Why The Question: Are We Helping You Be Effective in Your Current Job? Is Important

In a recent post, I mentioned three questions that a manager should be asking of their employees. As a reminder the questions were: Are we helping you be effective in your current job? Are we helping your build a successful career? Are we helping you have a fulfilling life?

Let’s consider the first question, helping you become effective in your current job. It may seem obvious why a manager might ask this question. Logic would dictate, the more effective you are, the more productive you would be in handling your assign tasks. But, I submit there is more to it than just making you more productive.

Every manager or supervisor goal is to have competent people working for them. The more effective you are at your job, the mover effective they can be at their job.

With you becoming more effective in your current job, you win, and you start to receive more challenging assignments. Your manager wins, as they now have an employee who can take on more responsibility and she too can assume more responsibility. She has an employee who she is comfortable in knowing that she can count on you to do a good job. The company wins as it now has two employees (you and your manager) who are more effective and productive in their roles. The customers win as they are dealing with a company that has highly trained and effective employees.

So if asked the question are we helping you be effective in your current job. Be prepared to answer the question honestly and straightforward. If you feel that is not happening, then be clear and concise on what you need to make it happen.

Here is a suggestion. Instead of waiting to be asked this question by your manager, why not be proactive. Take this question and work out some talking points to discuss with your manager on how you see yourself being more effective at your current job. Request a meeting with your manager and discuss these points along with asking for their help in making both of you successful.

After all taking some initiative is never a bad thing.

We will discuss the next two questions: Are we helping your build a successful career? Are we helping you have a fulfilling life? In our next blog post.

© Timothy A. Wilson 2016

Market Basket – One for the Books For Sure!

How many of would risk your job for the CEO of your company? Would you join a picket line for six weeks with no pay demanding the reinstatement of the CEO of your company? Let’s say you’re a long-term customer of the company would you support the employees in their protest? What would be your motivation to support the employees of this company if you can find what you need elsewhere?

Under normal circumstances most employees and customers pay little attention to the firing of a company CEO. From an employee standpoint many see it as part of their company’s business cycle, CEO’s come and go so to speak. Customers have a similar view, unless they have stock in the company then they wonder how it will affect the stock price with the firing of the CEO. Neither will worry about the CEO welfare as they both believe he’ll be fine financially. So the concept of both employee and customer joining forces and protesting the firing of a CEO by walking off the job and boycotting, well, it’s unheard of until now. Enter Arthur T. Demoulas recently fired by his board of directors, and now six weeks later, the reinstated CEO and now majority owner of Market Basket. A position he regained with the help of both loyal employees and customers. A level of loyalty and support CEO’s can only dream about that is if the do dream.

Adam Vaccaro of the provides a good account of what took place. However, that’s not the focus of this post. My focus is on the embodiment of what we consultants often talk about when it comes to leadership and customer loyalty. Let’s start with discussing Artie T (as he’s called by his loyal employees) leadership style.


Warren Bennis said “managers do things right leaders do the right thing.” Artie T realized the right thing to do was take care of his people and everything else would follow. He did this by developing a culture that allowed employees to be successful and rewarded them accordingly. He understood that profit came not because of him, but from the hard work of his employees. As the company and profits grew he paid well and provided good benefits. He followed threw on items he said he would. He established a foundation of trust among the employees. It resulted in employees truly believing they “were the most valuable asset” something often said by management but not necessarily believed by those who say it and those who hear it.

At Market Basket both the employees and the customers are important. In an interview Artie T told the reporter that they were in the people business first and the food business second. Now that’s someone who has his eye on what is important.

If your employees feel they are just the proverbial cog in the wheel, it will reflect on how they interact with your customers. Think Comcast and the now famous viral recording of a customer trying to disconnect his service.

Focus and Employee Development Leads to Customer Loyalty :

Ralph C. Stayer CEO of Johnsonville foods in his book Flight of the Buffalo, asked this question, “is every person in your company focused on delivering great performance for his/her customers? Focused and motivated employees will delight their customers. For six weeks Market Basket customers boycotted the stores in their areas. They refuse to shop at their favorite store until the reinstatement of Artie T as CEO. That’s customer loyalty.

It came about because he made sure his employees were focused on delighting their customers. He did this by asking this question, “is the person becoming more capable?” meaning is the employee receiving the training and development they that will allow them to grow? Having a promote from within philosophy with emphasis on continuous learning doesn’t hurt either.

