Article 43

 

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Welcome

This is a sticky post written the day we first appeared on the internet: Welcome to article43.com - a memorial to the layed off workers of (PRE SBC MERGER) AT&T, and the disappearing MIDDLE CLASS citizens of America.  It is NOT endorsed or affiliated with AT&T or the CWA in any way.

In addition to INFORMATION, resources and opinion for former AT&T workers DEALING WITH the EFFECTS OF LAYOFF and looking for meaningful employment, some articles here are meant to bring into awareness the LARGER PICTURE of corporate dominance of the UNITED STATES’ political and economic policies which brazenly DISREGARDS, disrespects and EXPLOITS worker, citizen and HUMAN RIGHTS under masks like FREE TRADE and the PATRIOT ACT - resulting in a return to a society of very rich and very poor dominated by a few very rich and powerful - whose voices are anything but - for the people. If left UNCHALLENGED, the self-serving interests of those in control may result in the end of DEMOCRACY, the end of the middle class, irreversible ENVIRONMENTAL damage to the planet, and widespread global poverty brought on by exploitation and supression of the voices of common people EVERYWHERE, while the United States turns into a REINCARNATION of the ROMAN EMPIRE.  Author Thom Hartmann shares some history and outlines some basic steps to return our country to “The People” in his two articles TEN STEPS TO RETURN TO DEMOCRACY and SAVING THE MIDDLE CLASS. I support CERNIG’S idea for a new POLITICAL MOVEMENT - if not a revolution to cleanse our country of the filth ruling it - as we EVOLVE into a GLOBAL community - assuming we learn the THE LESSONS OF OUR TIME and don’t DESTROY CIVILIZATION first.

Everything here can be viewed anonymously.  Inserting or commenting on articles requires a free user account (for former AT&T employees with a real, non throw-away, email address.) Requests to the new user registration page are redirected to BLOGGED DOT COM’S site because most new signups I get are from COMMENT SPAMMERS and their ilk, so if you want to contribute, contact me through email, phone, or some other way.

There’s no third-party scripts here like privacy-eroding WEB COUNTERS, hidden datamining widgets like Pay-Pal donation boxes, or AMAZON DOT COM tracking stuff.  The RSS feeds are pulled by the server, and have no relation to anything you may be doing here.  Standard Apache WEB LOGS of info like IP, and pages visited are rotated every few days, and used internally to check the web server’s performance.  Logs of suspicious activity may be shared with law enforcement, or other ISPs, to deal with troublemakers.  Nothing here is for sale, and donations are not solicited.

If you get an email that claims to be from somebody here that’s anything but a request to post your article, or report suspicious activity (like logs sent to an ISP to report an attack) - it’s SPAM. I do not, and will not - ever - join the junk mail sender community. There are no mechanisms to prevent anyone from forging anyone elses email address in a “from” or “reply-to” mail header. For those of us whose email addresses are fraudently used, the best we can do is filter out NDR REPORTS.

Per U.S.C. COPYRIGHT LAW - TITLE 17, SECTION 107, this not-for-profit site may reproduce copyrighted material not specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such articles will either have a web link to the source, home page, and/or show credit to the author.  If yours is here and you have a problem with that, send me an EMAIL, and I’ll take it off. Stuff I wrote carries a CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE permitting non-commercial sharing. In addition, this site’s owner forbids insertion and injecting data of any kind - especially advertisements - into ours by any person or entity.  Should you see a commercial ad that looks like it’s from here, please report it by sending me a tcpdump and/or screenshot in an EMAIL, then READ UP about how the PARTNERING OF INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS and companies like NEBUAD are DESTROYING INTERNET PRIVACY

Resumes of layed off AT&T workers are posted for free HERE.

Information on the Pension Class Action Lawsuit against AT&T is HERE.  More pension-related articles are HERE.

Links to some Telecom companies’ career pages are HERE.

Click HERE to learn a little about Article 43 and why I loathe the CWA.
Click HERE or HERE to learn what the CWA did when given a chance to do the right thing.
Click HERE for a glimpse of undemocratic and hypocritical CWA practices.
Click HERE for an article on Corporate Unionism.
Click HERE for an article of AFL-CIO’s undemocratic history.

