Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Monday, May 1, 2017

"Managers still have off-site- work trust issues"/ "Lessons from the United debacle"

Apr. 19, 2017 "Managers still have off-site-work trust issues": Today I found this article by Jared Lindzon in the Globe and Mail:

It's been more than a decade since early adopters such as Telus Corp. began offering remote working options. Yet, despite measured gains, such as lower overhead costs and employee turnover rates as well as higher employee satisfaction, some corporate managers in Canada still have difficulty trusting staff to work from home. At the same time, employees worry they will be considered less productive if not physically present in the office.

"If you've had the same managerial style for a long time, it can be scary to change that up and learn to trust your employees when they're not around," said Brie Reynolds, the senior career specialist for FlexJobs. "Any manager that's interested in growing as a manager can do it, but it does require that shift."

According to a meta-analysis by Global Workplace Analytics, three-quarters of managers say they trust their employees, but one-third would still prefer to see them perform their duties in the office "just to be sure." Furthermore, a recent study by collaboration- and communicationtechnology provider Polycom Inc., found that 62 per cent of remote employees fear that their co-workers view them as less productive.

"The new way of working is really focusing more on output, and I think if an employer can focus on that versus amount of time and location of work, it works to their benefit, because employees are more productive when they have that flexibility," said Jim Kruger, Polycom's chief marketing officer.

Though Telus had no formal company-wide remote working policy before 2006, individual departments and managers had already been allowing their teams to work from home part-time as a perk well before then. "This was when mobile technologies were just starting to kick off, and I would say that our overall office occupancy was sitting around 50 or 60 per cent," said Geoff de Bruijn, the company's vice-president of corporate services and sustainability.

This realization prompted Telus to create the Work Styles program, which provides flexible working options for most staff.

The company's 26,000 Canadian employees, however, need to earn the right to work remotely and about 70 per cent of those eligible take advantage.

The program recognizes that not everyone is able to be just as effective while working from home and that it should be considered an earned privilege rather than an automatic employee right. Mr. de Bruijn explains that if staff members have a history of productivity or performance issues in the office, then they are less likely to be given the opportunity to work independently.

"Team members who are scoring really low on the performance reviews are a red flag, and they might not be the right fit for this program," he said.

The company's internal surveys have found that 92 per cent of staff believe the program has been successful for them as individuals, 90 per cent said it factors into their decisions to remain with the company and 98 per cent said it improves their perception of the company.

Through their annual staff surveys, Telus also found that a majority of those who take advantage of the Work Styles program evaluate themselves as more productive while working from home, while a majority of managers score their employees' remote performance as about equal to in-office performance.

Similarly, a survey of 1,700 fulltime North American employees by Softchoice, an IT services provider, found that 62 per cent of employees feel they're more productive while working outside the office and at least 70 per cent would switch employers in order to do so more often.

In a 2016 survey of 300 Canadian IT decision makers by Citrix and Leger, 67 per cent of respondents indicated that increased mobility improves worker productivity.

But not everyone is able to be just as effective while working from home.

Mr. Kruger of Polygram explains that for certain roles it's much easier for managers to switch from location-based assessment to results-based assessments.
Sales staff members, for example, are often given specific targets that they either hit or miss.

"For the traditional functions that isn't always the case - it's not black or white - so it comes down to making sure that as a manager you set the right objectives and expectations for output," he said.

"If an employee is meeting or exceeding those, the employer shouldn't care if they took a couple hours to take their child to soccer practice in between."

The solution may come from finding a balance between remote and in-office work. According to a Gallup study, workers experience the greatest productive gains when they spend 60 to 80 per cent of their time working off-site and the remainder working from the office.

"You don't have to have everyone working from home all the time," Ms. Reynolds of FlexJobs said. "From an employer's perspective, consider what are the most important things that people are doing in an office, things that they can't do from home."

Ms. Reynolds adds that some employers may prefer to have a designated day or two in which every staff member is present in order to host company-wide meetings in person. Others might find more significant overhead savings by ensuring no more than half of their staff is present in the office at the same time while others may see the benefit in allowing individuals to determine the schedule that works best for their unique situation.

Whichever policy they choose, however, Ms. Reynolds believes the trust gap should no longer be an acceptable barrier to providing staff with remote working options, she says.
"If you're hiring the best people for the position, you should also be hiring people you can trust," she said. "If you can trust your people than you should trust them to work remotely as well as they work in the office."

"Lessons from the United debacle": Today I found this article by Merge Gupta- Sunderji in the Globe and Mail:

Merge Gupta-Sunderji is a Calgary-based speaker, author and consultant.

It’s been over a week since the cybersphere exploded with video images of a bloodied 69-year old doctor being dragged off a United Airlines aircraft. In the 48 hours that followed, United’s CEO Oscar Munoz made misstep after misstep as he tried to get ahead of the public relations nightmare that started as a ripple but quickly turned into a tsunami.

