Rod Githens, Ph.D.

How to Respond to Employee Activism

girl on someone's shoulders at a rally with a sign that says "protect kids not guns"Many employees want to do meaningful work and they want their employer to either support or align with their values and identities.  When that doesn’t happen, employees generally have three choices: leave the organization, try to bring change within the organization, or just shut up and deal with it.  The last option is probably the worst  for the employer because it leads to lowered employee engagement.

I recommend providing a relief valve that allows for employees to express themselves when they rise up against a decision or organize themselves to advocate for change within the organization.  In this article, I outline two models employers can use to address employee activism.

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Picking the Perfect Location for an Off-site Retreat or Meeting

photo of serene-looking conference room

Leaders oftentimes delegate the role of handling logistics for an off-site meeting.  However, selecting the right location and ambience can directly impact the success of the event.  Those in charge of logistics can select an optimal space and room setup to increase the likelihood of the event’s success.

I recently co-facilitated a strategic planning session at a beautiful location in the Sonoma Region of California.  When I arrived, the venue appeared to be perfect: serene grounds and attractive well-maintained facilities.  However, the venue had never been used for a business retreat or meeting.  It normally serves as a wedding venue.  When I walked into the large room for the meeting, I thought “this is perfect.”  The room had expansive windows with lots of natural light, high vaulted ceilings, and hardwood floors.  It looked like an ideal location for a retreat.

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Needs Assessment as a Learning Tool: Three Findings

Neeinnovative looking office with notes pasted on windowds assessment can be used to determine what factors are causing a problem. Can it also be used to improve organizational learning?

With my colleague, Dr. Denise Cumberland, I was involved in a project that sought to understand if needs assessment could be used as an organizational learning tool, in addition to identifying causes of a problem.  We worked with a Fortune 200 quick service restaurant chain and their “broken” new product development process.  Data were gathered from multiple stakeholder groups using interviews and a survey questionnaire.

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Organizational Change in Franchises through Advisory Boards

large board tableHow do franchise organizations build momentum around change and an atmosphere of trust? Franchising brings a unique set of challenges in achieving organizational change.  The main challenge is that franchise organizations actually consist of various firms (called franchisors and franchisees).  One solution is fostering a healthy relationship with franchisees through franchise advisory boards.  At their best, franchise associations and advisory boards help ensure that franchisee voices are heard and that collaborative relationships exist between the franchisor and franchisees.

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Online Learning & Centralization of Commuity College Systems

Workforce development training is an important part of the mission of community colleges.  Increasingly, students need and expect online courses to be an option for some or all of their programs.  I conducted a study looking at why some community and technical colleges offer more online programs than others.  Read More

Professors’ Impact on the Real World

For many professors in leadership and organization studies-related fields,  a big part of our job is thinking seriously about how organizational leaders can address the world’s problems and opportunities. However, it’s fair to say that the for a good number of professors, the extent of their real world impact doesn’t go beyond an indirect impact through their teaching. Read More

Expanding Apprenticeships in the U.S.

Although common in other countries, apprenticeships are not widely known in the U.S.  Despite their lack of widespread use, they provide a cost effective training model that leads to middle-class jobs.  Apprenticeships provide cost advantages to employers utilizing these programs as a source for developing skilled talent.  Many other methods of attaining or developing a skilled workforce are more expensive or less effective. Read More

Four Lessons from The Toughest Leadership Job(s)

Where is it hardest to be a leader?  A major company attempting a comeback… a huge conglomerate like General Electric…leading major government agencies?  In an article in Forbes, Rob Ashgar claims that the toughest leadership job isn’t being head of one of America’s major companies, but rather being the president of a major university. Read More

Eight Areas to Rethink in U.S. Higher Education

I just finished reading The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out, written by Clayton Christensen and Henry Eyring (2011).  Christensen is the noted expert on innovation from Harvard Business School.

The basic premise of the book is that higher institutions education in the U.S. have attempted to emulate the model of Harvard, with several distinctive and very expensive features.  Colleges and universities have developed cost models that are unsustainable and most need to re-evaluate their practice and consider adoption of new models in order to be sustainable.   Read More

Google’s Re-imagining of the Workplace

Most of us have heard about Google’s generous employee benefits…gym memberships, free gourmet food, bowling alleys at work, nap rooms, etc.  However, it’s not just all of those perks that have resulted in the company creating one of the best places to work in the world.  It’s in Google’s DNA to create work environments that foster freedom, flexibility, and employee voice.   Google has taken thrown out many traditional assumptions about management/supervision and HR practices. Read More