Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Manufacturing Jobs Coming Back To Indiana But Labor Is Not Ready

This past week's special report by The Economist highlights the reversal of outsourcing manufacturers bringing production back to the US from overseas. But as many Indianapolis area manufacturers already know, the local labor market is tapped out. The people necessary for advanced manufacturing, skilled trades, and modern logistics have been pursuing other careers. Not enough people locally are completing high school or enrolling at Ivy Tech or Vincennes in Machine Trades. And, the local area is flooded with people who either have a BS degree or who have pursued a BS degree in a field that really has no viable employment prospects. The result is advanced manufacturing jobs running high tech equipment, requiring some advanced math skills, are going unfilled. As The Economist points out, General Electric has, "returned production of fridge, washing machines and heaters from China back to Kentucky." That's Louisville, Kentucky's GE Appliance Park. ( Offshoring: Welcome Home ) The trend is boomeranging and outsourced jobs are now being put close to R&D facilities. Lenovo (China's Dell) is building at PC manufacturing plant in North Carolina near IBM R&D and HQ. But the manufacturing jobs coming back to the US are different from those 20 years ago. As The Economist articles point out, "lines of computer code and industrial robots have probably displaced as many or more call-centre operators and factory workers as cheap Asian hands have done." The economics and politics of outsourcing have shifted based upon several factors - 1) automation 2) rising labor costs in developing countries (wages are rising faster in China than anyone has predicted) and 3) rising cost of shipping. The Economist predicts by 2015 it will cost the same for an American firm to manufacture in America as in China. Outsourcing & Offshoring: Here, There, and Everywhere

Leaders Are Great By Choice

Morten Hansen, Management Professor at UC Berkley, discusses his work with Jim Collins on leadership by choice. Visionaries are not the winners that you'd think them to be. Being lucky as it turns out is about equal to being unlucky. Great leaders prepare for good and bad luck events by being prepared for them, recognizing and seizing the moment, and then executing brilliantly. The three common traits of exceptional leaders who are Great By Choice are: Productive Paranoia •Being obsessive in preparation to deal with potential threats. Fanatical Discipline •Being committed to objectives at all costs. Empirical Creativity •Creative risks are calculated, well-thought-out risks.

