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Showing posts from March, 2009

So You Have a New Boss...

With the recent shakeup in executive leadership it seems like half the building has a different supervisor this week. With that comes the usual anxiety, plus a little additional angst given that its happening during a time of economic travail. I both have a new boss and picked up two departments that haven't reported to me before. While having a new supervisor can be a challenge at first, here's a few reasons not to jump off the roof. 1. Its not about you! Changes in the executive ranks ripple through an organization. You weren't assigned to a new supervisor to "straighten you out" because you're a screw-up. This has nothing to do with you so just roll with it. 2. There aren't many bad ones . The people to whom you could possibly report are whittled down to a handful of capable managers. If a manager is on our org chart they are seasoned and have a good heart. I can't think of many exceptions so whomever the "luck of the draw"

Work From Here

I've had a couple of questions lately about the future of Work From Home. To be completely transparent, we've fielded questions from Board members and executives alike on what this program is and does. Here's an update that might surprise you. WFH was a response to two pressing issues several months ago. Gas prices had gotten to around $4/gallon in Nashville, and with headcount reductions we were spending about $350k in rented office space charges for room we didn't need. We didn't have enough space in the Corporate Office building to close Lakeview Place. I became concerned that increased commuting cost would lead to a call for a cost of living increase that the company couldn't afford in an economy growing more unstable by the day. The answer, as my grandmother would have said, was as plain as the nose on your face. Develop the systems for remote work, require space sharing as a condition of working remotely, reduce commuting costs to their pre-gas-hi

On-Line Streamlining

On Friday of this week I will shut down both my Facebook and Twitter accounts. In place of communicating via those outlets I intend to be a more consistent and diligent blogger. There are several reasons for this move which I will explain just briefly. I usually check all these accounts after dinner. That process entails checking Nelson email, personal email, Twitter updates (both reading and writing), looking at who added or dropped me on Twitter, checking Facebook updates from my "friends", and leaving comments. I could set up a link that combines Facebook and Twitter updates into one process, but that only saves a few moments of what takes about 45 - 60 minutes. My other personal interests, be they gardening or guitar or a few home improvement projects slated for the spring, suffer from the time taken up with living in the on-line world. Every so often my wife would like for me to just sit down and watch TV with her and I rarely ever do. After slacking off for the wint

Quality is The Way Out

This week I picked up additional responsibility over Facilities and Travel. I'm glad to take on whatever needs to be done and add value wherever I can. This move will take me somewhat out of my role as "the HR guy" and back into a more general managerial role as in my life before Nelson, and that's gotten me thinking back to how we managed in my prior life. That inevitably takes me back to W. Edwards Deming whose teachings were the basis of the Japanese system in which I last held this type of role. His systems have turned around so many companies, and helped others actualize into outstanding enterprises. I believe we have much to learn from Deming and that adopting several of his teachings, both you as an individual and us as an organization, can accelerate our turnaround. For those of you who aren't familiar with Dr. Deming the link above is very informative. What it doesn't say is that Dr. Deming, who developed his theories while improving industrial outpu

Rumor Patrol

I'm out of the office for a couple of days, but through the magic of modern communication I've gotten wind of a rumor running through the company. I want to give a big shout-out to our Publishing division, of which I have been critical in the past regarding rumors, as this one doesn't come from and isn't being spread by you. I have six confirmed instances in two days of the rumor that we've had another layoff. Now this is different from all the other, "there's going to be a layoff" rumors over the past year. This one is different and goes something like this: "I hear there's been another big layoff." "Nobody knows how big it was because management's not talking about it." "I hear that the Curriculum staff got fired." "I hear that two people in the warehouse got fired." "I hear that half the warehouse is gone." Friends, the reason the leadership team isn't talking about "the big