If you’re looking for telco nostalgia, you won’t find it here.  Check out THE CENTRAL OFFICE, BELL SYSTEM MEMORIAL, MUSEUM OF COMMUNICATIONS, TELEPHONE TRIBUTE, and THE READING WORKS websites instead.

This site can disappear anytime if I run out of money to pay for luxuries like food, health care, or internet service.

Discernment of truth is left to the reader - whose encouraged to seek as much information as possible, from as many different sources as possible - and pass them through his/her own filters - before believing anything.

...the Devil is just one man with a plan, but evil, true evil, is a collaboration of men…
- Fox Mulder, X Files

No matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth.
- John F. Kennedy

Today my country, your country and the Earth face a corporate holocaust against human and Earthly rights. I call their efforts a holocaust because when giant corporations wield human rights backed by constitutions and the law (and therefore enforced by police, the courts, and armed forces) and sanctioned by cultural norms, the rights of people, other species and the Earth are annihilated.
- Richard L. Grossman

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
- Albert Einstein

He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust.
- Aquinas

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
- Bishop Desmond Tutu

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
- Martin Luther King Jr

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
- Benjamin Franklin

If we do not hang together, we will surely hang separately.
- Benjamin Franklin

We must be prepared to make heroic sacrifices for the cause of peace that we make ungrudgingly for the cause of war.
- Albert Einstein

Solidarity has always been key to political and economic advance by working families, and it is key to mastering the politics of globalization.
- Thomas Palley

Update 8/11/07 - As we head into the next depression, fueled by selfish corporate greed, and a corrupt, SOCIOPATHIC US government, MIKE WHITNEY has a solution that makes a lot of sense to me:

The impending credit crisis cant be avoided, but it could be mitigated by taking radical steps to soften the blow. Emergency changes to the federal tax code could put more money in the hands of maxed-out consumers and keep the economy sputtering along while efforts are made to curtail the ruinous trade deficit. We should eliminate the Social Security tax for any couple making under $60, 000 per year and restore the 1953 tax-brackets for Americans highest earners so that the upper 1%-- who have benefited the most from the years of prosperity---will be required to pay 93% of all earnings above the first $1 million income. At the same time, corporate profits should be taxed at a flat 35%, while capital gains should be locked in at 35%. No loopholes. No exceptions.

Congress should initiate a program of incentives for reopening American factories and provide generous subsidies to rebuild US manufacturing. The emphasis should be on reestablishing a competitive market for US exports while developing the new technologies which will address the imminent problems of environmental degradation, global warming, peak oil, overpopulation, resource scarcity, disease and food production. Off-shoring of American jobs should be penalized by tariffs levied against the offending industries.

The oil and natural gas industries should be nationalized with the profits earmarked for vocational training, free college tuition, universal health care and improvements to then nations infrastructure.

Posted by Admin on 09/05/04 •

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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Labor Day 2014

7 Reasons Why I’m Not Celebrating This Labor Day

By Ann Brenoff
Huffington Post
August 28, 2014

You know how some people get a case of the blues around the winter holidays? Well, I feel that way around Labor Day.

I jokingly tell people that I suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when it comes to my job. I have one now, but for two years during the recession, I didn’t. I was laid off in 2009 from the newspaper where I worked for almost two decades and then spent two years freelancing until I was hired by The Huffington Post in 2011. By most standards, I did pretty well for myself for those two years freelancing—no one in my family went hungry, was without health insurance, or became homeless. But don’t kid yourself: The experience left scars.

Here’s what being laid off taught me and why I think many mid-lifers may still not be celebrating this Labor Day:

Job security is just a myth.

When I entered the work force, you had a job for life. Sure, you made moves to advance your career but that was generally accomplished by staying within the same company. When people retired at 65, the company threw big parties for them and gave them gold watches to thank them for their 40+ years of service. Loyalty to your company was a given and the company rewarded that loyalty with annual raises, end-of-year-bonuses and even turkeys at Thanksgiving. One of the tasks of the personnel office was to send flowers to your wife in the hospital after she gave birth.

That all ended in the years leading up to the recession. As companies focused more on the bottom line, they began to refer to workers as “assets” and when times got tough, they looked at which “assets” to cut. “Do more with less,” “Get rid of the fat,” and “leaner and meaner” were the propaganda slogans that sent chills down workers’ spines.

