Richard J. Bocchinfuso

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." – Oscar Wilde

FIT – MGT5013 – Week 3, Discussion 2

You are a senior manager tasked to develop a virtual team that will evaluate current business practices. Your boss wants this team assembled quickly and expects a short turnaround on any outcomes. 

Using some of the concepts and types of assessments described in this chapter, describe how you would quickly assemble this team and how you plan to overcome some of the expected challenges. 

Virtual teams have become the norm in the technology field, organizations are looking for the best minds, and geographic proximity to an office location is no longer a primary criterion. Let’s look at Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel, the heart of the internet. Linus works from his walking desk in his basement and commands a developer community of more than ten-thousand developers. (Bort, 2015) Linus provides direction for a passionate and purposeful group community of developers who use their discretionary time to contribute to the Linux kernel. The Linux kernel development community is not a unique phenomenon in technology; the Open Source community is made up of people passionate about what they do, a quick look at the GitHub statistics from 2017 reveals the magnitude of this extraordinary community, constructed primarily of virtual teams. (GitHub Octoverse, 2017)

Linus Torvalds outlines the five things he has learned about managing software projects, the largest project being the Linux kernel development which relies on a massive virtual team. It comes as no surprise that all of the Big Five factors are touched upon by him in this article. (Torvalds, 2008)

In my opinion, there are some distinct differences in managing a virtual team vs. managing a team face-to-face. The number one criteria I look for in a virtual team member is passion because passion creates drive and drive is a difficult thing to control when managing a virtual team. To quickly assemble a team I would probably start by identifying those who possess the subject matter expertise required, then begin to look at self-report surveys and observer-ratings surveys (Robbins & Judge, 2018 p. 65) to gather a subjective and objective perspective on potential candidates. I would also leverage personality-assessment instruments like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or other personality-assessment instruments, as well as discussions with peers and management to assess prospective candidates and better the probability of a best-fit scenario. (Robbins & Judge, 2018 p. 81) Given that this situation will he high-pressure with the expectation that the team will rapidly deliver outcomes I may apply the Trait Activation Theory (TAT).
Using TAT to predict situations that may “activate” a trait that could be detrimental to the team and the objective improves decision making and further increases the probability of a best-fit situation.
(Robbins & Judge, 2018 p. 81)

As someone who manages a virtual team, communication is critical. It’s important for people to be able to connect with each other even though they may not be in the same physical location.  Hosting quarterly, semi-annual or annual meetings where the team can interact and connect can be extremely valuable. It is also critical that virtual team members are comfortable using the tools available to them to facilitate virtual team collaboration, the telephone is not a tool of the trade. Learning how to efficiently use multi-party video conferences, asynchronous communication platforms, collaboration platforms like Google Docs, daily standups and other technologies and processes can significantly enhance virtual team cohesion.

References

Bort, J. (2015, February 22). Linus Torvalds runs one of the world’s most important software projects from a tiny ‘Zombie shuffling’ desk. Retrieved March 24, 2018, from http://www.businessinsider.com/a-peek-at-linus-torvalds-little-desk-2015-2

GitHub Octoverse 2017. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2018, from https://octoverse.github.com/

Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. (2018). Essentials of organizational behavior. New York, NY: Pearson.

Torvalds, L. (2008, August 04). Five Things Linus Torvalds Has Learned About Managing Software Projects. Retrieved March 24, 2018, from https://www.cio.com/article/2434502/open-source-tools/five-things-linus-torvalds-has-learned-about-managing-software-projects.html

FIT – MGT5013 – Week 3, Discussion 1

Why are values important for organizations and its employees? As a senior manager, do you feel this is an important area of focus of your main effort within your organization? (Give specific details).

Ah, values, the stories I could tell. Well, I will tell one just to set the stage. It was a Tuesday morning about three years ago, and I and about thirty others are attending a leadership meeting, complete with outside facilitators, I believe the SFO airport Marriott was the designated meeting location. The meeting consisted of leadership from sales, engineering, marketing, finance, human resource and other few other back-office divisions, the E-team (our executive leadership) and outside meeting facilitators. One of the key agenda items was to review a mission statement and core values which leaders across the company had been working on for close to a year. I don’t remember how the exactly how the discussion progressed, but I will do my best. One of the core values was “integrity”, along with others like customer-centric, accountability, teamwork and adaptability.

One group which contained two representatives from sales was charged with brainstorming the word “integrity” and how it applied. When it came time for them to read out their notes, flip chart or whatever the response was something like “we don’t really like the word integrity”, of course, the question of “why” quickly followed from a facilitator. The response was something like “as salespeople we need to bend the rules, and we just feel that integrity maybe should not be a core value”. Queue an explosion from executive management. It was actually quite comical, spurred some insightful debate and probably impacted some corporate culture changes.

