What sometimes gets overlooked is that Adam Smith not only became the “father of capitalism” by writing The Wealth of Nations; he also wrote The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Empathy matters, and this week’s guest Morris Altman argues that sustainable capitalism practices fairness. Too often the basic economic needs of rank-and-file workers are overlooked in a global economic where the wealthy call the shots. From anti-immigrant rhetoric to events in Ukraine, this is a timely episode that subjects the purported move from shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism to skeptical examination. Want more engaged workers? To achieve that goal, make them more truly empowered, with their input acted on and rewarded alike.
Morris Altman is the Dean of the University of Dundee’s School of Business. He’s published over 130 referred papers and 17 books. He’s also held academic posts at the University of Saskatchewan, Victoria University, Newcastle University, and at Hebrew University, Stanford, Cornell and Duke.
Covid-19 has drastically changed the workplace, causing “essential workers” to contemplate what they essentially want from their jobs over and above decent pay and benefits. High on their list of priorities is gaining greater autonomy, an opportunity to learn, and to achieve a sense of purpose on the job. As this week’s guest explains, cast aside, therefore, workplace myths such as the following: that the employee experience (EX) is about perks, that HR “owns it” alone, that attracting and retaining employees covers the bases so far as EX is concerned, and that EX applies only to privileged, high-end employees working remotely as opposed to on the frontlines or in warehouses. EX can’t wait because EX is happening everyday – whether in good, bad or ugly ways.
First impressions really do matter, and the merger and acquisition (M&A) deals that receive a positive reaction on Announcement Day tend to outperform, over time, those deals where due diligence wasn’t practiced up front. Indeed, as Mark Sirower notes, in two-thirds of cases a negative initial reception is a sign that the deal will never gain momentum. What leads to success? Among the key elements is focusing on the employee experience. Smart companies get “ahead of the pain” by acknowledging that during M&A activity workers will have moved from the highest rung of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (self-realization) to fearing for their material well-being, their security, i.e., the lowest, most basic rung of the ladder. In short, at a time of vast, globalized M&A deal-making, emotional intelligence has never been more important as companies navigate the emotional earthquake most employees are going to experience.
Mark L. Sirower is a leader in Deloitte’s M&A and Restructuring practice and was, previously, a global M&A leader at the Boston Consulting Group. He teaches M&A at the NYU Stern School of Business and has also authored The Synergy Trap prior to partnering with Jeffery M. Weirens on this latest book.
What’s the overall theme of this episode? Inspiring greater empathy in the workplace. What makes it imperative for companies to pay attention now? The Great Resignation, which is really the Great Self-Realization. In other words, employees are realizing what matters to them and are changing jobs and careers to better align with their own values and desire to be themselves on the job. What’s standing in their way, prompting the wave of resignations? As DDS Dobson-Smith notes, too often the answer is executives who implore employees to change while not really taking a candid look at their own stale assumptions. The bottom line here is that empathy and inclusion go hand-in-hand.
DDS Dobson-Smith is the founder of the executive coaching consultancy Soul Trained and was certified as an Executive Coach by the Oxford School of Coaching and Mentoring. Prior to founding Soul Trained, he held senior roles at Marks & Spencer, Eurostar International, Sony Music Entertainment, and the world’s largest advertising agency, WPP.
Rarely will executives leave themselves vulnerable by sharing what they have done wrong in managing people. Mohammad Anwar is that rare exception, even going so far as to share on the air his “infamous refrigerator email” where he tore into employees for leaves a “disgusting” mess in the company’s breakroom refrigerator. How to create a psychologically safe place to work is the underlying theme of this episode. The topics range from answering why new hires at Anwar’s company, Softway, always start on a Friday to explaining how giving “spot raises” works better than the previous “fish market” system of dickering for pay increases as part of annual performance reviews. Whatever the topic, the emphasis is always on how to take new and corrective actions to create a more inspiring, inclusive corporate culture.
