May 5, 2004: Distribution Channel Commentary (DCC) # 69

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THIS WEEK’S TOPICS

  1. ALL GOOD THINGS (?) COME TO AN END?
  2. DYSLEXIA ON YOUR COMPANY’S PAYROLL?
  3. HAVING TROUBLE GETTING SUPERIORS AND SUBORDINATES TO CHANGE?
  4. ONE MORE TIP ON HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNTS FROM A READER.
  1. ALL GOOD THINGS (?) COME TO AN END?

Because of a confluence of factors, we will stop publishing these commentaries on a weekly basis. They will appear periodically; we expect our written and posted "article" rate to increase; and we will continue to notify our e-mail list when anything new of significance is posted on our site.

      2.    DYSLEXIA ON YOUR COMPANY’S PAYROLL?

I, like many of you, have a child with a mild degree of dyslexia that makes reading, handwriting and numerical manipulation a much bigger chore than for the kids who don’t have this learning disability. I have also inadvertently out-ted a number of closet, functional illiterates on the payrolls of distribution companies that I have turned around, because successful turnarounds require enormous amounts of education for all employees.

Here are some more facts about dyslexia:

  • 20% of children have dyslexia or some type of reading disability.
  • 38% of fourth graders are functionally illiterate.
  • 57% of children with learning disabilities leave school without a diploma.
  • 85% of juvenile offenders have a learning disability, and prison populations include a large percentage of non-readers.
  • "85% of people either learn by doing or by trading ideas with others. Only 15% learn purely through information. When we design training that is heavy with information, that takes a tell them and they will know approach, we are wasting money and time." Chris Turner. (For more on her, start with this short but conceptually sweet slide show at: http://www.corporateoutlaw.com/slide1.html.

Here are some interesting quotes from Debby McCarthy, a director of a non-profit organization that helps tutor dyslectic, low-income kids:

(What do MRI brain scans show for people with dyslexia?) "There’s a neural signature...there is no blood flow into certain parts of the brain…If a highway is washed out, you have to take the back roads. It takes a lot longer to get to your final destination and you have probably taken some wrong turns and become frustrated. You get there, but it takes a lot more work…these kids often label themselves as stupid."

Here are some questions about the folks on your payroll?

  • What percent of your employees who started in hourly, entry-level jobs do you think might read so slowly that they can’t remember what they read, and/or, their first language isn’t English, so that they are probably functionally illiterate?
  • What percent of old school sales reps and managers with minimal formal education do you suspect learn by doing and visiting with others and struggle with reading to learn and stay abreast of what is going on?
  • If you want to change deeply rooted "belief systems" that are impervious to present day factual, marketplace value reality, what educational process with heavy use of "dialogue", the "ladder of inference" and distribution specific educational explanations will you use? (The "ladder is in Ms. Turner’s slide show above and re-appears in topic # 3 below. Notes on "dialogue" can be found at ./exhibits/Dialogue_Exhibit.pdf.
  • And, for an article on an educational system/process that is distribution specific that can work for functionally illiterate employees check out this link: 3_12.asp.

For more reading on a model, non-profit program aimed at dyslectic, low-income kids that happened to be spun out of my local church, here our a few links:

      3.    HAVING TROUBLE GETTING SUPERIORS AND SUBORDINATES TO CHANGE?

We have a lot of "middle managers" who are regular readers of our commentaries. I am also teaching an on-line graduate school course for the Industrial Distribution School at Texas A&M which is mostly compromised of middle managers. From their postings to our discussion boards, I was getting enough – "Bruce, these are nice ideas, but I can’t get my superiors and subordinates to go along with any big change ideas" – that I dedicated an entire assignment to "leading from the middle" which includes:

  • a few paragraphs on a "course update"
  • a personal war story on my first frustrating "performance review"
  • links to some interesting articles and slide shows

So, if you are caught in the middle and frustrated about getting recognized for what you are doing and contributing and about not being able to get your company to change for the better, you might want to check out this new exhibit at my web site ./exhibits/ASSIGNMENT_FOR_WEEK_10.asp.

If you are a CEO and wish that you could get more bottom up initiative from your staff executives, branch managers, etc. you might want to check out this same assignment and re-think your annual performance review system.

      4.    ONE MORE TIP ON HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNTS FROM A READER.

A sharp DCC reader who has been studying health savings accounts sent in the following comments in response to our coverage of them in DCC topic #:ed 68.5. His note said:

"Bruce,

You didn't mention that with an HSA you can pay for your dental, vision and prescription drugs, just to name a few health-related expenses. Our historic medical benefits have not covered as wide a list of health expenses as the HSAs will. So, if we can all put tax-free money into the account to then use it on a tax-free basis for this wider group of expenses, we can all be much further ahead on saving for the future.

I’m running some numbers on a cross-section of families that have been covered by our payroll to see what the specifics actually are, because I anticipate that the employees with kids and special medical problems within their family are going to reject HSAs on a knee-jerk, fear basis. I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes. Joe Distributor

This chap, incidentally, wanted his name withheld for now, because he didn’t want any of his troops to get wind of what he is contemplating until he has all of the case study facts for what HSAs will mean for all types of employees and the company’s total benefit expense.

That’s all for awhile for a couple of weeks or so. If you have questions or needs, please feel free to contact us!

Bruce

Bruce@merrifield.com

919/933-7474