Older workers quickly read the writing on the wall: Those with higher salaries were led into the gas chambers first while corporate lawyers dangled “don’t sue us if you hope to get a dime in severance” agreements in front of our stunned faces.

We signed. All of us did. I still question how this coerced agreement signed under duress was legal and not protested. Why didn’t the ACLU jump in to protect workers from the slaughter? But everyone who could have done something about it instead turned deaf, dumb, and blind.

And the result is that what we are now left with is a workplace culture riddled with insecurity and restlessness. When people are afraid of losing their jobs, they strive to be compliant, not creative. Toeing the line has replaced pushing the envelope. And COMPANY LOYALTY went the way of the THANKSGIVING turkey—killed, roasted, and gobbled up while CEOs belched all the way to the bank.

Older workers stay out-of-work the longest.

This has been long-documented, but we can regurgitate it here for the millennial disbelievers.

According to AARP’s analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average, workers age 55 and up remain unemployed for 45.6 weeks, compared with 34.7 weeks for workers younger than 55.

Sara Rix, senior strategic policy adviser with AARP’s Public Policy Institute, notes that recent research says many of these unemployed people “will never become re-employed.”

While we can safely claim that all generations were hurt by the recession, only one group has the least amount of time to mitigate the recession’s financial impact—and that group is older workers. If you lost your job in the mid-2000’s, you likely also lost your nest egg. And you can’t actually rebuild it unless you find a job, which isn’t happening for many. Time is running out.

Age discrimination is real.

Certain stereotypes exist about older workers—we can’t keep up technologically, we will spend all day reminiscing about the good old days, we don’t fit in to the current office culture.

These stereotypes are at the root of the discrimination. I’d also throw in the fact that employers want to hire the cheapest workers possible, and that’s less experienced folks.

But even the Washington Post is guilty of age discrimination. In an ad seeking a social media manager, the paper said it was looking for someone with the “ability to explain to those twice your age what Reddit or Snapchat or Whisper or Fark is.” I can explain those things to you and I’m 64. And then there was the Seattle Star, which ran an ad saying it was seeking someone “young.” The publisher was unapologetic when it was suggested that this was discrimination against older people. “So sue me. Sheesh,” he said. Can you imagine the outrage if he had written “white” for “young?”

Older unemployed workers have gone underground, and in doing so, have become invisible.

Older workers are the infrastructure of the so-called gig economy. They jump from one freelance and/or part-time job to the next. They work under contracts that don’t pay them when they get sick or offer them health insurance. Vacations? They are on their own.

Having been part of this group for two years, I salute these people. They are a creative lot who have figured out how to stay afloat, if only barely. They get their teeth fixed using Groupon coupons, they shop at thrift stores for their kids’ back-to-school clothes, and they make quilts to sell on Etsy to keep the lights turned on. Some have taken in rent-paying roommates to help cover the mortgage. They barter and exchange services; some times in a pinch, they ask for money. But somehow, each month, they find a way.

What’s truly unfortunate is that we’ve stopped counting them as unemployed. If they don’t collect unemployment benefits, they don’t exist—even though we all know dozens of people in this situation. This is why “unemployment” stats for older workers are lower than the national numbers.

Just don’t kid yourself: There will come a day when each and every one of these workers will no longer be able to exist on this tightrope. They are already calling it the silver tsunami and it’s headed toward taxpayers.

“Get retrained” is easier said than done.

No one is arguing that today’s jobs don’t require a different skills set than jobs of old. But have you seen a lot of retraining programs underway in your city? Me neither. Community colleges have borne the brunt of older workers trying to learn new tricks.

My standard advice to every out-of-work mid-lifer is this: Go into healthcare. With the population aging and the need for health services growing, it would seem like a natural place to be.

The question no one has a good answer for is: What do you live on while you are busy getting retrained? It’s not like we can push the pause button on our living expenses while we figure things out. And forget government help. The government has offered very little in the way of retraining programs, let alone figured out how to help people stay afloat while they are being retrained.

