Ideas on People and Performance, Team Building, Motivation and Innovation

Category: Statistics on workplaces

Contributing Improvement Ideas. The BOSS is the biggest issue

I plan on doing a whole series of posts around some survey results by my friend and colleague, Lynn Woods at IdeaSpies. Her data focuses on some of the issues around management and innovation and active involvement. My goal is to write a LOT more about this in coming blogs about people and performance and frame the issues around how we can facilitate ourselves out of this mess…

So, CAN people contribute more ideas to their workplaces? Not surprising. People do have ideas, if managers would bother to ask them, right?

Square Wheels Data on Active Involvement for Innovation

DO Managers value those ideas? Well, that data shows that the attitudes of the Boss don’t seem too supportive. Hell, over 10% said it is RISKY to do so. And, if the supervisor were actually interested, they would probably not be “too busy” or find it “too difficult.”

Square Wheels research on why people are not engaged

I am going to put almost ALL of this on the management and the perceived actual culture they have created for the workers. Is innovation and workplace improvement of systems and processes not important to the long-term, overall success of the organization? Is not employee motivation an important issue?

And what are we getting when the management team seems to make the sharing of worker ideas a RISK to the workers, to have them believe that their supervisor is simply not interested in those things?

The Most Senior Management should be VERY concerned about data like this, because their long-term success in innovating improvements and involving and engaging and aligning their people to strategic goals and objectives seems very much at risk.

For the past 35 years, I have been working on very similar themes of active involvement and ownership of improvement ideas in organizations and for the past 25 years, we have offered really inexpensive and effective communications tools to address these kinds of issues. You can see more information about our Square Wheels facilitation toolkits here:

square wheels facilitation toolkits for leadership development

Check this approach out. Use it on Spring Forward Monday to better involve your people. We even have an online facilitation skills course on Udemy that shares training frameworks, specific ideas and the worksheets and powerpoints to generate active involvement and improved communications,

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement products. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant who designs simple, powerful learning tools.

See the our teambuilding game, The Collaboration Journey Challenge

You can reach Scott at
 See his poems and performance haiku poems at

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO® Group®

You can find a link to Lynn Wood’s data here:

Engagement – Think Local, Act Local

I was reading an article on adapting things like HomeKit and Echo into the way people interact with their homes. Alexa is pretty cool, but there are issues around its inability to recognize voices and there have been instances of voices on TV actually telling the system to order products online and the reality that a burglar could simply tell the system to turn off security alarms. The point that author Seyi Fabode was making was that one of our most basic needs is for security and safety, both at home and in the workplace where so many of us spend so much time and emotional energy.

MY thinking about his thinking was framed around a workshop I attended by Brad Thomas with my local ATD group yesterday morning. Brad was focusing on the implementation of full-company engagement systems and his excellent talk was anchored somewhat to these local issues but mainly focused on the corporate commitment to generating and acting on large amounts of employee feedback to frame up issues and opportunities.

In that Big Picture Corporate Model, things needed to cascade down from the top and that HR departments had to rethink how they focused so that they could actually bring human resource capital into play for their operational counterparts, that they could not simply remain the paper pushers they are in so many places. HR needed a seat at the corporate boardroom table to focus on the people side of improvement initiatives. It seems like an awful amount of senior management engagement and systemic change was a requirement before ANY actions could occur.

And when you have, as I once did, senior executives out there saying (or believing) things like this about people / engagement / involvement and being actively working to generate innovative ideas:

“That’s like asking the vegetables how to design a refrigerator,”

you pretty much KNOW that you are not going to be successful working from the tops downward forward. (And, yes, there are senior managers who could not care less about employee involvement and ideas — we seem to have one in the White House if you need an example.)