NYTimes: Secret Ingredient for Sucess WHAT does self-awareness have to do with a restaurant empire? A tennis championship? Or a rock star’s dream? Enlarge This Image Marion Fayolle David Chang’s experience is instructive. Mr. Chang is an internationally renowned, award-winning Korean-American chef, restaurateur and owner of the Momofuku restaurant group with eight restaurants from Toronto to Sydney, and other thriving enterprises, including bakeries and bars, a PBS TV show, guest spots on HBO’s “Treme” and a foodie magazine, Lucky Peach. He says he worked himself to the bone to realize his dream — to own a humble noodle bar. He spent years cooking in some of New York City’s best restaurants, apprenticed in different noodle shops in Japan and then, finally, worked 18-hour days in his tiny restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar. Mr. Chang could barely pay himself a salary. He had trouble keeping staff. And he was miserably stressed. He recalls a low moment when he went with his staff on a night off to eat burgers at a restaurant that was everything his wasn’t — packed, critically acclaimed and financially successful. He could cook better than they did, he thought, so why was his restaurant failing? “I couldn’t figure out what the hell we were doing wrong,” he told us. Mr. Chang could have blamed someone else for his troubles, or worked harder (though available evidence suggests that might not have been possible) or he could have made minor tweaks to the menu. Instead he looked inward and subjected himself to brutal self-assessment. Was the humble noodle bar of his dreams economically viable? Sure, a traditional noodle dish had its charm but wouldn’t work as the mainstay of a restaurant if he hoped to pay his bills. Mr. Chang changed course. Rather than worry about what a noodle bar should serve, he and his cooks stalked the produce at the greenmarket for inspiration. Then they went back to the kitchen and cooked as if it was their last meal, crowding the menu with wild combinations of dishes they’d want to eat — tripe and sweetbreads, headcheese and flavor-packed culinary mashups like a Korean-style burrito. What happened next Mr. Chang still considers “kind of ridiculous” — the crowds came, rave reviews piled up, awards followed and unimaginable opportunities presented themselves. During the 1970s, Chris Argyris, a business theorist at Harvard Business School (and now, at 89, a professor emeritus) began to research what happens to organizations and people, like Mr. Chang, when they find obstacles in their paths. Professor Argyris called the most common response single loop learning — an insular mental process in which we consider possible external or technical reasons for obstacles. LESS common but vastly more effective is the cognitive approach that Professor Argyris called double-loop learning. In this mode we — like Mr. Chang — question every aspect of our approach, including our methodology, biases and deeply held assumptions. This more psychologically nuanced self-examination requires that we honestly challenge our beliefs and summon the courage to act on that information, which may lead to fresh ways of thinking about our lives and our goals. In interviews we did with high achievers for a book, we expected to hear that talent, persistence, dedication and luck played crucial roles in their success. Surprisingly, however, self-awareness played an equally strong role. The successful people we spoke with — in business, entertainment, sports and the arts — all had similar responses when faced with obstacles: they subjected themselves to fairly merciless self-examination that prompted reinvention of their goals and the methods by which they endeavored to achieve them. The tennis champion Martina Navratilova, for example, told us that after a galling loss to Chris Evert in 1981, she questioned her assumption that she could get by on talent and instinct alone. She began a long exploration of every aspect of her game. She adopted a rigorous cross-training practice (common today but essentially unheard of at the time), revamped her diet and her mental and tactical game and ultimately transformed herself into the most successful women’s tennis player of her era. The indie rock band OK Go described how it once operated under the business model of the 20th-century rock band. But when industry record sales collapsed and the band members found themselves creatively hamstrung by their recording company, they questioned their tactics. Rather than depend on their label, they made wildly unconventional music videos, which went viral, and collaborative art projects with companies like Google, State Farm and Range Rover, which financed future creative endeavors. The band now releases albums on its own label. No one’s idea of a good time is to take a brutal assessment of their animating assumptions and to acknowledge that those may have contributed to their failure. It’s easy to find pat ways to explain why the world has not adequately rewarded our efforts. But what we learned from conversation with high achievers is that challenging our assumptions, objectives, at times even our goals, may sometimes push us further than we thought possible. Ask David Chang, who never imagined that sweetbreads and duck sausage rice cakes with kohlrabi and mint would find their way beside his humble noodle dishes — and make him a star. Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield are the authors of the forthcoming book “The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well.”