The text states that values represent basic convictions, a mode of conduct that is personally or socially preferable and implies that the nature of values is judgmental. (Robbins & Judge, 2018 p. 75) Values are the bedrock of an organization’s culture, we hear the term “cultural fit” so often, without a deep understanding of an organizations culture, the measure of a cultural fit boils down to, do values align. Does en employees value system align with the organization’s value system, does one company’s value system align with another. I was recently in a meeting with a prospect where an executive team member from the customer asked the following “Before we get started, what are your core values because I like to know who I am about to do business with.”

As a member of the senior leadership team, I do feel this is a key area of focus within my organization. Over the past two years, the values and mission of the corporation have been taken very seriously, top performers who do not embody the organization’s values have are being confronted. Reed Hastings calls these people “Brilliant Jerks” and says “Some companies tolerate them, for us, the cost too effective teamwork is too high. Diverse styles are fine as long as the person embodies Netflix’s values.” (Hastings, 2009, p. 36)  We have adopted this philosophy as well, not easy, but required.
Sousa & Porto support the importance of values, stating that “values represent a core aspect of culture that influences behavior”. (Sousa & Porto, 2015 p. 2) Sousa & Porto further explain that PO (Person-Organization Fit) matters when it comes to job satisfaction by stating “Based on the evidence so far, it can be stated that there is a positive relationship between PO fit and positive consequences for the individual, such as satisfaction.” (Sousa & Porto, 2015 p. 2) Sousa & Porto provide empirical evidence which shows that alignment of OV (Organizational Values) and WV (Work ‘individual’ Values) has a direct correlation to employee happiness, stating that “agreement between higher levels of WV and OV prove to be associated with higher levels of happiness at work”. (Sousa & Porto, 2015 p. 7)

The text makes suggestions regarding implications for managers, tools and approaches which can be used to assess values, personality characteristics and fit, and offers guidance regarding diversity, social and emotional intelligence. (Robbins & Judge, 2018 p. 81) My organization makes use of tools like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Predictive Index (PI) to understand the personalities, of our leaders, peers, and subordinates, we ensure that our actions align with our core values, we always embrace diversity and leverage information to foster the development of social and emotional intelligence.

References

Hastings, R. (2009, August 01). Culture. Retrieved March 18, 2018, from https://www.slideshare.net/reed2001/culture-1798664

Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. (2018). Essentials of organizational behavior. New York, NY: Pearson.

Sousa, J. M. d., & Porto, J. B. (2015). Happiness at work: Organizational values and person-organization fit impact. Paideía, 25(61), 211-220. http://dx.doi.org.portal.lib.fit.edu/10.1590/1982-43272561201509 Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.portal.lib.fit.edu/docview/1699251057?accountid=27313

FIT – MGT5013 – Week2, Discussion 2

Identify how attitudes in the workplace have changed throughout the years? (Do not go back any longer than two decades. Consider many factors such as media, events, and generational gaps.) Does this change impact the organizational culture?

My apologies for the late post, substantial travel, predictably poor United Wifi, a 68-hour contiguous work day and 90+ hour work week left me with limited options. My week this week is a true testament to organizational culture, and also to generational gaps. First off it’s hard to work nearly three days straight with no sleep, but myself and as well as eight others on my teams did so as we worked through a critical defect. I flew back from California on a red-eye last night and called my 78-year-old dad from the car on my way home from the airport at 8 AM this morning. Of course, we discussed his week and my week and his comment to me was “Son, when you take the number of hours you work and divide into your salary you make minimum wage”. There is a story to be told here. 🙂

If I am going to identify or discuss how the workplace has changed throughout the years and only go back two decades, essentially looking at the period starting 1998 to current day 2018, in my opinion, there is one place to focus, and it’s the era of the millennial. At the risk of rewinding a little too far without a focus beyond the last two decades. I am going to look back three generations to the Baby Boomers (~ 1946-1964), the post-WWII generation, this provides a little more context for some of my thoughts as well as the ability for me to leverage some of my personal experiences. Following the Baby Boomers we have Generation X (1965-1979), the generation I hail from, then the Millennials (~ 1981 – 1997), the generation which comprises the majority of the workforce which I interact with and manage on a daily basis.

