Tag Archive for hr

The Bottom Line Isn’t the Bottom Line

BOTTOM_LINESome of the world’s foremost intellects have told us by way of their arts and mediums that money is the end all of this existence of ours. And even those who might argue that and say that it’s not the end all still often end up making decisions as if it is the sole motivating factor in the world.

bottomlineAnd heck — maybe it is for you. Maybe for you the bottom line is the bottom line. Screw humans and their needs. You’re going to do whatever is most “efficient” and “profitable” and all that jazz. I mean, that’s the point of being in business, right? Making money? So forget about human needs, forget about contributing in some way to human development and happiness. They can get that feel-good crap from Oprah. Work is…well…work. Now hold that thought.

This isn’t some foreign concept. It’s not like folks who buy into this are all cold-hearted bastards. Think about it — Meja told us it was all about the money (dum-dum-did-dee-dum-dum). R Kelly opines that it’s money that makes the world go ’round (probably get pretty dizzy in that closet).

It changes everything, says Daryl Hall. Abba had some (not very) deep thoughts on the matter. In their lyrical masterpiece Money Can’t Buy, Blink 182 provides a compelling framework within which we can construct a robust philosophical position on the role of money in our lives and society. Ace of Bass suggests a stroll through the red light district as something that might provide ideas for what money could be spent on. For the sake of clarity, this is entirely dissimilar from the blue light specials at K-Mart.

biggieThe Beatles disagreed with their Ace of Bass counterparts, however, saying that money could not, in fact, buy them love. Poor Cyndi Lauper — bless her heart — believed that money changes everything. Then there was that god-awful, terribly long song from the Wallflowers about money. I would pay to never hear it again. Nate Dogg, often a companion of one Warren G, decided from a young age that he was going to make his money. Chumbawumba rambled incoherently about having all the friends money could buy. Or something. Run DMC’s advice was simple: Take the money and run. Cher serenaded us with her ideas about what it will be like when all the money’s gone. And who could forget the ageless adage Biggie Biggie Biggie can’t you see, Sometimes your words just hypnotize me, And I just love your flashy ways, Guess that’s why they broke, and you’re so paid.

Bottom line is that it’s all about the money.

If you watch and listen to an organization for a hot minute, you’ll start to notice what their bottom line is. The ones that have absolutely started pissing me off lately are the ones that will say with a straight face that their people are their most important asset (or something along those lines) while treating those very important assets like $*!*.

Now they’ll argue that they don’t treat them poorly, mind you. And in some ways, they’re right. They’re usually not yelling and swearing at their folks whilst whipping them with an Indiana Jones style whip when they foul something up.

But they start making stupid decisions. Someone whose bottom line is simply the bottom line will think to himself, Hmmmm. Self, it seems the quickest way for us to cut cost and become “more efficient” would be to cut staff. Do more with less. That sort of thing. And so that’s what they’ll do. They’ll wear it like a badge of honor when they should perhaps be considering it more akin to a scarlet letter.

We serve more customers per employee than almost anyone else in our peer group! Our ratios show that we’re more efficient than 97.8% of our peer group!

What you’ll notice is conspicuously absent from those organizations’ big fancy reports is anything having to do with how all of that is affecting the humans at the organization. Oh sure, you cut the staff at your location from 12 to four, so you’re super efficient there. There’s also at least a chance that your four are feeling overwhelmed, overworked, under-appreciated, and so on. They’re not excited to come in and tackle the day together as a team; they’re just hoping to survive it. Branches that used to be bastions of fun slowly have the spirit stomped out of them in the name of efficiency or ROI or ROA or some other grouping of letters that’s supposed to sound so impressive that we forget all about the fact that these are human beings we’re dealing with here. Humans. Moms. Dads. Students. People with families.Bills to pay. Lives outside work.

scarface-9054thNo one’s saying that the bottom line doesn’t matter. I’m just saying there has to be more to it than that. It’s not the lone factor in our decisions. If profit was the lone consideration, we’d all be our own versions of Tony Montana or Vito Corleone (if given the choice, you should clearly choose the latter).

Leaders Do. Together.

mlkCountless organizations out there right now, while perhaps even appearing healthy and stable to those on the outside looking in, are dying on the inside. Morale is down. Infighting and politics are on the rise. Trust is lacking. Inefficiency isn’t. In short, it’s a hot mess.

So what’s to be done? Well, that would certainly depend on the group or organization, and what the specific symptoms are, but I think there’s at least one common denominator. These organizations need leaders, whether they have the fancy title or not, to step into the fray and become initiators of change.

When those leaders — again, whether they have a title or not — begin to shift together, use their influence together, talk together, dream together, strategize together, and, well, you get the idea; when those things happen, a group or organization will start to see change. And it will be the best kind of change, because it’s organic, felt-in-the-heart change, not some overwrought corporate mandate that comes down from above.

But here’s the kicker. It really has to be a group effort. What would happen in an organization if managers, execs, and other leaders went after something together? What if an organization’s 20 or 30 or however many managers and execs rolled up their sleeves, locked arms, and said they were going to make something happen. Not try to make something happen. Make it happen. As a wise, albeit odd-looking, smallish, green philosopher/jedi once said: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Culture change? Way easier if it’s more than a couple of managers and/or execs here and there. Man, the cumulative influence of an organization’s leaders banding together in meaningful ways can’t be overstated.

So if you’re a leader within a group or organization, whether officially recognized as one or not, start the shift. Lead. Encourage others to do the same. Get together with them. Talk about it. Recruit others to join you. Make a difference. What are you waiting for?


7 Body Language Myths Leaders Can’t Believe


Based on body language alone, that guy in the background is undoubtedly pondering the deeper things of life. Who am I? Why am I here? I wonder if anyone’s ever been able to open a Capris Sun without some of it coming out the top?

Human behavior is always on leaders’ minds, not to mention it being ridiculously interesting. Personalities, body language, word choice, inflection, tone of voice, phrases people use, eye movements, posture, style, introversion, extroversion, etc — all of them mean something, but it’s not nearly as simple as some might have you believe.

You know the ones. The ones that say something like If you see a person with their arms crossed, they’re disengaged at best and defiant at worst or something along those lines. Or, If someone is fidgety or they speak rapidly, they’re likely nervous or possibly being disingenuous.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s not some ill-intentioned thing. It’s just that while those things may be true about some people some of the time, they’re such broad generalizations that they’re almost useless if applied universally to all people in all situations all the time. In fact, they may even be counterproductive in many instances because we’re attributing attitudes to people that they may or may not actually have based on the opinions of some folks with a particularly broad brush.

The thing is that all of those things you’re told to look for as signs of deception or whatever else, may have nothing to do with deception at all.

elviskissingfanSo is body language meaningless then? Should we ignore it altogether? Am I saying we should all just slouch in meetings, roll our eyes when people we don’t like are speaking, and so on? Oh gosh no. Sometimes body language tells you an awful lot (I’m looking at you, Elvis.)

Here are some things to keep in mind though in regards to body language and other non-verbal cues.

1. You can determine someone’s mindset based on a piece of non-verbal communication.

Be careful about isolating one piece of non-verbal communication and using it construct a person’s entire mindset or attitude. Body language cues have to be read in concert with other cues. They also have to be place in their appropriate emotional contexts, and must be interpreted in the context of the person, place, situation, etc.

For example, people sitting with their arms crossed could mean they’re resistant to what’s being said, or it could mean they’re cold, or it could simply mean that’s a comfortable position for them at the moment. That’s why we’d be looking at that along with a number of other things to give us insight into how someone might actually be thinking and/or feeling. It’s not fair to rubber stamp everyone based on the body language template.

2. If someone doesn’t look you in the eye as often as you think they should (how often do they have to, by the way?), they’re likely being dishonest. Or something.

Lack of eye contact doesn’t always mean something negative. For example, the INTP often breaks eye contact, but it’s not because of anything related to dishonesty or lack of confidence. It’s because they often think through things quite differently than other folks, and so they’re locked away in their own heads thinking about the inane interview question you just asked them. :)

Seriously though, some studies have even showed that the truly dishonest (see what I did there?) folks actually engage in greater eye contact. Why in the world would that be the case? Because they know those are behaviors that people use to determine the veracity of what they’re saying. A truthful person can wander off with their eyes because there is no need to convince, only to convey their thoughts.

And really, how weird would it be if someone did not break eye contact with you during the entire course of an interview or meeting? That’d be equal parts awkward and creepy, yes? (Quit looking at me like that.)

3. People who cross their arms are generally in opposition to what is being said or to the person saying it.

Their arms being crossed doesn’t necessarily mean they’re hostile. They might be cold. They might just be comfortable that way. Heck, it could be that whole psychological reciprocity thing. Someone saw someone else cross their arms and so he or she imitated the action almost subconsciously at times.

4. People who are fidgety are probably hiding something.

Or…we can understand them as possible signs of nervousness. You know, like the kind of nervous someone might get in important discussions like interviews, disciplinary actions, and so on. It doesn’t always mean what you think it means.

5. Someone who is speaking at a rapid pace is probably lying.

And for the love peanut butter and pick-up-stix, if you believe that, do not — I repeat, do not — give yourself a sticker for today; because you’re wrong. It will sound like I’m being a smarty pants and don’t actually mean to this time, but sometimes people talk fast because…well…they talk fast.

6. Nose touching and mouth covering are universal signs of deception.

Or, they’re often normal human reactions in what they perceive to be stressful situations. It has a sort of pacifying effect on some. Or maybe their allergies are bothering them. And heck, if they’re about to sneeze, let’s not penalize them for covering their mouths and not spraying their nastiness all over the place.

7. People who are smiling while speaking are generally happy and truthful.

That may be the case, but it also may not be. People smile for many reasons, including from nervousness, fear, or contempt. But again, whatever you do, don’t isolate just this piece of body language to construct what you believe the entirety of a person’s mindset.

Why does it matter? Because, well, we know what happens when we assume things. This stuff is fascinating; there’s no doubt about it. (OK, fine, maybe I just like talking nerdy.) But understanding people — human beings — is at the very heart of our roles as servants and leaders on our teams and within our organizations. Consequently, we need to be so careful that we’re not attributing attitudes and mindsets to people that may not actually be there.