Which leaves the old turning our hobbies into businesses. While many midlifers try their hand at entrepreneurial ventures, the wash-out rate is high. Entrepreneur magazine reports that first-time entrepreneurs have only an 18 percent chance of succeeding in taking their companies public. Bottom line: Just because you like to cook, it doesn’t mean you should open a restaurant.

Experience is worth less, if not altogether worthless.

I remember when I was looking for my first job and every place I applied wanted someone with experience. We’ve come a full 180 on this. Experience—probably because it comes with a higher price tag—is less desirable a qualification. Experience won’t get you far in today’s jobs market.

The big news this year is that Google, AT&T, and MetLife and about 250 other employers signed a pledge to “recognize the value of experienced workers.” I’m still left stammering that these major employers needed a pledge to actually do this.

Older workers tend to bomb interviews.

This, of course, assumes you even get an interview. But ask anyone over 50 who has had one what it’s like and the stories all start to sound the same. “The guy asked me a question and then just kept texting away while I was answering.” “I wore a great ‘interview’ outfit and he wore jeans; it was awkward.” “It was like we were speaking different languages.”

Times have changed in the personnel office. Not only aren’t they sending anyone flowers in the hospital, they are also checking out your digital footprint—googling you, reading your LinkedIn profile, checking what you posted on social media sites. The guy may be texting while you are speaking, but just remember that older workers aren’t the only ones who have taken a beating in the past decade: Manners may have too.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 09/02/14 •
Section Dealing with Layoff • Section Dying America
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Friday, August 15, 2014

Clear Routine Phone Home

There’s always something NEW and INTERESTING in the SERVER LOGS.

Ever hear of clear-routine dot net?

A system generated email was addressed to them last month and another yesterday. 

The body is a bunch of numbers.

What did I download that’s trying to tell THEM something?

What is that SOMETHING they want to learn?

Am I an unwitting victim of some flyby download that’s phoning home?

Posted by Elvis on 08/15/14 •
Section General Reading
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Saturday, August 09, 2014

Can’t Find A Qualified US Worker Redux 2

geek.jpg

Dear Mr. (name withheld),

Your top management apparently believes that making everyone else in the company feel powerless - including managers at your level - helps the bottom line. That’s been proven wrong, again and again. As the management guru Edwards Deming documented more than four decades ago, companies that empower employees by telling them what they need to accomplish and then giving them wide latitude to decide how best to do it perform far better than companies that dictate everything. A recent study by the Jackson Organization shows that “companies that effectively appreciate employee value enjoy a return on equity and assets more than triple that experienced by firms that don’t.”

I’d advise you to join with a half-dozen other managers at your level who understand this and approach top management together, starting with a memo outlining why the company’s current draconian policies are failing, and how other large companies are succeeding by giving their employees more responsibility rather than less (Costco, Apple, Proctor&Gamble, Starbucks), and suggesting a meeting to discuss. If top management has any shred of insight or integrity, it will follow up. Good luck to you.
- Robert Reich

People blossom when they feel loved. People who feel loved feel better about themselves. They’re more articulate, they take more risks out in the world, they’re able to be more independent. When people feel loved it grows them.  Knowing that you matter to someone else and that someone has your back gives you a strength.
- Dr. Sue Johnson

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A couple of generations ago when I got my tech job at AT&T - the first thing they did was send me for a few months to their school - AT&T University.  Then six months as an apprentice working alongside a veteran technician - installing, maintaining, and troubleshooting equipment.  After that I was allowed to work semi-solo for another six months - heavily monitored and coached. Finally I was officialy ordained a qualified technician and trusted to be alone with customers and the MAGIC that makes PHONE CALLS work. 

Training never stopped.  As new technology was introduced, I was sent to school for theory, then hands on.

I spent a lot of years working for AT&T as a highly skilled, highly productive technician.  The company got a good worker, and paid us well with a good salary and benefits. Life was a win-win for everyone, until THINGS CHANGED.

The apprentice program has been around for eons - and works.

I don’t care how many books someone can throw at me on anything - without hands on experience, and without a little guidance by a seasoned veteran - it’s lacking.

Sure I can read a how-to guide on fixing a leaky faucet - but after I’m done reading, it’s off to the faucet to change a washer.  And if my plumber friend were around, he can probably show me how the pros do it.