These two things clanged for me about an hour ago. Big Corporate Solutions trying to solve the issues of the worker / supervisor interface. What could possibly go wrong? Well, as results seem to consistently show, pretty much everything… Overall, statistics seem to show that OD things look pretty much like this:

Corporate engagement programs don't work well

From this month’s issue of Workforce magazine (3/17), Rick Bell shared some  statistics and anchor points. Supervisors clearly improve their leadership and engagement skills. Some tops-down corporate program to improve overall engagement will simply not get traction:

• 35% of US workers would forgo a raise to see their boss fired

• 44% of employees say they have been emotionally or physically abused by a supervisor

• 3 of 4 workers say that their boss is the worst / most stressful part of the job

Other statistics supporting the idea of local control / local influence include:

• “Communication and connection are the cornerstone of relationships – a quarter to a third of employees believe their managers seldom or never listen to them, understand their issues, seek their input and ideas, or help them to resolve the issues and challenges they face. This persistent gap presents both a challenge and an opportunity to leaders and managers.” (Leadership Management Australasia’s LMA survey, April 2016)

• Only about 1 in 3 US managers are engaged in their jobs, and about 1 in 7 are actively DISENGAGED. Employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged than those supervised by actively disengaged managers. (Gallup)

Bell and others share these statistics, however, so there IS opportunity here if we can improve the interaction between workers and their managers. A short list of opportunities and benefits looks like this:

  • Managers are the Number 1 way that people feel supported by their organization
  • Managers influence 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores
  • Close to 60% of Americans say they would do a better job if they got along better with their boss
  • Close to 70% of those polled said they would be happier at work if they got along better with their boss, with the breakdown equal among men and women, but younger workers in their 20s and 30s were even higher (80%)
  • Over half (55%) of those polled, think they would be more successful in their career if they got along better with their boss
  • Only 4 in 10 of Americans will thank their boss on National Bosses Day with most believing that their boss wouldn’t care enough to bother
  • About 10% said they would use the day as an opportunity to talk to their boss and improve the relationship


Try this:

Have a conversation with someone who works in an organization and ask about how they feel they are being managed. I had two such conversations with people in my pool league two nights ago. Absolutely eye opening!


So, what IS a viable solution? Understand that the Big Corporate Improvement Program Initiatives seem doomed to fail unless organizations impact that supervisor / worker interface and make it more supporting and effective. And you can probably figure out that working to engage workers working for the 1 in 7 managers who are actively DIS-engaged within their own organization is simply a waste of money and resources.

Throw some mud at the wire fence!

Break away from the Big  Corporate Program Mentality and do some Guerilla Engagement. Give some of your better supervisors the tools they need to improve their effectiveness. Allow them to improve their interactions with their people and to improve their facilitation and involvement skills.

The Square Wheels Project is an online training program designed FOR SUPERVISORS who need some training and some tools to improve communications. The Spring Forward Monday Toolkit is a package of tools (handouts, powerpoints, posters and instructions) to give supervisors the framework for a series of meetings and implementation action plans for simple ideas for workplace improvement and innovation, to allow more teamwork and active involvement.

Square Wheels - How organizations really work Metaphor organizational improvement

The Square Wheels Project is not THE Solution to anything, but it does represent a most excellent alternative to the initiatives that are generally not working very well, a step forward in the effort to improve communications.

Square Wheels Project Draggin Slaying Supervisor

But some facilitation skills training can certainly help your managers to become better motivators and better leaders. Help them lead on-site workplace innovation and improvement initiatives at the very bottom-most layer of your organization, where most things are actually happening. Do things differently and let them lead!

Solve the small problems in simple ways, keeping a sense of safety and security in place with your supervisors feeling a minimal amount of risk for doing something differently. Look for some “small answers” to local issues and build things from the bottoms up. Make real improvements where you can, instead of looking for Big Answers from a distance.

Addendum: Since initially publishing these thoughts, I have begun to focus on a framework of Disruptive Engagement, which takes in much of this thinking and adds more data and rationale. You can find those blogs by clicking on the two images below.