HBR: Why Employers Aren't Filling Their Open Jobs

Thanks to my neighbor Scott Lakes for sending me this article and discussing it with me. Of all the reasons why open positions are going unfilled, I think based upon our recruiting experience here at Career Solutions that Wharton Management Professor Peter Cappelli's final possible reason for high unemployment levels at the same time we have high numbers of posted jobs is the right one: This recession has gone on for so long that it changed what hiring managers think they can find in the labor market. Early on in the recession, when literally millions of people were being laid-off, it was easy to find someone fresh out of a job with the experience and skills needed to step right into your vacancy. Now in the fifth year of the downturn, unemployed candidates have often been out of work for quite a while. The candidates with current work experience that hiring managers want are working for someone else, and they aren't desperate to take a new job. I would also add that I question the relevance of the Beveridge Curve in the internet job posting age. Because it is so easy and cheap to put job postings on the internet, employers tend to leave postings on the internet for positions that have no urgency to be filled. For the Curve to be relevant again, it should more heavily weigh dollars spent by corporations on recruiting and job postings in comparison to the unemployment rate. Why Employers Aren't Filling Their Open Jobs by Peter Cappelli | 7:00 AM March 8, 2013 There are many signs that the US economy is improving, but the most important one, the unemployment rate, remains stubbornly rooted in recession territory. We had jobless recoveries coming out of the last recessions in 2001 and 1992, but this one put the budget squeeze on recruiting and has gone on for a very long time. Does it mean there is something really different this time? One way to answer this question is to see whether the level of hiring now is different than one would expect given unemployment rates this high. This ratio of job openings to unemployment when calculated over time is known in economics as the Beveridge Curve, named after the British economist William Beveridge. Several studies during this recession seemed to indicate that the situation was similar to previous recessions, but a recent study points to one big anomaly: Job openings are not being filled nearly at the rate they have been in previous recoveries. In other words, vacancies are staying vacant for a very long time. If so, then the next question is, why? Why aren't employers filling those jobs? The popular explanation that there is something wrong with the applicants has no support. There is no "mismatch" between the industries and occupations where people were laid off and where hiring is taking place, for example. Jobs have not changed over the last couple of years in any way that changed skill requirements substantially. The "failing schools" notion, even if it was true, couldn't explain the continued unemployment of the majority of job seekers, who graduated years ago and had jobs just before the recession. The better answer comes from the ways in which contemporary practices have made hiring more difficult. Companies regained profitability during the recession with a relentless squeeze on costs, and most of that squeeze was associated with labor. We know, for example, that employers are spending far less to recruit and hire a candidate than before the recession, which may make it harder to find the right person. Line managers with profit-and-loss responsibility also have a big financial incentive to avoid adding new employees and the associated costs, so the pressure to hire often comes from overworked employees who demand more help when business and the workload picks up. But even when managers give permission to hire, they may drag their feet about actually bringing someone on. With all those people looking for jobs, why not be picky? Candidates routinely report that companies now take months to make hiring decisions, putting the candidates through round-after-round of interviews with long pauses in between, as the employer picks through the many worthy candidates. Some of the cost-cutting took out recruiters. They used to be the people pushing back on hiring managers, asking "do you really need someone with a graduate degree to do this job?" or telling them, "you aren't going to find someone with 10 years of experience at that salary." Outside recruiters report that they often have to bring in many candidates who turn down a client company's job offers before the client is persuaded to raise its pay. And some of the cost-cutting also took out training and development capabilities, so that hiring managers have no choice but to wait for candidates who already have all the skills needed to do the job. Finally, part of the explanation may also be that this recession has gone on for so long that it changed what hiring managers think they can find in the labor market. Early on in the recession, when literally millions of people were being laid-off, it was easy to find someone fresh out of a job with the experience and skills needed to step right into your vacancy. Now in the fifth year of the downturn, unemployed candidates have often been out of work for quite a while. The candidates with current work experience that hiring managers want are working for someone else, and they aren't desperate to take a new job. So where does this leave employers — and the unemployed? The reason markets adjust is because the participants, in this case the employers, eventually learn that they either have to raise their pay or lower their expectations in order to get the workers they need. That process of learning and adjustment slows down a lot, though, once companies have cut the recruiters, who used to do the learning for them, and the trainers, who could turn imperfect candidates into credible workers. More blog posts by Peter Cappelli More on: Economy, Hiring, Human resources Peter Cappelli Peter Cappelli Peter Cappelli is Professor of Management at the Wharton School and the author of several books, including his latest, The India Way (Harvard Business Review Press, 2010).

Monday, December 19, 2011

Does your workplace fight multitasking with "attention blindness"?

"People using Facebook and social media at work worry that they're wasting time but studies have shown they're actually more productive....boredom is the most unproductive state we as people face." - Cathy Davidson

Davidson is author of Now You See It, How the Brain Science of Attention will Transform the way we Live, Work, and Learn and served from 1998 until 2006 as the first Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke University, where she worked with faculty to help create many programs, including the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and the program in Information Science + Information Studies (ISIS). She is the co-founder of Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory, HASTAC ("haystack"), a network of innovators dedicated to new forms of learning for the digital age. She is also co-director of the $2 million annual HASTAC/John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

In this Harvard Business Review HBR IdeaCast, Davidson discusses "The Myth of Monotasking" or the idea that multitasking and social media technology are destroying our brains. She is against the idea of techno-determination or that technology will make you either smart or dumb. Her work is in part about how the brain works and how to make the tools of our age work for us.