Would you trust a pilot that read reams of flight manuals but never flew a plane?  Neither would I. Pilots go through school, and hours in a simulator before getting near a cockpit. Then they fly alongside a veteran pilot for another few thousand hours before getting their wings. How about a bus driver? Would you a trust a guy that read a bunch of books on proper bus driving techniques, knows exactly how many passengers a bus can safely hold - but never got behind the wheel?  Neither would I. 

How good can anyone be reading a book on web design, but never actually building a website, then trying to show somebody else how to build a website?

About as good as a fat slob showing you how to loose weight.

Did Bruce Lee get his black belt reading books how to throw a good punch?

TODAY in business the apprenticeship program - like LONGEVITY and GOOD JOBS - is all but gone. Companies hire TEMPORARY workers, or try to swindle the government to train its workers, threatening to offshore/outsource work if it doesn’t.  Take the PLATFORM TO EMPLOYMENT. It’s much needed help for LONG-TERM unemployed BOOMERS, and a great idea in musical chairs - get the taxpayers to train older people while CEOS SING to the music of subsidized training and internships - and companies will HIRE THEM for what FEW JOBS are available, instead of young COLLEGE grads.

Then there’s the job I have today - an EXPRESSION of corporate ATTITUDES nowadays in CUSTOMER SERVICE.  I’m an outsourced CALL CENTER rep for a company whose products and technology I know next to nothing about, yet a FIRST CONTACT for its technical support.  Before being sent out to the production floor, I was was given some computer based reading material, and shown a couple of the products in a back room. Customers are annoyed and frustrated when they call in looking for help on hardware or software I’m supposed to be an expert on - but the only things I know come from that stuff I just read.  How’s that for real world experience?  When I mess up on a trouble ticket - which is easy with inadequate training and lack of exposure - the mistakes are shared by management both as an internal note on the ticket for all employees to see, and broadcast on an intracompany mail list.  Some people work for free through lunch to catch up on their assignments which is often more work than can be handled without cutting corners and getting sloppy. Some do it to SUCK-UP to management, others fear getting fired for not keeping up with everyone else. The level of MICROMANAGEMENT makes the situation worse.  And our inbound phone calls are recorded and monitored.

How effective and ENGAGING is that? 

Which brings us to these articles.

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Businesses’ Responsibility to Train And Reskill The Long-Term Unemployed

By Matt Ferguson
CEO, CareerBuilder
October 18, 2013

Even though the U.S. job market continues to operate far below its potential, many employers are EXPRESSING FRUSTRATION over the quality of job seekers applying to their open positions. In a survey from CareerBuilder and Harris Interactive, 8 in 10 employers expressed concern over an emerging skills gap, but interestingly, only 4 in 10 employers believed their organizations were doing anything to close it.

To fix skill shortages in the near and long term, employers simply have to play a larger role in the process of training and reskilling.

Of course, there are many OTHER FACTORS critical to navigating the competitive talent market. Those include eliminating HIRING PRACTICES that inadvertently screen out qualified candidates, studying labor supply and demand data to see where top talent resides, and ensuring wages are both competitive and rising for skilled positions. Ultimately, however, more companies must take ownership of the problem by developing the skills they need internally.

While researching my forthcoming book, The Talent Equation, my co-authors and I spoke with executives at Humana, who at the time were finishing up the first phase of an initiative to hire 1,000 veterans or spouses of veterans in an effort to combat extremely high unemployment rates for post-9/11 service members. They proudly achieved their goal and were thrilled with the quality of their new hires. However, much of their success rested on their ability to hire for potential and train individuals who on paper may not have seemed like the perfect fit, but had enormous potential to succeed when given the right tools.

Humana’s and other companies’ efforts to reduce veteran unemployment is a learning moment. If we can acknowledge the ability of veterans and reward them with a job and training opportunities, I am confident the same can be done for the long-term unemployed.

This is an issue critical to securing an economic future that includes all Americans who seek to contribute. The share of the unemployed population that has been out of work for more than 27 weeks is nearly 40 percent - a high figure not reached in previous recoveries. As it stands now, the long-term unemployed, whether veterans or workers near the end of their careers, are at risk of being permanently left out of the workforce if their skills atrophy and their connections to the job market deteriorate.

