“Best HR, Legal, Safety & Leadership Stuff I Read Last Week”

I’m still working on how to summarize my large volume of Tweets of great material from  EHS, TLNT, HBR and others.  Until I come up with a better method, I’ll periodically prepare this sort of digest.  I hope that my efforts to cull useful “stuff” from the hundreds of thought leaders and sites will appeal to you.  Go to the sites.  Enjoy the content.

1.         Management and Leadership Development

Harvard Business Review on “Emotion Agility” on the role (and taming?) of emotions at work.

HBR’s Executive Summary:

The prevailing wisdom says that negative thoughts and feelings have no place at the office. But that goes against basic biology. All healthy human beings have an inner stream of thoughts and feelings that include criticism, doubt, and fear. David and Congleton have worked with leaders in various industries to build a critical skill they call emotional agility, which enables people to approach their inner experiences in a mindful, values-driven, and productive way rather than buying into or trying to suppress them. The authors offer four practices (adapted from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT) designed to help readers do the same:

Recognize your patterns. You have to realize that you’re stuck before you can initiate change.

Label your thoughts and emotions. Labeling allows you to see them as transient sources of data that may or may not prove helpful.

Accept them. Respond to your ideas and emotions with an open attitude, paying attention and letting yourself experience them. They may be signaling that something important is at stake.

Act on your values. Is your response going to serve your organization in the long term and take you toward being the leader you most want to be?

From the post:

Sixteen thousand—that’s how many words we speak, on average, each day. So imagine how many unspoken ones course through our minds. Most of them are not facts but evaluations and judgments entwined with emotions—some positive and helpful (I’ve worked hard and I can ace this presentation; This issue is worth speaking up about; The new VP seems approachable), others negative and less so (He’s purposely ignoring me; I’m going to make a fool of myself; I’m a fake).

The prevailing wisdom says that difficult thoughts and feelings have no place at the office: Executives, and particularly leaders, should be either stoic or cheerful; they must project confidence and damp down any negativity bubbling up inside them. But that goes against basic biology. All healthy human beings have an inner stream of thoughts and feelings that include criticism, doubt, and fear. That’s just our minds doing the job they were designed to do: trying to anticipate and solve problems and avoid potential pitfalls.

In our people-strategy consulting practice advising companies around the world, we see leaders stumble not because they have undesirable thoughts and feelings—that’s inevitable—but because they get hooked by them, like fish caught on a line. . . .

Continue Reading at HBR


2.         Changes In Our Work World

I found this post fascinating, “When Marketing Is Strategy.”  The author’s premise is that we are still living in the mindset  of the “Industrial Revolution.”  We focus on “production” and not on our customers.

It’s no secret that in many industries today, upstream activities—such as sourcing, production, and logistics—are being commoditized or outsourced, while downstream activities aimed at reducing customers’ costs and risks are emerging as the drivers of value creation and sources of competitive advantage. Consider a consumer’s purchase of a can of Coca-Cola. In a supermarket or warehouse club the consumer buys the drink as part of a 24-pack. The price is about 25 cents a can. The same consumer, finding herself in a park on a hot summer day, gladly pays two dollars for a chilled can of Coke sold at the point-of-thirst through a vending machine. That 700% price premium is attributable not to a better or different product but to a more convenient means of obtaining it. What the customer values is this: not having to remember to buy the 24-pack in advance, break out one can and find a place to store the rest, lug the can around all day, and figure out how to keep it chilled until she’s thirsty.

Downstream activities—such as delivering a product for specific consumption circumstances—are increasingly the reason customers choose one brand over another and provide the basis for customer loyalty. They also now account for a large share of companies’ costs. To put it simply, the center of gravity for most companies has tilted downstream.

Yet business strategy continues to be driven by the ghost of the Industrial Revolution, long after the factories that used to be the primary sources of competitive advantage have been shuttered and off-shored. Companies are still organized around their production and their products, success is measured in terms of units moved, and organizational hopes are pinned on product pipelines. Production-related activities are honed to maximize throughput, and managers who worship efficiency are promoted. Businesses know what it takes to make and move stuff. The problem is, so does everybody else.

The strategic question that drives business today is not “What else can we make?” but “What else can we do for our customers?” Customers and the market—not the factory or the product—now stand at the core of the business. . . .Continue Reading at HBR


3.         The Role of the Meyers Briggs in Our Lives.


Businesses, schools, and not for profits all use variations of the Meyers Briggs analysis in an effort to best match people with their work and mission.  However, the “twenty somethings” have grown up with the Meyers Briggs framework and casually talk about their MB profile in the same way that unsuccessful 70’s lounge lizards talked about their horoscopes.  Enjoy these too fun takes on the MB, first applying it to your book choices, and then to the wine that suits you. Huffington Post on Myers – Briggs applied to your choice in books.  HP introduction:

Recommending books is a tricky business. One person’s trashy romance novel is another person’s treasure. Of course, a little background on a person’s reading preferences can come in handy, but sometimes deciphering tastes can seem like an arbitrary and headache-inducing task. Still, we’re willing to bet that like-minded people enjoy similar stories — That’s where Myers-Briggs comes in.

