Headed for an ethics scandal

January 29, 2018

By Alison Taylor via hbr.org   Article

5 Signs Your Organization Might Be Headed for an Ethics Scandal

“… five traits of organizational culture that correlate with ethical scandals:

  • Urgency and fear: Following corruption scandals, leaders tend to describe events in terms of pressure, necessity, and what the company needed to do to ‘survive.’ This perception of existential competitive threats can be used to justify the creation and maintenance of toxic incentives, and it will undermine any efforts to raise concerns.
  • Isolation: Groups and teams that are far from headquarters—either in geography, access to information, or both—are vulnerable. When a team that is isolated (by accident or design) comes under the direction of an authoritarian, competitive leader, an enterprise has created the baseline conditions for corruption. People are far more influenced by their immediate surroundings than by a code of conduct set at the top.
  • Fragmentation and plausible deniability: When a corporate scandal occurs, it is common for leaders to deny personal knowledge. Sometimes these hollow-sounding explanations are literally true, if disingenuous. A leader does not need to personally sign off on a bribe payment to hold responsibility for how employees have been socialized into an organization and what behavior is sanctioned or rewarded. But organizational complexity, matrixed responsibility, and a lack of clarity as to roles can help feed and justify conditions in which each decision is judged in isolation, and no one is held broadly accountable.
  • Success and impunity: We have a tendency not to question success. When a team markedly outperforms its peers, it develops a mystique that serves to block scrutiny of the basis of that success. The reputations of other teams suffer as they appear to underachieve in comparison. If the high-achieving team’s success has been achieved by unethical means, a company has created a slippery slope by which conditions in one subculture spread to others.
  • In-group language: Humans need both to hide and rationalize unethical behavior, leading to the widespread use of in-group jokes and euphemisms. A rich terminology springs forth to describe bribes, from ‘gifts’ and ‘commissions’ to SNC Lavalin’s ‘project consultancy costs,’ TSKJ’s ‘cultural arrangements,’ and the funds Enron put aside to ‘educate Indians.’ Metaphors of war and sport, common in this context, help to shift the frame away from that of individual choice.

When one (or more) of these conditions is present, a team is susceptible to ethical violations. Although leaders often complain that company culture is hard to measure, it is far easier to seek employees’ input on team culture and norms than to ask them to report fraudulent practices or call out powerful wrongdoers.”

Giving owners a bigger share of profits

January 29, 2018

By Noah Buhayar and Katherine Chiglinsky via bloomberg.com   Article

Buffett Says Stock Ownership Became More Attractive With Tax Cut

“Warren Buffett said the U.S. tax cut will make companies more valuable by giving owners a bigger share of profits.

‘People who own the businesses, they now own 20 percent more of the domestic earnings,’ Buffett, chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said in an interview on CNBC Wednesday.

Describing the change as a ‘big deal,’ he gave as an example Berkshire Hathaway’s BNSF Railway.

‘The government doesn’t own the assets of the business,’ Buffett said. ‘We own 100 percent of the assets of BNSF, but we don’t own 100 percent of the profits. And we went from 65 to 79 percent of the profits of BNSF and that is a more than 20 percent increase.'”

What’s convenient and what’s right

January 29, 2018

By Marcel Schwantes via flipboard.com   Article

Warren Buffett Says If You Hire People on Intelligence but They Lack This Other Trait,Don’t Bother

Warren Buffett gave some great advice a few years ago on key attributes to look for when considering job candidates. He narrowed it down to three, but one is purely non-negotiable. Buffet said:

You’re looking for three things, generally, in a person: intelligence, energy, and integrity. And if they don’t have the last one, don’t even bother with the first two.

Buffett is dead on. Here’s why integrity is so important in the people you hire, especially your future managers.

