I’ve written posts on managing agendas. That’s all pretty fundamental. But there’s a whole other side to this. There’s a role for everyone attending the meeting to participate – not too much, not too little.
I think it’s fair to say, “you’re paid to express your opinion.” Or, in the case of, say, a non-profit board, “you’re voted in to express your opinion.” To do this, you need to set aside the commonly-held disdain for meetings and personally help to make them successful.
I’m getting tired of reading articles proudly exclaiming the importance of engagement (emotional involvement or commitment, Merriam-Webster). Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for it. But let’s stop with the intellectual tourism and get on with it.
Part of the problem likely stems from the fact that its theoretical importance comes from studies funded out of – eek – Human Resources. All those people know how to do is spend waste money.
An interesting article this month in McKinsey Quarterly, “High-performing boards: What’s on their agenda?” The premise is that Directors report that they have a greater impact as they move beyond the basics. This rather goes without saying (no shit, Sherlock), but a bit of awareness and language around this can help everyone optimize their scarce time as board members.
In a 2013 survey of more than 770 directors from public and private companies across industries around the world and from non-profit organizations, more than one in four assessed their impact as moderate or lower, while others reported having a high impact across board functions.
Boards and strategy: how involved?
There was an interesting article in the New York Times “Magazine” section called, Who Needs a Boss? It’s worth checking out.
One premise is that there are different kinds of organizations in terms of needing “high-priced” help. If you’re in the game of creating leading-edge products and services, you may indeed need to bring on someone who has unique skills and abilities who, consequently, commands a higher price in the marketplace for talent. Alternatively, if you’re in a well-established business that almost runs itself, perhaps a lot of the generally-assumed requirement for expensive leaders isn’t necessarily so.
Structure – what form should it take
It’s, umm, easy to come up with a great strategy and declare to the people: make it so. After the martinis have been drained, there’s still the issue of putting your money where your mouth is; that would be resources: financial and people.
But it doesn’t end there – that’s just the beginning of strategy execution.
Initiatives – and possibly formal projects – need to be launched.
But it doesn’t end there. That’s just the middle.
Execution requires momentum
You might have read this: the CEO of JPMorgan, Jamie Dimon, is going to be compensated $20 million in 2013, a 74 per cent raise. It was, as the New York Times wrote, a year in which the bank narrowly escaped a criminal guilty plea and paid more than $20 billion in regulatory fines and penalties.
That’s not chump change. Is it worth it? Is it scandalous? What the heck is going on here; how can anyone be worth that much? Who’s making this decision?
Compensation Photo: D. Bond
It’s a bit like asking: How long is a piece of string?
There’s nothing quite like talking about compensation to put people into a bad mood. It can seem boring and sterile, but when you think of the role it plays beyond the actual money itself – a kind of symbolism of the perceived relative value of a person – it’s a central and potent topic.
Engagement levels can be hugely affected by perceived lack of fairness between leaders and employees. This in turn affects the business/organization in negative ways and, in theory, should be a self-correcting mechanism if it wants to remain a going concern with a stable workforce. People can, and do, and should, move to where the grass is greener. High turnover often results in poor customer service levels, driving away business.
Sky’s the limit
It’s December and the end of the year is close. Leaders start thinking about their year-end financial results. Are we in the red or the black?
One of the key topics that will come up involves employee compensation, be it monthly/annual salary or hourly wages. Should they go up? Can we afford it? Can we afford not to increase them? What’s the cost of living increase? Does that really matter? Will there be a rush for the exit? Will we be able to replace them with equally qualified people?
Bonus Time – Photo: D. Bond
I think we’re all familiar with teenagers who roll their eyes and say “whatever…” when they think you’ve said something totally irrelevant. In the grown-up world much the same thing happens, but it might better be spoken as “however…”
Let me explain.
Strategy and Tactics Photo: D. Bond
It’s quite fascinating to read the news and see story after story that follows much the same arc: A group is furious about the outcome of some decision and as a result spares no effort in blaming the process that led to it. Then, if the process is defended and shown to have been fair and robust, they turn their attention to the people involved. Clearly there must have been a vested interest at play and the process was a sham – the decision was already made.
Now, I’m sure in some cases that may be true. However, what I think it points to more frequently is that people don’t take the opportunities given to them to be engaged in the process in the first place. If – and when – the outcome is not to their liking, suddenly there’s time to raise the alarms, alert the media, and call motives into question and demand a delay.
Process to outcome