As a Gen Xer, I carried forward many of the traits of my Baby Boomer parents, my Dad was born in 1940, so he is technically part of the Silent Generation, but close enough for this discussion. My parents were dutiful and respectful, and they passed traits and philosophies like don’t question your elders, obedience, being on time, acceptance, work will never kill you, and most importantly the Calvinist belief of working hard and being thrifty. I also think it’s important, at least contextually that I grew up with negative motivation, nothing was ever good enough, could have always done more, worked a little harder, etc… fear was and still is a primary motivator.

As a Gen Xer living in a millennial world, it is easy to become disillusioned, while fear motivates me and I am comfortable with it, this is not the case for the millennial generation. I have learned recent years that millennials are very talented, but a purpose is super important. From my experience, the millennial posses traits which focus on the greater good, culture is critical, and they value purpose over profits. How we communicate with the millennial generation differs significantly from prior generations. Millennials are looking to develop close relationships and receive frequent feedback.
(Myers, 2018) I find this interesting because the need for teamwork and consensus to de-risk themselves, the need for constant feedback, etc… seems to be counter to the need for autonomy. The reality is millennials work well in teams, they organize and communicate well, they are comfortable with team success, and they can produce great outcomes when put in situations which make them feel comfortable. There is no doubt that emotional intelligence is critical when navigating and motivating a multigenerational workforce. (Njoroge, 2014)

While we can look at the impact of social media, world events, etc… as influencers of organizational culture I believe they pale in contrast to the cultural shifts which have been created by generational gaps, specifically the entrance of the millennial philosophies into the workforce. Let me explain, sites like Glassdoor are posted to and read by millennials, they have a significant impact on organizational culture, organizational policy, etc… but I have never posted to Glassdoor. While I am interested in politics and I have political views, my reactions to the political climate once a decision is made, is one of acceptance, focusing on things I have direct control over to make a difference and moving on, this is not what I observe with the millennial generation. Millennials dream big, they believe they can impact massive change, this is all great stuff, but I also have found a fair amount of disillusionment.

All of these influencers have a tremendous impact on organizational culture. I believe that most of the cultural changes have been extremely positive, of course not every change is rainbows and unicorns, but from a macro perspective, the changes have been extremely positive.

References

American Generation Fast Facts. (2017, August 27). Retrieved March 16, 2018, from https://www.cnn.com/2013/11/06/us/baby-boomer-generation-fast-facts/index.html

Glassdoor Job Search | Find the job that fits your life. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2018, from https://www.glassdoor.com/index.htm

Myers, K. K., & Sadaghiani, K. (2010). Millennials in the workplace: A communication perspective on millennials’ organizational relationships and performance. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25(2), 225-238.

Njoroge, C. N., & Yazdanifard, R. (2014). The impact of social and emotional intelligence on employee motivation in a multigenerational workplace. International Journal of Information, Business and Management, 6(4), 163.

Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. (2018). Essentials of organizational behavior. New York, NY: Pearson.

Response 1

Steve, great post. You make a good point regarding the average number of jobs held in a lifetime. It’s interesting after reading your post, writing a couple myself as well as this weeks assignment, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about organizational behavior, corporate culture, etc… I also focused a fair amount of time on millennials as the lens which magnified an inevitable cultural shift.

As I think about the point you’ve brought up regarding the velocity and frequency with which people make jobs moves, I am reminded that in my field most people are incredibly focused on personal mastery, what they do is a lifestyle, it’s who they are. We all maintain Github repositories; spend hours a day reading and posting on StackOverflow, our day is spent time-slicing between corporate initiatives and contribution to Open Source projects, and we try to align the two as much as possible. The business seems to have less control than ever because they need the developers, but often struggle to quantify their activities. This is such a pervasive movement that books like “The New Kingmakers” have chronicled the developer sub-culture and the control it commands.

“‘GitHub’s Zack Holman suggests that employers should “[i]mprison your employees with happiness and nice things and cuddly work processes.’ GitHub itself does just that with flexible hours, excellent compensation and benefits packages, an enjoyable work environment, an in-house kegorator, and more. The results speak for themselves: incredibly, GitHub has never lost an employee.” (Ogrady, 2013, p. 47)

If you know you have an insanely motivated workforce, the case for “The New Kingmakers” then you just need to figure out how to hold onto them. Easier said than done, companies might want you to do X, Y or Z, all might be reasonable requests, but “The New Kingmaker” will just go next door.

References

Build software better, together. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2018, from https://github.com/

OGrady, S. (2013). The New Kingmakers. OReilly Media.

Stack Overflow – Where Developers Learn, Share, & Build Careers. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2018, from https://stackoverflow.com/

FIT – MGT5013 – Week 2, Discussion 1

Discuss the different ways management can increase job satisfaction within the organization. Look at unique ways besides simply increasing pay or bonuses.

