• Training Required

    A high rate of unemployment gives businesses a large job candidate pool. Since employers have more job candidates, they prefer to hire employees with experience who can fill jobs right away with little or no training. Furthermore, it seems that at the first sign of financial trouble, companies cut training and development.

    Once hired, the standard job probationary period is three months. Some managers expect new hires to know what the boss wants. They want employees to sense what is needed before they are asked. When employees don't deliver, they can be terminated.

    No matter how qualified a job candidate, there should be some training involved. Training is any procedure initiated by a company to foster learning among organizational members. Usually, the best results are achieved through a well-organized, formal training program. Yet, training can be accomplished on an informal basis.

    Managers can ensure all employees are trained properly to perform their job functions to the best of their abilities by conducting on-the-job training (OJT).

    • Develop objectives and measures for each OJT area.
    • Plan a specific training schedule for each trainee. Include time for evaluation and feedback.
    • Establish a nonthreatening atmosphere that is conducive to learning.
    • Conduct periodic evaluations, after training is completed, to make sure organizational objectives are being met.

    As a student, what aspects of your education will you enforce to ensure that you will be the best employee you can be?

  • Everyday Leadership

    In this ABC News interview, Betsy Myers, author of Take the Lead, talks about how to think differently about leadership development. She shares tips to inspire leadership for everyone.

    Leaders create feelings that others are valued, included, and supported.

    Her tips to inspire leadership in others include:

    • Be more conscious about your behaviors in the workplace.
    • Ask questions of people.
    • Be aware that you create feelings in others, either positive or negative.

    What is it about some leaders that brings out the best in people?

  • Glass Ceiling Cracked

    Virginia "Ginni" Rometty was just named the first female CEO in IBM's 100-year history. A female chief executive officer (CEO) of a Fortune 500 company makes a statement about the growing influence of women in business. She broke through the glass ceiling, a term referring to barriers of discrimination that keep women out of top-management jobs.

    Over the years, many companies have recognized that the glass ceiling exists and have worked hard to eliminate them. Management development programs have moved women in support and staff positions to coordinator and supervisory positions. They have conducted workshops to sensitize managers and supervisors to the problems of women striving for the top.

    Ms. Rometty joins a prominent group of women chief executives that includes Ursula Burns of Xerox, Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo, and Meg Whitman of Hewlett-Packard. By January 1, 2012, 18 of the 500 largest U.S. companies will have women chief executive officers.

    Do these invisible barriers still exist?

  • Social Media Sites

    Social media is an Internet innovation, empowering people with the tools to engage and communicate. It seems that every day a new social media site appears on the Web. The Conversation Prism by Brian Solis & Jess3 is a graphic view of how people use social media. The Conversation Prism has been revised three times to remove failed attempts and to introduce new groups and networks.  

    Overdrive Interactive, an on-line marketing services firm, has developed a social media map, which is attached. It gives us an idea of just how many social media sites there are on the Web. 

    Which of these social media do you use?

  • Handling Holiday Stress

    Have you noticed all of the holiday items and signs for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas? It's time for the holidays and people are beginning to prepare. In fact, according to the NRF 2011 Holiday Consumer Spending Trends, some people started shopping in September.  

    The holiday season is busy for most managers. What do managers do to prepare their teams? They might bring in temporary associates to help with the holiday rush. They might extend business hours, as well as employee work hours. They might make the holiday months (for example all of November and December) black out months and not allow employees to take personal or vacation days.

    Sales associates, managers, flight attendants, waiters, baristas, and other staff help people on a daily basis. Sometimes, these individuals are not treated well by customers, especially during the holidays. It is important for managers to remember and remind all employees that the holiday season is a stressful time. Remain positive and courteous although customers might be stressed and take their aggression out on you.

    How should we handle stress?

    • Learn to tolerate uncertainty. Many people cope with stress by planning ahead. It is important to be as flexible as possible in your thinking and actions.
    • Find a mentor. If you feel paralyzed by your chaotic work situation, seek out a manager or a peer who is willing to give you some mentoring. Touch base with them when you are feeling upset. 
    • Rejuvenate outside work. Find a community of support outside of the work environment. This might include an exercise class, as well as friends. 
    • Keep up a professional appearance. In a stressful environment, it is important to look like you know what you are doing. Put on a smile and remain professional.
    • Accept your feelings. It is normal to feel anxious or angry in stressful situations.

