Gemmy S. Allen is Management Coordinator and Faculty at North Lake College, Irving, TX of the Dallas County Community College District. She is the co-author of the textbook Management: Meeting and Exceeding Customer Expectations, published by Cengage. Her awards include being named Outstanding Mountain View College Faculty Member and receiving the Golden Oak Award, Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce; the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Excellence in Teaching Award; and the award for Mountain View College Innovator of the Year. She served as a member of Microsoft Mentors, the Microsoft/Compaq College Advisory Council and the St. Philip’s College Model Electronic Commerce Curriculum Advisory Committee and is founding teacher, Virtual College of Texas — “Internet Teachers at Every College.” In addition, she has co-authored several discipline-specific, Internet-related books, developed several online classes, made numerous presentations to industry, and has led workshops in the United States, Australia and Mexico.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important strategy for every organization's Web site. It is the process of improving a Web site's chances of appearing sooner, rather than later, in search results. According to the Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors (attached), Web sites can rank higher by providing fresh content that draws people to the site and ultimately, engages them.
See the attached "Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors". What else should be done to improve a Web site's chance of appearing at the top of a search?
Why should a manager care about SEO?
Michael Useem is director of the Center for Leadership and Change Management, and William and Jacalyn Egan professor of management, at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Leading Up: How to Lead Your Boss So You Both Win. In the book, he talks about how upward leadership impacts leaders and the people around them. He states that upward leadership is about taking charge when managers are not formally in charge and, rather than undermining authority or seizing power from superiors, stepping in when superiors need help and support in ways that benefit everyone.
Leading up is a matter of offering a manager strategic insights or persuading him or her to change directions before it is too late. It requires the ability to work in two directions at once; stepping into the breach when nobody above you is doing so; and listening to those below you before you make a mistake. To come forward when a manager does not encourage it can be risky. But when upward leadership works, it can help turn disaster into triumph.
Upward leadership needs an organizational environment where people feel comfortable challenging and giving input. To create this environment, a manager must expect subordinates to support his or her leadership and step up when needed. In order to do this, they will need to understand the manager's strategy, methods, and rules. This requires repeated restatements of principles and consistent adherence to them. If a manager wants subordinates to offer their best advice, the manager must value and make use of it, and listen, as well, to what subordinates are implying or communicating through other means.
Professor Useem shares an example of when upward leadership proved invaluable. On 9/11 (2001) when the World Trade Center collapsed, Meg Whitman, then CEO of eBay, was out of the country and chief operating officer, Brian Swette, was out of state. In their absence, eBay's top team acted on its own. The first priority was to establish that all employees were alive and well. (They were.) The second priority was to secure the eBay Web site. (It did.) The third priority was to create a way for eBay to support the massive relief effort. (Auction for America emerged). "By the time I was able to call in from Japan," said Ms. Whitman, "our team was already thinking about and acting on the big issues."
Managing the boss is necessary for your career advancement. Think of some situations where a manager might be on the wrong path. How will you help your manager to see the right goal and find the right path before it is too late?
I was conducting research on the Web Wednesday, January 18 and found that I could not use some of the most popular sites on the Web. The corporations (Wikipedia, Google, and others) were protesting proposed anti-piracy bills -- the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) - which would have allowed the Justice Department to force Internet-service providers, search engines, payment processors, and online ad networks to block Web sites linked to selling counterfeit products. The Web opposition succeeded in stopping the bills from being passed by the House and Senate.
The Web protests made a point, but they hurt a lot of users and customers. Jeff MacGurn, Vice President of Covario, Inc. posted a blog with this infographic, "Who Did the SOPA Blackout Affect?" He wrote, "20,275,000 college students are stuck using Google caches of Wikipedia for their essays." Were customers being used as pawns? How could Web managers protest pending legislation without hurting their customers?
Companies in the United States (U.S.) such as Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, and Motorola, have moved many hazardous manufacturing jobs from the U.S. to China. The New York Times reports in this video that, "Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms."
In the U.S., the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 created NACOSH, NIOSH and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
OSHA is in the U.S. Department of Labor and is responsible for developing and enforcing workplace safety and health regulations.
The National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety (NACOSH) is a group that advises the U.S. Department of Labor.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Department of Health and Human Services. NIOSH is an agency established to help assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by providing research, information, education, and training in the field of occupational safety and health.
NIOSH developed the Essential Elements of Effective Workplace Programs and Policies for Improving Worker Health and Wellbeing (attached) as a guide for employers and employer-employee partnerships wishing to establish effective workplace programs that sustain and improve worker health. The document identifies twenty components of a comprehensive work-based health protection and health promotion program and includes both guiding principles and practical direction for organizations seeking to develop effective workplace programs.