My apologies for the late post, substantial travel, predictably poor United Wifi, a 68-hour contiguous work day and 90+ hour work week left me with limited options. For as long as I can remember the satisfaction I received from working on puzzles and solving complex problems has always overshadowed the pain endured getting there.

I recently received an email from our VP of Human Resources thanking me for my dedication and leadership. I responded to this email stating the following:

I really love this stuff and I am a very lucky individual. I just spend my days trying to inspire others to love it as much as I do (or to get somewhere close).
Thankful to my parents for that TRS-80 and the acoustic coupler they bought me in the early 80s, the phone bills they let me run up, their tolerance of me sitting in front of the computer for hours-and-hours as a kid and the fact that I grew up in a time where they didn’t take me to a doctor because of it.
Thankful for the latitude I have been given much of my career to just execute.
In reality, it’s pretty easy for me, because I love it, there’s truly nothing I would rather be doing than sitting in front of a computer, I’d be worried if I wasn’t at least OK at it.

I think it’s important to start by defining job satisfaction. “Job satisfaction is defined as the extent to which employees like their work.” (Harter, 2002 p. 27) The text states that job satisfaction and job involvement, the degree which an individual identifies psychologically with their job. (Robbins, 2018 p. 37) I always have used employee engagement as the primary metric for job satisfaction. My belief has always been if I can increase employee engagement then I can increase job satisfaction. To be and remain relevant in my chosen profession requires immense personal investment, without employee engagement, success is out of reach. I believe something called the “Blue Button Moment” (Your Best Agile User Story, n.d.) captures the essence of employee engagement, and how the outcomes differ based on engagement. The “RSA ANIMATE: Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us” (RSA ANIMATE: Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us., 2010) video also captures engagement when it discusses engagement and the importance of self-direction, autonomy, mastery, and purpose. The video uses the Open Source movement to demonstrate the shift from the profit motive to the purpose motive.

My organization does a number of things to drive engagement.
We leverage gamification and peer accolades heavily using platforms like DueProps (DueProps, n.d.) and HeyTaco (HeyTaco, n.d.) provide incremental rewards, focused on mastery, purpose and peer recognition.
My company has published and well-understood core values and every individual is expected to be aligned with these values. Our core values are: Customer Centric, Accountability, Teamwork, Integrity, and Adaptability. (FusionStorm Culture, n.d.)
We also have a corporate mission statement which is: “As experienced technology leaders we are committed to always executing for our clients. We are passionate about solving clients’ unique business problems through innovative solutions. We evolve, reinvent, and push boundaries of what’s possible through our community of employees, clients, and partners.” (FusionStorm Culture, n.d.)

Each division of the organization is challenged to create a mission or vision statement that aligns with the corporate messaging but also fosters thought and alignment with divisional objectives. The mission statement of my team is: “To operate each and every day with such belief, heart, and grit that it inspires and compels our peers, prospects, and customers to see things our way.” (Bocchinfuso, 2018)

We challenge people with fun team-oriented activities like hackathons and SolveIT Days, modeled after Atlassian ShipIt Days (ShipIt Days, n.d.).
Earlier this month we conducted a team meeting which included a Raspberry Pi hackathon, here a time-lapse video from the FusionStorm Expert Services Kickoff 2018 Meeting. (FusionStorm Expert Services 2018 Kickoff, 2018)
All the prep for the Raspberry Pi projects was done on discretionary time, not much discretionary time exists when you work a job that routine demands twelve to fifteen hours days, but the team was highly committed and driven by purpose and mastery. There was no reward other than personal fulfillment, following the completion of all the presentations we conducted a peer vote to identify who demonstrated the best vision and execution. The top two finishers will attend OSCON 2018 in Portland, OR with me in July for a week of learning and they are super excited, but they didn’t know this until after the projects were done, this was not their motivation.

It has become nearly impossible for unengaged employees to survive in our culture, and we relentlessly pursue a culture rooted in autonomy, mastery, and purpose. These drivers have become pervasive throughout the hi-tech sector and were summed up very well in a passage from an article published in the Winter 2017-2018 issue of 2600 Magazine. The snippet from the article reads as follows:
“If you want to enter the world of hackers, programmers, hardware/software/network engineers and the like as a profession, you better do it with passion and with a mindset that is not of a regular office worker. Live it, breathe it, learn it – build your experience, think outside of the box, tinker, design, test. It cannot be a job – it must be part of your life. If not, there’s the door. Do it as a hobby, or find something different to do. This is not just a job for many of us. It is our world, our life’s work, our passion, our dream that for some has become reality. Don’t devalue it by just making it another job. If you want to treat it as just a job – as I said before – leave! And don’t let the door hit you on the way out!” (Ells, 2017)

References

Your Best Agile User Story. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2018, from https://www.alexandercowan.com/best-agile-user-story/

DueProps. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2018, from https://dueprops.com/

Harter, J. K., Schmidt, F. L., & Hayes, T. L. (2002). Business-unit-level relationship between employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and business outcomes: a meta-analysis. Journal of applied psychology, 87(2), 268.