Square Wheels by Scott Simmerman of Performance Management CompanyDisruptive Engagement and Radical Candor by Scott Simmerman


Our stupidly simple tools are designed help any manager get some really effective, performance-focused improvement conversations going using better facilitation skills and our metaphors, plus our online help and networking,

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

You can reach Scott at
Connect with Scott on Google+

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Co.
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

The two newer blogs can be found by clicking on the links above or by going to:

Corporate Engagement Hasn’t Worked – Why not try Disruptive Engagement?


Radical Candor and Disruptive Engagement


The Workplace and the Work – Thoughts on the 8-hour day

I’ve posted up a number of things about the workplace over the years, and also about a lot of the current-day issues of over-connectedness and the average 72-hour workweek of many managers.

This is reflected in this article from last year – Working while Not Working – The Problem of Overconnectedness – which shared a bunch of statistics and issues and data.

I came across another interesting site that I thought to share, one that focused on general thinking about The Workweek and that shared some interesting thoughts on our assumptions.

Why do we have 8 hour work days in the first place?

How do we spend out time? This image is from the article by Leo Widrich:

image of hours in a day

Widrich writes with the idea that workers or managers somehow have a choice about their workweek. Maybe that is true, but there is a LOT of data that suggests that the average worker is a LOT more connected and involved than that simple 8 or 9-hour workday.

Many of us own our own businesses, and my week is pretty much described as, “always.” I will respond to email on Saturday night at midnight and work 6 hours on a Sunday before turning on the TV and watching a movie while I write this blog. How can one even calculate how many hours a week I am connected in some manner to the business?

I DO like a lot of his recommendations, which I adaptively reproduce below. Read his original article for a lot more ideas:

The top 4 tips for improving your work day

I’ve started to make 4 distinct changes to implement the above research better. Here is what worked the best:

  • Manually increase the relevance of a task: Now, a lot of us still might struggle to find the focus, especially if no one set a deadline to it. Overriding your attention system, and adding your own deadline together with a reward has shown some of the most significant improvements for task completion. 
  • Split your day into 90 min window. Instead of looking at a 8, 6 or 10 hour work day, split it down and say you’ve got 4, 5 or however many 90 minute windows. That way you will be able to have 4 tasks that you can get done every day much more easily.
  • Plan your rest so you actually rest: “The fittest person is not the one who runs the fastest, but the one who has optimized their rest time.” Says Tony Schwartz. A lot of the time, we are so busy planning our work day, that we forget about “how” to rest. Plan beforehand what you will do your rest. Here are some ideas: Nap, read, meditate, get a snack.
  •  Zero notifications: One of the best ideas I’ve ever had was to follow Joel’s advice on Zero Notifications.  Having absolutely no counter on my phone or computer changing from 0 to 1 and always breaking my focus has been a huge help. If you haven’t tried this yet, try to turn off every digital element that could become an alert.

The comments to his post are also very interesting. People have a lot of different perspectives on things.

My guess is that a lot of us have already adapted his as well as our own ideas toward managing our work. I’ve been in my business 31+ years and guess that I keep things at least somewhat in balance. I was going to the gym 5 or 6 hours a week but that ended because I blogged about Planet Fitness and some issues of trust, respect and engagement related to their leadership that were pretty obviously poor in the impacts on their workers. Those workers have some obvious issues of being poorly managed, in my opinion.

I also edited an older blog of mine to capture some ideas about how we can look toward making the workplace a more involved and engaged place and how to improve motivation. You can find “The Future of Work…” here.

And, I was sent a link to a short slideshare on the work environment, focused on furniture and lighting and design. I thought it was interesting. You can find that here.

Now, I guess I will add in more bicycling and kayaking to the schedule, along with the pool and the gardening. While there is always something to get done, some of it can wait. But call me any time and I will answer,

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.