Unfortunately, many companies have cut internal training programs or simply aren’t in the practice of teaching workers new technical skills. A 2012 CareerBuilder survey found that 47 percent of U.S., nongovernment employers either have no training budgets at all or have training budgets under $25,000 annually. Workers sense the dearth of training opportunities as well. Only 21 percent of workers said they’ve acquired a new skill through company-provided training over the previous five years, according to an Accenture survey.

Many companies argue that training for technical skills presents a risk. Why give a new worker a skill they can easily take to a competitor who didn’t make the same investment? But actually, empowering employment via training is a driver of retention and productivity gains if done well. A 2013 CareerBuilder survey found skills training and learning opportunities to be a better retention tactic for full-time workers than decreased workloads, academic reimbursement, and perks such as subsidized lunches, game rooms, or casual dress codes. Another study showed that training boosts productivity significantly more than labor costs, a signal that companies will reap the rewards of their investment.

It’s also possible to successfully train for technical skills in fast-growing information technology occupations over a short period of time and still produce skilled, functional employees. To test this hypothesis CareerBuilder hired ten long-term unemployed individuals in 2012 for a six-month, paid internship and trained them in Structured Query Language (SQL)—a programming language used for database management systems. Shortly after completing the program, seven of the interns landed full-time jobs and one went to school to earn a formal technology degree. We ran the program again in 2013 with similar success.

Some companies can’t afford to be at full staff, let alone establish a new training program. That’s understandable. But at a certain point we have to consider alternatives. If every employer capable of training for technical skills decides it’s not their responsibility, the very skill shortages hiring managers cite as a perennial concern will only be exacerbated.

It’s also important to note that extended vacancies come at a cost. One in four companies tells us they’ve lost revenue as a result of unfilled positions. Many more cite sinking morale among existing employees and reduced productivity. In light of this, an employer that is unable to fill key positions should question whether waiting for the perfect hire is worth these costs when an eager candidate can very likely learn the required skills and succeed in the role. I’m hopeful more companies will come to realize they have the tools to bring long-term unemployed workers back from the fold, thereby turning the page on one of the post-recession labor market’s most important issues.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and the “Close It” Summit, in conjunction with the upcoming “Close It” Summit (Nov. 5-7, 2013, in Washington, D.C.). The summit will address the U.S. job-market skills gap. For more information on the conference, please VISIT.

SOURCE

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Time to Focus on Your Best Performers

Your highest-performing employees may be just the ones most likely considering leaving your organization for another opportunity, especially since those with the strongest skills are generally also those in the highest demand. Keeping those employees is paramount for your organization’s success.

By Renee Charney and Carol A. Gravel
February 14, 2014

As the U.S. economy continues to show signs of life, organizations everywhere are slowly regaining their optimism. Recent job numbers show that applications for unemployment benefits are dropping and most months the jobs report continues to show a healthy net increase in the number of private-sector opportunities. The fact that companies are again hiring is good news, of course. But as employers, leaders, and Human Resources executives, we need to be aware that job growth also means more opportunities for employees who may wish to leave their current positions. If people are not happy where they are, if they’re not fully engaged, they may decide to go elsewhere.

Research and practice tells us that if your employees are not fully engaged they are more likely to seek employment elsewhere, i.e. to jump ship. In addition, as we see an increase in employment, people who have until now chosen to stay with their current employer may very well begin looking for other options that are more in line with their needs. A recent Yale University study of job mobility patterns over a 30-year period found that job mobility dramatically increases after a recession. To retain high-performing employees, it is vital to identify effective strategies to engage and retain your top talent.

A key element in employee retention is employee empowerment. Employee empowerment is not just a recent buzz word; it is in fact a planned and continued effort to provide employees with the ability to grow professionally, to take risks, and to make decisions on their own. The benefits of employee empowerment are well known. A small-business series published in the Houston Chronicle confirms that employee empowerment results in improved productivity, overall cost reductions and improved morale (just to name a few), all elements that directly relate to employee retention.