When interviewer Sara Green relates that current Harvard students won't read a full length book, Davidson offers results of a study indicating that 15 year olds today read more books per year than their parents did or do today. Kids today are reading books written for the digital age and publishers have figured this out. Adults may think young adult literature is too fast paced and ambiguous but young people are just reading in a different way and the classics really are boring to them.

For 150 years, the modern, industrial form of work has been a production line system with linear processes and quotas that has pervaded our workplaces and schools. Davidson's podcast and writings are very thought provoking and suggest that workplace productivity today may be more like "working on a farm than on an assembly line".

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

HBS Press: Power Genes: Understanding Your Power Persona--and How to Wield It at Work

I have always found psychological studies on birth order fascinating. And Maggie Craddock has applied the birth order paradigm to leadership styles in the workplace in, "Power Genes: Understanding Your Power Persona--and How to Wield It at Work"

Craddock describes the value in the study of your "power persona" as being able to see your blind spots and potentially fix them. She outlines the four power persona types in her study: The Pleaser (who did get enough affection as a child and needs validation), Charmers (who learned to triangulate and manipulate (middle children)), The Commander (plays by the rules), and the Inspirer (finds reward for questioning status, an altruist, creative).

From the Harvard book store:
We've all joked about it: the domineering father figure as top manager, the boisterous elder brother type as heir apparent, the caring mother hen on the executive team. But that leaves the rest of us in the workplace as a gaggle of siblings battling for recognition, resources, and rewards from our "parents". Next thing you know, we're doing exactly what we did when we were kids to get what we need at work--trying too hard to please, acting out, brownnosing. Yet these responses aren't productive in the workplace. In "Power Genes", executive coach Maggie Craddock reveals how to kick those old habits and use your power more effectively to advance your career. Craddock identifies four "power types"--Pleaser, Charmer, Commander, Inspirer--and explains how to diagnose your type. Next she walks you through a process for avoiding your type's signature destructive reflexes and replacing them with new behaviors. She also shows how to interact productively with other people--peers, bosses, employees--of each type. "Power Genes" helps you jettison unproductive habits and take charge of your workplace relationships.

And also from Psychology Today:

What's Your Power Style?
How your family history shapes your power style.
Published on June 22, 2011 by Maggie Craddock in Power Styles
Have you ever wondered if a person's childhood experiences influence the way they operate as a professional later in life? Did that boardroom bully who intimidates others in order to make a point shove people around on the playground as a kid?

Ask yourself some questions: Do you ever find yourself so anxious to placate a challenging colleague or client that you get tongue tied at just the moment you should be expressing yourself more confidently? Have you ever worked with someone who managed to charm senior management while hiding their tendency to be hostile towards peers and subordinates? Would you prefer to give up control of a project rather than hassle with red tape and regulations that hamper your creativity?

Whether you are trying to get ahead at your existing firm, land a job in a new organization or even manage your personal life so your it is a source of support rather than strain, it's helpful to understand that many of your instincts for giving and taking power stem from ways you were conditioned in the first system you experienced in life - your family system. Through my research for my new book Power Genes

Understanding Your Power Persona
(Harvard Business Press, June 2011), I discovered that the building blocks of anyone's signature power style are rooted in the ways they have been conditioned to respond emotionally and behaviorally to the first authority figures they encountered in life, namely, their caregivers.
To get a sense of how you may be emotionally conditioned to respond to power in the workplace, reflect for a moment on the predominant way that your caregivers exerted authority in your family system. Was it trust-based or fear-based?