All this leads to retention of top talent, a loyal customer base.Things he clearly understood, and so did his employees and Market Basket customers. That’s why both employees and customers took the action they did and it paid off.

We appreciate being treated respectfully when we’re about to spend our hard earn money. As customers we have numerous choices and we won’t patronize businesses who don’t understand this. The employees of Market Basket understood this, that’s why they greet every customer in a sincere and friendly way. As a friend told me shopping at a Market Basket reminded him of the local neighborhood grocery store before they all became chains. He also said he noticed it was like a local meeting place when people and employees engaged in friendly conversation because they knew each other.

So when the employees went out on strike to get their leader back so did their customers. Which is something unheard of and will make for some very interesting business case studies. Yes this clearly one for the business books.


The Thomas Becket Affair – Chris Christie Style

“What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?”

The words above are supposedly what Henry II uttered that lead to the murder of Thomas Becket. Most of us are more familiar with the words, “who will rid me of this troublesome man?” Actually both accounts are in question, but, the point is the leader (Henry II) made what he felt was an innocuous statement and members on his staff took it upon themselves to execute someone they thought the king wanted out-of-the-way.

What recently seemed as an unexplainable week-long traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge has turned into a full-blown scandal for Chris Christie governor of New Jersey. The fact that members of his staff took it upon themselves to orchestrate one of the worst traffic problems on the busiest bridges in the country isn’t extraordinary. This type of behavior happens all the time when you have a leader like Christie sets the tone for such behavior.

Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben told him, “with great power comes great responsibility.” People laugh at that line as being a bit hokey, but, there is truth in what Parker’s uncle said. Those who have the privilege of being leaders are invested with the mantle of power. With it comes the responsibility of managing it in a just and fair way. It also comes with followers who will do whatever is necessary to be in the good graces of the leader.

A newly appoint CEO is visiting different divisions of the company. She sits in on a presentation by one of her senior vice-presidents and comments on certain aspects of a project he and his staff are working on and offers some helpful suggestions. The next thing she knows she is receiving angry emails from that SVP asking why members of her staff are interfering with the project’s implementation with their never-ending requests for status and reports that take his staff hours to prepare and costing them valuable implementation time. All of this a complete surprise to her because, she never asked for any of it.

A CEO and a respected division manager disagree on the way to proceed with a new manufacturing process. In a meeting both the CEO and divisional manager are engaged in a heated discussion over the process he relents after realizing the divisional manager is correct. The CEO express his anger a senior staff who was present at the meeting regarding the manager stating, that while he might be right he is getting tired of him always trying to prove it. He is surprised when presented a month later with a list of candidates to replace the divisional manager who resigned because he wanted to spend more time with his family.

The scenarios cited above are not at all farfetched, leaders who have a tightly controlled inner circles have their own “inner circle speak.” Because members of senior management inner circles guard their conversations closely you need a secret decoder ring to have any clue as to what they are saying most of the time. I have first had experience with just such a situation. It was a staff meeting with my manager, when my manager started talking about having distant memories of similar projects. We took our customary coffee break, where I used the time to dismiss a contractor that was being overly aggressive on his insistence in wanting to discuss matters with my manager that weren’t in his assigned duties. When I returned I handed my manager a two worded note that said “distant memory” and returned to my seat. He read the note looked over at me and nodded.

Being in my manager’s inner circle and understanding how he communicated allowed me to notice the “hidden” meaning in what seemed as slightly off topic discussion for most people in the room. This is how a number of managers operate in the corporate arena. Their staffs consist of people who will try to anticipate the needs of their boss. There are occasions where this good, but, at times it causes them to overreach as in the case with Gov. Christie’s staff.

Known as a hands on manager, Gov. Christie’s set the tone and demeanor for his direct reports. Those who know him and work for him take their clues and model their own styles on his example. When a manager with a management style such as Gov. Christie wants something done without having his fingerprints on it all it takes is a certain look to a trusted staff member, change in tone and demeanor, or an agreed on code phrase between leader and staff.

It’s possible Gov. Christie wasn’t aware of his subordinate’s action. They could have kept him out of the loop thus giving him the plausible deniability card. It wouldn’t be the first time something like this was done. After all that’s what a few folks tried to do when they broke into the Democratic headquarters at Watergate.