Hall of Fame football coach Tony Dungy, in his book Uncommon, said: ‘Integrity is the choice between what’s convenient and what’s right.’ When someone leads with integrity, it makes it hard to question that person. People operating within parameters of truth, honesty, and ethics will listen to their heart and do the right thing, even when nobody is watching. Their actions are open for everyone to see; they don’t have to worry about hiding anything from anyone, nor do you have to worry about them hiding anything from you! …

Knowing whether to hire someone or pull the trigger, so to speak, on the interview process, is a matter of asking the right questions. Seasoned job candidates with interviewing experience know exactly what ‘scripted’ answers to give to overcome any objections or get around a weakness or negative quality. To safeguard from hiring bad apples, throw them a curveball when they’re expecting a fastball, to catch them off guard. Ask a question like this one:

If we ever got into a bind with a client, would you be willing to tell a little white lie to help us out?

That’s what one high-level CEO routinely asks to test out a candidate’s integrity. If you are asked that question and say yes, expect a short interview and your parking stub validated early. A no indicates a high degree of integrity and a possible good hire.”


January 29, 2018

By Steve Keating via stevekeating.me   Article

Different Leadership

“Much has been written about the differences in various generational groups. Especially the vast differences when it comes to leading Millennials.

But new information has recently come to light that reveals some surprising insights into who this mysterious demographic actually is. As it turns out, they are people! And they are people who have more in common with other age groups than you might think. …

Millennials’ goals are surprisingly similar to older generations. 25% want to make a positive impact on their organization verses 23% of Boomers. 22% of Millennials want to help solve social and environmental challenges vs 24% of Boomers.

Most older generations assume that Millennials want to do everything online yet when surveyed Millennials say their top three preferences for learning new skills at work are physical, not virtual. They would prefer to attend a third-party sponsored conference, attend in-person classroom training or work alongside knowledgeable colleagues.

Everybody knows that Millennials want constant acclaim and they think everyone on the team should get a trophy. Everybody knows that except Millennials.

The facts say that 35% of Millennials simply want fair and ethical treatment. 35% want to work in a transparent environment where relevant information is willingly shared and 29% want to work in an environment where their actual accomplishments are recognized. That sounds an awful lot like Boomers to me!

You need to be careful when investing in Millennials because they are more likely to jump ship if a position doesn’t fulfill their needs, right? Well, not exactly.

Employees of each generation share the same reasons for changing organizations. 47% of Gen X’ers leave a company for more money or a more creative environment. That number is 42% for Boomers and …. are you ready for it…. 42% for Millennials. …

While you should be aware of the differences between generations what you really need to be aware of are the differences within the generations. Lumping all Millennials into one group and trying to lead every member of that group the same way is a huge mistake. Just as it would be to lead every member of any generation exactly the same. …

The most effective leaders talk with their people often enough to truly understand their differences, they ask questions until they grasp what makes each person unique. Then they lead them in such as way as to help them succeed.  … If your people aren’t worth the time it takes to truly get to know them then I’m sorry to say that you may not have time to lead.”


Shyness, avoidance, unsociability

January 22, 2018

By Geoffrey James via inc.com   Article

Collaboration Kills Creativity, According to Science

“The notion that collaboration makes people more creative has become conventional wisdom in the business world. Here’s a typical example:

Collaboration has recently emerged as the defining characteristic of creativity and growth in nearly all sectors and industries. The singular genius who works alone is a myth of yesterday.

Despite this kind of corporate-speak truthiness, there is substantial scientific evidence that collaboration, rather than sparking creativity, results in group-think and mediocrity. What does result in creativity? Simple: solitude.

According to a study recently published in the Elselvier journal ScienceDirect.com, the character traits of ‘shyness, avoidance, [and] unsociability,’ while generally seen as undesirable, are positively associated with creativity.

Furthermore, intelligent people are happier when they have less social interaction, even with their friends, according to a national survey of 15,000 respondents aged 18 to 28 and quoted in the Washington Post:

The more social interactions with close friends a person has, the greater their self-reported happiness. But there was one big exception. For more intelligent people, these correlations were diminished or even reversed. More intelligent individuals were actually less satisfied with life if they socialized with their friends more frequently. [Emphasis mine]

… According to an article in the Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior …

By separating us from our usual social and physical environments, solitude can remove those people and objects that define and confirm our identities. The people we see and the places we frequent reinforce our identities as students, parents, police officers, or whomever. … By extracting us from our customary social and physical contexts (or at least altering our experience of them), solitude facilitates self-examination, reconceptualization of the self, and coming to terms with change.