     How do you handle stress?

  • Smartphone Strategy

    Integrating the mobile aspects of communication into the business strategy is an important aspect in getting consumers actively engaged with the company and products. Cellphones caught on faster than cable TV and personal computers. After 20 years, 85 percent of adult Americans had cellphones. (See a graphic of adoption rates at http://news.bookweb.org/graphics/articles/200903/adoption.jpg.)

    More people are using their smartphones (such as the iPhone, Blackberry, Windows, and Android) every day, and smartphone use may surpass the use of wired computers. People share, message, and update each other while on the move. Smartphones are being used to compare prices, look up information, check for product availability, search for coupons, and even make a purchase. Every social network offers its users a range of mobile services, from mobile Web access to downloadable mobile applications.

    Business tasks, such as sales and marketing, customer service, and consumer research are moving from desktops to smartphones. Businesses can give consumers the tools to influence others by making data available via mobile devices (embeddable mobile apps), services or widgets, or Twitter link. Tweets which include links to content on YouTube, Flickr and many other social-networking sites can automatically redirect users to the mobile versions of pages.

    According to Prosper Mobile Insights, smartphones have become indispensable for many people. 

    Some companies don't want their employees to use their personal phones at work. Is this an outdated policy? How do you use your phone?

  • The Role of the CEO

    The role of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is important in any organization. It is the top management job, responsible for the work of others. 

    IBM conducted a global CEO study in 2010. In previous studies, CEOs "identified change as their most pressing challenge." In this study, CEOs "identified complexity of operating in an increasingly volatile and uncertain world as their primary challenge."  The IBM study asked 1500 CEOs how they were dealing with this level of complexity and which strategies were the most successful to tap into new opportunities and overcome barriers to growth. 

    CEOs identified creativity as the most important leadership quality. "Successful CEOs make customer intimacy their number one priority." They believed that operations must be simplified and designed for speed and flexibility.  

    Peter Drucker has been called the "father of modern management." Watch this Drucker insight video. What does he believe is important about the role of a CEO in any organization?

  • Tips for Online Video Presentation

    Managers attend virtual meetings and make online presentations to save their company time and travel expense. TJ Walker, CEO of Media Training Worldwide, helps people learn to make better presentations. His Web site features communications analysis of the top stories of the day.

    In this video, he offers tips to improve the quality of an online video presentation.

    Walker's technical tips

    1. Don't sit with a window in the background. You need more light in front of you than behind you.
    2. Elevate your webcam. If you're using a laptop with a built-in camera, put it on a stack of books or a shoebox, so the camera is at eye level instead of at a low angle, which is unflattering.
    3. Get a microphone ($25) and clip it to your lapel so you sound crisp and clear.
    4. To jump to the next level, get a longer microphone cable, a high-definition video camera ($200-$300) and a tripod. This allows to stand and walk around while speaking.

    Walker's presentation tips

    1. Smile. 'If you look bored, it's certain you will be boring.'
    2. Move your hands and/or your head. It looks more natural.
    3. Speak naturally. 'Reading is the absolute kiss of death.'
    4. Wear make-up for a virtual meeting. 'You will look better with some powder so you aren't shiny, or if you have a five o'clock shadow or dark circles under your eyes.'
    5. Avoid plaid or striped clothes, which look distorted on internet video; white, which can cause 'hot spots'; red, which 'bleeds' on camera; and black, because you can't see where your body ends and your limbs start. A man might wear a blue suit, a light blue shirt and a solid tie, while a woman could try a solid-colored suit and a light-colored pastel shirt.

    What other tips can you add for making an online video presentation?

  • Management Wisdom of Genghis Khan

    Genghis Khan statue

    I attended the Genghis Khan exhibit at the Irving Arts Center, "the largest collection of 13th century Mongolian artifacts ever assembled in a single showing." Genghis Khan and his descendants ruled the Mongol Empire, which was the largest empire in the history of the world. At one time, the empire spanned between 11 and 12 million square miles, across Eastern Europe and Asia.  

