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A Simple Way to Clean Up Our Economic Mess

I got into a totally unanticipated discussion the other night with folks at a networking event in which I was the guest speaker, talking about ways that entrepreneurs can launch a successful start up in this Depression.

Our jovial conversation turned suddenly to the topic that is on EVERYONE’S mind these days – the awful state of our economy.

We started talking about the fact that none of the captains of our business and industry, namely the CEOs and Senior Management (C Suite) of our banks, financial, and insurance institutions have been punished for their crimes against humanity.

One of the women in attendance asked me why I thought none of the people in these organizations that have ben most responsible for the damage inflicted upon our economy and most American’s short and long-term financial stability, have been convicted of crimes (except for Bernard Madoff.)

I said that our Administration won’t/can’t let that happen. Most of the folks in Treasuray, the Federal Reserve, Senate Finance Committee, etc. have strong personal ties with those in positions of power that caused most of the damage done.

Then I jokingly said: “Too bad we don’t subscribe to public executions in this country.” After a VERY awkward moment of silence, one man in our group said: “I’m glad you said that. I’ve been thinking it for a year now.”

That got me to thinking. What if…

…we arrested the people that we knew were at the heart of all this pain and suffering? After a brief albeit entirely legal trial with due process and all, we found them guilty, sentenced them on the spot, and took only 1-2 weeks to schedule the public execution via beheading?

I have the perfect venue. You set up a guillotine in front of the charging bull at the south entrance to Wall Street.

You would want to schedule the beheadings a week or two in advance, to give the employees who work in these convicted leader’s organizations and the investors whose lives they ruined, ample time to plan on being their. Of course you would want to broadcast it live over the Net in REAL time, so people in other parts of the country (or world) or people away on vacation can take time out to dial in, to observe our justice system at work.

It would serve a two-fold purpose of sending a STRONG message to those in other organizations to begin flying straight…plus it serves as entertainment, to get people away from their IDIOT box (the TV) and all that reality TV programming.

Am I being facetious? Yes. Is this the sort of thing that CIVILIZED society does…of course NOT? But I ask, do YOU have an explanation why those at the heart of creating so much destruction in so many people’s lives get of scott free, while WE have all lost most of our retirement funds, 401ks, child college savings? Is it fair that our children, and their children, and perhaps THEIR children, will have to foot the bill for this mess for decades to come?

Is our current financial mess a natural manifestation of the GREED associated with our chosen capitalist society? Digging even deeper, why have ALL our institutions – FINANCIAL, BUSINESS, ACADEMIC AND GOVERNMENT failed us these past 30-40 years?

How did we allow this to happen? What would YOU do to turn things around?

Any Good News Out There

The U.S. national unemployment rate hit 9.6%, its highest level in the last 26 years. California has started issuing IOUs and won’t be able to repay them until October. Companies continue to layoff their employees in masses, and cut back on their advertising and marketing. Is there anybody out there that has a “SUCCESS STORY” to share, to counter this ever-rising negative economic tsunami? Aside from the bankruptcy attorneys and investment bankers, turnaround firms, and the mortgage forclosure bank specialists, is anyone witnessing growth?

Tell us what has worked for you, either in your job search or running your own business.

We’d love a bit of good news right about now.

Unleashing Untapped Employee Talent

Imagine being able to unleash the hidden talents and untapped skills of EVERY single one of your employees?
Imagine if every single one of your employees, from front-line staff to senior management, was 100% engaged, doing the work they were cut out for, contributing to the success of your organization by focusing on their core competencies. Can you envision the collective power you would unleash? No laggards…just a company filled with rising stars. Absenteeism would drop instantly, worker defections to your competitors would cease entirely. Entire Departments would start exceeding quotas.

You would become a preferred employer, and employee recruitment would be an exercise in picking the talent you wanted. Better yet, what if I told you this CAN be achieved and WITHOUT the tremendous cost and resource drain of investing in hard to measure training programs? That long sought after seat at the Management Table would suddenly materialize for you, the HR professional.

Sound too good to be true? Well, it’s not. There is a beautifully simple tool called a human capital development audit that you can implement immediately to achieve these results.
Here’s how it works…for each employee in your organization, you match the roles and responsibilities of the job they are employed in with their skills, core competencies, and experience. Be as expansive and broad as possible in identifying their skills. Consider their academic training, software skills, certifications, professional development, leadership, cultural diversity…everything!

After identifying all the roles and responsibilities that each employee is tasked with accomplishing, you then detail their skills. Use a spreadsheet and simply line up the roles and skills along one another in facing columns.

These should be obtained through interviews with the employee’s manager, their current (and any past) managers, coaches/mentors, peers they have worked with, etc.


After that is accomplished you drill down to identify which skill sets that they possess that are NOT being utilized. In order to maximize the positive impact to your organization from an ROI perspective, you should prioritize those skills that they are NOT currently using, based on their ability to generate revenues, reduce costs, improve your organization’s processes, etc.