The leading personality traits model involves five traits: openness (to experience), conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism (OCEAN). Similarly, today’s guest focuses on 16 different workplace skill sets grouped into five categories. Those categories are self-perception, self-expression, interpersonal, decision-making, and stress management. Which are you best at? Where might you falter? Compare your answers to those Roberta Ann Moore shares from two decades of work with clients in leadership roles across a range of industries. One notable client: a high-powered art dealer whose ability to handle stress is challenged anytime a “cargo” of Van Goghs, for instance, runs the risk of going unguarded on the tarmac when the flight schedules change!
Roberta Ann Moore is a business executive and licensed therapist, certified in Dr. Reuven Bar-On’s model of emotional intelligence. She provides assessments, training and developing using the EQ-I 2.0 and EQ 360 programs as a framework.
If you’ve ever completed an annual employee survey by filling-in-the-bubbles, this episode is for you. Clint Pulver’s approach to knowing what employees are thinking (and feeling) is to pose as if he’s a job seeker at a given company or organization. Being “undercover” lets Pulver conduct anonymous, candid conversation with his would-be colleagues. Why is the Great Resignation happening? Clint suggests it’s because workers remember how they were treated when Covid-19 first struck (indifferently), and that a Great Rethinking of careers prompted the Great Resignation. Learn as well about Clint’s perspective on managers, including how the ideal type, the mentor manager, earns trust by being a career-growing advocate for those on staff.
Clint Pulver is an Emmy award-wining speaker, aka the Undercover Millennial, and also a musician, pilot, and workforce expert whose specialty is employee retention. As a professional drummer, he’s appeared in feature films and on America’s Got Talent.
In essence, the distrust that must be overcome in business partnerships involving large companies and startups consists of Will they screw up? versus Will they screw us over? In other words, large companies inevitably harbor concerns about the competency and reliability of their startup partners. In turn, entrepreneurs rightly worry that they will be taken advantage of, with their I.P. being co-opted or outright stolen. To establish trust rather than fear isn’t easy, as Dr. Prashantham acknowledges in this episode. Distrust can only be resolved by establishing how the partnership is a true win-win. At the same time, the person at the “bridge” on the corporation’s side must be at once an advocate, a diplomat, and mentor, spanning boundaries within the corporation to bring multiple business units on-board to ensure the collaboration can succeed. All this and more gets covered in this episode, which concludes by exploring how the answer to the question, “What’s the next China?” may actually be China outside of its largest, showcase cities.
Dr. Shameen Prasantham is Professor of International Business & Strategy and Associate Dean (MBA) at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai, China. His academic specialty is business partnerships that contribute to sustainable development goals.
This episode could have just as easily been called “The Democratization of innovation.” After all, the fundamental thrust of this book and our conversation was about moving innovation beyond the “usual suspects,” i.e., the R & D Department, and spreading innovation opportunities across the ranks. Most promising of all for soliciting input might be front-line employees, who know best the frustrations and disappointments of customers. Others to include range from current and potential customers to distributors and other business allies. Where might resistance emerge to such an expansive view of the innovation process? The answer could be middle managers, focused on executing the current business model. To win them over, it may be necessary to combine coaching about the importance and means of innovating with monetary incentives or placing limits on their career growth if they don’t “play ball.” If there’s a regrettable need to play the heavy, at times, it’s because as the saying goes, “It’s not that people see the light so much as they feel the heat.”
Ben Bensaou is a professor and former Dean of Executive Education at INSEA. He’s also been a visiting professor at the Harvard Business School, a research fellow at the Wharton School of Management, and a visiting scholar at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.
Remember the Marlboro Man, who symbolizes rugged individualism? Minal Bopaiah is here to suggest that the idea of the “making it on your own” is and has always been a myth. That’s because there is always, inevitably, a social context that favors one group more than another. It’s not that individual efforts aren’t valid; it’s just that the story is always more complicated, and those in positions of power are eager to camouflage the degree to which the “game” is tilted by factors like gender, race, and of course relative wealth. Beyond corporate life and the usual topics covered when discussing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), this episode also explores the world of non-profits, where “doing good” has aspects to it that should welcome reform. Get ready for a passionate guest. Minal Bopaiah doesn’t deliver “talking points” – “feeling points” is closer to the mark.
Minal Bopaiah is the founder of Brevity & Wit, a strategy and design firm focused on DEI initiatives. She’s written for the Stanford Social Innovation Review and TheHill.com an author, among other activities and career accomplishments.