This unfortunate incident is destined to become a textbook case of how a leader should not act in a state of crisis (particularly in the age of the Internet), but to be fair, it’s a lot easier to see what went wrong, and exactly where, in hindsight.

In the interest of not finding yourself in a similar scenario, what are the lessons that a leader can learn and internalize? Here are five:

Move quickly to get in front of the situation

Respond rapidly in two crucial aspects. First, react with compassion. Don’t use weasel words to minimize the situation; call it what it is. That was Munoz’s biggest mistake with his first response – he used words like “upsetting,” “re-accommodate” and “inconvenienced.”

This is not the time to be evasive or to talk tough. It wasn’t until his third attempt that Munoz finally called the situation “horrific,” expressed his “anger and disappointment” and “deeply apologized.” By then it was too little, too late. Second, limit detail in the initial stages.

Realistically, you don’t have all the facts yet, so this is the right thing to do. Focus on being transparent, but without judgment. At this moment, it’s far too early to be analyzing the situation and assigning blame. You need to investigate further and to be thorough, which will take at least a few days.

Initiate a full investigation immediately

If you were not present to observe the situation yourself, you cannot make assumptions about actual events or the conduct of your customers or your employees. Gather more information to obtain a balanced view before you come to any conclusions. And that means seeking out first-hand accounts from more than just those who have a vested interest in offering you a one-sided version of events. Your ultimate objective should be to obtain an unbiased and factual narrative with an intention to release a fair perspective of the results of your investigation.

Do not underestimate the power of social media

We live in the age of the Internet, a time when information can be transmitted faster than the blink of an eye. Social media is a fundamental shift in the way people communicate with one another, and it has enormous implications not just in how leaders should convey and impart information, but also in how leaders should recruit, motivate and lead people. Social media is changing how clients and customers select and buy your services and products, so do not undervalue its implications.

At the risk of stating the obvious: embrace social media, don’t fight it. Only time will tell the ultimate financial impact to United of this social media debacle, but in the short term, it has certainly affected their revenues and their stock price.

Internal communication is not private

There is no such thing as private communication. As a leader, you should assume that any and all “internal” documents can and will be made public, so craft them accordingly. In the United Airlines case, Munoz may have been well-intentioned – perhaps he was trying to be supportive to his employees – but when his “internal memo” became public, the firestorm only worsened.

Empower your employees to use good judgment

Deliberately and thoughtfully create an organizational culture where employees are empowered to made decisions and take action that will ultimately protect your brand. To your customers, your employees are the face of your business, and if you can’t trust your employees to exercise sound judgment to act in the best interests of the company and your brand, then you shouldn’t put them in customer-facing roles. Period.

You hired them because you thought they had good judgment, now let them use it! Certainly, you need to establish parameters, but then give your people the latitude to be flexible within those guidelines. There is no way that you, or any leader in your organization, can anticipate every eventuality or identify all the situations in which rapid decisions or quick responses are critical. Organizational culture comes from the top. So it’s up to you, the leader, to create an environment in which your employees know that as long as they do the right thing to build or maintain your reputation, they will be supported.


4 days ago

What you say seems reasonable. But when you say empower your people to use good judgement isn't that totally contrary to the dictates of the stock market which is utterly driven by greed-oriented short term thinking? Somewhere, at some level in the organization, somebody is going to become meat to be consumed as they are sandwiched between reasonable human consideration and the absolutely merciless reality of markets. If first line employees aren't the meat in this sandwich (very admirable) then the CEO is the meat: it's a tough job and someone has to do it.
1 Reaction

3 days ago

Okay, so after a call for volunteers, no one wants to leave the plane. When asked to leave 3 of 4 selected for removal acceded to the request/demand. One refused. The lesson? When someone refuses a lawful request, allow them to stay! Allow all to stay, never let the plane depart - keep them on the tarmac forever....

The irony is that by behaving like a sobbing 5-year old, a physician with a low-fare ticket becomes the embodiment American resilience to corporate ham-fisted behaviour.
1 Reaction

Joe cool
3 days ago

It didn't help that the plane and crew were not United, they belonged to another company that United had contracted the flight .This is common practice especially on short flights and United How can you protect your brand when you turn your customers over to contract employees

2 days ago

In a plane of 100 seats:
1. Stop after 96th. passenger proceeds to the plane
2. Let 4 crew members proceed to the plane
3. Handle 4 overbooked lazy passengers at terminal not in plane
What is wrong with that

3 days ago

Transparency is key and much easier than cover up then explanations. I think that the comments about following the brand values is interesting as the brand statements are usually clear although not followed by employees and company management. Based on the details in this article, the employees did not follow the brand values although neither did the CEO - leadership matters.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home