    In addition to ruling the empire, Genghis Khan created a postal system for his messages to travel quickly, passports, and international borders. He allowed Marco Polo to travel safely along well protected trade routes throughout the empire. In Il Milione, Marco Polo wrote about Genghis Khan, "He was man of great steadfastness and sense of a heroic figure. I tell you that when he was elected King he ruled with such moderation and justice that he was loved and revered by all, almost as god rather than ruler." 

    In Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer, wrote: The noble king was called Genghis Khan, Who in his time was of so great renown, That there was nowhere in no region, So excellent a lord in all things. 

    Genghis Khan leaves a lasting influence on modern-day management. His organization skills can be seen in his military. He led a 100,000-man army, which was organized by a system of 10. Armies were divided by units of 10; a squad had 10 men; a company had 10 squads; a division could have up to 10,000 men. Each unit of 10 elected its leader. Khan appointed commanders leading tens, hundreds, or thousands. 

    Khan attributed much of his success to educated people. He wrote, "The main reason for so impressive a rise of power of this country to shock the world lies in the art and skill of selecting educated and skilled people" (The Wit and Wisdom of Genghis Khan edited by Don Lessem, 2009).

    Khan believed leaders must seek the counsel of their advisors and win the support of their men. He wrote, "If there is no leader among you, to whose counsel the other brothers and sons and helpmeets and companions submit themselves and to whose command they yield obedience, then your case will be like unto that of the snake of many heads. One night, when it was bitterly cold, the heads desired to creep into a hole in order to ward off the chill. But as each head entered the hole another head would oppose it, and in this way they all perished. But another snake, which had but one head and a long tail, entered the hole and found room for his tail and all his limbs and members, which were preserved from the fury of the cold" (The Wit and Wisdom of Genghis Khan edited by Don Lessem, 2009).

    Rewrite Genghis Khan's "snake of many heads" story for teamwork today.

  • IBM Global 2011 CIO Study

    Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are responsible for managing digital infrastructure and enforcing security, data integrity and system availability. IBM interviewed 3,018 CIOs from 71 countries and 18 industries. The research identified four distinct CIO mandates defined by the predominant goals of the enterprise. The role of information technology (IT) is to leverage, to expand, to transform, or to pioneer.  

    CIOs with a Leverage mandate use collaboration and communication to improve operations and increase organizational effectiveness. 

    CIOs with an Expand mandate refine business processes and enhance decision making.  

    CIOs with a Transform mandate simplify internal and external processes.  

    CIOs with a Pioneer mandate innovate products, markets, and business models, which drive new revenue and boost profitability.  

    Global CIO study highlights are available for the following industries: banking, insurance, financial markets, retail, consumer products, travel, transportation, government, U.S. government, healthcare, life sciences, communications, media and entertainment, energy and utilities, automotive, electronics, and chemicals and petroleum. 

    A self-assessment tool is available, featuring the same questions IBM asked the CIOs. The assessment compares individual results with the study findings, and provides the individual with a specific mandate that outlines what ther organization is looking for from IT.

  • IBM 2011 Global CMO Study

    Over the past seven years, as part of its C-suite research program, IBM has interviewed over 15,000 top managers (CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, CHROs, and CSCOs). This year, IBM conducted face-to-face interviews with more than 1,700 chief marketing officers (CMOs) from 64 countries. 

    The study found that the two most powerful external forces affecting the organization today are market and technology factors.The four biggest challenges for CMOs are the explosion of data, social media, the proliferation of channels and devices, and shifting consumer demographics. But, the CMOs are underprepared to manage these challenges.


    CMOs believe the three key areas for improvement are understand and deliver value to empowered customers; create lasting relationships with those customers; and measure marketing's contribution to the business in relevant, quantifiable terms.

    CMOs believe they can influence the future.


    In this video, CMOs from around the globe express their thoughts on the evolving role of the Chief Marketing Officer.

     How can managers from all areas turn these challenges into opportunities?

  • Debit Card Fees

    Banks want to make customers pay debit card fees. How will this affect businesses? Will customers continue to use their debit cards? Will they begin using more cash? Will they begin using credit cards more? Will they buy less?

