyone as an Interim Executive with a list of tasks and timeline for a monthly engagement rate.  This would allow rapid engagement and less stopping and starting which loses time.

Most consultants I’ve spoken with are gun-shy about interim positions as they feel like they are being taken out of the market for other clients.  And yet I believe that is just a challenge the consultant needs to focus on and weave into their time each week.  Some project work is long-term, so where is the difference?  Other consultants are concerned that the longer the engagement, the lower the price needs to be.  The reality is that Interim Executives are paid much more if they are worth what they say they can do.

My reading has illustrated that the interim allows the same insider role to get things done, without having a long-term personal stake in the company.  The interim is focused on completing the tasks and then usually handing over the reins to the long-term hire.  The role allows for the company to remain on track while HR recruits a good fit replacement, and if the interim is retained as a consultant for the new hire to lean on later, then nothing gets lost in the transition.

Finding companies that are open to Interim Executives is getting easier, as contract employees in general are getting used more by corporate America these days.  As we look for workers to fill our needs, HR managers would be doing a service to themselves and their companies if they suggested an interim while they are looking for replacements.  It takes the pressure off everyone!

When Rumors Are True

Rumors are often the reason that gossip exists and they get blown out of shape over time.  They are often rooted in some bit of truth that grow into larger entities with each retelling of the story.  While most rumors are not worth repeating or even listening too, I just hate it when they are true.

When a former employee of a company told me that there was no way to help their former employer make a turn around, because the “inner circle” won’t allow it, I immediately thought here we go again.  How could a company with 1000+ employees truly be under some kind of choke hold by four people.  Well the rumor is true, and sadly this group of four people are in control and nothing I can do will change it.

The root issue is that none of these four are competent in skills and experience to perform their jobs, and yet view themselves as subject matter experts at a level that no other human being is allowed to achieve nor challenge.  So they exclude other employees that challenge their world view and only hire people who will be complacent.  The company is failing, senior management in other departments are quitting, and replacements are rooted out through the recruitment process for traces of competence that exceed their own.

It sounds screwy and something that only the rumor mill could create, but very true.

This particular situation has caused me to take pause and listen with a more open ear.  Rumors can be true, no matter how far-fetched they may sound, a rumor is at the very least a yellow flag that should not be ignored.  Working for this company is not for the individual that wants to make a contribution.  They must want to take directions and not think independently if they are to remain employed.  And they should have no expectations of professional success because anything they do will be absorbed by the inner circle.

As a consultant these kinds of operations intrigue me because I like to fix things that are not working.  And yet, dysfunction at this level is not fixable by a consultant or even another senior manager.  It will require the board of directors to act if there is any hope.


Be The Bridge

I’ve kept a Successories card that someone sent me years ago, because to me it spelled out rather succinctly the relationship I had with this person and their company.

“Be The Bridge:  Problems Become Opportunities When the Right People Join Together”

My particular situation involved the need to select and implement a Learning Management System (LMS).  While I could certainly understand the benefits of having an LMS in place for the learning organization I was building, I had never been involved in the process before.  When I joined this organization, they were well into the process and had hired a consultant to help us out.

While this consultant may have known a thing or two about learning management systems, he was more focused on billing hours for his time.  I was more focused on getting the job done and here is where we soon broke ranks and I let him go.  One of my better decisions was realizing early that we were never going to build the bridge from not having a LMS to having a LMS.

This particular project had more chefs in the kitchen making the soup then it appeared would ever be eating it, and so I thought it best to use vendor demonstrations to educate the masses on what direction we should take.  During that process one individual and company rose to the top because their focus was on fixing our problem.

Like my card says, the right people joined together and our problem became an opportunity.  Yes we landed up using them to solve this problem, and many more after that.  We built a bridge of trust and respect, that remains between us today.

Talented help is out there to help us with our problems, if only we would let them into our world and engage in a process to eliminate our current and yet to be realized issues.  If you are standing at one end of a bridge I can help you cross, you need only begin to walk forward and the two of us will join our talents and create opportunities!