Did they motivate you by considering your feelings, or did they issue orders they expected to be promptly obeyed? If you were raised by caregivers who asked your opinion when making important family decisions, you probably react positively to colleagues who take the time to connect with you at a human level. This type of reaction indicates that the emotional dimension of your signature power style may be trust-based.

In contrast, people who were raised by caregivers that were either rigidly authoritarian or highly permissive often find that the emotional dimension of their power style can be fear-based. They may react negatively to consensus building on the job and gravitate towards leaders who operate independently and exude an aura of confidence.

But there is another level of your power style the needs exploring. The behavioral dimension of your power style stems from the way you learned to deal with your caregivers as a unit to get what you wanted in childhood. Did a more informal approach win the day, or did you learn to operate more formally with them?

If your childhood experience taught you that you could sometimes get one parent to say "yes" to a request that had been refused by the other, the behavioral dimension of your signature power style may be predominantly informal. People with a strong informal dimension to their power style prefer one-on-one interactions on the job when they are trying to influence others. For example, even when they know they will need to present an idea or proposal to a group, they will tend to run their ideas by key individuals privately before the group meets.

In contrast, clients who report that their caregivers stuck together when disciplining or rewarding them often exhibit a preference for dealing with groups to further a professional agenda later in life. People whose behavioral preferences indicate a formal dimension to their signature power style prefer to orchestrate an open debate around contentious issues with a group than negotiate individual agreements in private.

Comparing the ways my clients learned to adapt to get their needs met in childhood with the challenges, these same clients were facing in their current jobs unearthed some important trends. For example, Jeff, a senior executive in the advertising industry, was about to be passed over for promotion because his tendency to talk over others in meetings made him appear too anxious to lead a creative team. While Jeff had worked with presentation coaches who would video him so he could practice slowing down when he presented for clients, his urgent need to be heard kept driving him to talk over others during internal brainstorming sessions.

Jeff grew up in the shadow of an older sister who was a champion figure skater. His parents, who loved and supported him, had been so preoccupied with his sister's athletic career that they had inadvertently left Jeff starved for attention. Jeff longed to capture and hold his parents attention. This longing drove Jeff to created advertising campaigns that successfully grabbed the attention of families around the world. As Jeff began to understand the way that his fear of losing attention as a child was undermining the tone he set internally on the job, he was finally able to make the changes necessary to become a more powerful listener and land the promotion he deserved.

As you consider the roots of your power style, it's important not to make snap judgments
about others or about yourself. Most of us employ more than one power style, and you may even switch styles depending upon the situation. The four core power styles that I explore in Power Genes are the Pleaser, the Charmer, the Commander and the Inspirer. Most people find that their signature power style is a blend of at least two of these core power styles. Jeff, in the example above, discovered that his approach to wielding power reflected a blend of the Pleaser and Commander power styles.

The Pleaser - Due to outside stressors, which can range from financial struggles to preoccupation with a sick relative, Pleasers often didn't get the attention they craved from their caretakers early in life. As a result, Pleasers often grow up hungry for validation and are hardwired to take care of others. Pleasers often wield power by attempting to connect with others at a personal level.

The Charmer - Charmers were often required to soothe an emotionally needy parent early in life. As a result, Charmers sometimes have little respect for formal authority and may manipulate others in order to get their needs met. The Charmer power style is exemplified by people with an intensity of focus that both intimidates and seduces others into compliance.

The Commander - Often, a Commander has grown up in a family system devoted to sports, religion, the military or any larger system that reinforces discipline and a strict code of conduct. Commanders operate with a results orientation and tend to foster a sense of urgency in others.

The Inspirer - The family systems that foster Inspirers often value self-expression over conformity, and the caregivers in such systems are often willing to make personal sacrifices to achieve excellence in areas such as artistic expression or scientific inquiry. Inspirers tend to be innovative thinkers and operate with a consistent commitment to the greater good.

