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TCPI News Vol. 1, No. 10

October 18, 2001

In this issue:

  1. Managing People in Challenging Times
  2. Work and the Reordering of Priorities
  3. TCPI on the Move

Past Issues

Please visit our website for past issues of TCPI News

1.     Managing People in Challenging Times

According to Stephanie L. Twin, Ph.D., TCPI Sr. Associate, managing people has never been easy. But, it has grown harder recently because of economics, demographics, and globalization. The recent terrorist attacks have created a greater imperative for cultural sensitivity.

"Managers, from entry to executive level, face challenges and scenarios for which the past is no guide," Twin says. "Viewpoints that might have been relevant ten or five years ago, even a month ago, are outdated today. Circumstances that did not exist before now test us and generate different expectations. Managers today are being forced to address needs and expectations different from their own. A significant value shift has occurred among the workforce."

Here is Dr. Twin’s Four-Step Guide to Values-based Managing, a proven methodology for influencing and improving employee productivity.


Successful managers inspire cooperation. People under their leadership want to do what needs to be done. The art of managing successfully is fluid and dynamic and involves a range of approaches and skills. In addition, values are perhaps the most powerful motivator of human behavior. We gain a formidable motivational tool when we perceive how values influence our own and others’ behavior. This understanding is crucial to being an effective manager.

Values are deeply embedded in our background, upbringing, culture, lifestyle, experience, and socialization. They are intensely-held belief systems that evolve over time through experience. Values are sets of feelings that let us know what is important to us and form our frames of reference – or filters – through which we interpret the world.

To influence and change other people’s behavior, you must monitor and organize your own behavior in a strategic direction.

1. Describe the other person’s problem behavior in the terms you usually use. For example, "He’s lazy and unmotivated and doesn’t do anything." Or, "She argues with everything I say." After you express these thoughts (to yourself), reflect on your words and note which ones are subjective or judgmental. Are any of your words factual or objective? Usually not. "Lazy," "unmotivated," "doesn’t do anything," and "argues" generally reflect our feelings about the other person’s behavior, rather than the facts.

2. Force yourself to describe this person’s behavior in factual (quantifiable) or neutral terms. In other words, concentrate on what the person does do, not what he or she doesn’t do. For example, is the person who "doesn’t do anything" literally sitting there twiddling fingers or staring into space? More likely, the person is talking on the phone to a friend or surfing the Web. This person is in fact doing something. Is the person who is "arguing" making statements that differ from your viewpoint? The point is that all of these people are in fact motivated to do something. They are not motivated to do what you want them to do.

3. Determine the values that are driving their behavior. What intrinsic and positive benefit(s) do they activate with their actions? If you answer, "They get out of doing work," that is not a value! Remember, values are deeply ingrained, intrinsic forces that play constructive roles in people’s lives. Few people would identify "getting out of work" as a value, but they might name "autonomy," "control," or "having input" as values that they activate through their behavior and lose when they do what you want.

Remember: identifying the values driving a person’s behavior is not the same as identifying a person’s strengths or good points. Though important, that action is separate from this process.

4. Work toward alignment. Influence people to change behavior based on their own values, as revealed through their own actions. Try the following:

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2.    Work and the Reordering of Priorities

Saturday morning as I was driving into the parking lot at my apartment complex, there were two police cars parked close to my unit. Since I was meeting my son there, I was concerned about the presence of law enforcement. Having arrived before me, my son had the information. It seems that someone had reported a suspicious letter and it was being investigated. We both agreed that it was unlikely that our building would be a primary target for terrorist activity, but the incident was indicative of what is currently occupying the American psyche and its effect on how we conduct our lives.

The current issue of American Demographics presents the views of twenty-four experts on American culture and public opinion after the events of September 11. Amidst the expected gibberish about the rise of teleconferencing and virtual working (Tom Peters) and the demise of tall buildings (William Knoke), are some disturbing projections from people old enough to remember Pearl Harbor and WWII. An example from Robert Bellah, 75, Prof. Emeritus of Sociology, U. C., Berkley goes like this:

"Americans have been losing confidence in government for 40 years…Pearl Harbor led to a genuine national mobilization…This cannot lead to the national unity and purpose that Pearl harbor produced. It’s much more likely to lead to frustration… This anti-terrorism is not going to give us any sense of national purpose. It’s just going to be a drain on our morale."

Anybody who thinks that productivity is not going to take a serious hit is living in a dream world. Amidst the threats of bioterrorism and other distracters, companies are accelerating the pace of terminations in every sector. Some years ago, I wrote about the commitment gap resulting from a tearing up of the old compact between company and employee. The current situation is putting it into the shredder. Research done at that time indicated that any productivity gains realized from reorganization and downsizing were quickly lost through diminished worker commitment. This will hold true for the future as well.

Workers are already rearranging their priorities, and work is not at the top of the list. How will companies cope with the ever widening commitment gap? So far, the answer is, "badly." At a time when people need to feel connected and develop a belief in the future, the cost accountants are cutting all of the activities, training, and networking opportunities in the name of preserving shareholder value. These "soft" initiatives have always been easy targets in times of financial stress. So, unenlightened management is doomed to learn the old lesson once again. "The people will make you or break you." Explain that to the shareholders down the line.

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Learn More

Learn more about Gottlieb and Conkling's book, Managing the Workplace Survivors: Organizational Downsizing and the Commitment Gap.

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3.     TCPI on the Move

This newsletter issue comes to you from the intergalactic headquarters of The Communication Project, which today is filled with moving boxes. Over the next few days if we are not as timely with our e-mail responses or if you have trouble reaching us by phone, please be assured that we have not disappeared, we’ve just moved up the road. Our e-mail and phone remain the same. Please visit our Website for updated address information.

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