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Friday, June 29, 2007

Speak Well of Former Employees

While its true that not all turnover is a bad thing, and some people really shouldn't continue with the company, it lowers our corporate discourse to speak ill of the (vocationally) departed. Its an easy out; blame someone who had more than their fair share of human or career flaws and who is no longer here to take up for themselves. It's also unfair and can come to no good end. If the criticism is too harsh you may cross the legal threshold into disparagement. This is actionable on the part of the former employee. If the criticism is personal and distributed in writing (remember, email lives forever!) it can cross the threshold into slander.

If it isn't that bad, its just cheap and should be beneath us.

Remember, this industry and our company have a long history of recycling people, and today's whipping post may be next year's author, or customer, or boss. It has happened before...

As with most business situations, the morally correct course is also the smart business move; don't say anything about someone after they're gone that you wouldn't want said about you if you were the one to leave. Don't put anything in writing that you can't defend with facts. The Japanese for whom I once worked used to say, "Fix the problem, not the blame". Similarly, if something is wrong lets fix it and resist the temptation to blame it on anybody, much less those who aren't here to respond.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

New Initiatives

Its a busy summer in HR, as we're working on several corporate initiatives that I personally find exciting. While its adding to our workload, these are programs that have been approved but have "gone dark" during a period of a couple of months during which we'll be writing and debating policy language. Since some of these have been announced, but not all, I thought it might be helpful to give you a preview of what's coming down the road.

1. Equity Plan - We've completed the distribution of ESOP assets following the end of that plan. For those of you who aren't familiar with the terminology, programs that share some amount of ownership in the company are commonly called equity plans. We have Board approval for a plan that will provide most employees with an opportunity to build and share equity, although its not an ESOP plan (remember, we're privately held now). Anticipate an announcement in August and informational meetings in the August/September time frame.

2. Wellness Program - We have approval for a corporate wellness program that reimburses Weight Watchers and other wellness programs and provides deeper discounts for YMCA membership. There are program requirements such as regular attendance in Weight Watchers meetings and/or regular workouts at the Y, and incentives to seeking annual physical exams and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Similarly, look for an August rollout for this program.

3. Focus Groups - Jack Leichty is nearing completion of a comprehensive set of focus groups to get your opinions and additional information behind the scores on our winter all-employee survey. We plan to report to the Executive Leadership Team in July and put together an action plan to continue our work to improve the work experience at Thomas Nelson. Remember, this is an on-going, incremental improvement process that never ends. The goal is annual continuous improvement.

4. Marketing Task Force - In the world post-One Company SPU consolidation, this task force is made up of Publishers, Marketing VPs, Sales VPs, HR, and Marketing staff. The goals of this group are to articulate and reach agreement between Publishing and Sales on the goals & purposes of Marketing, what internal customers need from Marketing, what the Marketing process should be, what jobs/titles/pay ranges should be deployed to execute the Marketing process, and how publicity jobs and titles should be organized in the context of the new Marketing and Publishing consolidation. I'm coordinating this effort, which is being led by Pamela Clements, one of our Publishers who has worked in Marketing and has been a VP of Publicity. Under her leadership this group is making good progress and should make recommendations to senior leadership in late summer or early fall.

There are several other initiatives and priorities going on in HR, but these are the major ones. None of them is a panacea for an ideal workplace, but all are in process to continue to make this a better workplace. Any ideas or suggestions on any of these initiatives are welcome. Feel free to reply to this blog or drop me an email.