    Younger people are heavy users of debit cards. I spoke to Esther Campbell, the Assistant Manager of the Barnes & Noble College Bookstore at Stephen F. Austin State University and asked her opinion about debit card fees. The college bookstore sells textbooks, school apparel, and accessories.

    "It will affect customer spending.  Most of our customers are young and use debit cards to make every purchase. They don't use cash often, and they don't use credit cards. A lot of Americans are carrying debt on their credit cards. Younger people see that and have a bad image of using credit cards. If they use their debit cards, the money is directly taken out of their accounts and they don't have to worry about spending too much, going into debt, or paying any fees. However, once the debit card fees are enforced, the customers will have to pay fees. If customers learn how to properly use credit cards, they can still make the same amount of purchases and not pay any fees as long as their credit card is paid in full each month.  If our younger customers stop using their debit cards, or only use their debit cards for emergencies, and don't use credit cards, and don't carry cash, our sales will definitely decrease."

    How will the new debit card fees change your debit card use?

  • Management Lessons from Steve Jobs

    Steve Jobs (1955-2011) was a business and technology leader. 

    He was an inventor and an entrepreneur, co-founding Apple Computer in his parent's garage on April 1, 1976. By 2011, Apple was the most valuable technology company in the world. 

    He was committed to innovation. Apple products are characterized by groundbreaking design and style. Achievements include popularizing computers, making music accessible, revolutionizing cell phones, tablets and retail stores. 

    He was an artistic businessman. Apple's "1984" Super Bowl commercial is considered by many to be the best commercial ever made. It defined the new Macintosh as the computer for independent thinkers, while the IBM personal computer, depicted by Big Brother, was for the brain washed masses. 

    He was a visionary, seeing the possibilities of the digital era. 

    He was a demanding boss, separating other people's good ideas from terrible ones. The best ideas were turned into successful products, such as the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. 

    What are some other management lessons from Steve Jobs? 

  • Social Media Plan

    If you were part of a small, start-up business, what would your business plan be to get your product in stores? Orabrush Inc., based in Provo, Utah, tried to sell its tongue cleaners directly to consumers by infomercial. Then, Orabrush tried cold-calling retailers. When these didn't work, Robert Wagstaff, founder of the company, decided to contact a marketing professor at Brigham Young University to see if he or his students had any better ideas. One of the students, Jeffrey Harmon, suggested making a YouTube video. The funny video became a success and was shared by many.

    Today, Orabrush has its own YouTube channel (Cure Bad Breath) and Facebook Page to promote the videos. This social media plan helped Orabrush sell "almost a million units online." More importantly, the social media efforts helped Orabrush to convince Wal Mart to carry its tongue cleaners.

    Does posting a video on YouTube and having a Facebook page guarantee success? Explain.

    Source: Sarah E. Needelman, "How a Start-Up Landed Shelf Space at Wal-Mart," The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2011.

  • National Cyber Security Awareness Month

    October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). It is sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) to raise awareness about the need for everyone to share responsibility for staying safe and secure online.

    What each of us can do, not just in October but 365 days a year, is:  

    STOP. Before you use the Internet, take time to understand the risks and learn how to spot potential problems.

    THINK. Take a moment to be certain the path is clear ahead. Watch for warning signs and consider how your actions online could impact your safety, your organization's, or your family's.

    CONNECT. Enjoy the Internet with greater confidence, knowing you've taken the right steps to safeguard yourself and your computer.

    STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Protect yourself and help keep the Web a safer place for everyone.

    For more information, see the attached PDF or visit Stay Safe Online.

  • Thank You for Failing

    Did you ever think that you could be rewarded for failure? Some managers are rewarding employees for their mistakes or questionable risks, encouraging them to be innovative risk-takers.

    According to an article in the Sept. 27, 2011, issue of The Wall Street Journal, innovations are often accompanied by a high rate of failure. "Failure, and how companies deal with failure, is a very big part of innovation," says Judy Estrin. Failures caused by poor work habits are bad. But, "if employees try something that was worth trying and fail, and if they are open about it, and if they learn from that failure, that is a good thing." (Note: The graphic below is from the Wall Street Journal article.)

    It is important for employees to learn about success, as well as failure. What was the employee trying to do? What worked when the objective was achieved? What happened when it failed?

    How might a manager encourage innovation by allowing failure under the right conditions?