Trust is the Residue of Promises Fulfilled – An Update

My friend Frank Navran once quipped that,

Trust is the residue
of promises fulfilled

and that quote has stayed with me for 20+ years. So, in my work on designing a new team building game that will anchor to trust, Frank and I reconnected and he pipped me over to Barbara Kimmel, who is the Director of Trust Across America. You can click on the link below and pop over to her website.

Trust Across America Logo

Like me, Barbara likes to use statistics and logic to link from these touchy-feely things like “engagement” or “trust” to real issues of organizational results. Some data she shared were of interest to me, so I reproduce some of that data here so you can head over to her blog — this section is called:

The Hard Costs of Low Trust

  • Gallup’s research (2011) places 71% of U.S. workers as either not engaged or actively disengaged. The price tag of disengagement is $350,000,000,000 a year. That approximates the annual combined revenues of Apple, GM and GE.
  • The Washington Post reported that, “the federal government imposed an estimated $216,000,000,000 in regulatory costs on the economy (in 2012), nearly double its previous record.”
  • The six biggest U.S. banks, led by JP Morgan and B of A have piled up $103,000,000,000 in legal costs and fines since the financial crisis (Bloomberg, August of 2013 — which also probably did not pick up a good bit of those recent settlements!)
  • According to The Economist Intelligence Unit (2010), 84% of senior leaders say disengaged employees are considered one of the biggest threats facing their business. (Only 12% reported doing anything about this problem!)

You can read more about this issue and go to her blog by clicking on this text

There are lots more statistics and I refer to bits and pieces of much of the literature and statistical proofs of impact of building trust and involving and engaging people in a wide cross-section of my blog posts about people and performance. Many of the key phrases below link to my blog articles on people and performance. For example, you can read my article on Building Trust clicking here.

This trust gap negatively impacts so much of the workplace. It directly impacts morale and increases employee turnover and decreases engagement. It is an issue of management and leadership. And it is not an issue of adding more extrinsic rewards to generate desired performance or improve results — those actually just work against you and often make the workplace LESS collaborative.

One of the potential tools you can use is the approach of building more collaborative teams and generating more alignment to shared goals and missions. Those kinds of initiatives tend to pull people together and generate improved morale, peer support and intrinsic motivation to improve.

You can see our Slideshare presentation and find out more information about our team building simulation for improving organizational performance results by clicking on the Lost Dutchman icon below:

Slideshare Dutchman icon

And if I can help you frame up or discuss different issues and opportunities around your organization’s performance improvement and trust building, please contact me directly. I actually answer my own phone!

For the FUN of It!

Scott Debrief

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at or at 864-292-8700

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

The Origin of Engagement in the breakdown of Appraisal and Control

Simply put:

We need stop doing such a lousy job
of motivating people in the workplace.

Stats show 85% of employees report their morale declines significantly after spending 6 months on the job (from Sirota Survey Intelligence) and 49% of workers say they constantly have their antennae out for new job opportunities — even when they are happy in their current position. Few feel their current employer is giving them a fair deal in terms of advancement opportunities (Kelly survey).

In a recent Forum Corp. survey, only 8% of employees report that they trust their leaders “to a great extent.”  But in that very same survey, 96% of employees say that it is, “extremely important to have a manager they can trust.”

I expand on a lot of issues of workplace motivation in this two-part post,

Workplace Motivation – “I Quit! Nevermind. Whatever…”
(Part One) (Part Two)

The data is clear. People are not involved and engaged in the workplace and these people, their managers, the customers and the company all pay a price for that un-engagement.

square wheels image

Solutions for this are pretty much everywhere. Improving leadership and its alignment to core values and an expressed mission and vision — one that is real and congruent to their behavior — is a good place to start. Improving teamwork and collaboration in the workplace is another good place to begin to re-engage people.

Here is a short 6-minute video on the engagement network
that frames up some obvious solutions.

Removal of the perceived roadblocks to good performance is basic and straightforward and you can read some of my ideas about managing that here.

There are some thoughts here on sharing praise and managing performance feedback, including a link to my Feedback Analysis Checklist. (Click here to see that blog post) and there is a long, two-part series of articles that get into a lot of ideas and information and statistics on managing performance here.