However, I recall that not ending well for the burglars and the individual for whom they were trying provide plausible deniability. President Richard M. Nixon. He ended up resigning. I guess plausible deniability doesn’t always work.

© Timothy A. Wilson All Rights Reserved

Reactive vs. Proactive Accountability – There Is A Difference

Roger Connors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman co-authored a book called, The Oz Principle. Its main thesis was accountability. They talk about victimization capturing businesses in a choking stronghold, preventing them and their employees from being accountable. They describe accountability:

“A personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results – to See It, Own It, Solve It and Do It.”

I like to shorten it to SOSD as it’s easy to remember. According to the authors, they believe this definition provides the basis for individuals to ask the question: “what else can I do to rise above my circumstances to achieve the results I desire?”

In other words, they are describing what I like to call proactive accountability. Looking at a situation (seeing it), asking oneself “what can I do to make this situation better” (owing it), developing a plan to correct the problem (solving it), and then acting on one’s plan (doing it).

Then there is the normal and preferred method of dealing with accountability, what I call, reactive accountability. We have this down pat. Something goes wrong, and immediately, the question is, “who is responsible for this? We need to hold someone accountable.” It’s about placing blame, not about solving the problem and this reactive accountability is what makes us victims, causing us to go diving for our CYA Memo Folder. It makes accountability a dirty word.

As a manager or leader, you have to ask yourself, “How do I get my people to see accountability as a good thing and not something they should be afraid of?” You start by doing following three simple steps:

Step one: Establish a culture of accountability that begins with the top.

Leadership must set the standard with regards to accountability. Communicate with your team openly and honestly. Sharing your honest perspective of the company’s current fiscal standing; its plans for the future; or its responsibility for errors will earn your team’s trust and respect for company leadership. Such an approach also engenders employee loyalty. Remember, if company leadership tends to pass the buck, you can be sure that your management team and workforce will, too.

Step two: Establish clear company goals and standards.

What is your company’s mission? Could your management team and workforce recite it readily? A company without a clear mission or goals is like a ship blowing in the wind. It lacks direction.

Does your company have a galvanizing mission and attainable goals? If your executives are the only ones privy to this information, it will not have a true impact upon your organization.

Step three: Communicate company goals and standards regularly.

Make sure that every team member, from your mail room to your board room is well-acquainted with your mission and goals, whether they are new hires, or 20-year veterans. This should be done regularly through company meetings, team meetings, and regular corporate communications like memos, reminder emails and company newsletters. Each member should demonstrate a complete understanding of how their particular role figures in the attainment of company goals.

Recent events inWashingtonand at JP Morgan Chase Bank are clear indicators of reactive accountability, looking for someone to blame when things go wrong. In the case ofWashington, well, just read the papers, reactive accountability is part of their job description. Concerning JP Morgan Chase Bank, Jamie Dimon is stepping up to the plate for the many problems of his bank – as he should – but it wasn’t till he was pushed by his board. It’s still reactive accountability.

The key to have proactive accountability include taking the steps previously mention, but more importantly, it’s: “A personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances.”

One has to have the strength to make that choice. Do you?

© Timothy A. Wilson 2013. All Rights Reserved


  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 4 other subscribers

  • Calendar

    July 2017
    M T W T F S S
    « May    
  • Now Reading

    Planned books:

    Current books:

    • Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It

      Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It by Marshall Goldsmith

    • A Stake in the Outcome: Building a Culture of Ownership for the Long-Term Success of Your Business

      A Stake in the Outcome: Building a Culture of Ownership for the Long-Term Success of Your Business by Jack Stack, Bo Burlingham

    • The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition

      The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition by James M. Kouzes, Barry Z. Posner

    • Million Dollar Coaching: Build a World-Class Practice by Helping Others Succeed (The Issues Collecti

      Million Dollar Coaching: Build a World-Class Practice by Helping Others Succeed (The Issues Collecti by Alan Weiss

    • World Class Diversity Management: A Strategic Approach

      World Class Diversity Management: A Strategic Approach by R. Roosevelt Thomas

    Recent books:

    View full Library

  • Copyright © 1996-2010 T.A.Wilson & Associates. All rights reserved.
    iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress
    %d bloggers like this: