Treating Employees Like Associates

Teamwork And Integration Concept

This is a guest post by J.D. “Dave” Power III,
 Founder of J.D. Power and Associates. Dave is the subject of a new book  POWER: How J.D. Power III Became the Auto Industry’s Adviser, Confessor, and Eyewitness to History.

Empower Others

In 1982, Tom Peters and Bob Waterman profiled a number of successful companies in their book In Search of Excellence. One section profiled two companies that had done well by valuing employees: Hewlett Packard, founded in 1939, and Walmart, founded in 1962.

My company, J.D. Power and Associates, was more than a dozen years old by the time the book came out, but I remember thinking how similar my approach to managing people was to that of Sam Walton, Bill Hewlett, and Dave Packard. Like Walton, I called my employees “associates” — something I was so committed to that I included them in the company name alongside my own.  And like Hewlett and Packard, I saw the empowerment of individuals as the best way for the whole organization to achieve success.

 

The empowerment of individuals is the best way for the organization to achieve success. –JD Power

 

Peters and Waterman tracked down the sources of HP and Walmart’s management philosophies: Sam Walton had learned about working with people at J.C. Penney and modeled many of his company’s core values on that culture. For Hewlett and Packard, it was lessons learned by working with government offices and for other electronics companies that taught them what not to do.

Treat Employees Like Associates

For me, the foundation of my philosophy for how to treat people — central to my management style — came from observations of what to do and not to do, and those observations started early.

I have always been a student of why people behave the way they do. This goes back to my family, my dad and his explanations to me, and to school. I think I learned a lot in grade school and college about why people do what they do and to have a respect for what they’re doing.

My father, a high school English teacher, was always giving me advice that proved invaluable in running a company. The path he took in his life was the furthest thing from business, but he had a keen sense of the way the world worked and very intelligent insights about people. While I was still in school he told me, “When you’re in charge of people, don’t ask them to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.”

My first opportunity to put this advice to use was in the Coast Guard.  As an officer stationed on an icebreaker, I was in a position to manage crewmembers from every state in the union and of different races and economic backgrounds.  Many of these men, working as enginemen or boatswains or in the officer mess deck, were just out of high school or were crusty career enlisted men with little patience for young officers.  I made it a point to treat them all with respect and, above all, to talk with and listen to them.  I felt that some other officers, especially the ring-knockers who had come out of the academy, relied far too much on the number of stripes they had to bolster their authority — and I also saw the pitfalls of doing so.  The officers who did not listen to the crew often found it difficult to achieve their goals.  And examples of this behavior went all the way to the top, to the captain in place when I began my first deployment.

This captain created conditions for the crew to misbehave and then came down hard on these young men when they took advantage of the opportunity.  But his gravest mistake, in my view, was an unwillingness to listen to the thoughts of the people who were subordinate to him.

6 Steps to Building a Powerhouse Organization

Silhouette Of Basketball Basket
This is a guest post by James M. Kerr. James is a Partner at BlumShapiro Consulting. He is a business strategist and organizational behaviorist.  His latest book is The Executive Checklist: A Guide for Setting Direction and Managing ChangeYou can follow him on twitter.

Chemistry is the Secret to Success

The tip-off of the annual NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship triggered a question in my head: “How does a business leader build a perennial powerhouse like some of those NCAA basketball teams do every year?”

Clearly, the finest companies in the world are the ones where management and staff share an unrelenting passion to be the best.  How do leaders foster this passion for winning?  Certainly, getting the right people on the team, setting a common goal and enabling success differentiates the best from the rest.  But, there’s an intangible in the equation, the importance of which should not be ignored. It’s called chemistry.

 

Placing your highest regard on impeccable execution leaves no room for mediocrity. -James Kerr

 

Why is chemistry important?  Simply put, high performing people resent mediocre performing ones and mediocre performers begrudge those that perform at the highest level of achievement.  Indeed, getting the chemistry right is as important to the establishment of ongoing business success as garnering a talented team and constructing a compelling vision for it to follow.

