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Working for a Scandal-Tainted Company Hurts Your Future Earnings
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Fredrik Broden
Why a Corporate Scandal Will Follow You Even If You Weren’t Involved
Managing yourself
From the September 2016 Issue
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Executive Summary

Executives with scandal-tainted companies on their résumés pay a penalty on the job market, even if they clearly had nothing to do with the trouble. Because the scandal effect is lasting, a company you left long ago could have an impact on your current and future job mobility, not to mention your compensation. Overall, executives who suffer from the effect are paid nearly 4% less than their peers. You can’t control this risk, the authors write, but you can and should plan for it.

They offer three steps to help you survive a corporate scandal.

1. Be forthright. Transparency and full disclosure are key to overcoming the stigma. Executive recruiters, who do due diligence on candidates, can help you create a full, clear, and succinct narrative for hiring managers.

2. “Borrow” reputation and legitimacy from others in your network, establishing innocence by association. Executive search firms can also act as references and sponsors.

3. Take a “rehab job,” one at which you so clearly excel that it creates a persuasive story to compete with the scandal narrative.

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The Finding

Executives with scandal-tainted companies on their résumés pay a penalty on the job market—even if they had nothing to do with the misbehavior.

The Reason

The stigma that arises from scandal plays an outsize role in hiring decisions because judging other people accurately is difficult and because those making executive hires tend toward conservatism.

The Answer

If you have a scandal-tainted firm on your résumé, you should address the matter forthrightly, establish relationships with people who can attest to your character, and consider taking a “rehab job.”

In September 2015 Volkswagen was found to have intentionally set controls on its diesel engines to misrepresent their emissions levels. Some 11 million cars worldwide had the “defeat” program installed. This discovery led to an immediate plunge in Volkswagen’s stock price; government investigations in North America, Europe, and Asia; the resignation of its CEO and the suspension of other executives; the company’s record loss in 2015; and a tab estimated at more than $19 billion to rectify the issues. The scandal did incalculable damage to Volkswagen’s brand. Imagine that you are an engineer in Mexico, or an HR executive in the United States, or a logistics expert in Poland. You worked for Volkswagen from 2004 to 2008, before the new emissions controls were even in place, and you never worked in the divisions that created the deceptive programming. Lately you’ve been unhappy in your current job and have been thinking about making a change. Your long-ago association with VW shouldn’t be a problem—right?

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Eight Ways to Build Collaborative Teams
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The New Science of Building Great Teams
Collaboration
From the November 2007 Issue
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Executive Summary

Reprint: R0711F

Executing complex initiatives like acquisitions or an IT overhaul requires a breadth of knowledge that can be provided only by teams that are large, diverse, virtual, and composed of highly educated specialists. The irony is, those same characteristics have an alarming tendency to decrease collaboration on a team. What’s a company to do?

Gratton, a London Business School professor, and Erickson, president of the Concours Institute, studied 55 large teams and identified those with strong collaboration despite their complexity. Examining the team dynamics and environment at firms ranging from Royal Bank of Scotland to Nokia to Marriott, the authors isolated eight success factors: (1) that build bonds among the staff, in memorable ways that are particularly suited to a company’s business. (2) among executives, which help cooperation trickle down to the staff. (3) in which managers support employees by mentoring them daily, instead of a transactional “tit-for-tat culture.” (4) , such as communication and conflict resolution. (5) , which corporate HR can foster by sponsoring group activities. (6) , or leaders who are both task-oriented and relationship-oriented. (7) , by populating teams with members who know and trust one another. (8) , achieved by defining individual roles sharply but giving teams latitude on approach.

As teams have grown from a standard of 20 members to comprise 100 or more, team practices that once worked well no longer apply. The new complexity of teams requires companies to increase their capacity for collaboration, by making long-term investments that build relationships and trust, and smart near-term decisions about how teams are formed and run.

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To execute major initiatives in your organization—integrating a newly acquired firm, overhauling an IT system—you need complex teams. Such teams’ defining characteristics—large, virtual, diverse, and specialized—are crucial for handling daunting projects. Yet these very characteristics can also destroy team members’ ability to work together, say Gratton and Erickson. For instance, as team size grows, collaboration diminishes.

To maximize your complex teams’ effectiveness, construct a basis for collaboration in your company. Eight practices hinging on relationship building and cultural change can help. For example, create a strong sense of community by sponsoring events and activities that bring people together and help them get to know one another. And use informal mentoring and coaching to encourage employees to view interaction with leaders and colleagues as valuable.

When executives, HR professionals, and team leaders all pitch in to apply these practices, complex teams hit the ground running—the day they’re formed.

The Idea in Practice

The authors recommend these practices for encouraging collaboration in complex teams:

What Executives Can Do

Example:

Royal Bank of Scotland’s CEO commissioned new headquarters built around an indoor atrium and featuring a “Main Street” with shops, picnic spaces, and a leisure club. The design encourages employees to rub shoulders daily, which fuels collaboration in RBS’s complex teams.

Example:

At Standard Chartered Bank, top executives frequently fill in for one another, whether leading regional celebrations, representing SCB at key external events, or initiating internal dialogues with employees. They make their collaborative behavior visible through extensive travel and photos of leaders from varied sites working together.

Example:

At Nokia, each new hire’s manager lists everyone in the organization the newcomer should meet, suggests topics he or she should discuss with each person on the list, and explains why establishing each of these relationships is important.

What HR Can Do

Example:

Marriott has recognized the anniversary of the company’s first hotel opening by rolling back the cafeteria to the 1950s and sponsoring a team twist dance contest.

What Team Leaders Can Do

Example:

When Nokia needs to transfer skills across business functions or units, it moves entire small teams intact instead of reshuffling individual people into new positions.

When tackling a major initiative like an acquisition or an overhaul of IT systems, companies rely on large, diverse teams of highly educated specialists to get the job done. These teams often are convened quickly to meet an urgent need and work together virtually, collaborating online and sometimes over long distances.

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The CEO of Kronos on Launching an Unlimited Vacation Policy
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Making Unlimited Vacation Time Work
Leadership Managing people
From the November–December 2017 Issue
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Executive Summary

Technology has made it possible for employees to be plugged in around the clock, even when they’re “on vacation.” In view of this reality, Kronos launched its open vacation policy in early 2016. To Ain’s surprise, some employees were very unhappy about it, largely for three reasons: Because the new policy required individuals to work out time off with their supervisors, some managers thought their jobs would become more difficult. Some employees who had been banking unused vacation time resented the loss of a bundle of cash when they retired. And some felt that it was unfair for new hires to get as much vacation as they themselves had earned over time. But Kronos now considers the switch a success—and 2016 was financially the company’s best year ever.

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Matt Kalinowski

When I joined Kronos as one of its first employees, straight out of college in 1979, the company gave new employees two weeks of paid vacation. Every year you stayed at the company, you earned an additional day, up to a certain level. That was how most companies handled vacation time, and although the numbers may vary, it’s the way most of them still do. By 1984 I’d been promoted to national sales manager, and four years later I became the vice president of global sales and service, an executive position. Kronos, which creates workplace management software and services, had a long-standing policy that top executives needn’t track their vacation time and could take as many days as they deemed appropriate. That made sense. Even back then, people in senior roles were required to perform 24/7. When you’re constantly working nights, weekends, and during family travel, tracking your hours or declaring an official “vacation day” becomes almost meaningless. I’ve been in executive roles at Kronos ever since then, and CEO for the past 12 years. So I haven’t been required to track my vacation time for almost 30 years.

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