November 2013

. . . helping organizations find solutions to people-related problems


Several recent articles and client experiences underscore the importance of the adage: "Knowing is one thing; doing is another." Organizational Development is a fascinating subject where specific variables of particular situations make all the difference between success and failure. In working with groups and teams, I am always taken by an idea when someone says, "Oh, we tried that before, and it didn't work!" Often organizations don't take a "lessons-learned" approach after the first failure and therefore don't really understand why the idea failed. Was the idea itself unsound? Did the project leader provide lousy leadership? Were the wrong people selected for the project team? Were salient support constituencies, like senior management, IT, etc., overlooked? And on and on.

Building strong, effective teams requires introspection, and it also requires action. Just as in other coaching endeavors, managers and team members themselves must be willing to look at their performance objectively and make needed mid-course and sometimes major adjustments to produce optimal results. While the good is the enemy of the great, every organizational initiative must be carefully and systematically analyzed, prepared for, and pursued. Effective teams are oiled by free-flowing communications focused on the good of the whole organization, where silo-management is prohibited, and where team members are clear-headed with open minds when it comes to recognizing and solving problems.

Effective teams require effective leaders who can move initiatives forward when the variables are best aligned rather than procrastinating in pursuit of perfection.


Reviewing and updating client exempt and non-exempt salary administration programs over the last few months underscores the variations in today's economy and job market.

If you're relying on the predictability of past patterns in making adjustments to your salary structures and individual pay, you may want to consider taking a fresh look at how specific jobs are changing or not changing in the marketplace. The old principle of gravity that what goes up must come down does not apply to salary administration. In fact, the forces at work in today's world exhibit more pay change variability than has been common in the past. As one would expect, pay for some jobs is going up but at significantly different rates, while for others it may be the same or even less than a year ago. These trends bear out the normal impact of supply and demand, but also reflect organizations that are seeking ways to recognize top performers and to provide career visibility and progression in an environment of tight budgets and unpredictable total personnel cost factors like healthcare, which further reduce the dollars available for performance pay increases.

If you're caught up in the exercise of squeezing the balloon, please give us a call. Perhaps we can introduce ways you can continue to reach your objectives of attracting, retaining, and motivating quality staff needed to keep you productive, profitable, and ahead of the competition.


Make a call to colleagues, prospects, or customers, and you'll soon discover how much time meetings devour. Meeting management gurus try everything from better meeting planning, execution, and follow-up to forcing participants to stand so that all are more sensitive to the time consumed or wasted in meetings.

The principles that apply to meeting management and leadership are little different from other management challenges.

Consider these criteria in determining whether a meeting is the appropriate communications forum:

  • Is a meeting the best medium to satisfy the communications objectives?
  • What are the objectives: Solve a problem? Get the word out? Get input from relevant players? Brainstorm? Promote thinking and discussion? Keep staff informed?
  • Who should be invited or required to attend? Goes to the question of not just units or departments, but also to individuals equipped to contribute to the objectives at hand.
  • Has the meeting manager succinctly stated why the meeting is being convened and what the agenda is?
  • Have pre-meeting homework assignments been made to avoid wasted speculation and fruitless debate?
  • Does the meeting begin with a clear, brief statement of why we are here, what we want to accomplish, and how much maximum time the meeting will consume?
  • Is the meeting process well managed in terms of facilitation, inclusion of all participants, time management, and satisfaction of meeting objectives?
  • Are participant assignments clearly communicated and accounted for?
  • Is the meeting follow-up timely and documented so that all players know what needs to happen next and what follow-on activities need to take place to satisfy meeting objectives?
One of the simplest ways to understand the importance and impact of meetings is to heighten awareness of the cost of a meeting to the organization. Just estimating the salary dollars consumed in meetings gives a clear, meaningful barometer of meeting value. It is certainly relevant to weigh meeting outcomes against such expense to determine meeting cost-effectiveness. This kind of analysis also underscores the initial question of whether this particular form of communication is needed in the first place.

Little in organizational life frustrates people more than sitting or standing through meetings that they in their heart-of-hearts feel are unnecessary and therefore a waste of otherwise valuable work time.

We wish each of you and your family a Healthy, Happy Thanksgiving!

Warm regards

Dave Martin


HRA Services, Inc.

"Applying Systematic Thinking to the Human Dimension"