Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn have invaded our lives . . . at our invitation.  With that invasion we have seen a blurring of the border between the personal and the professional, the private and the public, the home and the office.

Some have decried this evolution as intrinsically evil, encouraging you to tighten all your privacy settings to the maximum level.  After all, we must protect our privacy now mustn’t we?

Then again, maybe not.  There was a day and a time in which you did business with someone because you knew him or her.  Partially because you did know him or her, you were willing to invest in a business relationship.  What you knew about the person contributed to your judgment of the person’s business.

Social media has redrawn the map.  Perhaps in redrawing the map, social media is taking us back to a time when you will know more about every person.  That knowing will contribute to your business relationship.

Some folks don’t like the new cartography.  I can’t argue that.  But I do suggest the new cartography just might introduce a new era of integrity and wholeness in us and in our relationships.

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Superman often had a difficult time juggling his day job with his Clark Kent persona.  Conflicts of interest, multiple priorities, and too many things to do are challenges you fully understand!  Don’t we all?

Businesses today usually talk a good talk about how their employees must maintain a good work/life balance.  The message sounds good: “You have a life outside of work!  Enjoy it!”  That message is politically correct.  And at its core, it genuinely is a valid practice for everyone’s benefit.

Nevertheless, some businesses interpret the work/life balance as a one-way street instead of a two-way street.  If work/life balance means you are always on call for your boss(es), you are connected 24/7 via technology, and you frequently go above and beyond the call of duty with no corresponding direct compensation then something is wrong.  Your employer is not showing you the opposite lane on that road.

Life/work balance is a great thing when done correctly and fairly.  That means life/work balance is a two-way street.  Just as you have made accommodations in your personal time for work duties, likewise, employers must understand the occasional accommodations in your work time for personal duties.

Please do not misinterpret me.  I have observed many organizations today that have this one down pat.  Cheers to them for being progressive, fair, humane, holistic, ethical, and kind!  I love it.  Unfortunately, there are many places where much work (pun intended?) remains to be done on this topic.

What do you think?  Is the life/work balance dynamic getting better where you are or worse?  Do you see progress in this area?  For the companies that handle this well, are you seeing improved employee retention as a result?  What do you do when you believe the situation is being abused?

My guess is the answers to those questions will be quite diverse and interesting.  Let’s see what we can learn.

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The current edition of the Kansas City Business Journal has an excellent article by James Dornbrook about Genesys Systems Integrator (“Genesys Engineers Comeback,” January 3-9, 2012, pp. 3, 30).  Genesys understands how important employee engagement is.  Without employee engagement, you cannot build long-term stability and success, especially in and through the recession from which we are still recovering.

Genesys has executed a number of well-timed initiatives helping it to spring into the future.  An employee stock ownership plan has been implemented.  When employees know they own an equity position in the company, that changes how they approach their jobs.  Genesys projects the ESOP will put 20 to 30% of company equity into the employee’s hands by the end of 2012.

Genesys refined and expanded its business strategy, partly as a result of an employee planning session.  These outcomes will render the company more recession proof; a win for the company, the customers, and the employees.

Finally, Genesys understands its employees truly are its greatest asset.  That understanding informs every aspect of the hiring process and the corporate culture.  Genesys President Patrick Perry describes it this way:

If you hire the best people and treat them exceptionally well, they treat your customers well, and then your customers repay that with more business, and you need to hire more people.

Thank you, Genesys, for doing it right!

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Just because someone is competent in business does not automatically mean he or she is ethical.  We all remember too many business scandals to deny that truth.

We also remember the outcry from the public that business schools needed to place a fresh emphasis on ethics.  Fortunately, over the last 20 years many schools responded to that outcry.

When I did my MBA (2009), I was very gratified to see that conflicts of interest, ethics, ethical dilemmas, and morality were laced throughout our discussions, assignments, papers, and research projects.  In every single case study or other major paper I wrote, I was required to include a section entitled, “Ethical Dilemmas.”  In that section I was expected to demonstrate I had fully analyzed all moral, ethical, and relational dimensions of the situation.  My solutions could not merely be business savvy; they had to be ethically defensible.

Going through that experience was richly rewarding to me for two reasons:

1). It reinforced my own intrinsic, personal commitment to a high ethical standard in all dimensions of my life.

2). It inspired me to meditate on the broader and deeper dimensions of ethical issues than I ever had in the past.  I grew deeper in my understanding and appreciation of complex ethical issues.

My observation is most MBA programs nowadays take a similar approach.  This is very encouraging.  The vital issue is that MBAs must not only be concerned for the “sell” of business, but also for the “soul” of business.

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Is effortless ethics an oxymoron?

Effort is required for ethics to survive and thrive.  Of course, this comes much easier to some people than others.  Some people were raised under conditions and influences that predisposed them to difficulties in this area.  Other people were raised under conditions and influences that predisposed them to great successes in this area.  Some folks just seem to have a strong moral compass while others seem to lack it.

Although effortless ethics may be an oxymoron, it seems to me that when you do possess that strong moral compass, it takes no effort to execute your ethics.  You do so simply because you know it is the right thing to do.  (Albeit, you may struggle with certain ethical dilemmas, but that is a subject for another day.)  Nevertheless, precisely because executing your ethics is the right thing to do, you often face opposition from those who do not hold a high ethical standard.  That opposition will demand a corresponding effort.

Your effort is not to execute your ethics; your effort is to engage the oppositional forces successfully.  Now that presents a whole new set of “opportunities,” doesn’t it?

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