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Joanne B. Ciulla

Joanne B. Ciulla

Joanne Ciulla is Professor and Coston Family Chair in Leadership and Ethics at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, University of Richmond, the only undergraduate degree-granting school of leadership studies in the world.

Recycling Employees

Ever since the Industrial Revolution, American business leaders have tended to think of employees as disposable, not recyclable, commodities. If an employee stops "working right", they throw him or her out and get a new person.

Thirty years ago, I interviewed employees at Matsushita's training campus in Osaka. At the time, American managers were flocking to Japan to learn the secrets of Japanese management. Japanese companies were outperforming American companies and they promised their employees lifetime employment. I asked one of Matsushita managers what they did with under-performers. He said that the employee and manger worked together to find a place where they belonged. I was initially skeptical about his answer, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Some people may be in the wrong job, whereas in some cases, managers might fail to see the potential of an employee. Furthermore, employees age and change as do the businesses and environments in which they operate. Business leaders who realize this and work with the so-called "over the hill employees" to find out where they belong may discover quite a few Kurt Warners out there.

By Joanne B. Ciulla

 |  January 26, 2009; 3:50 PM ET
Category:  Sports Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Prof. Ciulla: Being over the hill myself, I will be cheering Kurt onward and upward. His is the indefatigable life force of the American condition as it works its way through the heartland. Not an avatar like Brady or Moss but selflessly and dutifully plowing the path of integrity as it wanders through the pitfalls and eddies of failure and redemption, the duty-bound survivor who prevails when the eloi and illuminati crash or self destruct. Kurt is Tao-man; the smooth, unnoticed stone in the center; if Kurt prevails, then we all prevail.

Posted by: bquigley | February 1, 2009 12:23 PM
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