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Showing posts from June, 2008

The Gun Debate at Work

On my way home last night I listened to a long-form news report on NPR about the Supreme Court's ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, where the court ruled that law-abiding citizens have the right to own guns for their own protection. The case has been years in the making and involved overreaching gun control laws in the District of Columbia which prohibited lawful handgun ownership. NPR, of course, was predicting the end of civilization as we know it. Curiously enough, it blamed D.C.'s unacceptable violent crime and murder rate not on defenseless citizens, but on gun shows in Maryland. In other words, their answer to the dismal failure of gun control in D.C. was to export it to Maryland. The high court's ruling came on the heels of yet another workplace shooting, this time at Atlantis Plastics in Henderson, KY fairly near my home town. There Wesley Higdon shot his boss and five coworkers before killing himself. He used a handgun that he kept legally in his vehic

Realtor's Fees Driving Relocation Costs

The slowing real estate market is bringing to the forefront a long-simmering problem for small-to-medium-sized companies. The majority of corporate relocation expense is now reimbursement for realtor's fees. That just feels wrong in so many ways. For decades the best practice in relocation management, if your company is too small to buy the houses of the relocating candidates or employees, has been to reimburse realtor's' fees for the selling of their current house and closing costs on the purchase of a replacement in the new city. This is 6% on the selling side and 2% on the buying side, and assuming that the transferee purchases about the same priced home as the one they sold, that's a flat 8%. When this practice became industry-standard, a modest 1500 sq. ft. in a major city was priced around $95 - $125,000 and the expense to the company was usually no more than $10,000. Today, that same house is $325,000 - $400,000 unless you're in a premium neighborhood,

Father's Day

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There's a line in a song I heard several years ago that says, " All Things Work for Good has become my favorite verse ". I thought about this during Father's Day week. After years of being distant my Dad and I have become close again. It started about three years ago as our daughters started attending the same college and our nests emptied simultaneously. It continued on with his urging me to take up guitar again. It solidified this past winter with the passing of his dad. Suddenly each of us has graduated to a new role. I no longer have kids at home, and he's now the patriarch of the family. He has things he'd like to do but no longer feels up to it alone, and I find myself coming up to Kentucky more often to pick, fish, drop things off or help around his cabin. This past Father's Day week I arranged a guide on Percy Priest so he could fish for rock fish and stripes like he did during the two times he's lived in the Nashville during the 60's and 8

A Truly Decent, World-Class Leader

Friday I had lunch with Stephen Harrison , founding partner and current Chairman of Lee Hecht Harrison . LHH was one of the handful of companies who helped invent the professional outplacement industry and Steve, along with Bob Lee and Bob Hecht, were its founders. Steve is the author of " The Manager's Book of Decencies: How Small Gestures Build Great Companies " (McGraw Hill, 2007) which I began reading last night (even though I typically detest business books). Our company used the Nashville office of LHH for the majority of our professional outplacement during our April staff reductions; their service was spectacular. After meeting their Chairman, I have a better understanding of why their company performs at this level. Steve was in town to visit the local office, and Mark Marshall, who heads that office, told me in a private moment how Steve spent Thursday and Friday. Thursday was spent in the LHH Nashville office with Steve speaking to people who were in outplace

The Hidden Cost of Traditional Offices

The tried and true method of performing communal office work is for people to commute into an office, work for a set number of hours, and commute home. While there's nothing new that I can write about telecommuting that hasn't already been written, I've not seen much written about the cost to the local economy of continuing what is increasingly an arcane work style. Here's food for thought... I was surprised to learn from our Facilities department that the gold standard calculation for space needed per employee is about 200 ft. Now you may look at your 8 x 8 cube or 10 x 15 office and think, "where's my 200 ft.?" The difference is that Facilities professionals like ours know to allocate hallway, restroom, break room, and lobby space into their needs. So for the sake of calculation, let's go with 200 sq. ft. per person. With that established, we now have to rent that amount of space. For a typical office outside of the downtown Nashville area, y