Saturday, June 09, 2020

News and Views: June 9th 2007

Bad business to come?

Margaret Heffernan is in gloomy prognostication mode: “ . . . the biggest undergraduate major by far in the U.S. today is business. Twenty-two percent of B.A.s are awarded in business, compared with a paltry eight percent in education, five percent in health professions, less than four percent in English and a tragic two percent in history. No wonder, as a nation, we’re stupid, sick, inarticulate and prone to repeating bad mistakes.” I’m very much inclined to agree. As she says: “When I was running companies, I didn’t want kids with B.A.s in business. I wanted kids who could speak, write, think about the world, who even had some sense of context. They were like gold dust. My best employees were invariably Russian, Chinese, Indian, gay, Jewish, female. Being outsiders, they’d had to struggle and struggling, they’d learned about the world. I wanted—and still want—people who pay attention, reflect, and can handle complexity. But almost everything about current career structures militates against this.” When I read this, I wanted to cheer: “ . . . they’re mostly learning outdated, macho rubbish that replaces creativity and commonsense with doctrinaire, slick mumbo jumbo.” Absolutely right! [link] Suggested reading: Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths And Total Nonsense: Profiting From Evidence-Based Management.

When it’s time to quit a bad job

Alexander Kejrulf posted this typically thoughtful piece this week, thinking about when it’s right to quit a job and when it isn’t. Should you quit at the first sign of trouble? Or do you only quit when all hope is gone. His conclusion is this: “If your job does not make you happy you should first try to fix it. If there’s no realistic hope that you ever will, it’s time to get out of Dodge.” Check out his six tips for finding your quitting point. [link]

When it isn’t

On a similar theme, Penelope truck thinks that there are 5 situations when it’s wrong to quit. What are they? You hate your boss. You want more prestige. You want to meet new people. You want more meaning in life. You want more happiness. See whether you agree with her. [link] Penelope trunk's book: Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success

How you shouldn’t check your email while working

Sound advice from Craig Childs. E-mail is a great time-waster, if you allow it to be. The trick is to be disciplined about it. And here’s another reason to think before you click on that e-mail “send” button. You might just end up in court. A University of Arkansas law professor is suggesting that the U.S. Federal Copyright Act does not protect someone from copying and distributing another person’s private expression. Which means that forwarding any e-mail without permission of the sender may even be against the law. Then there's another piece about wasting time gossiping by email while at work. This claims that: “Staff who ping those “humorous” emails around the office with funny attachments are not just distinctly irritating, they are also a significant drain on a company’s productivity and can even put the whole business at risk.” Heavy stuff! [link]

Ethical decision-making

More ethical decisions would undoubtedly make the world a better place, so you might just want to check out this "quick guide to ethical decision-making" from the St. James Centre in Australia, whose slogan is: "Think . . . to create a better world." The contents list includes:
  • would I be happy for this to be on the public record?
  • what would happen if everybody did this?
  • how would I like it if someone did this to me?
  • will the proposed course of action bring about a good result?
  • what will the proposed course of action do to my character or my organization's character? and
  • is the proposed course of action consistent with my espoused values and principles?
Good stuff. [link]

“I wish you enough”

Here’s a neat little story that will appeal to many people, I think. A tad sentimental, but with some definite things to think about embedded in it. I’m not going to reveal any more. You’ll have to read it for yourself. [link]

Get a life!

This article from Fast Company contains lots of good things. Here are a few excerpts to whet your appetite: "If you're so 'successful,' why aren't you having more fun? If you're so 'together,' why are your days so chaotic?" "As long as our work is so vital that we can't slow down, we don't have to look at our own lives: a marriage that isn't working, a career that isn't satisfying, children we're out of touch with, friendships we've outgrown. There's nothing more 'dangerous' than having a little time on your hands." [link] [via]

The curse of macho management

According to The Scotsman newspaper, the glass ceiling still intact, due mostly to a macho ethos in professional firms in accounting. Professor Elizabeth Gammie unveiled her statistical research, which began in 2003, and paints a gloomy picture of the reality in major accounting businesses. In response, says the article, “[Frank] Blin, Scottish leader of the UK’s largest firm [PricewaterhouseCoopers] with a fee income of about £1.8 billion, said there is an acceptance of a macho culture and long working hours, but there was also an urgent business imperative for change.” I wonder if they will act on that “imperative” if it threatens to lessen billable hours? [link]

Report on happiness at work

You can download a report on happiness at work which contains some interesting points, such as there:
  • Happiness declines the longer people stay with an organization.
  • A similar pattern emerges in relation to the number of years people have spent in their current roles.
  • 85 per cent of senior managers and those at board level are happy, making them the happiest employee group. (Since they’re the richest, most powerful, and benefit most from up-ticks in stock values, that’s hardly surprising.)
  • People who work part-time are happier than those working full-time. This suggests that those who work part-time feel happier due to a healthy work-life balance and perhaps since their work plays a less significant role in their lives they require less to be happy.
  • Women feel more job satisfaction than men.
  • Those aged 55+ are the happiest employees. [And nearest the end of their working “sentence?”]
[link] [via]

“Talkin 'bout 4 generations”

Are there really major differences between current generations? This article suggest that the oldest current generation was brought up on strong ideas about duty and public service, the baby boomers were raised ambitious and hard-working, Generation X has more interest in work/life balance, and young people of Generation Y “. . . have come of age in a largely prosperous society and who, let’s face it, are easily seen as overconfident,somewhat entitled and unrealistic in their expectations of the workplace.” I’m not at all sure such stereotyping is either useful or valid, myself, but you can make up your own mind. What’s more interesting is that these are all expressions of distinct value-sets, and values pretty much define how people react to events, people, and expectations. [link]

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