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Recognition and renewal: a human resources strategy for the '90s.

Recognition and Renewal A Human Resources Strategy for the '90s

If Michael Jordan traded his high tops for a corporate top spot, he might be as effective a manager off the basketball court as he is in the heat of play. What makes Jordan great is leadership, not just his individual skills, Gary L. Tooker told 350 human resources managers recently at Utah State University in Logan. Tooker is president and chief operating officer of Motorola Inc.

"Jordan is able to lead a team as well as be a star," Tooker said. "He not only demonstrates the ability to make plays, he also knows how to make heroes out of the other members on his team. Those two skills, along with the ability to plot strategy and communicate it clearly, are but a few of the skills needed to successfully manage in the 1990s."

Tooker was a featured speaker at the ninth annual Human Resources Seminar, sponsored by the Partners in Business program at Utah State University (USU). This unique program, administered by a staff of students, provides quality educational events for business executives and community leaders.

"Removing Barriers: Creating a Unified Work Force" was the theme of this year's seminar. Considering Utah's highly educated, skilled and motivated labor pool, USU was the ideal setting for such a discussion. Fortune magazine called Utah's work force "one of the most qualified in America, possessing advanced skills and a strong work ethic." Those attributes are intrinsic to what Tooker termed, a quality labor force.

In addition to Tooker, Harry Halamandaris, director of technology for Teledyne Inc., Gary G. Michael, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Albertsons Inc., and William Ginnodo, executive director of the Quality and Productivity Management Association (QPMA), among several others, discussed the challenges today's business leaders are facing. Of paramount importance is a manager's ability to tap, reward and continually renew the creativity and entrepreneurial skills of his or her employees.

"I think the renewal of resources is one of the most major issues facing corporate America in the 1990s," Tooker said. "What makes a great company different from an average company? I think it is the company's ability to manage its capital resources, its technological resources and, most of all, its human resources. There is one thing that all of these have in common - and that is people."

Tooker shared the basic elements of the company's quality improvement process. They include leadership, communication, training, high expectations and goals, recognition of employees and a participative and cooperative company culture that rewards creativity.

A relaxed and supportive environment is just that kind of atmosphere that fosters creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in the workplace, according to Harry Halamandaris, director of technology for Teledyne and a USU alumnus. Teledyne's 35,000 employees worldwide are organized into a loose federation of 100 autonomous companies to take advantage of the benefits smaller, decentralized organizations have to offer. This approach works for Teledyne. The company did $3.5 billion in annual sales last year.

"We feel smaller companies are more productive and promote creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation," Halamandaris said. "By keeping our companies relatively small and remaining in an autonomous management mode, we have the best of both worlds. We have the large company structure and the creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation of a smaller company."

Gary Michael, Albertson's chairman of the board and chief executive officer calls employees "the key to success in the '90s."

"The key to success in any business is predicated on the ability to attract, develop and retain a quality work force," Michael said.

Many companies get trapped in a vicious cycle that leads from dissatisfied employees to dissatified customers. To ensure that customers are treated like kings, Michael believes in treating the employees like royalty.

As much attention should be paid to the employees' level of satisfaction as that paid to the customers'. Dissatisfied employees lead to increased employee turnover, limited employee continuity with the customer, limited opportunity for customer service training and lower service quality. The downward spiral continues as lower service quality leads to higher customer turnover, lower margins in the business, more pressure to cut back on training and other employee programs. Albertson's has tried to build a positive cycle into the company's culture to counteract this downward spiral.

"The positive cycle can be developed when you're able to attract, retain and develop good employees who will give superior service to the customer," Michael said. "The positive cycle means that you can invest more in your employees."

Albertson's management philosphy is built on the importance of "empowering" employees by making them partners in the business. William Ginnodo, executive director of the Quality and Productivity Improvement Association noted that successful companies make improvements by flipping the hierarchy upside down and giving power to employees.

"Total quality means making everything and everyone in the organization subject to improvement," he said. The (improvement) process has to be done on a daily basis. It's a never ending journey."

"Quality is a mindset that must be shared by everyone in the organization," Ginnodo said. "Continuous improvement demands a shift away from business as usual."

Elizabeth T. Walker is a free-lance writer in Logan, and Cliff Cahoon works with USU information services.
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Title Annotation:Utah businesses discuss personnel management at 'Human Resources Seminar'
Publication:Utah Business
Date:Dec 1, 1991
Words:872
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