Can We Save the World?

cathelpIn the early 80s, I was promoted into an HR executive role. Part of my new responsibility was the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Our organization was ahead of its time; EAPs were relatively new back then. Ours consisted of a manager and EAP counselors, all employees of the organization. The overhead cost of the function was rolled into HR – my department.

The EAP counselors helped employees when performance indicated there might be a problem; alcohol and drugs seemed to be a common culprit. They made heroic efforts to distance  themselves from the organization, so that confidentiality would not be questioned. The offices were intentionally remote, and those in HR (including myself) knew nothing of the work being done, to ensure confidentiality.

I found myself conflicted. As a business person, I should be able to justify and explain any expense under my responsibility. But whenever I asked questions about the cost of the EAP program as compared to the value it provided, I got a very defensive “if we don’t help these employees they could lose their jobs, or worse” response.  How do you counter that without sounding like a total sleaze? (more…)

Who is going to change the world?

Who’s going to change the world? Engineers.

So says ExxonMobil in their new campaign to entice young minds into STEM programs. They have a great commercial that airs frequently on programs I watch, and it is compelling.

But something about it has been bothering me, and I hadn’t been able to figure it out until I happened on another YouTube video posted by NPR.

This video, “A Liberal Arts Curriculum in Two Minutes” helped me to identify what was nagging at me about the invitation to engineering.

Liberal Arts has lately taken a back seat to STEM. Degrees in liberal arts, mine included, are often deemed “useless.” As our world becomes more and more intricately driven by technology, science, technology, engineering and math are definitely needed to compete in this world. (more…)

Leadership Lessons from a Car Dealership?

miniWhen I walked into the MINI dealer to buy a new car, the last thing I expected to find was a great example of leadership, but that is exactly what I found. It took a while for my early observations to draw the conclusion that the secret sauce of this dealership was the Sales Manager.

This busy, almost chaotic dealership was full of energy and organized. We were approached immediately by a salesperson who was quick to tell us that this was her first week, and she’d just moved from Pittsburgh. After a little hometown sharing (I grew up in Pittsburgh), she showed she knew her stuff. Turns out she transferred from Pittsburgh MINI.

What she was unsure of were some Florida-specific/dealership-specific processes, so she checked periodically with the Sales Manager. That’s what got my attention. He gave her the information she needed, but let her work; he didn’t hover as I might expect with a new employee. (more…)