Tag archive for "Bill Catlette"

by Bill, Leadership, Management, Motivation

Discretionary Effort: Why Wisconsin’s Governor (and Yours) May be Playing a Losing Game

No Comments 27 February 2011

Having already wrung needed and significant concessions from them, the newly elected Governor of Wisconsin has been making a rather poorly disguised effort to nullify the collective bargaining agreements and rights of various groups of state workers, principally teachers. As with nearly every other issue of import these days, the whole world is suddenly watching, including like-minded governors in several other states who are licking their chops at the prospect of following the lead penguin into the drink. Whoa… Full Flaps, Brakes, Stop!

In the interest of full disclosure, I am no fan of labor unions. Indeed, a significant portion of my professional effort over the course of 3 decades has focused on helping organizations obviate unions by maintaining a positive employee relations culture, a culture in which both the individual and the organization can do their best work and gain the most from it.

That said, I respect every worker’s right to make a choice as to whether or not they are willing to enter into a direct, cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship with their management. That choice is most often based on whether or not management has earned the benefit of the doubt. If the answer is yes, workers feel no need to reach out and seek (let alone pay for) the protection of organized labor. Are you with me so far? Alright, hang on.

Demonstrations notwithstanding, I believe there is an even chance that Governor Scott Walker will pull off some kind of flash bang, middle of the night vote and get his way, even if it means reinventing the law right before our eyes. Even if that comes to pass, while winning the hand, he will lose the game. Correction, the people of Wisconsin will lose. How? Because there will still be a need for thousands of teachers, and every one of them will STILL make a quiet daily decision as to whether they want to give their full measure of effort that day, or mail it in. Given the backdrop, which choice do you think they will make?

For the last twelve years we have worked almost entirely within the field of Discretionary Effort, studying, writing, speaking, and teaching leaders about that extra layer of effort that every one of us can give to a situation if, but only if we want to. Eerily consistent with similar work by Towers Watson and Gallup, our own engagement surveys suggest that barely 50% of workers are, by their own admission doing their very best work, and that most of us routinely expend no more than 60 to 70% of our maximum effort in the workspace. In other words, a lot of unspent capacity goes home with us at day’s end.

So, if just half of the 50,000 or so teachers in a state, any state choose to ratchet the ‘ole effort meter back another 10-20%, what is that going to cost to compensate for the lost productivity? Perhaps more importantly, what will it do to the level of educational performance in the state? If you’re getting a mental image of a post office being superimposed over your local school district, you’re getting the picture.

Since the publication of our first book, Contented Cows Give Better Milk in 1998, we have maintained that giving workers (be they on an assembly line at GM, or a school in Racine) benefits they haven’t earned, the market doesn’t require, and you can’t afford is the antithesis of good employee relations, because some day you have to take all that stuff back. As the folks at GM did, and now a lot of teachers and other municipal workers face that same music, the last thing in the world we, through our elected representatives ought to be doing is rubbing their faces in it, just because we can. It’s not good business or good politics, and it’s certainly not good employee relations. Motivated people move faster.

As always, your thoughts and ideas are welcome

*****

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the newly released book,Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their  website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

Rebooting Leadership is Launched!

by Bill, by Richard, Leadership

Rebooting Leadership is Launched!

1 Comment 03 February 2011

Since the middle of 2007, corporate and other organizational training budgets have been in the deep freeze, along with new hire requisitions and your last three merit increases. During that period, four classes of grads have found their way into the workplace. Many of them have since moved into their first management positions as their predecessors and even a few baby boomers have ascended a rung, or moved along. Most of these moves have occurred with virtually no formal preparation or training to enhance the likelihood of success. Moreover, during this same period, the workspace has become a faster paced, less trusting, less forgiving, meaner place.

Learning about little things, like how to select/deselect teammates, how to coach for better performance, how to acquire and use influence, how to manage time/priorities, and how to recover from a failed project or other career spill has largely been declared DIY territory.

Against this backdrop, and armed with the belief that a recession is a terrible thing to waste, in 2009 we embarked on a new book project. The “we” in this case took on a new dimension by virtue of two important new partnerships.

First, on the writing front, we teamed up with Reston, Virginia based management consultant and coach, Meredith Kimbell. Meredith added fresh perspective, tons of great examples from her consulting practice, a pithy writing style, and a woman’s touch. And, she’s just plain fun to work with.

Second, in order to accentuate B2B sales, we signed on with the king of leadership book publishing and B2B distribution, David Cottrell of Cornerstone Leadership Institute. A strong reader’s advocate, David pushes authors, his staff, and himself to do their very best work, and do it in less than 118 pages. There is no doubt that he pushed and cajoled us into doing a better book. And, true to his word, David consistently does exactly what he says he will do. How refreshing is that?

For those who speak, train, coach, and consult for a living, as we do, doing a new book is akin to printing new business cards – expensive business cards. It is also a lever that forces us to think long and hard about new realities, and prepare fresh advice and content for client presentations; content that is worthy of the time it takes to read or listen to. Forgive the lack of modesty, but we’re confident that we’ve succeeded.

Rebooting Leadership, our newest work, was written expressly for the above-referenced 1st and 2nd level managers, who daily attend to the myriad thankless tasks associated with getting the wash out, and those who coach and lead them. It’s a high protein, fad-free guidebook that is chock full of prescriptive advice for surviving and succeeding in the new world in which we find ourselves. Think of it as a semester’s worth of leadership education for much less than the price of a textbook or seminar.

Rebooting Leadership is an easy, 2 hour read, equipped with immediately actionable insight and prescriptions. Available both in print and digital versions for the Kindle reader, it is our best stuff to date, and we want you to have it.

The book even has its own website, at RebootingLeadership.com.

The print edition is available for $15.95 from Cornerstone Leadership Institute (volume discounts apply).

The Kindle version is available for $9.99 from Amazon.

For those who like to try before they buy, a free sample chapter is available by clicking this link.

OR – if you want to have one of the authors come to your organization and teach your leaders what it means to reboot their leadership, click here.

Whichever path you choose, we’re confident that you will find Rebooting Leadership a valuable addition to your management library.

by Bill, Leadership

Stimulate This!

No Comments 17 February 2009

Well, now that the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been signed into law, the heavy lifting begins, amidst the hoopla and controversy over who has the most “shovel ready” projects worthy of public financing.

In that vein there was an excellent piece (Smart Roads, Smart Bridges. Smart Grids.) by Michael Totty in today’s WSJ. In well-written, compelling fashion, Mr. Totty advocates  using currently available technology and good engineering methods to leave us with “highways that alert motorists of a traffic jam before it forms; bridges that report when they’re at risk of collapse; or an electric grid that fixes itself when blackouts hit.”  In other words, as long as we’re at it, let’s use some smart data gathering and design methods to yield much better outcomes.

In similar fashion, we have long called attention to the fact that smart, well-run organizations make it a point to regularly (no, constantly) sample the ebb and flow of worker morale using well constructed surveys. They do it not out of some socialistic bent, but because they know that to a great degree, today’s morale drives tomorrow’s customer experience, and next month’s earnings. In other words, it pays to do it. This is not something where they turn the spigot on when times are good and shut it off when things get tough. Rather, they take pains to listen and respond to their workers whether the wind is in their face or at their backs.

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com

by Bill, Think About It...

Let's Do More Than Say Thanks

No Comments 27 November 2008

USO soldiersLet’s keep it short, sweet, and simple today. Amidst all the hoopla about our limping economy, new (?) tide of politicians, and terrorist attacks in India, let’s get beyond ourselves and say a special thank you to the brave men and women of the U.S. military who have forgone stock options, comfort, time with loved ones, and personal safety to put themselves in harm’s way for us.

We’ve never asked readers of this column or our free monthly leadership e-zine, Fresh Milk for a dime, and don’t plan to start now, but I am asking that, before launching into holiday madness mode, you go to the Army and Air Force Exchange Service or the USO , crack open your wallet, and show some support for the folks who are looking out for us. One of my favorite ways is to buy a bunch of the 550 minute Global Phone Cards and, in my travels, simply hand them to DCU clad troops in the airport, together with a simple Thank You. Do it… today. They’ll feel better, and so will you.

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com


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Considered thought leaders in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden speak to, train, and coach managers on leadership practices for better business outcomes.

OUR PREMISE: Having a focused, engaged, and capably led workforce is one of the best things any organization can do for its bottom line.

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