In case you don’t spend a slightly embarrassing amount of time analyzing your own (or your crush’s) personality traits, here’s the rundown on the classification system: It’s a personality quiz based on Carl Jung’s typological theories that divides people into 16 types based on these four variables, which we’ve outlined thusly:

Introvert (I) versus Extravert (E)

Are you invigorated by office gossip or do you hide out in the nap room?

Intuitive (N) versus Sensing (S)

If someone asks you what time it is, are you likely to say “3ish” or “3:04”? In other words, are you a big picture thinker, or detail-oriented?

Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F)

Are you a people person, or a “How It’s Made” person?

Judging (J) versus Perceiving (P)

Is your desk covered it receipts, Starbucks cups, silly putty (?), and half-finished knitting projects, or a simple to-do list with every item checked off?

To learn more about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, visit their website. Once you’ve figured out your type, check out the book we’d recommend to you:

Continue Reading at Huffington Post


Now, go to Glossi.com and let’s use the Myers – Briggs to analyze ourselves, our employees and our clients by choice in wine ….


4.         Work Life – Balance?

Is there any subject that we discuss and fret about more than  “work life – balance?”  Here is a simple post  – Give Yourself a Gift This Season : Set Boundaries:

At this hectic time of year—when the focus is on giving to others—it might be even more important to give yourself a gift to keep stress at bay.  One of the best ways to do this is to set boundaries that allow you to refresh and recharge so you can better engage with others.  The latest research into optimal brain functioning has found several ways you can take care of yourself and, in doing so, take better care of others.

Let’s focus on five key areas where you can set clear boundaries.

1. Time.  Are you one of those people who works 24/7? What if you set a boundary that you would stop working at 7:00 p.m. every night, or stop doing work on Sundays? Set aside some time for yourself—you may find it liberating. It’s very important to block out this time on your calendar. After all, taking care of yourself is as essential as any other calendar entry—and the less stress you feel, the better you will be able to accomplish all of those other things on your calendar!

2. Sleep. Are you getting enough sleep? Can you think of a boundary you could add to your life that would help you get more sleep? I recently read about something many of us are guilty of doing: having a death grip on our phone or tablet until we go to bed. Studies have shown that light from an electronic screen stimulates our brain into thinking it’s daytime, not time for rest. This can interfere with both our sleep pattern and our quality of sleep. So set a boundary for electronic “lights out” time. What could you do for the last hour before you go to bed that doesn’t involve an electronic screen?


5.         Trends At Work

I have selected several posts, starting with Vivek Wadhawa’s thoughtful post, “The Scary and Amazing Future of Work.”

Cubicles with low walls, open collaboration areas, desks and computers assigned as you show up for work. If you need to hold a private meeting or make a personal phone call, you reserve a conference room in advance. This is what the offices of some companies are like today—and what most companies will be like in the future. But that’s nothing. There is much more change to come.

The nature of work itself is changing for knowledge workers. During this decade, location will cease to be a barrier; many types of work will done as micro-tasks; and we will be collaborating in new ways. Not only will our employers take our offices away, but they will also expect us to be at their beck and call—and live balanced and healthy lives according to corporate standards.

I know this isn’t all great, but that is the future we are headed into—whether we like it or not.

Note how much has already changed. We check email as soon as we reach home, and sneak a peek at our inboxes along the way. We respond to calls, texts, and messages even while on vacation. At work, we use Cisco Telepresence or Skype to confer with colleagues all over the world. Some companies let employees work from home for one or two days a week; some let them live in remote locations.

A decade ago, we could not have imagined being always on, always connected, with work following us wherever we go.  Continue Reading.

Consider also TLNT’s “7-Trends That Are Transforming Today’s HR”

I get asked a lot about the future of HR and I always say  – if I’m not talking to someone totally uptight  – that in about 10 years most of us will be replaced by artificially intelligent machines who don’t whine about money or appreciation.

That’s why I tend to limit my crystal ball gazing to about five years.

(For you doubters, I just watched a science show in which I learned that the biggest obstacle to robots replacing humans isn’t the ability to think or learn, it’s the ability to climb stairs! And between you and me, I think they’re gonna solve that one sometime over the next 10 years.)

So let’s look at the next five years and leave everything beyond that to the clever folks over at MIT. Here are seven (7) trends that are transforming HR as we speak, and by extension, how work is compensated.

