Courage Is Critical at Work

February 05, 2010 - by: Dan Oswald 2 COMMENTS

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by those you did.” Mark Twain

Ever find yourself at work wondering whether or not to speak up in a meeting? You have an idea that you think might really make a difference, but you’re unsure how it might be received by your colleagues or, more important, your boss. As the seconds tick away, you debate with yourself whether your idea has enough merit to share it with the group.

Courage seems like a strange word to associate with the average employee. Policemen and soldiers need to be courageous. But does the average employee holding down an office job need courage?

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Management and Employees Shouldn’t Be Enemies

January 08, 2010 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

The other day a colleague brought a recent New York Times article to my attention. The headline read, “A Once-Defiant U.A.W. Local Now Focuses on G.M.’s Success.” Excuse my naivete, but why wouldn’t the employees of a company always have been focused on the company’s success? Is there ever an excuse for an employee not to make his or her best effort on the company’s behalf in order to help it succeed? Is there ever a reason for employees to knowingly and willingly sabotage the company that they work for and are paid by?

Let me provide more of the story. The U.A.W. local covered by the story was in Lordstown, Ohio. According to the New York Times, “In the 1970s, the factory’s 7,000 workers were so bitter toward management that thousands of Chevrolet Vegas rolled off the assembly line with slit upholstery and other damage . . . and the term ‘Lordstown syndrome’ become shorthand to describe rebellious American factory workers.”

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5 New Year’s Resolutions for Work

December 27, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

Every year at this time, it’s tradition to make a few resolutions for the new year. And most resolutions are very personal. Many people really want to lose a few pounds, so more exercise and a better diet will be on their list for 2010. Or it may be the desire to be a better spouse and parent, so more time with the family would make the list. Improving organizational skills in the new year is another common resolution that many make.

All of these are worthy and commendable resolutions. But what about making a few professional resolutions? What should be on your list of work-related resolutions for 2010? Here are 5 resolutions you might want to consider for the coming year:

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What Makes a Great Employee?

December 18, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

Frequently I’m asked, “What is the one thing that sets really great employees apart from the rest?” It’s an interesting question. I’m always surprised that people would assume that there might be a single common thread that ties all the best employees together. The questioners assume there is a single trait shared by the best employees instead of thinking that what makes the best employees, well, the best, is their individuality and personal strengths.

I typically answer their question with a single word, “Yes.” I do believe there is a single trait that is shared by all of the best people I have worked with over the years.

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Move Out of Your Comfort Zone

December 04, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

I recently handed a newspaper column written by Financial Times columnist Luke Johnson to my 18-year old son for him to read. I knew that my son would like Mr. Johnson’s message. The column topic was the “clash of generations under way at the top of so many organizations.” His premise was that we are now in the Digital Age, yet most of those in leadership positions came of age in an old technology world and, therefore, are not “digital natives.”

So far, not much to argue with. We are certainly living in the digital age. And most of top management are old enough to remember the workplace without desktop computers.

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Corporate Culture Done Right: Southwest Airlines

November 29, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 2 COMMENTS

A colleague recently passed along a column written by Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, which first appeared in the airline’s “Spirit Magazine.” The title of the piece was “Culture Done Differently.” In it, Mr. Kelly explains that at Southwest they try to keep their culture “supportive, active and fun.”

If you’ve ever flown on Southwest, you’ll know that not only do they talk the talk, but they walk the walk. Southwest’s company culture is not only reflected in its policies, but it oozes out from every employee.

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Symbolism and the C-Suite: Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

June 12, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

For the last decade, big companies and the people who run them have been some of the most despised and least trusted in America. In the 80s and 90s, “greed was good” as everyone benefited from a skyrocketing stock market. No one much cared what was going on in those big companies as long as the market was rising and so was everyone’s 401(k) right along with it.

But with the bursting of the tech stock market bubble, everyone’s retirement savings took a hit. That was followed quickly by the very public financial collapse of Enron where thousands of employees lost all of their retirement money because of the fraudulent activities of a few senior executives. Then in very quick succession we had the debacles at Tyco, Adelphia, and HealthSouth. The public’s trust in big business and those who run them was gone. And now the failure and the bailouts of some of this country’s largest institutions have been like throwing salt in an open wound.

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