  • QR Code

    Through mobile tagging, businesses can give consumers instant mobile access to videos and Web sites, directional maps, and special discounts.

    Smartphone users take a picture of a two-dimensional barcode, known as a quick response (QR) code. To read the code, users download a free mobile barcode reader, such as i-nigma. Standard messaging and/or data rates may apply based on an individual's smartphone data plan. Once the QR code is scanned, the user is taken to the Web site and gets additional information.

    This infographic includes more information about how businesses are using OR codes. How might managers use QR codes? 

  • Social Media Quality over Quantity

    Most likely, you are a member of a social media site, like Facebook or Twitter or both, and you subscribe to multiple blogs. Like most users of social media, a lot of unnecessary information clogs up your News Feed from pages you "Like" or from updates your friends are posting.

    A daily quote from Women's Wear Daily reminds us that when it comes to social media: It's about "quality over quantity." The more "likes" a brand has, the less engaged consumers are. Communication is fine, but, in retailing, it's commerce that matters. Simply bombarding consumers with messages just isn't good enough.

    When posting updates or tweets, to your business social media pages, it is best to:

    • Make a few posts per week, not a few posts per day.
    • Post what customers are interested in: sales and promotions, new and innovative products, cost-saving tips, and how-to's (how to wear a scarf, how to make a recipe, how to save money, etc.). As they read, consumers are asking, "What's in it for me?"
    • Engage your customers in any way that you can. Ask questions to receive feedback, have customers post pictures of using products, and have customers post reviews.
    • Always remember that the customer defines quality. Post quality is more important than the quantity of posts.

    Are you a member of social media? Which sites? Which company pages do you "like"? Are the messages you receive from those businesses annoying or helpful? Explain.

  • Embrace Social Media

    Steve McClellan reported in today's Media Daily News that Publicis Groupe's MediaVest just completed a major research project on social communities. "The research was qualitative and involved in-depth interviews and focus groups with nearly 100 community leaders and organizers, as well as sociologists and anthropologists."

    The research found four basic reasons people participate in social communities:

    • To belong
    • To make difference
    • To fulfill certain needs  
    • To share emotional connections

    David Shiffman, senior vice president, research director, MediaVest, said the research uncovered some fundamental guidelines to help companies successfully tap into communities.

    • "Be relevant and authentically connected and symbiotic in all you say and do."
    • "Behave like a human and follow the rites and rituals of membership."

    As a manager, you want your company to participate in social media. You think that social media strengthens ties with your company and its products to its consumers. But participation should be part of an overall strategy, not by accident. If you are hired by a company without a social media plan, how will you convince your manager that the company should be involved?

  • Work and Play

    Wouldn't it be great if you could go to work, take guitar lessons, get a massage, and watch a movie all in one place? Well, if you work for Dealer.com in Burlington, VT, you can!

    The company is a leader in automotive internet marketing solutions and offers a wide array of benefits for employees to use in their free time. Employees can help generate electricity for their office building by taking a spin class. The company cafeterias serve food from local organic farms. Employee photos are hung on a wall and new pictures are added regularly. These are just a few of the employee benefits.

    In August 2011, Dealer.com was named one of "America's Best Places to Work" by Outside magazine. "We are incredibly honored to be listed on Outside's Best Places to Work in America," said Mark Bonfigli, CEO of Dealer.com. "At Dealer.com, our commitment to the wellness and happiness of our employees has always been a top priority. But there is also great value in providing our team with these unique benefits. Our employees are enthusiastic about their work and consistently provide excellent customer service, develop innovative products and build forward-thinking digital marketing solutions for our clients."

    As expected, company morale is very high. If you were a business owner, what company benefits would you offer your employees? How would you determine when employees needed to work and when they could utilize their benefits?

  • Innovation

    Business must innovate to attract customers. One example of an innovation is retailers using specialty mannequins modeled after real people. The mannequins don't just stand there; they strike poses and wear earrings. By displaying lifelike mannequins in merchandise, customers are buying everything that the mannequin displays. Retailers are able to sell more merchandise because they are selling the complete outfit, not just one item.

    As a manager, can you make other suggestions for a business to be more innovative and influence customer buying habits?  

    Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy