Tuesday, December 11, 2007

December 17, 2007


Good question. For years, controlling the work environment was considered management's responsibility. After all, they were the ones charged with the task of implementing certain business functions. But the times have changed or have they really? Today, most young people expect the corporate culture to adapt to their life style and work habits, not the other way around. And there is some evidence to this effect. For example, suit and ties have been replaced by some rather avant-garde dress. Even "Casual Fridays" have been replaced by grungy appearances on a daily basis. This has manifested itself to the overall office appearance and organization. Further, most younger office workers are now plugged into iPods to avoid social interaction. One has to wonder if this new corporate culture has truly been conducive to completing assignments on time and within budget. If not, maybe a change is in order.

But the question remains, has management surrendered control over the work environment? Well, to a degree, Yes. Some things have admittedly changed over the last couple of decades, and management is less sensitive to adhering to corporate policies and procedures. Nonetheless, young employees must still conform to the corporate culture rather than their own.

Interestingly, a dichotomy has emerged in the work place; whereas employees are given more freedom to look and act as they so desire, micromanagement is on the rise. The two may or may not be related, but the two phenomenons are too noticeable to be considered nothing more than a coincidence. While employees want more participation in the decision making process, managers are more resistant to giving it to them. Is it possible that employee appearance and conduct doesn't instill confidence in the manager? Not just maybe, but highly likely. If employees look and act unprofessional, the less likely management will trust their judgment.

Can a happy medium be found? Frankly, I think so, but it requires a reexamination of the corporate culture by management. Companies may balk at going back to suit and ties, but there are some fundamental changes that can be enacted to affect discipline, organization, and accountability; and this all begins with taking control of the work environment.

As I have described in the past, there are both logical and physical aspects to controlling the work environment. The physical attributes represent those things affecting human senses and the logical affects the human spirit. The physical work environment affects sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell, which of course influences our perceptions. This means management should be sensitive to lighting, temperature, colors, personal appearance, equipment, etc. The logical side refers to management style and reflects management's values; e.g., ethics, conduct, dedication, professionalism, motivation, and social interaction. As such, both the logical and physical attributes are closely related.

The intuitive manager should spend more time on controlling the work environment and less time on supervising the smallest details (micromanagement). This means the manager needs to empower workers, delegate responsibility, hold people accountable, and get the heck out of the way. In other words, by treating people as professionals, it is not at all unreasonable to expect them to act as such in return. By doing so, the manager is promoting trust, and encouraging teamwork and loyalty by giving the employees a sense of ownership in the work products to be produced. Frankly, I believe employees prefer such an arrangement.

The military has long understood the need for an organized work environment. In addition to uniform appearance, you have three standing rules of operation: either you work on something, store it away properly, or throw it away. Clutter is avoided at all cost. True, there is a lot of personal supervision during boot camp and a soldier knows how to take an order, but when you are in the field, the officers do not have time to hold your hand.

But the reality in the corporate world is that management is spending more time on supervising, and less time worrying about the work environment, hence the decline of discipline and organization. I tend to describe this relationship using the game of football as an analogy. The Head Coach is responsible for checking on field conditions and preparing his players through practice (training) and devising a game plan (strategy), not by going out on the field and instructing the actions of every player. So, as you sit down to watch your favorite bowl game in January, ask yourself how the play of the team parallels your office. Just how much supervision is going on in the field and who controls the work environment?

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... "Manage more, supervise less."


Friends, we have just published a new book entitled, "MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD - A Handbook for Entering the Work Force" which is a survival guide for young people as they transition into adult life.

Bonnie Wooding, the President-elect of the Toronto Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) said, "Many of our members are just starting their careers and I will be recommending that they read this book, especially Chapter 3, Professional Development - a primer for business skills and filled with basic common sense advice that is simple, easy to follow and extraordinarily practical; and Chapter 5, Do’s and Don’ts of the Workplace, an excellent resource for those questions you are too embarrassed to ask for fear of looking foolish."

The Miami Hurricane recently reviewed it (10/22/2007) and said,

"the abundance of information the book provides is a good start for anyone about to take the first step into the real world. Though the concept of adulthood may seem intimidating, it's comforting to know that someone has at least written a guidebook for it."

Reviewer Bill Petrey praised it by saying, "Every young person entering the workplace for the first time should be given a copy of this book."

The book includes chapters to describe how a young person should organize themselves, how to adapt to the corporate culture, develop their career, and improve themselves professionally and socially. Basically, its 208 pages of good sound advice to jump start the young person into the work force. Corporate Human Resource departments will also find this book useful for setting new hires on the right track in their career. It not only reinforces the many formal rules as contained in corporate policy manuals, but also includes the subtle unwritten rules we must all observe while working with others. The book lists for $25 and can be ordered online through MBA or your local book store. Complementing the book is a one day seminar of the same name which can be purchased separately for $4,000.00 (U.S.) plus instructor travel expenses. For more information on both the book and the seminar, visit our corporate web site at:
ISBN: 978-0-9786182-5-4


Nobody likes to be taken for granted, but I'm starting to see more and more of this from a consumer point of view. For example, consider magazine and newspaper subscriptions where you are not rewarded for longevity; instead, you carry the load as rates go up and up with each passing year. It seems the longer you are a customer, the less you are appreciated and the more you are taken advantage of. I guess seniority and tenure doesn't carry much weight anymore.

One way to overcome this problem is to shop around every now and then. It seems the only way you can get someone's attention is to cancel their service and go with something else. I have a friend who runs a restaurant and he felt his coffee supplier was taking him for granted. Please understand, this was a vendor he had been using for over twenty years. Their service wasn't that good anymore and their prices had been escalating in recent times. Worst of all, the vendor simply didn't care if the customer was satisfied or not, and this was really the straw that broke the camel's back. My friend shopped around and found a new supplier who provided better service at a fair price. He then told his old supplier that his service was no longer needed. This shocked the vendor who couldn't believe my friend was going elsewhere after so many years of service. Only then did he try to make amends with my friend.

Maybe by canceling service and trying something else is the only way we can send companies a wake-up call. And if enough people did it, we might just get the type of customer service we all deserve. For example, imagine the effect a "National Subscription Cancellation Day" would have where everyone canceled their magazine and newspaper subscriptions. Then on the next day they could subscribe again as new customers thereby entitling them to the new lower rates and all of the fun prizes the publications like to offer. First, such an event would probably bring the publishers' computers to its knees. But more importantly, it would send a powerful message to the publishers that we do not like to be taken for granted. I know people do not like to interrupt service, but it would be worth it in the end.

Two other areas where we are being taken for granted are insurance rates and gasoline prices. Living in Florida, we are acutely aware of the high price of coverage for wind-storm damage. Frankly, it's pricing a lot of people right out of the state and has had a dramatic impact on new home construction. The gulf coast, the Atlantic coast, California, the tornado belt, and the frozen north are also feeling the pinch of escalating insurance costs (and I think that just about covers everyone in the States). I don't think I need to explain the problem with rising energy prices and how the oil companies are making record profits. I just wonder who is standing up for the consumer? It sure isn't our local, state, or federal government as our leaders all like to dance to the fiddle of lobbyists.

No, the real power lies in the consumer, a slumbering giant who could cause havoc if he ever woke up. We just need a lot more people like my restaurant friend who was tired of being taken for granted and finally put his foot down. We do not necessarily need a major organized campaign to protect ourselves, we only need to refuse to accept inferior workmanship and service. More simply, we just need to refuse to be taken for granted. Just remember, in most cases you can only be taken advantage of if you allow yourself to be taken.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.


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.

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.

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Copyright © 2007 by M&JB Investment Company of Palm Harbor, Florida, USA. All rights reserved. "PRIDE" is the registered trademark of M&JB Investment Company.

This is Tim Bryce reporting.

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




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