Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Light or an Oncoming Train?

Ever since we published this year's Executive Job Market Intelligence Report I have been getting lots of cards and letters (okay not cards and letters, really emails and "tweets") but in any case, lots of feedback on how much our members and others who have seen the report appreciate the work that went into it.

As we all know all too well, the world is very quick to let you know when you screw up and not quite so fast to let you know when they think you have done something right. The positive vibes we have received become even more satisfying, and this forum gives me the chance to say thanks to those who have taken the time to let us know the value they feel is contained in the nearly 20 pages of facts, figures, and analysis.

If you have not yet seen the report, while I can't offer up a full copy since it is a part of membership in ExecuNet, we have put together an executive summary which is available here.

If you would rather listen than read, Total Picture Radio's Peter Clayton stopped by galactic headquarters this week and taped an interview on this year's report with Mark Anderson and myself. It runs roughly 30 minutes.

If you do take the time to listen, I would be interested in your comments in terms of how you are interpreting the data you follow be it gathered formally or in water cooler conversations. Is what you are seeing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel or an oncoming train?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

And The Winner Is...

So we were fortunate enough a few weeks ago to get icon Bill George who many may recognize as former Medtronic CEO, Harvard professor, and best-selling author, to serve as the judge in what we called The Bill George Challenge. I first mentioned something about it here in a post called: Semper Fi & The Challenge of Leadership

The Challenge was for members to tell Bill what they would have to change about their leadership style to adapt to a more participatory management practice. What role models would they reference? How would they measure the result to assess whether the effort to make such a change was worthwhile for themselves and their organization — would specific behaviors or aspects of the culture also change?

The responses from the membership were incredible, and while there can only be one winner (he gets to be Bill George's guest at HSM's World Business Forum) I am sure that we'll put together a collection of the responses to share.
For now, however, I wanted to thank our winner and former Healthcare CEO, Jay Jarrell, for giving us the okay to let the readers here gain from his thoughts on the subject. Here is what Jay had to say. Once read, it is easy to see why Bill George picked it.

Mr. George,

There is an old adage about having to step inside the shoes of another to understand that person's actions. I believe this understanding is the starting point for practicing participatory management. Asking questions, such as what would motivate me to participate or what would make me work harder, have always guided me in eliciting stronger participation from my staff and others. I have always found that it is my responsibility to create not only the environment for all to participate, but also, to have that occur.

From this beginning, it is a matter of having the generosity to reward success and share the financial success, the patience to listen and communicate, the good sense to encourage, the intelligent curiosity to probe and ask questions, the diligent work ethic to demonstrate personally the more routine daily actions of making sure all that I can make happen in an outstanding way does happen, and the character and integrity to reward.

I am constantly finding myself falling short of practicing what I preach. Believing in participatory management and its benefits is easy, as are having most of the characteristics I described above and practicing them. However, there are two characteristics that I find I typically over time short change.

I often don't take the time to personally reward, believing the receipt alone of previously agreed upon monetary or other awards is sufficient. Also, I find myself not making the effort each day to make the contacts to ensure all of the strategic steps of a certain goal are occurring as well as possible.

To correct the above, I have begun writing out each evening a daily plan for the next day to make sure I practice each of those steps.

President Obama has been inspiring whether you agree with him on all policies or not, and in these dire economic times, he will have to become even more so. I intend to take inspiration from him and try to communicate better a vision and hope for better times.

Measuring the benefit of practicing participatory management may be somewhat subjective, but I can see it clearly. Certainly, achieving your revenue and profitability goals or chosen other specific goals that are quantifiable are a great indication, but industry or even national or international economic crises, as we are now incurring, can prevent financial goals from occurring. I can see the benefit of having practiced good participatory management in the constant flow of ideas and suggestions on a daily basis.

If personnel at all levels down to the lowest are not comfortable in greeting me by my first name, if they are not comfortable being able to tell me their ideas or even just what is oing on at their level that day and how it can help achieve certain company goals, and if they are not completely knowledgeable of the company's goals and the problems the company is facing that month, then I have not achieved my goal.

Those cultural changes of all employees knowing what I know and enthusiastically participating in the achievement of company goals are measurement enough.

The philosophy I try to follow comes from playing and following sports. It's the team that wins or loses, not the individual. By including all employees in my circle, by empowering them with as much knowledge and information as possible, by communicating the company's goals, and then by offering significant rewards and recognition for their achievement, I've used as much leverage as I can bring. The more people a company has working together and intensely toward shared goals, the greater its chance for success.

Thank you for this opportunity.
Jay Jarrell
Congratulations Jay, enjoy the forum. New York in October is a great place to be.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Signs of Spring?

For those who read this blog from time to time and are wondering what the heck the "good hands" are doing with a springlike sprout of who knows what growing up through the what's left of my 401(k), the answer is that this is the cover of ExecuNet's 17th annual Executive Job Market Intelligence Report, a copy of which went out to all our members last week.

For those who may not be familiar with how the data is gathered, each year the survey goes to all our CareerSmart members (i.e. executives) as well as our RecruitSmart members (i.e. company HR executives as well as search firms). In addtion, this year we also partnered with several organizations as well: Financial Executives International, Forbes Media,, MENG (Marketing Executives Networking Group) and Dillitone Systems Search Consult.

The result was a wealth of data (e.g. more than 4,500 executive responses and 450+ search firm and corporate HR responses)that after more than two months of analysis translated into this year's eighteen page report.

Given the digital shorthand nature of the today's world I suppose one could argue that from an attention span perspective it is 17.5 pages too long, but I sure didn't think so.

Am I proud of it? For sure. Am I biased? Of course, but based on what we have heard from members thus far, they feel it has a lot to say in a time when most of us are anxious to listen.

If you don't happen to be a member of ExecuNet, but would like to check out an Executive Summary, we have one available which you can get by clicking here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

You Are Better Than You Think

I have been in the nonprofit sector for 24 years and am looking for a new career challenge.

What is the best way to do this?

I have been the CEO of a Foundation in Ohio for the past 10 years. I have achieved every goal set for me over the past 24 years. (I have boxes of awards)

Please advise a plan for me.

I am interested in working for UPS but I have done nonprofit work for so long I don't know how to market myself to a for profit company.
With not too much by way of changing some of the variables in the note you see here, the issue raised by this member is not unlike that with which many of our members wrestle and who contact us virtually on a daily basis. And given the current environment in which we find ourselves there are an awful lot of executives worrying about where I could go if.....

Not being a certified career counselor, I am not sure I could "advise a plan", but I guess I could share what I think based on my experience with ExecuNet for the past 21 years and which I have tagged onto the 25 years running around Corporate America before that.

So if I were talking to this guy, I would probably say something like this:

I don’t care if you have been working in the NFP world or not, the fact of the matter is that you have been running a business just like any other CEO has had to and I also suspect that if your organization doesn’t “make a profit” it would be out of business just like a company in the public or private sector would be. Said a different way, I think this is more about mind set than anything else.

I would guess if you thought about it, you would find that many of the problems faced by UPS or anyone else for that matter you have in some form or another faced in your career as well. It is a matter of degree to be sure, but the issues are not all that much different.

I am being a bit simplistic on purpose to try and make the point that the things that have made you successful as an organization head is what you are selling. Where you applied those skills really is beside the point. Yes it will be a challenge in some case to get some people to see that, but with some thought and practice, you will be able to find what resonates with those who in fact can be influenced, be they at UPS or somewhere else.

Is it easy to do? No. Is it possible? Yes.