1. On Demand Workforce

By 2019 nearly half of the workforce will “rent” their skills to one or more organizations.

Do you know who these people are, what they do for your company and how much they cost?

If not, it’s time to think about visibility into the contingent workforce, how you pay these people, and which roles absolutely need to be in-house because they are core to your business.

For some lighthearted reading that nonetheless educates us about the “newer” generation, read: “Dear World – Catering To Hipsters Will Not Help Your App.”  I am just beginning to sort  out generations X, Y, Millennials, Boomers  and the Great Generation, and now it appears that we have to learn subsets!

6.         Safety And Management.

Now we’re up to one of my core beliefs . . . that one cannot separate poor safety culture from poor overall business management.  Likewise, poor managers will maintain a poor safety culture.  Read EHS Today’s Does Poor Safety Equal Poor Management?

Many high-ranking leaders in various organizations have been quoted as saying that poor safety results are an indicator of other poor management practices. In interviews with top officials, the majority indicated that they demand excellence in safety from contractors and suppliers for the very reason that they view poor safety results as a warning sign of other management or performance weaknesses. Following this lead, many contractor management firms have vaunted safety as a primary condition of being included in the list of approved providers. But is safety necessarily linked to other performance areas, and if so, which ones? And what is the link?

To better answer this question, consider the potential causes for poor safety performance: 

• Leaders of some organizations simply view safety as a low priority. This view can originate from other, more-valued priorities or from a philosophy that accidents are inevitable and unavoidable. Sadly, some organizations value the management of capital or technology more than the management of people and don’t appreciate the importance of human capital.

• Some organizations think safety cannot be managed the same way as other priorities and delegate safety management to specialists. This separation of safety from other business priorities almost always results in workers giving safety less effort than the priorities managed by true organizational leaders.

• Other organizations try to manage safety but fail. The failures can come from a number of management flaws, a lack of meaningful metrics or simply the lack of an overarching strategy for safety. 

• Many organizations that addressed safety compliance are realizing that their failings are now cultural and that culture can be a powerful influence on safety performance. Failing to deliberately improve safety culture can lead to poor performance in spite of management control efforts.

• Still other organizations fail to adequately address safety in their selection and onboarding of new employees and actually hire and train their future problems. They have been legally limited from traditional and common-sense ways to screen risk-taking employees and have not developed alternative methods to do so.

Regardless of which specific reason or reasons caused poor safety performance, it is inevitable that this reason or these reasons also will affect quality. Business processes are designed to produce products or services. When these processes produce accidental injuries, they have failed. 


Continue Reading at EHS Today.

I’ll post some new “stuff” in a few days.  Please let me know if this effort was of value to you.


About mavity2012

I am a Senior Partner operating out of the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips LLP, one of the Nation’s oldest and largest management employment and labor firms. My practice is national and keeps me on the road or in one of our 28 offices about 50 percent of the time. I created and co-chair the Firm's Workplace Safety and Catastrophe Management Practice Group. I have almost 29 years of experience as a labor lawyer, but rely even more heavily on the experience I gained in working in my family's various businesses, and through dealing with practical client issues. Employers tell me that they seldom meet an attorney who delivers on his promise to provide practical guidance and to be a business partner. As a result, some executives probably use different terms than “practical” to describe my fellow travelers in the profession. I don't enjoy the luxury of being impractical because I spend much of my time on shop floors and construction sites dealing with safety, union and related issues which are driven by real world processes and the need to protect and get the most out of one's most important business assets ... its employees. That's one of the reasons that I view safety compliance as a way to also manage problem employees, reduce litigation and develop the type of work environment that makes unions unnecessary. Starting out dealing with union-management challenges and a stint in the NLRB have better equipped me to see the interrelationship of legal and workplace factors. I am proud also of my experience at Fisher & Phillips, where providing “practical advice” is second only to legal excellence among the Firm’s values. Our website lists me as having provided counsel for over 225 occasions of union activity, guided unionized companies, and as having managed approximately 450 OSHA fatality cases in construction and general industry, ranging from dust explosions to building collapses, in virtually every state. I have coordinated complex inspections involving multi-employer sites, corporate-wide compliance, and issues involving criminal referral. As a full labor lawyer, I oversee audits of corporate labor, HR, and safety compliance. I have responded to virtually every type of day-to-day workplace inquiry, and have handled cases before the EEOC, OFCCP, NLRB, and numerous other state and federal agencies. At F & P, all of us seek to spot issues and then rely upon attorneys in the Firm who concentrate on those areas. No tunnel vision. I teach or speak around 50 times per year to business associations, bar and professional groups, and to individual businesses. I serve on safety committees at three states’ AGC Chapters, teach at the AGC ASMTC
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