The NIOSH guidelines can help companies improve factories. In addition, many companies have developed a supplier code of conduct. (Search Google for "supplier code of conduct" and you will find many examples.) What else can managers do to ensure safe working environments outside the U.S.? When will global manufacturing be as safe as American manufacturing?
NBC's award-winning comedy "The Office" is a humorous documentary-style show about the workers at Dunder Mifflin, a paper supply company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. In one show, Dunder Mifflin paper salesman Dwight Schrute quits to take a job at rival Staples. Of course, Staples is a real company.
Managers at Staples decided to differentiate their product by offering a Dunder Mifflin brand of paper. In December 2011, Quill.com, an office supply Web site owned by Staples, started selling Dunder Mifflin branded paper as part of a licensing agreement with Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal.
Dunder Mifflin paper is priced higher than private-label copy paper. Will the branding decision encourage companies to buy Dunder Mifflin paper? Explain.
Almost every manager wants to be known as a "good manager." A "good manager," learns and develops. He or she admits mistakes, learns from the mistakes, and recovers from the mistakes. As a result, the manager thinks, "I'm pleased with myself and what I'm doing."
The manager's confidence keeps communications straightforward and honest. Employees need communications to be goal oriented. They need to understand why they are doing what they are doing. Employees cannot perform to their full potential if they do not understand the tasks they are performing. The manager's communication invites employees to think clearly and see themselves objectively.
It is important for employees to know that their boss has their best interest at heart. The manager expresses concern and uses statements such as:
"I notice that . . ."
"I hear you saying . . ."
"I see you as . . ."
"You look as though . . ."
"Good managers" reflect back what the other person is saying or behaving, inviting them to look at themselves from another perspective. They show appreciation. Employees like to be recognized for their efforts. When employees are recognized, they know that their manager is observing their work and will give credit where credit is due. Good attitudes set a good tone. Employees work best in a positive environment. Satisfied employees will work more effectively and efficiently. Success begets more success.
Along with actually doing the things good managers do, thinking as a good manager is an important step to becoming one. You are what you think about! A person can become a good manger by becoming more aware of his or her behavior and especially of what he or she is feeling. Be aware of your feelings when you communicate with employees, and when appropriate, let them know how you feel about what is going on.
Ideals can become goals if they are consciously decided. You can determine your role as manager. Take your present job, your future with the company, and the company's priorities seriously. Make it clear every day, both with words and actions that you expect to get ahead - either with this company or another. If you're not seen as an asset to your company, you're likely to soon be thought of as a liability.
How would you describe the "Ideal Manager"?
Just a few years ago, most businesspeople wanted a Blackberrry made by Research In Motion (RIM). But, the company was not able to maintain its lead in the business smartphone market, losing market share to Apple and Google.
Sunday, RIM's board of directors named Thorsten Heins chief executive in attempt to make the company more competitive. In his Monday message to employees, Heins said, "I will not in any way split this up or separate this into different businesses. If there are requests coming towards Research In Motion to talk about licensing that platform to other companies, I will entertain those discussions. I will listen." In this video, Heins says that the company won't change strategy. He believes the new operating system will satisfy customers.
Will a leadership change be enough to make RIM more competitive? Or, should RIM have changed its current strategy? How can the Blackberry better compete with the iPhone and Android phones?
Recently, I was at a dinner party and we asked the waiter to take our picture. We all reached for our phones. No one had a camera! When we shared family pictures, we didn't take pictures from our wallets or albums; we all used our phones. How times have changed!
For more than 100 years, many Americans captured their memories (Kodak moments) with Instamatic cameras and large photography prints. So, we were saddened to hear Eastman Kodak Company's announcement January 19, 2012 that it had filed for Chapter 11 business reorganization. On its Web site, Kodak posted, "The business reorganization will enable Kodak to bolster liquidity in the U.S. and abroad, monetize non-strategic intellectual property, fairly resolve legacy liabilities, and enable the Company to focus on its most valuable business lines."
George Eastman founded Eastman Kodak in 1880. Kodak firsts included flexible roll film in 1888 and the $1 Brownie camera in 1900. Kodak never had a union. Eastman helped pioneer profit-sharing and wage dividends for employees beginning in 1912. But, corporate fortunes change.
Some blame Kodak's problems on the shift to digital technology. Kodak invented the digital camera, but couldn't move quickly enough to capitalize on it. Others blame competition from the Japanese film companies in the 1980s.
Chairman and CEO Antonio Perez discussed the restructuring on Kodak's Web site. He said Kodak will emerge as a more competitive company. Kodak will transform from a film business to a new digital business by leveraging brand strength and unique knowledge of digital imaging and material science.