We recommend four specific ways to lay the groundwork for the kinds of empowerment that lead to highly engaged employees (and, therefore, to increased retention of your best performers):

Engage in Authentic and Transparent Conversations. This may sound simple, but too often we’ve seen leaders err on the side of sharing too little information with their teams rather than too much. In a Forbes article from 2011, leadership development consultant Kristi Hedges wrote that “authenticity is paramount and palpable.” She goes on to say that, “We are drawn to people as individuals, not as concepts such as business owner or boss. Great leaders take the time to really know others.” Engaged employees want to work for leaders who are self-aware, sharing, and trusting. That starts with openness. That openness models a behavior that your employees will pick up on and likely begin to model with their peers.

Challenge People. Often very talented people can fall into a “comfort zone,” a particular set of responsibilities where they feel safest. Empowering people also means pushing them a little bit and stretching them to find the edges of their comfort zones while at the same time providing the support that allows them to effectively face these new challenges. According to Jackson and Parry’s 2011 book titled A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book about Studying Leadership, this practice of providing learning opportunities for your employees, coupled with demonstrating authentic and transparent leadership, increases the likelihood of dedicated and engaged followership.

Encourage Risk Taking. David Packard, American philanthropist and a founding half of Hewlett-Packard, said this: “Take risks. Ask big questions. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; if you don’t make mistakes, you’re not reaching far enough.” How often do we, as leaders, encourage rather than discourage risk taking? Engaged employees want to take chances, want to try new things, and followers who work in an environment where they are trusted to learn from their mistakes are more likely to increase their discretionary efforts. Sure, they’ll fall down, and that’s when it’s a leader’s job to help them up. So let them take chances; let them reach “far enough.”

Give Trust. Too often in our culture we talk of having to earn trust, as if trust is some currency that can be passed from hand to hand. In our view, trust is something to give as well as earn, and one way to engage effectively with your employees is simply to assume trust. As often as not, your lack of trust may end up being self-fulfilling. Try it the other way, giving trust rather than forcing it to be earned. In the words of Susan Scott, author of the book Fierce Leadership, “Don’t just hold them accountable—hold them able!” You’ll be amazed at how often people will live up to your expectations—and will trust you all the more for trusting them.

These four strategies serve to create environments where employees will be more willing to step up or lean in, more willing to challenge themselves, and more willing to assume accountability for results. The four strategies help you to create an environment where people feel empowered. Empowered employees will fuel your company—and will want to stay on your ship—versus someone else’s.

We note, however, that employee empowerment also brings with it some changes for leaders. For many leaders it may seem easier to manage with a directed approach, but “micro-management” will in fact stifle employee empowerment. As Richard Porterfield, author of “The Perils of Micromanagement” writes: “Managers who insist on being involved in every detail demoralize their employees, add unnecessary stress to their own lives, and endanger their organization’s long-term success.” Leaders need to recognize that empowering their staff means they may need to learn new leadership skills.

There’s also the question of organizational alignment. One of the key elements of employee empowerment is that employees make decisions and take risks. You should align your teams and departments to ensure collaboration but also to focus on achieving the organizational goals. If your organization is not aligned to create awareness of what other groups are doing, as well as a clear understanding of the organizational goals, empowered employees will not be able to help your organization be successful.

We encourage you to begin practicing these four simple strategies for retaining your high-performing employees. Start with one team or one department to begin with and learn from that experience. Leaders who engage and empower employees to achieve the organization’s goals provide an opportunity for individuals and teams to contribute to the overall success of the organization. That success, and the empowering behaviors that lead to it, are the keys to retaining your best employees.

Renee Charney is the Founder and President of Charney Coaching & Consulting LLC, a New Hampshire-based leadership and organizational-consulting company. She can be reached at rcharney at charneycc.com. Carol A. Gravel is an associate professor of human resource management at Franklin Pierce University, where she is the program director for the MBA/HRM program and is the faculty advisor for the Franklin Pierce University SHRM student chapter. She can be reached at gravelc at franklinpierce.edu.

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Posted by Elvis on 08/09/14 •
Section Dealing with Layoff • Section Dying America
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How Will Historians View Us?

