Archive for February, 2009

Death to America, Finally Realized?

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For many years we have watched as those in other countries protest and chant “Death to America”. I heard an interview with someone from Iran recently who was stating that this does not necessarily mean death to the people of America but to their ideals and vices which are contrary to the teachings of Islam.

I think with our current economic environment we might finally be putting some of these vices to death in ways that no armed conflict or attack could ever acheive.

And the one American vice most likely to change: Greed

I was having dinner with a friend last week and he brought up the fact that the new economic climate might mean a signigificant shift in the way we live our lives in America. It should come as no surprise to any walking talking citizen that we have been on a spend it now, pay for it later binge for far too long. Here are just a few statistics to prove my point:

According to an article by Stacy Mitchell at www.newrules.org:

“Between 1990 and 2005, the amount of retail space per capita in the U.S. doubled from 19 to 38 square feet, while per capita retail spending has increased by only about 14 percent. In the last year alone, developers built 143 million square feet of new shopping centers and bigbox stores.”

We have shopped and shopped. Bought cheaper and cheaper products (that break or fall apart sooner and sooner, necessitating yet another purchase). We no longer know how long a blender should last, what it should really cost and what it should cost to sustain a reliable work force.

We are completly caught up in newer, cheaper, smaller, and newer. Yes newer seems to be the overwhelming marketing strategy. How many new kinds of potato chips, crackers, oatmeal and any other number of food products, does the grocery store need to roll out each week to entice us back into Walmart?

As the recent bank bailouts have illuminated, we have been on the short side of make money now and worry about the consequences later. As much as we would like to say that the executives and stock brokers have been the ones to have the short view, it really has been all of us. We have been living large, buying cheap, throwing away and buying again like there is no tomorrow.

But sadly tommorrow has come. And for most of us things are like a really bad hangover. We all just want to jump into bed and go back to sleep until this is all over. But I think this change will ultimately be a good thing for America. We need to rediscover things like value, sustainability, reasonable consumption, and most importantly living within our means. And maybe, just maybe, we will put a dent in our Greed. And put to death one of the things that make us the target of those around the world.

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Want to be the person that isn’t laid off?

I have been a manager of people for over 10 years. I have hired and fired and sadly during this time, seen my fair share of layoffs. Some layoffs are clearly an opportunity to clean out deadwood but other are ones that cut deeply and competent, well intentioned people are let go. I have set in on many meetings where a group of managers have to make the gut wrenching decisions on who will get the axe. Have you ever wondered how those decisions are usually made? Well here is a little glimpse.

You could be on that list if:

You often respond to new ideas with “we tried that and it didn’t work” or “that won’t work” or “that will be too much work”.
Now this may be true but then again it might not be. The person who always poo poos ideas and is a general pessimist generally isn’t fun to work with and begins to be perceived as difficult to work with and perhaps even avoiding work. If there really is a good reason why you think an idea is flawed be fact based, quote statistics if available, outline other alternatives, and in a worst case scenario, let them discover for themselves why it was a bad idea.

– You often criticize others and rarely praise others.
Some people deserve criticism and no one trusts someone who never says something bad about someone else. But if your comments weigh too heavily to the critical side, then you are likely to be perceived as over judgemental, inflexible and generally people begin to want to avoid you. What better to avoid you than recommend you be one of those who is let go.

– You are a constant procrastinator or have be asked multiple times to complete something.
I am your boss, not your mom. I don’t want to nag. I hired a highly competent professional and expect that you can manage what I asked. If at the time I asked there was an unrealistic goal, you need to speak up then and renegotiate or at the very least renegotiate during the project if you feel the deadline will be missed. Waiting for me to ask you where something is, is too late.

– You are really quiet and afraid to make any waves.
Sure it is bad idea to be too negative or too vocal but it also risky to be too quiet. Everyone at every level in every position needs to have some element of marketing to their job. If others don’t know what you do, why and how you do a good job and can recommend improvements then I am not likely to be able to defend why you should keep your job.

Who is likely to make the cut?

People who are:

– Generally upbeat.
– Are willing to take on new tasks.
– Get things done on time.

You would think these ideas are a no brainer but you would be surprised how many people I have worked with and currently work with who just don’t seem to grasp the obvious.

Good luck in the next RIF.

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