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Mad Cows in the Workplace
By Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden

Over the past dozen years we've worked diligently to build a brand centered on the premise that treating people (workers) right yields better business outcomes.

The evidence is irrefutable. Whether in good times or bad, companies like Marriott International, Wegman's Foods, Chick-fil-A, Pebble Beach Company, and a host of others skillfully (and profitably) use their relationship with employees as a competitive weapon.

One thing we've not focused on much, and perhaps it's time we did, in view of the havoc being created by a still tough economy, is the fact that treating workers well also helps preclude the organizational equivalent of Mad Cow Disease. In other words, it helps keep bad things from happening.

Let's face it, when people get bored, frustrated, or feel they've been mistreated or taken for granted, they frequently strike back. Whether it's appropriate or not, the target of their ire is often the workplace, specifically the institution and its management.

Witness the recent YouTube incident involving two Domino's Pizza employees making "special" orders (the video you'll see at this link is Domino's president Patrick Doyle responding to the original video, which you won't see), or incidents of malicious damage done by fired IT workers at the Wand Corporation and Fannie Mae, as reported at These types of incidents do more than just damage brands. They cost real money, and in some cases, threaten the very existence of the enterprise.

Though having an engaged workforce doesn't inoculate an organization against Mad Cow employees, it certainly helps. For one thing, acts of spite, vengeance, or larceny don't often occur without the tacit knowledge or support of others. Et tu Bernie Madoff? Engaged co-workers are far more inclined to report such incidents, or take direct measures to stop them before they play out. Those who are less committed are more likely to turn a blind eye. Even if they're being fired, people who believe they are being treated humanely and fairly in the process don't often resort to bad behavior. Indeed, some go on to speak quite well of the organization.

It's well-documented that companies who downsize, and who provide laid-off employees good outplacement services experience significantly fewer layoff-related lawsuits than employers that don't provide such services.

Treating people right doesn't mean lowering standards or giving workers things they haven't earned, the market doesn't require, and you can't afford. To the contrary, it does mean:

Giving people real work, meaningful work to do, along with the freedom to pursue it. People want to be in the game, not on the bench.
Maintaining high standards. Deep down, we all realize that high standards are a necessary precursor to winning, and nobody wants to spend the majority of their day losing, or hanging out with losers.
Making sure people see a crystal clear connection between their work and real, paying customers; and that they understand fully where the organization is going and why.
Having leaders who are skillful, authentic, and especially important these days, optimistic.
Showing genuine appreciation for a job well done.

We administer employee satisfaction surveys, and analyze, interpret, and present the results to your leadership team.

Especially in times like these, no organization can afford to operate without the full engagement of everyone on the payroll.

Our turnkey process provides a valuable and affordable way for you to measure your organization's effectiveness in the view of those who fuel your business with their effort, labor, and commitment.

Visit us online, or simply contact us, to learn more about our survey process and how it can help to make your workforce a powerful competitive weapon.

Perilous times demand extraordinary leadership.

Are you struggling to manage the fear and uncertainty your employees are experiencing as a result of the current global economic crisis?

Are you being asked to balance cost cutting measures, potential layoffs and other major organizational changes against employee engagement and higher productivity?

Are you stuck in neutral, unsure how to lead in such times?

If so, Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden can help.

Our new keynote presentation, "Leading Through the Storm", provides specific tips and techniques to help you lead successfully in uncertain economic times, and to get the most from an enthusiastic and engaged workforce.

It's a message of hope, of realism, of optimism, and of practicality. Your audience will learn:

* At least six ways to keep people fired up and focused in difficult economic times.
* Tips for building and maintaining a reputation as an employer of choice - which is critical, even in times of higher unemployment.
* Strategies and examples from real organizations, and real leaders who are getting it right.

Find out about bringing Bill or Richard to your organization. Contact Geoff Knue at 317-873-0011, or

Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette
Contented Cow Partners, LLC

phone: 904-720-0870
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