Monday Mornings with Madison

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The Cost of Employee Tardiness

Employees are every company’s greatest asset and resource. Each worker brings his/her talents and skills to bear on behalf of the organization. Ingenuity. Creativity. Problem-solving. Writing. Speaking. Listening. Coordination. Instruction. Persuasion. Negotiation. Judging. Decision-making. They provide a wealth of skills and talents that no computer or robot can perform as well. Yet, human resources are also the most time-consuming, difficult to manage and maintain, and fluid of all company assets.

Unlike machines or inanimate objects, people have feelings and personal problems that can affect their work. They are impacted by forces outside their control such as children, weather and traffic. Sometimes they are just having ‘bad days.’ In short, they are human. These personal issues can not only bleed into their work life in minor ways such as reduced concentration, inability to stay focused on work, or expressing a bad attitude, employee problems can also eat into company profits. There are a number of ways in which employee issues can affect work behavior which, in turn, result in tangible costs to a company. One of the most common work-related behavior issues is tardiness. Anyone – probably everyone – is late to work once in a while. But when this work-related behavior is chronic, it is not just minor irritation for a company…. it affects the bottom line. At what point should tardiness be addressed? And just how much does this work-related behavior cost companies? Continue reading

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What is Brand Social Currency?

In recent weeks, we looked at reputation, brand and brand value as variables that impact a company’s worth in the global marketplace. We reviewed the various brand ranking reports that determine and monetize the value of the biggest brands in the world annually, including Interbrand’s 100 Best, Brandz’s Top 100 and Credit Suisse’s Great Brands. Those annual lists use a myriad of criteria to assess each brand’s value.

However, there is now a new report that examines ‘Brand Social Currency’, rather than brand value. Is there a difference between brand value and brand social currency? Apparently so. Brand value is about determining the worth of a brand based on internal factors such as clarity, commitment, protection and responsiveness, and external factors such as authenticity, relevance, differentiation, consistency, presence, and understanding. It looks at a company’s financials, sales, marketing, operations and reputation to monetize a brand’s worth.

Brand social currency, on the other hand, focuses on the point at which a brand intersects with, speaks to and integrates with customers within their daily life. Due to the increasing social nature of the Internet and mobile technologies, consumers and customers adopt these technologies and platforms and integrate them into daily life routines and contexts, such as using a phone to identify the closest store that carries a desired product at the best possible price. In order to survive and thrive, companies are finding new ways to allow their brands to interact with customers. Those efforts, in short, are what build brand social currency. Continue reading

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Forgiveness at Work Part 2

Conflict itself is not what creates problems and increases costs for businesses. Rather the problem arises from the inability or unwillingness of those involved and those in leadership to address a conflict in a timely and honest way, resolve the issue, and then for all participants to – most importantly – move on without harboring residual bitterness. Thus, at the heart of all conflict resolution is the ability and willingness of people to give an apology or accept one and let go of all resentments…. the basic concept of ‘forgiving and forgetting.’

Indeed, all religions hold forgiveness as a basic, important principle. For example, in the Jewish faith, if a man offends someone else, only the offended person can forgive him. The offender must go and ask for forgiveness. If it is withheld, he should go again, later, and ask. If it is withheld again, he must go once more to ask for forgiveness. If it is refused him a third time, then the person withholding the forgiveness bears the blame. Not only is the person who offended required to seek forgiveness, but the person wronged is also required to give it. Yet, while forgiveness may be a fundamental part of all faiths, it is in scarce supply…. especially in the world of work. Last week, we saw that unresolved conflict is considered the single largest reducible cost for businesses. But people find it hard to give and receive a heartfelt apology and let go of old grudges. Why is that? And are there strategies that can help in giving forgiveness? Continue reading

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Forgiveness at Work Part 1

Gordon Hinckley once wrote in his book Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes that “The willingness to forgive is one of the great virtues to which we should all aspire. Imagine a world filled with individuals willing both to apologize and to accept an apology. Is there any problem that could not be solved among people who possessed the humility and largeness of spirit and soul to do either or both?”

As “Monday Mornings with Madison” is a work-life advice column, what does forgiveness have to do with work or business? Forgiveness is a virtue we typically relate to personal relationships… unresolved conflicts with close family and friends. But actually forgiveness is a virtue – dare we call it a skill — that has value and purpose in all areas of life, including and perhaps especially in business. There is ample evidence that while forgiveness is regularly discussed in classrooms and places of worship, the act of forgiving or being forgiven past transgressions is one that is neglected and undervalued in the world of work, and certainly seldom spoken of in board rooms. Yet, some experts believe that unresolved conflict represents the largest reducible cost in many businesses, yet it remains largely unrecognized (Dana 1999, Slaikev and Hasson, 1998). What might the average workplace be like if every person, from entry level staff to C-Suite execs, were all equally willing and able to give and receive apologies and release resentments quickly and freely? Might forgiveness actually impact a company’s bottom line?
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All In A Day’s Work: Valuing Workers By Understanding What Workers Value

According to a 2011-2012 Towers Watson North American Talent Management and Rewards Survey, despite a volatile economy and a stubbornly high unemployment rate, almost 60% of U.S. companies are having trouble attracting critical-skill employees. This is an increase over 2010. Those companies also have to balance that against strong pressure to manage costs, a growing trend of expecting employees to work longer hours, and a steady drift toward decreasing the rate of merit pay raises.

Having just commemorated Labor Day, it is a good time to consider the meaning and purpose of this holiday, often referred to as “the day of the worker.” What are the most important factors that companies and managers should consider as they celebrate their organization’s greatest asset: its workers? Do companies do a good job of demonstrating that they value their employees? And does leadership understand the things employees value most?
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What Drives A Brand’s Value?