A company's success can be directly linked to how rapidly and effectively it absorbs and adjusts its operations and outputs to the latest technologies. Kodak managed to stay in business for over 100 years. The managers made business mistakes. Which of today's largest technology companies, like Google, Apple, and Microsoft, will be around in the 22nd century?
In his book published (November 2011) by McGraw-Hill, Hiring for Attitude, LeadershipIQ's Mark Murphy studied research covering more than 20,000 new hires over the last three years. He found that bad attitudes account for 46 percent of new hires being fired, receiving poor performance reviews, or being written-up. Attitude problems include employees refusing coaching, ignoring constructive feedback, and resisting change. Employers think these employees lack emotional intelligence, are unmotivated, or have a bad temperament.
Murphy recommends that interviewers can find the problem-solvers by asking the right questions, such as those below.
"Could you tell me about how you deal with a dysfunctional team?"
"Could you tell me about a person you found particularly difficult to work with?
"Tell me about a time when you tried to fix or improve something and it just didn't work."
Problem-solvers answer with information about how they addressed the situations.
Problem-bringers blame others.
Are you a problem-solver or a problem-bringer?
Many management students aspire to be a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), even though top managers have more stressful jobs than most people. Of course, the job is not as stressful as a "solider guarding a base, a police officer chasing a mugger, or a firefighter running into a burning building." But, the top manager makes a lot more money than a soldier, police officer, or firefighter.
Top Manager -- Corporate Executive (Senior) -- was rated as the 8th most stressful job of 2012 by CareerCast.com from its Jobs Rated study.
Corporate Executives are in charge of formulating the policies and strategies for their companies, while also directing the operations. Senior executives are expected to have an in-depth knowledge of many different fields at once. They face pressure to make company-wide decisions that can have far-reaching effects for the employees, including layoffs.
To prepare for the study, researchers identified five general categories inherit to every job: environment, income, outlook, stress, and physical demands.
The ranking system for stress included the 11 stress factors listed below. Each factor has a range of points with more points represent higher levels of stress. The total maximum points equal 97. The corporate executive (senior) stress score was 47.41.
Do you agree that top manager is a very stressful job? What criteria make the top manager's job desirable?
Do you want a top management job? Do you have the management skills employers are looking for? Or do your talents lie in being a team member?
Take the attached leadership quiz to find out. (The leadership quiz is from Impact Factory, http://www.impactfactory.com/gate/leadership_qualities_quiz/fungate_1154-9103-53624.html.)
How did you score?
Do you agree with this score? Why or why not?
Martin Luther King, Jr. challenged laws that discriminated against African Americans. He risked imprisonment and his life for his values. One of King's main values was courage, the willingness to face difficulty whatever the risk. Courage is a value which is important to a manager's success.
Having courage will enhance your success as an employee and as a manager. While having courage will not automatically make one successful, exercising and applying it on a daily basis will certainly increase the likelihood of succeeding. Asking questions about existing practices at work or suggesting new products promotes a better way. It takes courage to do so but it is a way of showing your values, like King.
In this video, corporate managers talk about the benefits of volunteering and service. What are corporations and employees risking? What else can managers learn from Martin Luther King, Jr.?
Hostess Brands, the manufacturer of Twinkies® and other snack cakes, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy January 11, 2012, but said it "will continue operating its bakeries, outlet stores and distribution centers and delivering its products to its customers across the country."
President and Chief Executive Officer Brian Driscoll said, "We will do everything we can to reach a consensual agreement with our unions to modify our collective bargaining agreements. We have engaged in good-faith bargaining with our labor partners for many months. We remain hopeful that we can reach an agreement that will allow us to amend our labor contracts so that we can emerge from Chapter 11 as a highly competitive company that provides secure jobs for our employees."
On January 11, the Teamsters posted the following response on their Web site.
TEAMSTERS REMAIN COMMITTED TO FINDING MUTUAL SOLUTION FOR BANKRUPT HOSTESS BRANDS INC.
Union Represents More than 7,500 Delivery Drivers, Merchandisers
Today's bankruptcy filing by Hostess Brands Inc. marks another sad development in the company's difficult history since its initial bankruptcy filing in late 2004, the Teamsters Union said.
The company emerged from that bankruptcy in 2009, largely due to the sacrifices made by Teamster members and other unionized employees, including members of the Bakery, Confectionery and Tobacco Workers Union. More than 7,500 of the company's nationwide fleet of delivery drivers and merchandisers are Teamsters.
The Teamsters National Bargaining Committee has been working with Hostess management for months to identify a consensual resolution that would address the company's many problems.
"While no agreement has been reached to date, the Teamsters Union remains committed to working with all stakeholders during the bankruptcy to find a mutually agreeable solution, if possible," said Dennis Raymond, Director of the Teamsters Bakery and Laundry Conference.
