A New Era in Business?

May 22, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

Those who know me best would not consider me a sentimental person. In fact, my wife would probably laugh out loud if someone suggested that I was indeed sentimental. But with my oldest graduating from high school in a couple of days, it has caused me to think about what work life might be like for him four or five (hopefully four!!!!) years down the road.

It seems to me that we’ve experienced another sea change in the way business is being conducted. During my career I’ve seen the concept of life-long employment with gold watches and generous pensions at retirement come to an end. I’ve lived through the “greed is good” days of the ’90s. I’ve watched as younger employees approach work as a strict trading of talent and time for dollars. I’ve seen the impact the Internet has had on companies and the way they conduct business, and the changes are startling. Then we had the Enron, WorldComm, and Tyco debacles.

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Is Business Still Fun?

May 15, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

The other day I was having a conversation with a friend and colleague — more friend than colleague. We were discussing the economy, business, and some of the challenges we’re experiencing at our company. As we wrapped up our conversation and I headed for the door, he asked me, “Are you all right?”

His question surprised me. I had to ask him what he meant by it. Of course, I’m “all right.” But he was being perceptive. The current economic environment and its impact on business is weighing on me and probably just about everyone else.

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Truth or Consequences: Not So Much

May 11, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

Help me out here. Less than 48 hours ago, I wrote about the need for CEOs to earn back the trust of their employees and gave a few suggestions about how they might do that. This morning I turn on the television to find none other than Elliot Spitzer providing commentary on the current state of the economy and the regulatory changes necessary to right our financial system. Not only that, but the network he appeared on showed poll results indicating that the majority of New Yorkers would prefer to have Spitzer back in the governor’s mansion in place of his successor, Gov. David Patterson.

What’s going on here? Gov. Spitzer, who made his reputation as New York’s attorney general, strictly enforcing ethics rules and chasing corruption (whether real or perceived), was undone by his involvement with prostitutes. Just a little over a year after his resignation, he appears to be successfully returning to public life and even has the support of the majority of voters from his home state.

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Employee Trust: Going, Going, Gone!

May 05, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

Trust. Webster’s defines it as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something; or one in which confidence is placed.”

Based on this definition, how many of us would say that the average employee trusts senior management? Not many. In fact, research shows that less than half of all employees trust senior management. And when asked about the CEO specifically, only 28% of employees believe that CEOs are a credible source of information.

Nearly three out of four employees think the CEO is a liar! Is ‘liar’ too strong of a word? If someone is NOT considered a credible source of information, it means people don’t believe that they’re speaking the truth. If you’re not speaking the truth, you’re lying — and, therefore, a liar.

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Careful What You Wish For: GM Management’s Payback to Obama and the UAW?

April 30, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

I read Tuesday that General Motors Corporation outlined a new plan that would give the U.S. government a controlling stake in the company. In addition, GM said it would use stock to pay off half of the amount it owes the United Auto Workers (UAW) to cover retiree benefits.

I checked my calendar. It wasn’t April Fools Day. So I’ve reached the conclusion that this is either a sick joke or an incredibly clever plan dreamed up by GM’s management in order to poke back at the Obama administration, which forced out GM’s CEO earlier this year while also getting in a shot at the UAW.

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Dazed and Confused in an ‘Uncertain Economy’

April 17, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 1 COMMENTS

I’m in the process of writing my Q1 report for our board of directors and I’m trying to come up with the appropriate adjective to describe the current economic environment and explain its impact on our business.

As I searched for the right adjective to describe the business climate we’re facing I first considered “challenging.” How often have we read or hear a sentence begin with “In these challenging economic times…”? And while I would agree that they are indeed challenging, I’m pretty sure it’s not the best word.

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Do Shareholder Rights Matter to Obama?

April 07, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 11 COMMENTS

I was amazed when I first learned that the Obama administration had requested the resignation of GM CEO Rick Wagoner. After thinking about it for a few minutes, I became dismayed.

Did Rick Wagoner deserve to lose his job? I don’t know. But I do know that it is not the role of government to call for the job of the chief executive of a public company. Public companies are typically run by an executive. That executive is hired by and answers to a board of directors. The board of directors is elected by the shareholders, and the board is responsible for ensuring that the company is run in the best interests of the shareholder owners. Nowhere in this chain of command do I see the federal government!

I can hear people screaming now, “But GM was asking for a bailout from the Federal government. That gives them the right to pick the CEO.” I disagree. The shareholders are still the owners of GM, and they should get to pick who runs their company. The government can choose whether or not the company is deserving of the bailout based on a number of factors including who is running the company. But when they force the resignation of the chief executive, they’re taking away the power and authority of the current owners, and that’s not right.

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An Executive’s Thoughts on Executive Pay

April 02, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

Imagine for a moment that you own a company. Unfortunately, your company, like many companies recently, has experienced some problems that have put its mere survival in question. You’ve taken action, removed the employees who were responsible for creating most of the problems, and even brought in a new senior executive — a seasoned industry veteran with a successful track record — who you think can help clean up the mess and put your company back on the path to success.

Your new CEO has even agreed to work without salary for the first year or more, until you get the company back on its feet. If he succeeds, you promise to give him a small ownership stake in the enterprise. He’s made some progress, but the company is not out of the woods yet as he continues to unwind the issues created by his predecessors and attempts to overcome some of the obligations he has been saddled with.

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Insights from the C-Suite

March 27, 2009 - by: Dan Oswald 0 COMMENTS

I’m Dan Oswald, president and publisher of M. Lee Smith Publishers, and the newest blogger on the Employment Law Post. My first posts appeared on the Human Resources News blog. Here’s a list of those posts.

The Time for Bold Action

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