Business Briefs
Star-Bulletin staff & wire reports

Monday, March 14, 2005




Cutbacks now hurt managerial pool later

American companies could see a shortage of management talent in their pipelines over the next decade, as the wave of employee cutbacks, outsourcing, new job opportunities and women starting their own businesses begins to manifest a toll, according to a survey of human resource and development professionals.

Over the past several years, companies took the machete to all variety of costs in their organizations, learning to make do with fewer people, leaner operations, innovative technologies. But the effect on the training of future leaders is likely to have suffered, with 20 percent fewer workers in the 35-44 age group, where managers are generally recruited, according to Boston-based Novations Group Inc., which did the survey.

Moreover, as conditions improve and people start looking around for new opportunities, companies that were quick to jettison workers will likely find that workers will leave them. Nearly half, 44 percent, of human resource executives said they fear an employee exodus as the job market becomes more inviting, according to the survey.

Public speaking is a valuable skill

Presenting well in public is an important skill many of us overlook as employees, says Eve Guernsey, CEO of JP Morgan Asset Management, Americas. She's sent along a few tips:

» Volunteer to do it. Very few of us relish the idea of getting up and addressing large groups. We get nervous, it's unusual, etc. Do it anyway.

» One or 400. The ability to effectively present an idea, project, proposal or sale to one client or 400 is the same. You want to be comfortable before either audience.

» Delivery. For women, speak in a lower tone than normal to draw in the crowd and retain their attention.

» Take a course. Public speaking and presentations can be improved, just like a golf swing.

Myths about employees abound

The workplace is rife with myths, many of them involving how employers view employees, says David Sirota, an industrial psychologist and founder of Sirota Consulting, based in Purchase, N.Y. Sirota has compiled several in his book, "The Enthusiastic Employee: How Companies Profit by Giving Workers What They Want."

» Myth No. 1: "Employees will never be happy with their pay." In fact, about 40 percent of workers rate their salaries as good or very good.

» Myth No. 2: "Most employees resist change, whatever it is." Actually, workers resist change they perceive as harmful to them or to the company, or new policies that were developed in secret. Give them better furniture, faster computers or easier software systems, and they have no complaints, Sirota says.

» Myth No. 3: "Most employees are lazy." No, most are industrious and want to derive satisfaction from their work, given effective management.

» Myth No. 4: "Companies that are quick to lay off staff perform better." They often do so only in the short term, with research showing companies that announced restructurings outperforming the S&P 500 for about six months after the news. But by the end of three years, those companies lagged the index by 24 percent.

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