What we need to do is understand that passion and trust are critical factors in workplace motivation and that our traditional approach of performance appraisal and performance evaluation simply puts the worker and the manager into an adversarial kind of environment. The typical “reward systems” that are installed by HR and supported by the executive team are not working and will not work, serving very often to simply put the people into competition, which more often sub-optimizes the overall group performance a lot more than it motivates the top performers.

Best practices already exist in the organization, but developing the teamwork to help install them throughout the workplace cannot be done with competition as the driving force. The ideas for improvement already exist, but we cannot make improvements if we keep working like this:

Square Wheels One cannot expect improvement words

We need to do things differently
or we will continue to get the same results!

The change needs to be at the interface of the worker and the supervisor. All that other stuff is nice, but it is the manager that needs to change their behavior. We also can build on the natural tendency of people to work together on shared goals and desired outcomes. People are competitive, but teamwork does occur naturally.

We must put the power into the hands of the supervisor, not in the hands of some remote and well-intentioned HR Control Group that has little in common with the workers and supervisors and who do not share the same expectations, desired outcomes and goals, or rewards for good performance. Performance Appraisal and Evaluation — even if you improve it — will not do much to improve workplace performance. Simply because:

  • Fear is the Mindkiller (from the Dune books) — competition produces winners and lots more losers and no one likes to lose.
  • Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled. (Frank Navran)
  • Nobody ever washes a rental car. Ownership and hands-on involvement are critical factors in success.

Get them involved and engaged with you in your workplace improvement efforts and focus HR on human capital improvement, not performance appraisal and so-called incentive motivation.

We cannot become what we want to be

PMC has great tools for facilitating engagement and involvement and for building teams and teamwork, tools that work for supervisors interested in the improvement of workplace performance and motivating people. It is not rocket science — it is straightforward, simple and simply continuous…

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

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People are our Most Important Asset – Seriously? Yes, seriously!

How many companies state that “people are the most important asset” to their organization’s success. Well, I guess years ago, that was a much more common statement in their missions and more of a reality. Today, we do not hear that kind of thing all that much, maybe because of all the cognitive dissonance it creates. But it is STILL true!

Maybe the shift started back during the “Re-Engineering Days” 0f old whereby so many larger organizations were cutting headcount left and right. A LOT of people were leaving the workforce, some of them being older employees seeing handwriting on the wall and taking the severance packages that were being offered. Headcounts were dropping in a wide variety of industries with the goal of improving profitability.

These days, we see lots of statistics that infer that so many people working in so many places may not be feeling like Most Important Assets (MIA) of their companies.

As reported in other blogs of mine and here,  there is really good data to support the reality that people ARE Most Important Assets (but that many are found to be that other MIA: Missing In Action):

This from Gallup (2012) with 1.4 million people and almost 50,000 organizations:  Employee engagement  and involvement affects performance results. Compared with bottom-quartile groups, top-quartile performing engaging organizations have:

  • 37% lower absenteeism
  • 25% lower turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
  • 65% lower turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
  • 28% less shrinkage
  • 48% fewer safety incidents
  • 41% fewer patient safety incidents
  • 41% fewer quality incidents (defects)
  • 10% higher customer metrics
  • 21% higher productivity
  • 22% higher profitability

Stats show 85% of employees report their morale declines significantly after spending 6 months on the job (from Sirota Survey Intelligence), and

49% of workers say they constantly have their antennae out for new job opportunities — even when they are happy in their current position. 

Few feel their current employer is giving them a fair deal in terms of advancement opportunities (Kelly survey). There are all sorts of fairness in compensation issues and many people self-report that they could actually do a good  bit more each day if they wanted to!

There are just so many things we can do to better involve and engage people in workplace improvement, innovation and customer service quality improvement. The challenge is getting our front-line supervisors and managers to better understand the issues and opportunities and to simply choose to do some things differently.