Given the global marketplace and the pervasive impact of technology on reputation, a company’s brand is increasingly becoming a major factor in its success. While most business owners and managers understand the general importance of a company’s brand, they are a little less clear on what can increase or decrease a brand’s value. Most business owners don’t know how to go about increasing and leveraging the worth of its company’s brand.

To better understand brands, let’s consider what factors are used to evaluate the biggest mega-brands. There are now a number of brand consultants that conduct surveys to identify and rank how the top brands are doing and how those brands are impacting corporate bottom lines. For example, Interbrand conducts an annual survey entitled 100 Best Global Brands. Milward, Brown also puts out an annual ranking of brand value entitled BrandZ’s Top 100 most Valuable Global Brands. Credit Suisse also issues an annual report called Great Brands. There are many other such reports.

Each of the rankings looks to monetize the value of a company’s brand. The factors assessed vary from survey to survey. They are also weighted differently according to industry or category. That said, the major surveys are based on hundreds of thousands of interviews examining tens of thousands of brands globally. They parse billions of pieces of data that are then calculated to generate a brand value score for each company. They examine the point where a company’s sales, marketing, operations and financials collide with public perception. So what factors do these brand experts consider in calculating a brand’s value? Continue reading

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Brand Reputation: Ruins, Revivals and Damage-Resistant Part 2: Brand Redemption vs. Teflon Brand

A company’s brand is the class of goods or services identified by name as belonging to that particular company. Like an invisible branding iron, a company’s brand is the personification of its reputation and public cache. A positive brand can be leveraged — much like cash reserves — to take a company to new heights. A negative brand is like a ball and chain around the company’s every move.

Sometimes, when a company’s reputation takes a beating – usually due to their own mistakes or wrongdoing – they opt to dump their brand and start fresh. As we saw last week, sometimes it works. But if the problems that caused the brand to tarnish continue, then rebranding is futile. That is why some companies choose to stick with their brand – troubles and all – and work to restore the brand’s reputation and image. It is usually not an easy task.

Interestingly, not all corporate wrongdoing causes brand damage. There are companies that do wrong or cause harm and yet their reputations and brands continue practically untouched. For marketers, it can be puzzling to grasp why some brands are more easily damaged than others. To get a better picture of how brands can rise from the ashes or manage to go through a firestorm unscathed requires analysis. Let’s take a look at two companies that were caught doing wrong. For one company, its reputation plummeted and it took a lot of time and effort for the reputation to be restored. For the other company, its reputation was hardly affected. Continue reading

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Brand Reputation: Ruins, Revivals and Damage-Resistant Part 1: Rebranding Strategy

It used to be that a company’s reputation was based on the overall quality of the products or services it delivered, the value it provided, and the customer service it conveyed. Gaffs were generally forgotten over time. Sometimes, customers never even heard about minor issues in quality or service.

That is no longer the case. Television and radio made it easier for customers to become aware of any major company defects in quality, value or performance. Computers, the Internet and social media added to the public scrutiny of most any company’s brand and reputation. Today, companies must be exceedingly careful in protecting their reputation and brand.

Brand reputation is an integral part of a company’s strength or weakness. In some cases, a badly dinged reputation can add the final ‘f’ that turns an ailing brand into a failing brand. But a bad reputation does not always lead to brand death. Some companies have succeeded in redeeming badly damaged brands while other companies are able to sail through major corporate blunders with barely a scratch to its Teflon reputation. What makes a company’s brand either vulnerable or impermeable to reputation problems? Why do some corporate reputations end in ruin while others can be revived and still others are simply impervious? Continue reading

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Sometimes All That Is Needed Is A Fresh Start

Recently, the IRS rolled out a new “Fresh Start’ program offering to wave failure-to-pay tax penalties for those who have been unemployed. The idea was to give people who have fallen behind on their taxes the chance to get their financial house in order and start fresh. To qualify, the person must have:
• been an employee who was unemployed for at least 30 consecutive days between January 1, 2011 and April 17, 2012,
• been self-employed with a 25% or higher reduction in business income in 2011
• had income that did not exceed $200,000 if filing jointly, or $100,000 for single or head of household, or
• had 2011 taxes due not exceeding $50,000.

With this program, the IRS understood that a ‘fresh start’ can be an empowering, uplifting and engaging force in life. The opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start again can give those who are tired and forlorn a renewed sense of hope and energy. Moving to a new town. Going to a new school. Beginning a new job. These events all inspire a feeling of ‘starting anew’ that can be invigorating. Underlying it all is the chance to do more… the possibility to be better… the prospect of improving in areas where one fell short in the past. But the concept of a ‘fresh start’ is not limited to people, programs and time. Companies also understand the power of a ‘fresh start.’ Embracing the concept, businesses have used the notion of a ‘fresh start’ to jumpstart areas of business that have lost focus, pep, or luster. Continue reading

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Passive, Aggressive or Assertive?

In the business world, one of the most desirable personality traits is assertiveness. Sales managers revere assertive salespeople… those who show a bold forcefulness in the pursuit of a sale. Employees are applauded for being assertive in problem solving and thinking out-of-the-box. Leaders are acclaimed for their hands-on, assertive management style.

Within the spectrum of forceful behavior, assertiveness is considered the middle ground between aggressiveness (too much force) and passivity (not enough force). But how does an executive, manager or entrepreneur achieve just the right balance of assertiveness? Is there a perfect degree of assertiveness that is right for all people, all positions and all situations or is it more subjective? And can one’s natural level of assertiveness be improved or adjusted as needed? Continue reading

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