Put another way, being around other people keeps creative people from thinking new thoughts. … Even if your office is full of geniuses, they’ll be less creative en masse than if they can work and think alone. In short, it’s difficult and maybe even impossible to ‘think out of the box’ when you’re literally inside a box (i.e., an open-plan office) that’s full of other people.”



January 22, 2018

By Steve Keating via stevekeating.me   Article

Unfortunately is More Than a Word

“Unfortunately! It’s more than a word, it’s a signal. It’s a signal that whatever follows is sure to be bad. When you’re on the phone with a customer service representative the last thing you want to hear is the dreaded ‘unfortunately.’ You know full well that shortly after unfortunately you’re going to hear the even more dreaded ‘can’t.’

Never tell someone what you can’t do, tell them what you can do. For example, if a friend asks you to help them move on Friday but you can only help them on Saturday then don’t say I can’t help on Friday but I can on Saturday. Just say you can help on Saturday. The psychological difference is huge.

‘Can’t’ gets burned into their memory… You become the person or company who can’t. We think differently about people who can’t and we certainly don’t buy from or do business with people who can’t.

Think about every time you’ve heard the word unfortunately. How many times has it been followed with ‘you’ve won the lottery?’ I’m betting not once!

There are a lot of words we would be better off just leaving out of our vocabulary; but, never, and always are just a few. Unfortunately is another one.  Unfortunately is like chewing on an old dirty sock, it may not kill you but it sure leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

If you are in any type of customer service role…I shouldn’t have to say this but somehow I fill compelled; if you are in business or work for a business, regardless of your title, role or job description, YOU DO HAVE A CUSTOMER SERVICE ROLE… do everything you can to avoid using the word unfortunately.

No matter how positive the statement is that you make after using that unfortunate word it will seem like a negative to the person on the receiving end.

Fortunately with a little forethought you can almost entirely eliminate unfortunately from your vocabulary.  Choices matter, even the choice of the words we use each day. Choose well!”

In 15 seconds

January 22, 2018

By Bill Murphy Jr. via inc.com   Article

In 15 Seconds, This Website Calculator Will Give You Perspective and Make You Feel Thankful

 “How wealthy and successful are you?If you hesitate in answering that question, I have some good news. The mere fact that you’re able to read this article tells me you’re probably among the most well-off people in the world.

… if you’re looking for a fast way to find something great to be thankful for, I’ve got just the thing. It’s a website called the Global Rich List, and it takes about 15 seconds. Input your annual income, or your estimated net worth, and it will quickly show you where you rank among all people in the world in terms of wealth.

No surprise, if you live in the U.S. or another developed country–and if you have access to electricity, the Internet, and are able to read English–you’re going to find find that you’re among the world’s wealthiest people. You’ll also gain a lot of perspective.

A few examples:

  • A Texan who takes home $75,000 a year (after taxes) would be in the top 0.11 percent richest people in the world, according to the site, and would be ranked the number #6,645,709 richest person on earth by income.
  • A New Yorker bringing home $600,000 in post-tax income–which is a lot of money, but if you live in this part of the country you certainly know some people who do it–would rank within the top 1 million richest people in the world (936,208, to be exact). That’s also enough to put him or her in the top 0.02 percent of income earners.
  • A Florida retiree with $500,000 in home equity and another $500,000 in investments would be in the top 0.65 percent worldwide–ranked about 29,430,000 out of the 7.6 billion people on the planet based on assets.
 … step back and realize that by making what passes for a normal salary, or having accumulated a comfortable if not particularly remarkable amount of wealth in this country, you’re actually among the most fortunate, wealthy people in the world.”