"Our members have already given at the well, and this time it will take sacrifices among all parties - management, lenders, equity holders and employees - to restructure Hostess into a viable enterprise that is well-positioned for future growth," Raymond said. "We were hoping that could have been done prior to a bankruptcy filing, but unfortunately that did not occur. We remain committed to finding a solution, if possible, over the next few months during the bankruptcy process."
Management blames labor and labor blames management. Why do you think management failed to win concessions on union contracts? Could the real problem be the company's products?
The mission of Samuel J. Palmisano as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IBM (March 2002 to December 2011) was to make IBM a great company. "During his tenure, I.B.M. has been a textbook case of how to drive change in a big company - when so much of the study of business innovation focuses on start-ups and entrepreneurs."
At the beginning of his tenure, Mr. Palmisanp formulated four questions to focus managers' strategic thinking.
As a result of using these four questions, IBM changed from a company selling computers to an innovative technology services company. IBM "solves societal challenges." See the attached IBM "five year road map."
Mr. Palmisano says, "The hardest thing is answering those four questions. You've got to answer all four and work at answering all four to really execute with excellence."
How could answering Mr. Palmisano's four questions help you and your career?
Source: Steve Lohr, "Even a Giant Can Learn to Run," The New York Times, December 31, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/business/how-samuel-palmisano-of-ibm-stayed-a-step-ahead-unboxed.html
High-tech know-how can result in management success. Managers must search for information, evaluate content, and present information. In order to promote understanding, managers need to develop channels of communication. The last few years have seen a shift in consumer behavior, which has driven companies to embrace Web sites, social media, and online videos. (Employees are consumers, too. In fact, we are all consumers.)
Computers support the work of managers. At work, managers are active users of the Internet and email, word processing, spreadsheets and databases, and calendar and scheduling. Comprehensive company Web sites should differentiate the company from the competition, because consumers have access to products and services 24/7 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). The Web is the starting place for many consumers as they shop for products and services. They search for information on the Web, and many begin their search with their mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablet PCs.
Managers can take advantage of technology trends to benefit their companies, as well as their careers. Proper use of communications technology gives managers more control over how the company is perceived by others. Trends in technology include cloud computing, mobile apps, online videos, more data, and social media.
Cloud Computing - In cloud computing, data is stored off-site instead of in on-site computer hard drives. Paperwork can be automated. Managers can create virtual folders that give employees access to documents and information. These folders can be accessed from any computer connected to the Internet.
Mobile Apps - Software applications on smart phones (apps) give employees real-time access to information.
Online Videos - Videos can be used to share information with employees, as well as to train employees. Messages can be conveyed through email, video, or Web chats. Videos are already mobile compatible; they are fun, they add a face to a company's product, and are inexpensive to produce. Plus, viewers can share videos with their friends.
More Data -As more documents are digitized, online data becomes more complete, and managers and employees have access to more information. This should result in better decision making.
Social Media - Social media connects managers with employees. They can create blogs, wikis, Twitter handles, and Facebook pages as ways to pass along information, start conversations, and engage users. Social media should be used as a tool for honest communication. If customers are unhappy, managers can speak directly to customers about how the situation can be corrected. Plus, social media can be shared.
Managers can become influential if they write, take speaking engagements, talk to their audiences, and connect. If not, they become irrelevant. Which technology trends do you think will be the most important to managers and employees? Explain your choice(s).
Happy New Year! It is that time of year again to set goals for the new year. I was reading "Dear Abby" in the Dallas Morning News print edition on January 1st. In the column, she shared Dear Abby's often requested list of New Year's Resolutions.
I particularly liked three of the resolutions.
Dear Abby's New Year's Resolutions were written by Pauline Philips, founder of Dear Abby, a newspaper advice column written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, daughter of the late Pauline Phillips. Pauline Philips adapted the New Year's Resolutions from the original credo of Al-Anon. (See attached Al-Anon's "Just for Today".)
What are your New Year's Resolutions?
Outgoing Costco CEO James Sinegal can teach you a lot about management. He is the co-founder (1983) and was the CEO of the discount retailer for almost 30 years. Employees are treated well. Sinegal explains, "It's really pretty simple. It's good business. When you hire good people, and you provide good jobs and good wages and a career, good things are going to happen. We try to give a message of quality in everything that we do, and we think that that starts with the people. It doesn't do much good to have a quality image, whether it's with the facility or whether it's with the merchandise, if you don't have real quality people taking care of your customers."
Watch the video. What can James Sinegal teach you about management?
Happy New Year! Americans are looking forward to 2012. They are optimistic about what 2012 will bring for the country and their family. According to the Associated Press-GfK Poll, most Americans are glad to see the end of 2011.
What about you? What are you looking forward to in 2012?