The Unemployment Rate Should be 47%, But It’s Not
How To Effectively Manage A Dumb, Dishonest and Distracted America
“The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.” – John D. Rockefeller
“Today we had to let someone go. Last week we had to let someone go.” These are the kinds of things I keep hearing as I travel around the country teaching “best-practice” business skills to today’s business leaders. Whether is Hewlett Packard, Maytag or Valspar Paint, virtually every day companies all over the country are being forced to “let people go.” However, many times these employers are not being forced to let people go because the economy is bad or because there is not enough work available for them.
Most of these employers are forced to let people go because “Kevin showed up late for the fifth day in row. And this time he told us that he had to miss work because of personal issues that he is having a home (a.k.a. he woke up drunk again).” Today’s business leaders are having to let people go because, “Sheila checks her social media updates every 5 minutes and texts back and forth with her boyfriend nearly the entire day.” Over the past 6 years as I have traveled around the country teaching success principles to business professionals whenever I ask, “what’s the biggest limiter on business growth?” I nearly always hear, “if you could find me some people that were honest and who actually showed up on time we could be growing by leaps and bounds.”
Although the unemployment stats get talked about every day, the “Elephant In the Room” for most of today’s businesses is that nearly half of our workforce is either dumb, dishonest or distracted. Companies are being forced to fire people because they are dishonest and dumb. Forget China, forget inflation, forget the “gloom and doom” economic reports. Many of America’s business leaders are being forced to fire people just because they are incompetent. Unlike previous generations where most people had much of their stupidity and rebellion scared out of them by Dad at home, today the majority of the Americans that are now growing up without a Dad at home. Just take a look at the incarceration statistics and you will quickly discover the link between absent fathers and absent minded adults. Whether it’s a poor education system or just a poor mindset, people are truly getting less intelligent.
Just how dumb are they?
Consider this, research written about in the New York Times is now showing that 45% of people who have attended college for two years are now for the first time showing no improvements in their cognitive or critical thinking skills. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/21/what-do-test-scores-tell-us/ At the middle school and high school level kids are supposed to learn how to learn. As more and more technology gets brought into the classroom, less and less teaching is being done. Teachers are simply clicking through an endless series of multi-media presentations on their “fancy” technology presentation boards while students are listening to Lil’ Wayne on their Iphones. The teacher’s job of instructing, challenging and inspiring students have now been replaced with their new job of babysitting, breaking up fights, taking attendance, and managing the kids in a “politically correct way” until they return home to empty homes until their single parent gets back.
Management Material – “Do You Have A Pulse and Can You Show Up On Time?”
Or how about the endless commentary from America’s entrepreneurs who report that if someone actually shows up to work on time consistently and performs their jobs reasonably well, “then they are management material.” What about retailers who continue to struggle to find reliable humans who are actually presentable in front of their customers. I know of retailers that find it nearly impossible to find quality people to work in front of their customers because according to Lee Cockerell, the former Senior Operating Executive of Disney for 10 years, “Cinderella can’t have a tattoo on her neck.” I’ve personally met with countless employers who are literally now being forced to tell their HR Directors to look for people with “limited body art” when hiring.
More many American business owners report feeling if they can find someone who is honest at the workplace, who doesn’t have a skull tattooed on their face, and who actually shows up on time “80% of the time” then they have found themselves a real winner.
Dishonesty – If You Do Show Up, Will Our Stuff Still Be There When You Leave?
Assuming that they don’t have a coy fish tattoo on their neck and they show up on time, you still wouldn’t be in the clear yet, unless you are ok with them stealing all of your profits. According to Lousig-Nont and Associates, a pre-employment testing firm located in Las Vegas, Nev. Out of 7,443 people it tested for honesty in 1993, 52% were ranked as low desirability for employment because they admitted to stealing or thinking about stealing regularly or said they would steal if they thought they had a good enough reason.
As America’s youth continues to replace the place of role models and heroes with rappers and people who are famous for being famous like the Kardashians, our country’s overall standards are lowering. Professionally many organizations have gone from shirt and tie, to a polo and some pants, and finally now to sandals and t-shirts. It wouldn’t surprise me if in the near future some companies became clothing-optional all together. That would certainly make confrontations with “big and nasty managers” interesting.
Distracted Driving Kills People, Distracted Workers Kill Your Bottom Line.
We all know that research clearly shows that distracted driving kills people. It’s a little tough to focus on driving while sending an intense text to your ex, or to turn while attempting to learn what happened at yesterday’s meeting via text. We all know how frustrating it can be watch a movie with someone who won’t quit asking questions while the film is showing, or how maddening it can be to golf with a someone who keeps taking cell phone calls while you’re attempting to put.
However, a businesses throughout the country, leaders are paying employees who are completely mentally disengaged from the workplace. Joe is texting Sally about dinner plans, the upcoming game and home drama all on your time and all of the time. Countless research is now showing that between non-work related emails, smoke breaks, social media, video games and non-work related texting, nearly 40% of the average employee’s workday is spent doing something other than working. And again nearly half of those people are already struggling with being dumb and dishonest.
So With Incompetent Employees Now the Norm, What Are Success Focused Entrepreneurs and Business Owners To Do?
Well we have some good news and some bad news here. On the bad side, unfortunately nearly 50% of all of the people you meet will be dumb, dishonest or distracted. On a positive note, you can win simply by getting them out of your office and into your competition’s office.
As you look for and manage new employees keep Sam Walton’s famous words in mind, “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire anybody in the company from the chairman on down simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
As you manage people remember what Steve Jobs said, “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”
When you head into your next staff meeting keep Lee Cockerell in mind, the former Senior Operating Executive of Disney who managed 40,000 plus cast members, “you should expect what you allow.”
In order to help your organization quickly get back on track, I have outlined the following game-plan based on a combining the winning strategies and “best practices” of QuikTrip, Southwest Airlines and Disney.
1. Hire for attitude and expectations, then train the skill.
2. Layout clear daily expectations and an accountability structure for verifying that work was actually done.
3. Set up set weekly training times that don’t change.
4. Set up a merit-based pay system that rewards good work and penalizes bad work.
5. Be candid with your team at all times, false kindness hurts everybody.
6. Celebrate and promote those that over-deliver and exceed company expectations.
7. Penalize those that underachieve and fail to meet company expectations.
8. Promote top performers when possible to management positions where their life expectations can affect the greatest number of people.
9. Fire people who refuse to meet your expectations and who have been told about it three times or more.
10. Give every employee a two-week trial period so that you can determine whether they are a good fit before you build an emotional bond. You must separate “good people” from “good producers.”