You can evaluate your signature power style by examining your dominant emotional triggers and behavioral patterns. As you do this, it's important to bear in mind that there are no "good" or "bad" power styles. Each style has inherent strengths and challenges, and each presents us with important lessons about power in the workplace.

To assist you in better identifying with a specific style, I will be exploring case studies based on each of the four core power styles in future blog posts.

Maggie Craddock is the President and founder of Workplace Relationships. Her firm does executive coaching, succession planning, team building and cultural enhancement. For more information please visit

Does an incentive to stay create an environment for top executive performance?

In uncertain times for a corporation, can an executive incentive package create stability and an environment for the executive team to perform at a high level?

Over the past two decades, executive severance agreements (ESAs) and change in control agreements have become standard ex ante tools for key executives and teams. Their intent is to prevent key executive turnover with large incentives offered to executives who remain in their positions except for "Good Reason" or in a change in control situation.

Severance agreements have received substantial attention from the business press, attorneys, business schools, executives, and investors. Termination of high profile executives from large public companies resulting in substantial severance payments has driven much of this attention. Some institutional investors have proposed that no severance package should exceed 3X
pay, especially in the case of poor performance. While severance agreements with executives can be negotiated post-termination, our focus will on ESAs for currently employed executives or ex-ante employment agreements, change-incontrol
agreements and severance agreements. Some studies by prominent business schools have shown that in excess of fifty
percent of executives have some form of severance agreement and over eighty percent have some form of change-in-control agreement. These studies have also suggested that executives with higher pay are more likely to have a severance
agreement in place, based upon the executive’s bargaining power or strength of firm governance.

Driven by high profile industry examples, leading educational institutions like Harvard Business School have taken up the study of severance agreements. Most studies evaluate the ethics or effectiveness of these agreements on executive and management team performance. But interestingly, the themes of some graduate business school courses and seminars encourage executives to distrust the corporate environment. The recent poor economic environment has led business educational institutions to even promote the view that “businesses don’t really care about you” (HBS, R Gulati, 2011).

Educational institution publications like the Harvard Business Review have developed an executive leadership series, Managing Your Career In Tough Times (2010), with one section titled “The Right Way to be Fired” which promotes ex ante employment and severance agreements. Legal publications, Harvard Law and the New York Law Journal, and their seminars instruct executives on the “negotiating options” for executives in employment, change-of-control, and severance agreements.

While the growth of severance agreements began with large corporations and is taught through leading business schools like Harvard, interest in these agreements has spread to smaller companies and even local graduate business schools where the topic of severance agreements can be found at Purdue’s Krannert and at Indiana University’s Kelley School. Advice and tutorials on how to negotiate an executive employment contract are readily available on the Internet.

In evaluating information on executive employment agreements, change in control agreements and clauses, and executive severance agreements, there is consistent and common language for triggering events and benefits.

Agreements written over a decade ago will go into much greater detail in defining the triggering events for executive employment agreements and executive severance agreements. But as these agreements have evolved the triggering event language is more simplified and focused on three types of executive termination – ‘for cause’, as a result of ‘change-in-control’, and by the executive ‘for good reason’. Rather than detailing many possible termination scenarios, agreements written recently define these three types of terminations as triggering events.

‘For cause’ terminations result in no continuing benefits paid usually past the date of termination. ‘Change-in-control’ and ‘for good reason’ usually trigger a severance benefit agreement or clause. Severance agreements and benefits can be part of the individual executive employment agreement or part of a stand-alone executive severance agreement.

The benefits triggered by these agreements are lump sum payments or continuation of several years of payroll, bonus, and benefits. Some agreements gross up payments to cover excise taxes. Studies at a number of leading business schools suggest that these agreements and their benefits do not provide their intended purpose and in some instances may have created an environment that fostered executive turnover. Current study of severance agreements suggests the possibility that more equity incentive versus cash compensation may better enhance executive performance and corporate stability.