Thursday, April 16, 2009

What's Worse? Being Micro-Managed or Being a Cubs Fan?

This issue has been debated countless times (at least once) over the past 101 years...How would the majority of people prefer to be tortured---at work, having some asshole supervisor constantly looking over your shoulder for any possible flaw in your TPS reports...Or in your leisure time, watching the Cubbies play baseball during a typical season, which usually, for all practical purposes is "over" by the All-Star break, as they languish 9 games behind the Central Division leading Cardinals...or some other fluke team during that particular season.

Of course, there are pros and cons to consider for your particular preference for torture.  I've been micro-managed, but not for an entire lifetime.  Usually, a few years at a time is all I've had to endure.

The poor Cub fan has had to experience the emotional trauma of heartbreak, disappointment, or just plain disgust, every single year.  But, the "catch"---Once the pain and suffering for that recent season of futility ends, which usually coincides with Halloween, there's a period of recovery, where slowly but surely, false hope for "next year" starts to flash through even the most pessimistic Cub-olites.  The sad rationalization process begins..."If only Bartman would've gotten out of the way"..."If only Pujols played for us instead of them"..."If only that black cat wouldn't have jinxed us in '69"..."If only (insert pitcher's name) wasn't always getting hurt"...

And so it goes...Delusional rationalization.  However, at least there's that brief four to six month vacation from reality that rejuvinates those optimistic Chicago-land-olians to endure another inevitable season of torture.

If you're like 69% of American employees, your vacations from hell don't last that long.  Oh, you might take the family out to Wally World for a week or two, but let's face it...You can't get that pompous, back-stabbing so-called boss out of your head for more than a few minutes at a time, during any waking moments.  But then, you start thinking about the Cubs again...Is there no God?

Believe it or not, I really thought the Cubs were absolutely destined to win the World Series last year.  They not only had the best team in the National League...until the post-season began...They had that magical, incredible, and...weird 100 Year Anniversary thing going for them...Or so I thought.  Of course, I'm referring to the 1908 season, when the Cubs were the World Champions of the (smaller) baseball world.  Still they , were one of the greatest dead-ball era teams in history, and that ain't so bad...

Speaking of "dead balls", I remember the time my micro-managing boss...No, I can't say that on the air...There may be youths out there reading this bullshit.  Did I say that?  You bet I did, because "bullshit" s officially been accepted as a normal part of American business least as far as I'm concerned...If memory serves me correctly, I use that word, or a simple variation of that word about fifty times in my book, Life Under the Corporate Microscope, by Larry Underwood.

Was that an overly blatant attempt at shamelessly self-promoting my book?  Well, I certainly hope so...I've got to do it, because I just realized the other day...Nobody else is willing to do it.  They've got more important things to worry about...Such as having a micro-managing boss from hell...Or being a Cubs fan.

The debate will never end.  I truly feel the pain for either sufferer, and had the horrible thought race through my head...What about the double agony of being micro-managed and being a Cubs fan?

My heart goes out to you all.  If you're being micro-managed, maybe your boss will get that well deserved promotion to a higher level of the corporate hierarchy where yowu won't be directly impacted by their idiocy...However, just hope they don't screw up the entire company by having too much influence.

Sadly, if you're a Cubs fan, forget about it.  They won't win the World Series again this year.  In fact, they won't even come close to making it to the World Series this year...or any year.  That's just the way it goes.  I don't make the rules.  I just report them, impartially, as any St Louisan would be inclined to do. 

However, if I'm wrong (rarely ever happens), I suppose I'll be happy for you.  Bye.