Ells, S. (2017). The Problem with IT Certifications and Their Contribution to the Devaluation of Technology. 2600 Magazine: The Hacker Quarterly, 34(3). Retrieved October 9, 2017, from https://www.amazon.com/2600-Magazine-The-Hacker-Quarterly/dp/B004GB1WF6/2600magazi-20

FusionStorm Culture. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2018, from http://fusionstorm.com/company/culture/

FusionStorm Expert Services 2018 Kickoff. (2018, March 03). Retrieved March 16, 2018, from https://youtu.be/9lwK-nqRMXk

HeyTaco! (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2018, from https://www.heytaco.chat/

Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. (2018). Essentials of organizational behavior. New York, NY: Pearson.

RSA ANIMATE: Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. (2010, April 01). Retrieved March 16, 2018, from https://youtu.be/u6XAPnuFjJc

ShipIt Days. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2018, from https://www.atlassian.com/company/shipit

 

Professor Response

I enjoyed your response but there are distringuishers between job satisfaction, job involvement, and engagement. Personally, I am not a fan of the term ‘engagement’ as it doesn’t really focus on what is needed for an worker to be involved in the work they do. Engagement means that one has some level of satisfaction and is committed to achieving the goals of the organization; what is missing is the psychological part which raises one’s passions and motivation to tap into their skills and abilities and get the work done. Your organization sounds like it s committed to having happy employees.

As an aside, last year I was seeking some help for some marketing with my business. The high-level person I was meeting with asked me what my bottom-line, end-result was, to which I replied “happiness,’ This person scoffed and said ‘Who would buy that?” Needless to say, I did not return but I think it shows the mentality of some corporate in that happiness is an elusive concept, so more tangibles should be the focus, such as pray or productivity when, really, workers just want to be happy in their jobs. Considering that employees spend the majority of their time at work (the other majority is in sleep), and being with people who are not family or friends, why wouldn’t workplace happiness be the goal.

 

My Response to Professor

Professor, some excellent insights and I agree that a word like “engagement” is a bit nebulous.  I also think that “happiness” is a great goal, and that happy employees probably produce the best widgets so there is a correlation between happiness and “who would buy that”.  I have always mapped engagement to what one does with their discretionary time.  Working in a highly technical field, it’s hard to be successful if you love cooking and would rather be in a kitchen crafting culinary delights rather than in front of a computer looking at source code.  I’ve lived through the profit motive and in some ways I am still living it, ask some high-level folks within my organization what their goals are and they will respond with “more, more revenue, more gross profit, etc..”, the profit motive is clearly unmoored from the purpose motive.  As a leader, I view it as my responsibility to ensure that those who respond like the individual who said to you “who would buy that”, know that human capital is the most important thing we possess, without the right human capital there will be nothing to sell.  With said accountability should not impact happiness, this is why I think a true passion for what you do is important.  In a high-pressure, fast-paced culture loving what you do makes all the difference regarding happiness, because check out to refuel often isn’t an option.

 

Response 1

Scott, excellent post, as usual, you always do a nice job of personalizing your point which I enjoy. I think you hit a key point regarding job satisfaction; everyone finds different ways to identify satisfaction, the work, the people, the mission, etc… Sometimes these are tightly couples and other times they are mutually exclusive.

Want to hit on the “I like my job because I like the people I work with” topic because I am dealing with this at the moment, where an individual likes (“loves”) their job because they like the people they get to work with every day, but there is a problem. While this person is being honest and is also well liked it’s unclear if this individual enjoys the work, as time passes this becomes a more significant issue because it’s hard for this individual to invest the time required to perform the level being demanded of them. It’s a challenge. I’ll let you know how it turns out. 🙂

I agree with you meeting point. I have adopted the Amazon six-pager (Jeff Bezos’s Peculiar Management Tool for Self-Discipline, 2017) and the “two pizza rule” (Giang, 2013) approach to meetings.

