Tuesday, July 17, 2007

July 23, 2007


I'm working on a new book which I hope to announce soon. It is entitled, "Morphing Into the Real World - The Handbook for Entering the Work Force," the purpose of which is to educate our youth in terms of making the transition from the safety of Mom and Dad and schools, to the bitter realities of the real world. One of the key points I make time and again in the book is that people act on perceptions. These perceptions could be based on reality or on something imagined. In other words, we may perceive a situation correctly or incorrectly; right or wrong.

As a communications major, I understand the importance of how we transmit signals to others, thereby affecting their perceptions of us. This can be done verbally, through writing and body language, the type of actions and decisions we make, and even our physical appearance. I spend a lot of time in the book discussing the importance of these forms of communications. For example, our youth are now wizards at electronic communications devices (e.g., cell phones, text messaging, e-mails) yet are having severe problems with simple interpersonal communications, such as greetings and common courtesy, conducting a presentation or giving a speech, interviewing, or holding a simple conversation. "Networking" to Generation X and Y means text messaging, not socializing as a group. It should therefore come as no small wonder that professional, civic, and fraternal societies are experiencing a decline in membership.

In terms of body language and actions/decisions, I discuss the importance of conveying the proper signals, as well as the impact of proper grooming and dress. Let me give you an example, I know of an Army PFC who liked to drive around his military base in his pickup truck and proudly displayed a Confederate flag on the back. Over time he noticed many of his friends graduated to Sergeant while he remained a PFC. He didn't understand this as he thought he was smarter than the others. Someone finally pulled him aside and told him to get rid of the Confederate flag, which he reluctantly did. Shortly thereafter though, he was made a Sergeant. In other words, he finally learned the hard way of the importance of cultivating the proper image.

One thing that is hard for our youth to grasp is the significance of our dress. Offices have become rather lax in their dress codes, perhaps overtly so. When I discuss this issue with young people I tell them that our dress sends some very powerful messages. More than anything, it is a sign of respect to the people we are coming in contact with, be it a boss, a coworker, a customer, or a vendor. If someone dresses sloppily, they are basically saying, "I really do not care about you." It also says a lot about our personal self-esteem. Today, there is a big push for companies to promote teamwork and, because of this, they are rethinking dress code policies, some even going so far as to institute uniform programs.

Such lessons are simply not being passed on to our youth properly, all of which are having an adverse effect on their socialization skills in the workplace and questions their credibility as professionals. In order for them to succeed in the work place, it is necessary they master these simple communications skills. Regardless of the technical skills they possess, it will not help them alter the perceptions of the people they come in contact with daily. Simple communications will.

If you would like to discuss this with me in more depth, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail.

OUR BRYCE'S LAW OF THE WEEK therefore is... "No amount of technology will be able to alter the perceptions of our coworkers, our managers, our customers, our vendors, or our friends and family."


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A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Independence Day in America, complete with fireworks. This reminded me of when I was a youth and enjoyed setting off fireworks myself. I always found the instructions printed on fireworks rather amusing which said simply, "Put on ground, light fuse, run away." I didn't know exactly where they wanted me to run away to, I had already been to the circus, so I just stood back a few feet and watched the firecracker explode.

Fireworks drives mothers crazy, and I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard my mother warn me, "You can put your eye out that way." I think this was the standard warning for just about anything I did, be it riding a bicycle, playing baseball, swimming, running, or breathing. It is the first cardinal rule each mother must learn in order to bear children. I wasn't alone either, all of my friends' mothers admonished them with this same expression regularly. So much so, that we thought our mothers had formed a conspiracy or some secret society for the sole purpose of maintaining our eyesight.

The power of mothers is rather interesting. Years ago, Jay Leno commented that mothers had the uncanny ability to sniff out just about anything, even better than a bloodhound, such as your secret copy of Playboy you kept stashed away in your bedroom. Back before the Iraq war started, he said we should not have wasted time sending in a team of UN delegates to look for weapons of mass destruction since they never found anything. Instead, they should have sent in a team of mothers who would have pulled Saddam Hussein out by the ear and cleaned up the situation right away. It would have probably saved us all a lot of grief.

Mothers are full of little axioms they use to keep us in line, but I have to think, "You can put your eye out that way," has to be their favorite with "Stop it or you'll go blind" coming in a close second.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.


Folks, a couple of years ago I started to include my "Pet Peeve of the Week" in these "Management Visions" podcasts. They have become so popular that I now syndicate them through the Internet and they are available for republication in other media. To this end, I have created a separate web page for my writings which you can find at Look for the section, "The Bryce is Right!" Hope you enjoy them.


I received a response from a DD in Atlanta, Georgia regarding last week's essay, "How well are we preparing the next generation?"

D.D. writes:

"I agree totally that these items should be taught in school.

However, I was never taught these things at school or at home. It meant that my first couple of jobs were not successes.

And yes, I learned in the school of "hard knocks," but I learned these items quickly after a couple of failures that raised a "cognitive dissonance" between what I believed and reality.

But it did not lead to my "demise". It simply delayed my success until I made the adjustments in my mid 20's. And yes, I had difficulty surviving, but I did survive as this new generation will.

These kids are not different from us baby boomers. They will learn through failure just as us "spoiled" children learned.

As for teaching these subjects in school, each of the subjects you mentioned could be taught as part of the regular curriculum, integrated as practical applications and case studies of applying math and English. However, even the most careful instruction and grading will not keep these kids from having to learn the key lessons the hard way in the real world.

As a matter of fact, some of these "video games" are teaching them a lot about being reliable as a leader, climbing a hierarchy, working as a cooperative part of team, associating with heterogeneous workers, setting and accomplishing goals, practical project, managing time, negotiating, and other skills.

This training is far beyond anything I got as a child. Definitely more than I learned by taking out the trash and mowing the lawn.

It is also teaching them computer skills and how to work in the virtual world of the Internet. This is much more important than learning the names of "cumulous clouds" and the capital of Kansas.

The rote memorization and regurgitation of useless facts that they get so they can pass these tests for the "No Child Left Behind" program is well illustrated in that game "Are You Smarter than A 5th Grader." The reason the adults don't know the answers to these questions is that they haven't used this knowledge since they were 5th graders. These kids should be learning the things they will need to know as adults, not some academic collection of information that they can find out on Google whenever they (rarely) need the information."

Thanks for your comments.

Keep those cards and letters coming.

MBA is an international management consulting firm specializing in Information Resource Management. We offer training, consulting, and writing services in the areas of Enterprise Engineering, Systems Engineering, Data Base Engineering, Project Management, Methodologies and Repositories. For information, call us at 727/786-4567. For a complete listing of my essays, see the "PRIDE" Special Subject Bulletins section of our corporate web site.

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This is Tim Bryce reporting.

Since 1971: "Software for the finest computer - the Mind."


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  • Do you think Google would have been a more or less successful company had they followed the dresscode advice in your upcoming book?

    By Anonymous GD, At 9:46 AM  

  • Interesting question. The difference here is one of an established culture versus a new one finding itself. I can't say that I have visited Google's offices, I can only speculate. How we transmit messages through dress, body language, and oral/written communications definitely impacts everybody. Would Google have been more successful? Don't know, but it certainly would have had a beneficial effect on the company.

    By Blogger Tim Bryce, At 10:29 AM  

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