Here are a few little ditties around this theme, with each of these images linked to some other writings about people and performance:

Square Wheels One - brain in your head poem

Square Wheels One - Leading Philosophy

Square Wheels One - Always do what always done border

Wheel Playing haiku wheels image

Square Wheels - Celebration is key to success

We use cartoons like the above as tools for generating discussion and involvement, finding that through discussions of how things are working, we can generate employee engagement and a lot more intrinsic motivation for workplace improvement. For this purpose, we sell a variety of leadership development tools and facilitation skills support packages, in the hopes that supervisors can work more effectively with their people.

See more of our products here at our website on Performance Improvement.

SWs Facilitation Guide $50

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.


Trust is the Residue of Promises Fulfilled.

My good friend Frank Navran told me that 20+ years ago and it was certainly a great way to remember a really important factor in human relations.

Trust is the promises fulfilled.

So hard to build, so easy to damage. Hard to repair.

In the workplace, it is one of the really key factors in engagement and overall morale. If the workers do not trust their manager, and that can happen at any level, it is really hard to do those things that make an organization successful. People will avoid risk, bond together against leadership, etc.

The word “sabotage” comes from the French word for wooden shoe. Those were often found in the machinery during the French industrial revolution (and elsewhere) as managements tried to implement change and process improvement. If you have a valuable employee, why simply generate distrust and antagonism when you can find some way to use the positive energies and enthusiasm for business improvement?

Gallup posted up some research results recently. They asked,

“Please tell me how you would rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields – from very high, high, average, low, or very low? How about X, where X was randomized across different surveys.


Nurses were highest, followed by pharmacists and medical doctors. Healthcare came out pretty good, and we hope that it should. Dentists did well, too.

Not so good? The predictable “Car salespeople.” Okay, that was not unexpected, right?

But how about Members of Congress (54% rated Very Low and Low) and Senators (45% VL and L)? I mean, well…

Car salespeople CAN do things to build trust over time, like fairly representing their products and prices and all that. I would go back to Wendy again and even got my daughter a used car from her.

But what about “our elected representatives?” Is it too late for democracy? CAN they actually do some things to rebuild trust? One would hope.

Interesting, is that line for “Business executives.” They actually rank lower than Bankers. While 50% rate them Average, fully 27% rated them VL or L. (I sure would have liked to see them add in “your supervisor” and “your boss’ boss” but what the heck, there are plenty of other stats out there that indicate that improvements in that are possible…)

Yeah, Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled. And they should and can do some things differently to generate more alignment and congruence in their behavior, which would have significant impacts on the perceptions of their people. We have some really strong and ethical leaders out there (and we did not need former GE CEO Jack Welch embarrassing us on the accuracy of the job numbers just before the election — he did himself and all CEOs a great disfavor, IMHO, for political reasons.)

Trust is Residue butterfly guy blue

We have a great need to re-engage people. When surveys show that engagement has actually dropped from 23% to 14% recently, that is a signal that change is needed. We need to do some dis-un-engagement and engagimentation, we need to so some team building and leadership development. We need to get more people believing in more positive things about the corporations that are critical component of the success of our country (and any country).

I trust that you have found this interesting and that you would find some of our toolkits for involving and engaging people to be of benefit. Click on the icon for access to information:

Square Wheels are simply great tools


Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest:
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Statistics on the US Economy – Crazy Stuff that is Unbelievable

The website has some shocking statistics on how bad things really are and maybe they will shock YOU out of your lethargy. As they say on the site, “If we do not educate the American people about how deathly ill the U.S. economy has become, then they will just keep falling for the same old lies that our politicians keep telling them.

This is not my normal kind of post, but I saw these statistics and they speak to themes of productivity and performance, to people who should be involved and engaged in workplace improvement. But it is hard to focus on success when you are focused on survival and so many of these statistics are just depressing when it comes to improveing things in America.

I will share some of the statistics below, not wanting to violate anyone’s intellectual property rights for the assembly of this information but also to share some of the numbers to get you to consider the reality of where we are at as a country. I suggest you read the entire list at:

The article shares the sources of the numbers. And I hope that you will read them and get motivated to do something differently to help make improvements — this means a lot to all of us.  (My comments are in italics)

 #1: A staggering 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty. 

#2: Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be “low income” or impoverished. (This is the average — in some cities, it is much worse. That meal at school may be the only meal that child eats.)

#3: If the number of Americans that “wanted jobs” was the same today as it was back in 2007, the “official” unemployment rate put out by the U.S. government would be up to 11%. (We do not define things the same way, now, so that the numbers look better…)

#4: The average amount of time that a worker stays unemployed in the United States is now over 40 weeks. (Not that long ago, it was 30 days!)

#5: One recent survey found that 77 percent of all U.S. small businesses do not plan to hire any more workers. (Small businesses like mine are also not doing really well, going down with the rest of the economy. Taxable income is decreasing.)

#6: There are fewer payroll jobs in the United States today than there were back in 2000 even though we have added 30 million extra people to the population since then.

#8: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.6 million Americans were self-employed back in December 2006. By 2011, that number has shrunk to 14.5 million. (See my comments in #5, above)

#10: According to author Paul Osterman, about 20% of all U.S. adults are currently working jobs that pay poverty-level wages. (This is for WORKING Americans!!! They work and do not make enough money to get out of poverty. Many many millions have no jobs.)

#12: Back in 1969, 95% of all men between the ages of 25 and 54 had a job. In July, only 81.2% of men in that age group had a job. (From 19 in 20 to 4 of 5 — and men are the traditional wage earners in the family, The psychological impact on men is devastating when they cannot provide for their families – combine this with # 10 above and it is truly awful.)

 #13: One recent survey found that one out of every three Americans would not be able to make a mortgage or rent payment next month if they suddenly lost their current job. (This is why so many Americans are not taking their earned vacation time. They are afraid of leaving their jobs and losing their jobs because they took a vacation.)

#22: New home construction in the United States is on pace to set a brand new all-time record low in 2011.

#23: As I have written about previously, 19 percent of all American men between the ages of 25 and 34 are now living with their parents. (Well over half of all college graduates went home after graduation, unable to find a good job that would allow them to live on their own.)

But all is not bad. The 1% seem to be doing quite nicely:

 #32: According to a study that was just released, CEO pay at America’s biggest companies rose by 36.5% in just one recent 12 month period.

#34: The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a net worth that is roughly equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans combined. (From what I remember, none are great philanthropists supporting the people of the country.)

#41: Today, one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four American children is on food stamps. (They are not on food stamps because they want to be – the level of food “insecurity” is at all time high levels in this country. Families NEED this assistance to buy food, even though the parents are working. Food stamps are not a luxury and this is should be an embarrassment to all Americans who supposedly “lead” this country as our elected politicians.)

 And on and on and on.

Do you think that this can continue without us doing something differently? Does it really seem that cutting government benefits is a logical thing to do with so many people suffering. Doesn’t it seem like our government should be creating jobs and building infrastructure in The United States rather than fighting supposed “wars on terror” in other countries. Do you really think that our stand on social issues like abortion or on drug consumption or any of those other aspects of choices people make will solve any of these problems? Will our spending on the militarization of our police departments, with huge spending for equipment but not much for hiring,  cure any of these problems listed above.

Why not ask for some real change on the part of the elected leaders of this country (and other countries, too!)

This written and produced during my business trip to Mumbai and Bangalore, India, where we are focused on improving business productivity by increasing employee engagement and teamwork.

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We need to make some very basic readjustments to our economy and bring back higher-paid workers, improve management salaries and make this country more fair to all workers. It CAN be done. But we need more innovation, better leadership, more employee involvement and better organizational collaboration.

Scott Debrief

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
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