When I think about work from home I think about flexibility and autonomy; my philosophy is I am where I need to be. I fly 100K+ miles a year, I go to customer sites, the office when required, but if my calendar has me on video conferences all day I am not wasting the commute time, it’s just common sense. Being there is no longer 90% of the battle, there is significantly more nuance to consider when making these decisions. I would argue that with the dawn of the video conference, the smartphone, Email shifting to real-time chat platforms like Slack (Hulick, 2016) and HipChat the idea that remote worker is working less is probably coming from someone who has never been restrained by these technological shackles. When you can’t see someone you expect them to respond because you know they got the message, we’re way past an Orwellian version of 1984.

References

Giang, V. (2013, October 29). The ‘Two Pizza Rule’ Is Jeff Bezos’ Secret To Productive Meetings. Retrieved March 18, 2018, from http://www.businessinsider.com/jeff-bezos-two-pizza-rule-for-productive-meetings-2013-10

Hulick, S. (2016, February 29). Slack, I’m Breaking Up with You – UX of User Onboarding. Retrieved March 18, 2018, from https://ux.useronboard.com/slack-i-m-breaking-up-with-you-54600ace03ea

Jeff Bezos’s Peculiar Management Tool for Self-Discipline. (2017, Feb 04). Retrieved March 18, 2018, from http://blog.idonethis.com/jeff-bezos-self-discipline-writing/

FIT – MGT5013 – Week 1, Discussion 2

How can an organization effectively manage diversity? How does this apply to an organization you know well? Consider the various concepts discussed within the chapter when developing this response. Also, I am looking for unique solutions for the difficult problems encountered.

I think at one point or another we’ve all felt discriminated against, to young, too old, not well dressed enough, what’s with the facial hair, etc… These prejudices maybe are not as caustic or polarizing as discriminatory issues associated with race, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, gender or sexual orientation but in my experience, there is no shortage of stereotyping in humanity and as the text states it’s these predispositions that fuel workplace discrimination.

My company mandates training for diversity and other associated topics. Just yesterday I received my annual invite to “Preventing Workplace Harassment Training” hosted by emtrain (https://emtrain.com/about). I love this training, complete with a warning system that resembles the color-coded terrorism threat advisory system devised by the Homeland Security Agency, and the vignettes that seem so preposterous. Then, of course, we hear stories about people like Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose and we realize that the vignettes are actually pretty pedestrian in comparison to reality. Training is one way that my organization and other organizations work to manage diversity. My company and the HR department is also big on Emotional Intelligence, developing Emotional Intelligence can help us to be more aware, understand how what we say and do might be perceived, how our position within an organization can impact perceived intent, etc… Sure there are clear areas of discrimination which are binary, but often intent plays a big role where things aren’t so binary, self-awareness can help us better understand how our intent might be perceived. Tools like 360-degree assessments (aka reviews) can help us better understand our behaviors and how we are perceived, this candid feedback can help us become better leaders and people.

I tend to be a very direct person, but not everyone responds well to my direct approach. I am lucky to work in an environment which is very diverse, I enjoy differing perspectives, but I have a low tolerance for workplace politics. For years I had a general refusal to help subordinate peers work through their issues with each other, I would provide wise words like “you two need to work this $%#^ out because it has no place in the workplace”, yeah, that never really worked out all that well. 🙂 About four years ago we hired a new VP or HR who became active in the day to day operations; this was really helpful for me, I was now able to talk through issues with this person, and they would provide sound objective advice on how to best handle the situation. As an engineer, and not someone who sees focuses on the difference between people, instead focusing on what they have to offer, I did realize that I wasn’t taking the time to understand others and as a leader, this could be perceived as discriminatory.

When I read about things like wage inequality based on sexual orientation (Ozeren, 2014, p. 5) or flat out disqualifying someone based on sexual orientation (Ozeren, 2014, p. 6) it seems mind-boggling to me personally, but we are culturally polarized on this topic like so many other topics, so objectively speaking the facts are not all that surprising.

One thing I started doing a couple of years ago was using an online tool called text.io to write my job descriptions to improve the diversity of applicants and to ensure that I am using words, phrases, and tone that allows me to recruit the best and brightest candidates. text.io leverages big data, machine learning, and natural language processing to analyze and compare job listings with other companies competing for same diverse and talented individuals.

The World Is Flat (great book by Thomas L. Friedman by the way, I highly recommend it), and we live in a global economy; in my opinion diversity should no longer a have to be driven by mandates (e.g – EOE and AAP), because it’s the fuel by which companies will grow in the future. Sadly we still need programs like EOE and AA, but I am hopeful that one-day humanity will transcend race, creed, color, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, etc… and allow us to realize Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream fully.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Much progress has been made since Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail written on April 16, 1963, and the “I Have A Dream” address he delivered in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963, but there is more work to be done. The more diverse our subcultures become, the more diverse our culture becomes.

References

Boyatzis, D. G. (2017, December 05). Emotional Intelligence Has 12 Elements. Which Do You Need to Work On? Retrieved March 09, 2018, from https://hbr.org/2017/02/emotional-intelligence-has-12-elements-which-do-you-need-to-work-on

Ozeren, E. (2014). Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Workplace: A Systematic Review of Literature. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 109, 1203-1215. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.12.613

Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. (2018). Essentials of organizational behavior. New York, NY: Pearson.

 

Response 1

Scott, love the reference to “Full Metal Jacket”.  I’ll admit I’ve known a few people over the years who may have benefitted from a bar of soap and sock.  In all seriousness what happen to Private Leonard Lawrence better known as “Private Pyle” in the film shows the danger of groupthink in a caustic culture.  Was everyone with a bar of soap in a sock a bad person?  Did Pfc. Louden Downey and Lance Cpl. Harold Dawson wants to carry out the code red on Pfc. William Santiago?  See how I switched films on you there but stayed with the theme. 🙂  While I think that training is critical, leadership is probably the most glaring problem in both of these cases and in most cases where discrimination and harassment are pervasive.  Sure we could say the leaders weren’t properly trained, but they should be the trainers, and of course, the trainers need to be trained but they are in leadership positions personally I expect more.  Then again I find myself let down often by my expectations.

References

Tsai, Y. (2011). Relationship between Organizational Culture, Leadership Behavior and Job Satisfaction. BMC Health Services Research, 11(1). doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-98

 

Response 2

Steve, I agree with Scott regarding training, but my question is when does the training begin.  I propose it starts much earlier than when an individual enters the workforce and is subjected to organizational diversity training.  The muscle memory created when I minds are most malleable will likely persist for a long, long time and while these predispositions can be masked the judging and stereotyping that lies beneath the social facade continues to fuel discriminatory behavior.

I read these two articles recently:

The situations Sheryl Sandberg outline is very real, dangerous and disturbing.  We have to start aggressively training humanity, these are problems that end up in organizations, but I don’t believe they originate there, nor do I believe they can be rectified there.

 

FIT – MGT5013 – Week 1, Discussion 1

There were many different organizational behavior concepts introduced in this chapter. Reflect back to a situation that you either encountered in your personal or professional life that involved one of these concepts. Would the outcome have been any different if you had prior knowledge from this week’s readings and discussions? (Describe the situation and the actual outcome within your response)

There were quite a few concepts that were introduced in both chapter 1 and chapter 2 of this week’s reading. I work in the technology field, and while my home office is in New York City, I spend a significant amount of time in San Francisco. There is no lack of diversity in NYC or SFO and one thing that I love about the tech field today (wasn’t always this way) is the focus on substance over style. I wear jeans, a t-shirt a hoodie and sneakers to work almost every day, I work with a very diverse group of people and the culture is one that values, respects and demands differing perspectives. With this said we have a corporate culture comprised of three core areas, sales, engineering and back office. While the engineering team has transcended to a place where individuals are measured by their contributions the sales team seems to at a minimum still place style on equal footing with substance. Style vs. substance is an area of conflict within our corporate culture, a conflict which at times I stoke because I am hoping we can move to a place where diversity is welcomed and we realize that each person given the opportunity had a unique perspective to share, a view that could dramatically alter an outcome. While recent harassment and discrimination headlines involving tech giants like Uber and Google coupled with other Silicon Valley headlines may challenge the positive changes I have observed, I think the progress we’ve made is astonishing.

I am a culture reigns supreme sort of person, I believe that great corporate cultures are comprised of great subcultures. I battle every day to keep culture first, with group cohesion being paramount to me. Group cohesion is not socialism; it’s not about equal wages, it’s about mutual respect, trust and the ability to depend on one another so that we can achieve outcomes beyond what any one individual is capable of achieving on their own. I have been with my current employer for twelve years, I have run a high-performing team for all twelve years, and I have been invited to what my company calls Presidents Club, eleven of the twelve years. I have declined the invite all eleven times, the first three years I declined no one said much, in year four the CEOs administrative assistant at a national sales meeting asked me why I never go to Presidents Club. Presidents Club trips are trips to exotics locations like Bali, Hawaii, etc… I replied with I can’t in good conscious leave behind my team of twenty plus people to sun myself while they keep working, everyone is deserving because we succeed or fail together. I expect everyone to work hard, I expect everyone to be smart, and I expect exemplary performance within the confines of what an individual is capable of. An individual’s capabilities are expected to grow with time, but this is what I expect from the team and myself, this is the subculture, and this subculture is what has gotten me an invite to Presidents Club, accepting would be counter-cultural. (I paraphrased, the actual conversation and follow-up Jerry Maguire paper was much longer). The conversations which followed led to the company to allow me to use the dollars they would have spent for my wife and me to attend the Presidents Club trip for a team retreat. I truly believed in this and eight years later my team continues to outperform, and we continue to hold a frugal retreat once a year which the entire team attends. Our team has the highest group cohesion of any group in the company, and I’d like to believe actions like what I outlined above have and continue to play a significant role.