Next, you must develop an action plan for all of the highest priority non-leveraged skills that the employee possesses. For each untapped skill, set a timeframe for completion and any contingencies, or potential barriers that would prevent the employee (and their Manager) from making those untapped skills part of her newly redesigned job description.

For this human capital audit to work, it has to be embraced by your senior management, owned by Human Resources, and conducted for ALL departments and levels of your organization. It should be reviewed quarterly, and merit-based compensation plans should be developed for employees that integrate untapped core competencies into their new roles and responsibilities.

Most HR professionals that I have spoken with about this audit indicate it is not possible to implement. They claim it is a big time commitment, doesn’t seem to be something that can be quantified, in terms of impact to the organization.

I would argue that, in this challenging economic environment, even if you ‘ONY’ achieved a 50% increase in each employee’s productivity as a result of implementing this human capital audit, the positive potential impact to your company would be great. I guarantee that a 50% increase in your entire organization’s productivity will force Senior Management to take notice of Human Resource’s role as a strategic partner in driving value through the organization.

Networking NO-NOs

Have you noticed that you are receiving MUCH more invitations to networking events than you ever did before? It’s no accident. With the job market in upheaval and so many people starting their own businesses these days, more people are pursuing more networking opportunities than ever before.

The problem is, many people DON’T know the first thing about working a networking event SUCCESSFULLY.

Instead of going into a networking event with the mindset that you are going to “sell” to people at all costs about yourself and/or your company products and services, try a different approach…

…ask people what the most critical challenges are that they face. Ask them how the depressed economy has hurt their prospects, their job search, their business. Find out from them what are the greatest challenges they face in growing a business, generating leads, introducing new products to market, advertising/promotions, retaining staff, expanding their business into new markets, etc. Your approach when it comes to networking is to be as interesting and interested in others as possible.

Research who will be in attendance before you go to a networking event. Most people have bios written about themselves, either on a social media site such as LinkedIn or Facebook, or they have a bio on their company website, a panel dsicussion they participated in, a professional Association they belong to, etc.

The more you learn about others beforehand and then during an event, the more likely you will be to make a great first impression. Always approach a networking event as an opportunity to build relationships and add value to others.

Someone who can help people resolve their own issues by generating revenues, reducing costs, improving processes, or just plain old solving others’ problems will be extremely successful. If you take the approach of forcing yourself on someone, the desperation in your approach will come through loud and clear. People will almsot assuredly go out of their way to avoid you or choose not to pursue a relationship with you.

What are your thoughts? Any great networking tips or HORROR STORIES?

Why Customer Care Stinks in this Country

Why is it that with jobs so scarce and so many extremely gifted people out of work these days, are the ones in the service sector (customer service, retail, and hospitality) so pathetically disengaged and horrible at their jobs?

Have you noticed that nowadays when you have someone wait on you in a restaurant, or go into a store to make a purchase, or go to a teller at your bank, or the super market, or the Post Office…etc, that the people in these “SERVICE” based settings that are tasked with HELPING (“serving”) the public so sullen, inarticulate, lazy, foul-mouthed, and disengaged?

It used to be that receiving awful service was a 50-50 proposition. Toss a coin…heads you get passable service, tails you get a lousy experience. Now it seems like virtually EVERY experience you have is awful.

As we moved from a manufacturing, production-based economy to a service-based economy, you would have thought we would have gotten better as providing service. But in fact we’ve gotten much worse.

Why do you think that is?

When Do We Admit We're in a Depression?

With all of the bad economic news we have been hammered with for the last year and a half, I wonder when we as a Nation can finally admit that we are in a Depression?

Certainly, there are no new Hoovervilles in Central Park (NYC), people have not been reduced to carrying money around in wheel barrels or jumping out of windows by the thousands. But when millions of Americans have quit looking for work, are working without insurance, and degreed professionals are struggling to maintain full-time jobs at a minimum wage, such a condition surely exists in spirit, if not in name.

When life savings are destroyed, retirement accounts decimated, future jobs prospects bleak at best, trusted manufacturing jobs a distant memory, and many once core American competencies outsourced to other nations and we have become a Debtor nation, we have to ask ourselves if we are in this nation’s second Great Depression?

The nature of work has changed in our society. We have transitioned from a once proud Nation that built things, sent astronauts to the Moon and built a Great Society, to the Twenty First Century contract-based, shrinking economy. Loyalty from employers to employees no longer exists. The notion of guaranteed employment is gone. There is NO guarantee that our children or grandchilren will be better off than we were.

When many once proud American institutions from Lehman Brothers to AIG, General Motors to Fannie Mae teter on the brink of failure and require Government bail-outs for their survival, what should we call this period in American history if not a Depression?

What do you think?