Our era will be seen as a bleak period - another Gilded Age - but worse

By Neal Gabler
Boston Globe
July 12, 2014

History is a lot like forestry. In the latter, you often cant see the forest for the trees, and in the former you often can’t see the epoch for the incidents. Though it hardly seems as momentous as the Great Depression or the civil rights era, our current period may be one of the most significant in American history one that may well determine what kind of country we will be for decades hence. To put our own times in focus, it helps to ask: What will historians 50 or 150 years from now think of the early 21st century?

It is an apt question, because history has a way of challenging and altering the perceptions that any time has of itself. In its own day, for example, the 1920s were a boon period that gave rise to national free-spiritedness. In the long eye of history, they were the myopic prelude to the Great Depression. In his own day, Harry Truman was an accidental president, a pipsqueak who couldnt fill FDRҒs shoes. In the long eye of history, he is regarded as one of our most successful presidents, navigating the sticky post-war period internationally, and helping propel an economic boom domestically.

Predicting the historical long view is a risky proposition, but let me hazard a guess: Historians will wonder what bizarre convulsions this nation was going through how it seemed to lose its moral, political, and economic bearings, how the gains of social and economic equality that were a century in the making were reversed, and, above all, how the country actually became less democratic, often with the acquiescence of many ordinary Americans.

The first thing historians are likely to fasten on is the historic economic inequality in America today. As the French economist Thomas Piketty has documented in his pathbreaking book, “Capital in the 21st Century, America,” the vaunted land of opportunity, has become one of the most unequal nations in the history of the world when it comes to wealth distribution - a country in which the top 1 percent own nearly 40 percent of the nations wealth.

Historians will certainly also focus on the fight to disenfranchise poor and minority voters after 100 years of advancing civil rights. They will discuss how the Supreme Court and the Republican Party succeeded in rolling back many of those achievements - the court by ripping out a central provision of the Voting Rights Act, and Republican state legislatures by imposing onerous voter registration restrictions that, lets face it, have one aim only: to suppress minority voting, which is likely to tilt Democratic.

They will cite the role of money in politics and the sudden turnabout by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions, which released a torrent of big money into American politics.

They will look at the nation’s increasing churlishness its reluctance to embrace health reform that would provide insurance to those who cannot otherwise afford it, its willingness to cut benefits, like food stamps, that primarily help the young and the elderly, its grudging extension of unemployment benefits to people afflicted by the economic downturn.

And historians will say that these are not discrete things but that they coalesce to form what may be called the age of inequality. Historians are also likely to see how this age of inequality answered what has been arguably the nation’s foremost question from its founding: Is America to be an aristocracy or a democracy? Ever since Andrew Jackson, the thrust, with a few detours, has been toward democracy. Historians will show that had changed in the late 20th and early 21st century, not necessarily because most Americans wanted economic inequality, voter suppression, big money in politics, or cruelty to the poor but because the system wasnt responsive to them. It had become oligarchic.

I suspect that historians will view this as a terribly bleak period - another Gilded Age but worse. They will observe that the ever-fragile democratic enterprise was hijacked, perhaps permanently. They will mainly blame the Republicans, though if Republicans will be accused of lacking heart and brains in promulgating these policies, Democrats will be accused of lacking guts in not fighting them more strenuously. They will show how Ronald Reagans seeds of economic inequality finally sprouted into our society of the super-rich and everyone else.

And they will wonder: Why there was so little resistance?

The answer is complex, but it seems to have two primary components. The first is that resistance is basically futile, and everyone knows it. The wealthy have always worked the levers of power, and though we have had periods of greater equality - the period from the end of the Great Depression to the beginning of Reagans presidency - America is more or less an oligarchy by design. The only difference now is that there is nothing surreptitious about it.

And that leads to the second component. As intellectuals are fond of saying, ideas have consequences. It is just that the consequences may have less to do directly with policy than with mythology. The prevailing mythology has been that the wealthy are deserving of their spoils - that they are a living example of the proposition that anyone who wants to make it in America can. Of course, people want to believe that, but it provides great cover for inequality. You almost feel un-American protesting that it isn’t remotely true.

So the country rolls on, and it rolls back. And historians will wonder how the 21st century came to resemble the end of the 19th a terrible time when the wealthy ruled and everyone else capitulated.

Neal Gabler is author of “Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination.”

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Posted by Elvis on 08/09/14 •
Section Revelations
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