Lastly, I related to Evidence-based management (EBM) and big data. I am an engineer, and I like empirical data, I trust my gut, but I also like big data sets and analytics to make me feel good about my guttural decision making. I recently wrote a blog entitled “I’m a skeptic, satiated by large raw data sets, analysis & inference” about my addiction to data, analytics, and inference.
I also think in the world we live in, the best data is often gathered indirectly, the tech and marketing industry calls this sentiment analysis. My team uses a platform called Slack as our primary communication medium, we have a channel in Slack called #the-railroad, the way this works is anyone can post something to the railroad with a chat command “/on” followed by what they are working on. I wrote the chatbot and what it does is capture and log the post, post it to #the-railroad for everyone to see, uses NLP (natural language processing) to perform sentiment analysis. Once the sentiment analysis is complete it sends the poster back some motivational words based on sentiment; there is also a web page where I can view all the analytics over time, by individual, day of week, time of day, etc… The bot uses a dictionary of words that are categorized as positive, negative or neutral, and a naive bayes algorithm to calculate sentiment. To improve accuracy ‘noise’ or ‘stop’ words are removed. The result is the following: https://sites.google.com/view/quokka-analytics/home
I have an addiction, I know. I like to analyze everything, I have to apply gamification to everything, but this makes employee reviews so much more interesting. 🙂

When I think about ethics and some of the things I have witnessed over the years, I feel uncomfortable, but I think I’ve said enough.

References

Chang, E. (2018, January 04). “Oh My God, This Is So F—ed Up”: Inside Silicon Valley’s Dark Side. Retrieved March 07, 2018, from https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/01/brotopia-silicon-valley-secretive-orgiastic-inner-sanctum

Fuchs, C. (2018, March 5). Ex-recruiter accuses Google of hiring discrimination against white, Asian men in lawsuit. Retrieved March 07, 2018, from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/ex-recruiter-accuses-google-hiring-discrimination-against-white-asian-men-n853601

Kosoff, M. (2017, June 06). Mass Firings at Uber as Sexual Harassment Scandal Grows. Retrieved March 07, 2018, from https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/06/uber-fires-20-employees-harassment-investigation

Ku, G., Wang, C. S., & Galinsky, A. D. (2015). The promise and perversity of perspective-taking in organizations. Research in Organizational Behavior, 35, 79-102. doi:10.1016/j.riob.2015.07.003

Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. (2018). Essentials of organizational behavior. New York, NY: Pearson.

Response 1

Jasmin, thanks for sharing, I can relate to the cultural differences in Japan and ceremony with which the Japanese do business.  In the late 90s I made a number of repeated trips to Japan because of a partnership my company at the time had with Hitachi.  I am a pretty informal person, but that certainly doesn’t fly in Japan, the business card exchange ritual was quite an experience, the best way I can describe it is by highlighting the business card exchange scene in the film American Phyco, just like in the scene I felt like the stock, the font, etc… were all under intense scrutiny.  🙂

It’s funny because today I am in full Save A Tree mode and don’t use business cards, everything I do is prefixed by an “E”.  I trade contact information either using a digital business card with the app Haystack (and a QR code) or I point someone to my LinkedIn profile.  In my day-to-day interacting with other people who are in technology, who like me can’t understand the people who still print out emails, this is perfectly acceptable.  With this said I know if I have a meeting at Bank of Tokyo or HSBC, I put a suit on instead of jeans and t-shirt and I bring cards, and I also make sure that the cards looked like they are still warm from the printing press.

References

Gakuran, M. (2014, April 24). What You Need To Know About Exchanging Business Cards in Japan. Retrieved March 11, 2018, from https://blog.gaijinpot.com/exchanging-business-cards-japan/

Jacobs, H. (2017, January 17). I forgot one thing on my trip to Japan – and now I have to apologize to every person I meet. Retrieved March 11, 2018, from http://www.businessinsider.com/japan-business-culture-etiquette-bring-business-cards-2017-1