We all want to be captivated by a “Big Idea.”  It’s part of the human condition to want to be part of something special and contribute to making it so.  Once enthralled, we want to be surrounded by like-minded people who share our enthusiasm and thirst to achieve.

As business leaders, it is our job to provide a vivid and exciting vision and ensure that we hire the “right” people – ones that buy in, fit in and want to work together to realize that stirring vision.  And, my friends, the latter comes down to understanding and managing “chemistry.”

 

The best businesses consistently remain fixated on being the best. -James Kerr

 

Building the “Right” Chemistry

So, what steps can be taken to shape winning chemistry within an organization?  There is no simple recipe.  However, there are six guideposts that leaders can use to move the process forward, including:

 

1. Champion a “Do Your Job” attitude – Do your job.  There is much implied in those three simple words, including being prepared, paying attention to detail, working hard, and putting the team ahead of yourself.   It also points to the need for senior leadership to ensure that every member of his or her organization understands what their job is and that they prepare every day to execute it.

Why You Should Comment on Blogs

bigstock-Comment-Word-And-Cursor-47026396

I’ve been blogging for just over two years now.  One of the strange things I have noticed:

Most readers are not bloggers, but it seems that most commenters are bloggers.

Why You Should Comment

So, if you aren’t a blogger, why should you comment on a blog?

If you like what you read, it is hugely rewarding to the blogger when you share the post via your social networks.  When I see a post take off, I know what is resonating and it helps me prioritize what to write about in future posts.

Most readers are not bloggers, but it seems that most commenters are bloggers. -Skip Prichard

There’s nothing worse than writing a post and hearing nothing but crickets.

In addition to sharing, consider adding a comment.

Why comment?  Well, technically it helps the blog because it shows that the page is updated.  That, in turn, increases the relevance and the chance that Google will rate the blog higher.

But that’s not why you should do it.

ENCOURAGE

Yes, that’s reason enough.  If you like the blog you are reading, why not encourage the blogger by jumping in?  When I started commenting on other blogs, I saw the power of a little encouragement. Feedback matters. In addition to encouraging the blogger, I have noticed that it encourages the community of readers at the site to think about issues differently.

INFLUENCE

What I like to see is the dialogue, the conversation, the debate, or the agreement.  You may add a story or an additional thought.  You may agree or point out something that I missed.  You may change someone’s thinking.  My own views are more informed when I read what others are writing.

RELATIONSHIP

You are able to build a relationship with someone fast when you comment regularly.  I have made friends this way and have connected with my regular commenters, too.  It makes a difference.

Why don’t most readers comment?  It ranges from fear of making a mistake to not knowing how to do it or even worrying about getting spam email.  It really isn’t hard.  Most blogs, like this one, do not spam you or send you any email because of your comments.

COMMUNITY

I receive a lot of personal email from people about posts I write, but I have decided not to engage in side conversations for the most part.  Because, if you have a comment or question, others likely will have the same one.  Why not let everyone benefit?  And, frankly, I just don’t have the time to answer a question many times when it could be done once.

Why Bloggers Comment

Why do bloggers comment on other blogs?

If you study Web marketing, you know that there are many reasons you want to be a regular commenter.  A few of those reasons are:

  • Gain traffic back to your Website.
  • Build backlinks to your blog.
  • Build a relationship with the other blogger or the community.
  • Increase your authority as an expert.
  • Improve your search ranking with the search engines.
  • Because they appreciate and know how hard the job of blogging really is!

A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS EVER LEFT A COMMENT ON THIS BLOG.

I do have a comments policy where I reserve the right to delete any comment that is inappropriate, spam, advertising, offensive, profane, or for whatever reason is not wanted.  That’s the right of the blogger.  I try to leave comments that disagree with me and have only deleted a handful of comments in two years.