Miss Management: Too thick to plow, too stubborn for salt

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So I might have been a bit hasty last October (“Many are cold, but few are frozen”) when I bemoaned the fact that most people only seem to think of Minnesota as a flat, cold and pale place, albeit with some motorized recliners used to watch the Vikings. For the last 3-4 weeks, I’ve done some whining about the weather myself, as waves of snow, cold, slush, cold, snow and cold left my 1995 Saturn either stuck in the garage because the city didn’t plow the alley again, or sliding through icy intersections that have resisted all belated efforts to plow, salt or sand. At times, the only recourse seems to be: Aim for something soft.

Following up on my topic of the importance of creativity in employees and innovation in business (“It’s not cheating if you win”), which I probably wouldn’t need to do if our webmistress would stop telling me that my blogs are too long, I’ve been doing more research on what both employers and employees will be seeking from each other in 2010, as the economy slogs back from recession.

What makes an ideal employee? Desired traits seem to fall into four general categories: competencies/skills, values, attitude and potential (which might be where that undervalued trait of creativity falls). Using a compellingly meteorological example, if asked to maintain a snow- and ice-free parking lot for the business, the ideal employee might respond: “I can drive a snowplow, I love spreading chemicals and, in fact, just came up with a new state-of-the-art dispenser last night while I was fooling around in my basement. I regard every snowflake as a personal affront.” If this person is normally employed in the mailroom, you might want to promote her to Facilities Manager immediately, and make sure she has a regular supply of doughnuts. (And not just some stale SuperAmerica cake doughnuts dusted with powdered sugar. Revolutions have started over less.)

Treat your job as though it’s your own business.

On the management side, there’s also a host of desirable attributes: professionalism/knowledge, flexibility, fairness, consistency. A good boss needs to be able to learn as well as teach, support the employees, and be focused on the mission, not just the money. Oddly enough, I didn’t find any list of desirable management traits that included creativity.

Would your employees hire you?

Recent nationwide surveys are showing that however happy people are to still have jobs, only 45 percent of respondents actually liked their jobs—the lowest percentage in 22 years. That could be at least partially a response to the situation many people find themselves in now, as benefits are cut and workloads increase. But if you want to retain your best employees and ensure that soft landing as the economy slowly recovers in 2010, you’d better find some creative ways to keep them happy. Treating employees as an expenditure rather than a resource is a good way to encourage another employer to invest in them.

Editor’s note: If you’ve received an e-mail from me recently and are checking to see what the answer is to the question my signature line poses (If a chicken and a half can lay an egg and a half in a day and a half, how many eggs can nine chickens lay in nine days?), the answer is: 54. Trust me.


Comments are the opinion of individual posters and do not reflect the views of Specialty Fabrics Review or Industrial Fabrics Association International.

  • Chris Nolan

    It tolls for thee.

    Our lives are built on relationships, yet why is it that we do our best to dehamanise the one that necesarily exists between employee and employer? My sister eshewed the title of 'Director, Human Resources' in favour of 'Director of Resourceful Humans'. Does that not spell it out? Perhaps we should supplant the word 'employee' with 'employ-you' or even better, 'employ-thee'. 

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