Monday, April 13, 2009

skip to main skip to sidebar
Life Under the Enterprise Corporate Microscope
Monday, April 13, 2009

The Wild and Wacky World of the Internet
The internet fascinates me more each day. I've been doing these little blogs for a few months now, and up until recently, was convinced nobody was actually reading them.In all honesty, the only reason I started this nonsense was to promote my recently published book, Life Under the Corporate Microscope, because after all, now that I'm finished writing it (the easy part), I've got to figure out ways to market the f*cking thing. There. I almost used the "f" word, in its full splendor, but realized children under the age of 18 may some how be viewing this and tell on me, or something.But I love my fans. A week or so ago, a got a nice little email from a nice lady, inviting me to be some sort of article writer for their website, Allsources, and of course I graciously accepted the offer.As a way of introducing myself to the Allaboutme website, I simply went back through my archives, and reposted the original press release from January. Apparently (for good reason) the Allrightythen editorial team allowed the posting to get...posted, but rated it on the lowest posssible denominator as far as "credibillity" goes.Who could blame them? I appeared to be shamlessly self-promoting my book, and as far as Allswell was concerned, whatever objective credibility I had went flying out the door.Stunned, I promptly submitted a comment, which of course was the only comment made...Stating the fact that it's sold a pretty good number of copies, and more arguing about its true credibility, and so on. I concluded by suggesting their staff take a look at how well it had been selling on Amazon, and how favorable the reviews were.Sure enough, shortly thereafter, they raised my credibility factor up a couple of nocthes, to "average", and that was fair enough as far as I was concerned.My next offering was a nice book review for my new friend, Paul Herr, who wrote "Primal Management". It's a great book which really blows the whole concept of "employee motivation" right out of the water...I was going to say something more clever than "water", but couldn't do it. Seriously, it's a book every CEO of every corporation in the world needs to read, and implement its strategy, the sooner the better.Even though my "credibility rating" on this one was only a "two", I suppose I need more of a track record to have them really believe anything I write. Again, I don't blame 'em.Apparently, stuff I post is getting read by more people than I originally thought (again, that was me and about it). Late last night, as I was checking my email spams, Allsources notified me that I had a response to my little blurb about Paul Herr's book, so I checked it out. To say it was weird would be putting it mildly.It began, in broken English..."Greeting my dear friend. How are you and those arround you??" In case you were wondering, that's exactly how everything was spelled ("arround", sure why not?).As the rambling progressed, she let me know that her father in Somalia had been "killed by our Government...accused of coup attempt..."Then she went on to describe her $4.8 million fortune and how I was supposed to help her smuggle it out of Somalia, and something like help her do something with it and I'd get the usual 15% of the take of the action. Sounds logical to me. After all, why not solicit the help from the world's worst investor to help her safely place all that loot somewhere?Still a bit skeptical, I googled her daddy's name and within two seconds had a list of exactly the same requests, from Bakersfield to Boston, trying her scam at least a thousand times. Here I am trying to sell my book, and she's wasting my time on her fiendish plot.So call me stupid. I passed up $720,000 just like that and callously refused to save her money and her life. How could I be such a beast? I'll tell you how...I've got other things to do. So Somalia, I'll see ya later, but hopefully, not tomalia, or the day after. Now leave me alone and go pester somebody else. And please don't come over to America and shoot me as I innocently open the door when my door bell rings. I'm on to your little tricks.Boy, these kids. What are they going to think up next? I think I'll head over to Twitter now. Bye.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What Really Motivates Employees to Excel

There may be only a few times in a person's life where they finally figure something out, to the point of saying out loud, "Ah, ha!  Now I get it!"  I just had one of those moments, and what was so nice about it was the fact that it validates what I've been preaching for a very long time; Corporate America simply doesn't know how to manage its employees.  They don't really understand the biological motivational factors that makes us tick; that gets us to perform our jobs at maximum capacity.

The author of a book (Primal Management) that is due out in another week or so, Paul Herr, was interviewed at length (one and a half hours) about his theory that human beings are driven by five basic, biological instincts that essentially determine what motivates us to enjoy our work and be productive, if we're allowed to let those instincts flourish.

Of course, as one might suspect, in the real world of Corporate America, only 31% of us are happy with our jobs.  In other words, 69% of us have "bad attitudes"; we don't like our jobs, especially since we don't like our managers.  What Herr is suggesting will probably sound far-fetched to the bland, passionless majority of Corporate America, but it makes perfect sense for me; a guy  who despises corporate bureaucratic hierarchies, and their regimented and micro-managing style of dealing with employees.

Herr's concept of management is to encourage our human instincts for fulfillment in our jobs, resulting in a more efficient staff, better customer service, and of course, a better bottom line.  He's estimating that the general lack of productivity in Corporate America is taking about two or three trillion dollars out of the economy.  How's that for a Stimulis Package?

Just as humans instinctively practice the art of survival by eating food and drinking water, our brains have five motivational "hot buttons" that need to be fulfilled if we are to not only like our jobs, but do them in the most efficient way possible.  Here are those five primal, biological motivational factors that need to flourish if we're to flourish in our professons:

1) Being allowed to think of newer and better ways to do stuff; to advance, technologically.  We need to be able to release our creative instincts in a positive and rewarding environment.  Too often, creativity is pushed aside by management who fears change.  Conformity is the safest approach; maintaining the status-quo is the way to stay out of trouble.  Of course, that philosophy is the best strategy to produce an underperforming, unhappy work environment; and that's the real trouble, folks.

2) Being trained properly to allow the employees to achieve a high level of skill in performing their tasks.  Herr equates that warm feeling of satisfaction to the excitement you derive from hitting the perfect golf shot.  You always feel good about yourself when you're able to do certain things better than just about anybody else; so, a well trained and efficient employee tends to be a happy camper; even if they can't hit a golf ball to save their lives.  Maybe they're great bowlers instead; and of course, their proficiency at making widgets thrills them to the point of giddiness; they come into work smiling, and reluctantly leave their work station when the boss tells them to go home, but are very satisfied with their skills and take great pride in their work.

3) Achieving goals; challenge employees to continually be more productive; give them  specific goals, and praise them for their accomplishments; again, this simply builds the employees' self-esteem, creating a nice feeling of self-fulfillment.

4) Cooperation and teamwork; everyone working together to achieve a common goal.  In this environment, there's no fueding, jealousy, or overly competitive and insecure employees trying to look better than the next guy; everybody's just doing their jobs proficiently, and they're all rooting for each other to keep up the good work.  Finger pointing and backstabbing don't exist in this environment.

5) Self-protection; this is the "button" the good manager will make sure doesn't get pushed.  By giving non-threatening advice; constructive criticism; employees won't feel like they may be getting replaced at any moment.  Those poor Enterprise employees last fall had to be absolutely devestated when the company broke its 50 plus year tradition of never laying off a single employee.  Just like that, thousands were let go, and of course, that leaves the employees who survived that initial wave of firings to feel more than just a little defensive and paranoid that they may be next to go.  Under this type of environment, employee morale is as low as it can go, and the remaining disgruntled workers start developing surly attitudes towards their managers, their fellow workers, and of course, even the poor customers. 

The best managers will give their employees as much autonomy as possible, to allow them the chance to keep developing their skills and give them that wonderful feeling of accomplishment which in turn gives them a nice feeling of high self-esteem.  It's a great place to work; everybody's one big happy family, supporting their fellow employees and striving to keep improving.

This formula for success is simple common sense.  All we're doing is letting every employee's natural desires to feel like they're part of the grand plan, flow smoothly throughout the organization.  Let's hope this starts happening very soon, in America.

The question is, can the mindset of an erroneous way of doing business be changed, quickly, in a nation full of bureaucrats in corporate hierarchies in hundreds of corporations?  Do you believe in miracles?

America needs another miracle, ladies and gentlemen.  It's time to revolutionize our way of doing business; to free our workers from  the tyranny of the bosses from hell, and get this country back on track again.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Will Twitter Survive Its Most Irreverent Twitter-er?

The answer to the above rhetorical question is, yes; Twitter will not only survive the mad ramblings of its most irreverent twittering tweeter, a guy known simply as "lau56"; they will flourish. 

I'm the guy who has this whole "management" thing figured out, and when I post one of my original thoughts for day, I'm not fooling around.  In fact, I'll even head over to the "ExecTweets" arena, where such gurus as Richard Branson and Mark Cuban can be discovered, make my profoud statement, and then do something else; such as post another blog on another site; like here for example.  Welcome aboard.  The captain has indicated the flight time to be approximately two minutes and 30 seconds.  Seat belts are not required.

My first post on ExecTweets was a scintilating experience, which may have been read by six or seven people.  There are no official statistics on that, so that's my ball-park guess.  Whatever.  It was so good, I think I'll post it again, just for old time's sake:

The only thing Corporate America has to "fear" is the culture of "fear" Corporate America has created.

Paraphrasing FDR was a nice touch, I thought.  I wonder if anybody else got it.  I wonder if anybody else noticed it.  Well, you're reading it now, so that's good enough for me.  Here are some of my other profond ExecTweets:

A successful company has a clear set of core values which everyone in the organization applies when conducting business.

The boss is not always right.  Some are seldom right.  When you have the right answer give credit to the boss, anyway.

Good companies often go bad when they get too big for their own good.

Often your darkest hours will bring about moments of illumination that will guide you in a positive directioni for a lifetime.

The true measure of one's character is not determined by their success; rather, by how well they handle their adversity.

Investment Tweet of the day:  "L.L.C." really means "losing lots of capital".  (Disclaimer:  That's only the opinion of the artist known as lau56 and is not necessarily a definite way to piss away hundreds of thousand of dollars.)

Every now and then, I'll put a humorous spin on some of the elite ExecTweets.  These are the top dogs in the Twitter business world, and usually four or five of these gurus' words of wisdom are featured, as they scroll across the top of the page.  In my opinion, some of these thoughts aren't all that profound, or are such obvious platitudes, they come across as... stupid platitudes.  I won't quote them verbatum, but here are some basic examples:

Confidence from the CEO is the winning formula for successful employees.  Oh yeah?  What about overconfident CEOs who make stupid decisions?  How does that affect the employees well-being? 

Quality training of  a company's employees will ensure the company will succeed.  Oh yeah?  What if the company's CEO is a nit-wit, with a staff of nit-wits making bad decisions?  How will a well-trained employee handle a business plan that is destined for failure?

My favorite came from someone who made the following hilarious observation:

Who needs a PR firm when everyone on ExecTweets is their own PR firm on steroids?  That one got my vote, folks.  I love it.  I think I'll head over there before retiring for the evening, to see if any other words of wisdom cap off a wonderful day. 

Bye.  Don't forget to order my book, Life Under the Corporate Microscope. 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Life Above the Corporate Microscope---A Maverick's Peace of Mind

When you write a book called Life Under the Corporate Microscope---A Maverick's Irreverent Perspective, it only makes sense to write a sequel and call it Life Above the Corporate Microscope---A Maverick's Peace of Mind.  Granted, my original book was based on 26 years worth of experience, working for Enterprise Rent-a-Car; I've only been retired for eight years, so this next book is either going to be a short one (50 or 60 pages), or I'm going to have to get creative in my content.

I think I can muster up the necessary amount of creativity to make this next tome another interesting and compelling piece of work.  After all, without all that work getting in the way, life tends to be more enjoyable, and consequently more interesting.  To put it succinctly, I partied like a rock star (finally), made a lot of new friends, made some new enemies, and made some casual acquaintences who fit somewhere in between.

Naturally, I made some really dumb mistakes over the last eight years, but somehow, gained a new found insight about people, events, and life in general.  I'm getting philosophical in my old age.

In the meantime, if you haven't already gotten your very own copy of Life Under the Corporate Microscope, I invite you to take a peek at my website, and order away.  It's just that simple, and the book is just that good.  It's a good old fashioned jab at Corporate America, and it'll keep you so amused with my anecdotes, you won't to put it down.

That's all for now folks.  Now go buy my book.  Thank you.

Here's how to order: