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8 Tri-County BBusiness Journal • October 2010 HUMAN RESOURCES SPECIAL COVERAGE 10


Ten companies in the tri-county area are among the 2010 winners of ERC’s 12th-annual NorthCoast 99 Award. These organizations, recognized as great places to work in Northeast Ohio, have demonstrated excellence in at- tracting, motivating and retaining top performers. There are 15 first-time winners this year, four 10-time winners and one orga-

nization (Shearer’s Foods) that has won the award 12 years running. The 2010 winners are from 16 industries and represent 12 counties in Northeast Ohio. This year’s winners hired 17,544 new employees in 2009 and 1,470 interns. Additional accomplishments of the 2010 winners: 98 percent of winners allow top performers to participate in the creation and implementation of workplace policies or programs. On average, 44 percent of top performers have been promoted from within. All winning organizations gave back to their community in 2009 in at least one way. At right are the winners in Lake and eastern Cuyahoga counties:

AVERY DENNISON Location: Mentor Industry: manufacturing Local employees: 1,541 Years won: 11 To harness the power of teamwork, Avery Dennison cre- ated a committee specially for planning company events. The organization had a children’s Christmas party, bowling outings, clambakes, a baseball park opener, golf-outings and a family Halloween party.

CIUNI & PANICHI Location: Beachwood Industry: other for- profit

Employees: 56 Years won: 3

Ciuni & Panichi provides employee with mentors to guide them through various professional situations and questions. In addition, C&P provides employees with time off and study days to prepare for the CPA exam.


Location: Beachwood Industry: finance/ insurance/real estate Employees: 473 Years won: 3

In 2009, several of DDR’s top performers were offered coach- ing opportunities. In addition, managers are expected to effectively plan for future career development and the accom- plishment of others, and inspire subordinates.

episode. Ò ItÕ s like trying to talk to an evil snail.Ó


Add, on a typical day, an array of insensitive remarks about almost every group

Ñ often made by the boss Ñ and time-wasting internal disputes, power plays and even practical jokes.


Does this sound like your dream job? “The Office,” the long-running television

program starring Steve Carell (in his final season), offers viewers a humorous-to-absurd respite from their own work stress much as a roller coaster might distract us from the smaller perils of our lives. Jaws may drop Ñ or we may laugh until we cry Ñ while watching antics of the Scranton, Pa., branch of Dunder Mifflin Paper Co., where story line after story line shows us what not to do in the workplace.

It all starts at the top Becky Rinaldi, an Office Max

store manager in Mayfield Heights who has worked as a management coach, possesses a well-trained eye for human behavior. Her advice for Dunder Mifflin’s Michael Scott, paper salesman-turned-regional manager, might include a basic message we share with our chil- dren.

Ò Think before you speak,Ó Rin-

aldi urges. MichaelÕ s tendency to blurt out

things Ñ even in the quest for a laugh Ñ must be tempered, but his awareness of his limits is lacking. Ò We have an obligation as man-

agers to find out what we may not know,Ó Rinaldi says. Unfortunate- ly, Ò Michael doesnÕ t seem to be a learner. HeÕ s clueless. He doesnÕ t care to learn.Ó

Whether the topic is diversity

training, an annual office recog- nition event or how to choose a

Ò successorÓ should he be promoted (perish the thought) to the corpo- rate offices, Michael doesn’t grasp the basics.

As for the impact on his staff, Rinaldi marvels that any work gets done. Ò ItÕ s like a co-dependency,Ó she point outs, explaining that no one has taken Michael aside Ñ not

from within and not from corporate

Ñ to call him out on his outrageous behavior.

Ò From a true business stand- point, how much better would they be doing if they had an effective leader? There really is a difference between being a manager and a leader,Ó Rinaldi says.

Peter Principle?

Around 1970, The Peter Prin- ciple, coined in a popular book of the same name, was a buzzword. In short: Ò In a hierarchy, every em- ployee tends to rise to their level of incompetence.Ó

Michael was a successful paper salesman until he was promoted. Ò Michael violates every aspect

of Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964),Ó observes Pat Perry, president of Employers Resource Council (ERC) in Mayfield Vil- lage.

In addition, Michael adheres to

Ò the stereotypical perception that HR is mainly a cog in the corporate machine.Ó Toby Flenderson, one long-suffering human resources representative in the office, has to put up with the bossÕ barbs, evasion and exclusion.

Ò I tried to talk to Toby and be his friend,Ó Michael laments in one

magine an office where the boss is incompetent, employees lack direction, Ò corporateÓ is oblivious to these unhealthy dynamics and itÕ s open season on the harried HR representative.

Ò Michael does not showcase any kind of a work ethic,Ó ERCÕ s Perry says. Ò He is the humorous opposite of what one would want to be in a boss. Of course, everyone recognizes that this is a comedy, but Michael is an individual who is disconnected from reality.Ó

Excessive need to be liked?

Michael wants to be a Ò funÓ boss in the eyes of most employees, but as Jim Halpert, a salesman, has tracked on a pie chart, most of MichaelÕ s time is spent distracting others and putting off decisions. Just a tiny sliver of that chart shows critical thinking.

Ò Leadership by exampleÓ is es-

sential for todayÕ s best managers, by contrast. Ò You have to earn re- spect on a daily basis,Ó Perry says.

Ò You must create a workplace en- vironment to attract and retain top performers.Ó If a managerÕ s goal is to be liked, as Michael wishes,

Ò you really donÕ t belong in man- agement.Ó

At the other end of the spectrum, aspiring managers who promote fear and dominate Ñ such as sales- man Dwight Schrute and his cal- culating attempts to run the show

Ñ risk obsolescence. To those so far behind the times, Ò youÕ re a di- nosaur,Ó Perry cautions.

Righthand man

Regular viewers know that the ambitious Dwight seeks to fill the managerial vacuum at times. Al- though technically Ò assistant to the regional manager,Ó he likes to de- lete the word Ò to.Ó “Dwight is the typical office suck-up who has to align himself or herself with the boss,Ó Perry says.

Ò If there were a normal leader in their office, none of them [the em- ployees] would have a job.Ó Rival Jim may have more in- sight, but he delights in Ò revengeÓ tactics, such as regularly putting DwightÕ s stapler in a mound of Jell-O.

Healthy boundaries

Female characters display aber- rant behaviors; after all, itÕ s com- edy. Angela Martin in accounting passes judgment on peers while behaving in less-than-angelic fash- ion herself. Pam Beesly, Michael’s first sec-

retary, strives to keep him in check and on task; her flirtations and pranks with Jim consume chunks of the workday. A one-time corporate superior, Jan Levinson, gets entangled in a love-hate relationship with Mi- chael. Wise-cracking HR representa- tive Holly Flax shares MichaelÕ s zany humor, and their budding ro- mance is cut short.

When employee Phyllis Lapin

marries, Michael tries to finagle a leading role in the wedding and ends up being escorted out. In short, Ò Michael immerses himself [into peopleÕ s lives] with- out people inviting him in,” Office MaxÕ s Rinaldi says.


From the second law of thermo- dynamics, entropy describes Ò that nature tends from order to disorder in isolated systems.Ó

This is Ò The

Maria Shine Stewart, the eastern Cuyahoga contributing editor for the Tri-County Business Journal, is a South Euclid-based teacher, writer and writing consultant.

Mockumentary: “The Office” 9 p.m. Thursdays, NBC

»The primary vehicle for the show is that a camera crew has decided to film Dunder Mifflin and its em- ployees, seemingly around the clock. The presence of the camera is acknowl- edged by the characters, especially Michael Scott, who enthusiastically partici- pates. Others, for example Jan Levinson, are frequently annoyed or uncomfortable at its presence.

The main action is sup- plemented with interviews or “confessionals,” with the characters speaking one on one with the camera and sometimes speaking together.

Some characters use the

camera’s presence to their advantage. For example, in “Christmas Party,” Phyllis’s boyfriend, Bob Vance, introduces himself repeat- edly as “Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration” to garner publicity for his business. In other instances, the camera seemingly has affected plot lines.

Office’s” trajectory. Routine tasks such as planning a holiday party, choosing a new health plan or play- ing an office/warehouse basketball game turn chaotic. Add Ò trainingÓ to the list of tasks Michael might delegate. When employees are called into the con- ference room to explore delicate human relations themes, his limits are exposed. He strikes out over and over Ñ insulting when he wants to praise and polarizing when he wants to bring the staff together. Ò He is a conundrum,Ó Rinaldi

says. Ò He may have meant well.Ó The most effective trainers know where their skills lie, she says. Ò You canÕ t read that in management and leadership books.Ó

Just because someone is good at doing something, such as sales or a technical skill, does not mean they can manage others. “Good people are put in the wrong placesÓ at risk to their companies, Rinaldi says.

The Michael Scott "union"

Regular viewers looking for a strength must probe deeply into the character of this misguided boss.

Ò If you peel away the Michael Scott onion, what comes out is a great heart,Ó Perry speculates. Ò He is an empathetic person who could make a good decision.Ó

Ò Michael does have a certain

warmth,Ó Rinaldi agrees. Ò He has a tenacity and a sincerity.Ó Oscar Wilde wryly observed that

Ò life imitates art far more than art imitates life.Ó As far as Ò The Of- fice” resembling your office? We hope not.

Ò The Office by Maria Shine Stewart



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