Magazine article Workforce

A Couple Minutes with Ken Blanchard

Magazine article Workforce

A Couple Minutes with Ken Blanchard

Article excerpt

Woody Guthrie once observed, ` Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple." According to Guthrie's definition, Ken Blanchard is a true genius. He's written 16 best-selling books that elegantly illuminate simple truths. The One Minute Manager (Berkley, 1993) has sold more than 9 million copies in 25 different languages and after twenty years it still routinely makes the best-seller lists. Ken and his wife, Margie, created the Ken Blanchard Companies, an Escondido, California business training and consulting practice, where Blanchard's title is CSO: chief spiritual officer. He works closely with Margie Blanchard to set and maintain the company's vision and energy.

WORKFORCE: If you could take a magic wand and change the workplace, what would you change?

Blanchard: I would have managers hit by lightning that would immediately cause their self esteem to improve 100 percent, so they felt better about themselves than they ever did before. I think we all come from unconditional love, but the trick that the Lord played on us is that he gave us amnesia, and we don't know where we came from. The biggest problem in the workplace is people who are running departments in organizations who don't get that they're absolutely beautiful, that God didn't make any junk. So they push and shove for money power, status, and recognition because that's how they determine who they are, rather than focusing on generosity, serving and helping others, and developing loving relationships,

WF: Can you give me an example?

Blanchard: There are two kinds of people in life: ducks and eagles. Ducks go "quack" and eagles soar. You can always tell an organization where the hierarchy is alive and well and the leaders are all about self serving leadership because when they have a problem, they don't give (anyone) an opportunity to use their brains. They say, "Quack, quack, it's our policy. Quack, quack, I didn't make the rules. Quack, quack, I just work here. Do you want to talk to my boss? Quack, quack." And what happens is all that the energy moves away from the customer up the hierarchy so that the people are really not in charge and the customers are frustrated. And you see really absurd things.

WF: How can HR help?

Blanchard: HR has four functions. One is recruiting and hiring, bringing in new blood. Second is training and development. Third is performance evaluation and feedback, and the fourth is career planning. The problem is that we usually let four different groups of people do them and they don't ever speak to each other.

WF: So how can we get everyone working together?

Blanchard: I'd like to see HR departments turn into performance-consulting departments, because one of the things that HR departments don't think enough about is their impact on the bottom line. So when financial crunches come people start asking, "What do we need HR for?" You've got to talk about hiring, training, evaluating, career planning, and then also add what difference you're making on the performance in your organization. Look at everything as a performance problem and constantly ask, "How can we improve the bottom line of our company?"

WF: How is the workplace changing and what impact does this have on HR?

Blanchard: The old deal is gone in business, where you gave loyalty and they gave you job security. So I got real interested in finding out the new deal. I asked top managers. They said, "I want people with initiative, problemsolvers, people who act like they own the place. …

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