Businessman Wonders What Walker Is Thinking
Paul Linzmeyer is scratching his head.
Linzmeyer is a businessman. He ran companies in San Francisco, Chicago and Denver before returning to his home state in 1994 to become president and CEO of the Green Bay-based company Bay Towel. He helped establish an 18-county economic alliance in northeast Wisconsin now known as NEW North, and continues to serve on its board of directors. He is a past chairman of the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and the Wisconsin Council on Workforce Investment. He currently chairs the Bay Area Workforce Development Board.
And he can't figure out Scott Walker.
Let me allow Linzmeyer to explain in his own words. He shared the following thoughts with me in an e-mail yesterday and gave me permission to post them today:
Governor Walker needs to take some basic organizational leadership courses to
help him understand how to engage the employees in coming up with creative and
innovative ways to deal with budget deficits. Clearly, if he wanted to be
respectful of employees who opted to have union representation, he would have
chosen a much less caustic solution. Granted, he has a monumental task in front
of him, but this is not a monarchy, and thus, the budget deficit must be a
problem solved in a collaborative manner.
Government employees – whether police, school teachers, snowplow operators – are doing work that enhances our quality of life. Like most processes, whether in business or in government, there are some that are inefficient, wasteful or just unpopular. Regardless of what we feel about the services that government performs, the fact is that people who do these jobs are committed to doing a good job. I would suspect that the breakdown in government of those employees who truly excel, those who really should be fired, and the bulk of those somewhere in the middle mirrors current business and other organizational models.
From a business perspective, (Walker's approach) is the worst way to engage people who we say are of value to our system. Think about it this way: You are a new leader of a company and you want to build trust with your employees. Do you start out by delivering a crippling attack on them without any discussion, and then tell those same employees that they are important to you? Government workers are necessary and the work they do has incredible value to our quality of life. They also have great ideas, and if they’re engaged in meaningful dialogue in which their voices are really heard, they could help fix this budget crisis.
Companies and organizations that want to be successful in the 21st century realize that they need to engage all their stakeholders, especially their employees, in a more meaningful way. That means sharing challenges and engaging in meaningful
dialogue that will renew the spirit of American workers towards innovative and
I am hoping that the governor will reconsider his stance, but my fear is that his stance is ideological, not pragmatic. Trying to disguise this move against the unions as a budget move is disingenuous at best. Let’s maintain (what) has made Wisconsin great and start negotiations with the unions with the objective of changing the way Wisconsin does business.