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by Alan Hargreaves

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Handling Difficult People

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Focus on the problem, not the person

Difficult employees are hard to deal with. Some have niggling issues for which no solution seems apparent. Management is slow to react. The situation festers. The politics around it grow complicated.

In most jurisdictions there are clear-cut rules for dismissible offences. More challenging are people who are simply ‘difficult’. They may be chronically late, disrupt team efforts, indulge in excessive politics, be rude and aggressive, or passive and non-compliant.

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Shopping for change

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Three simple questions

My first home was the flat above my father’s store in a  modest working class suburb. What was good about it? Everyone knew everyone; the railway station was across the road; if you wanted to buy something, it was around the corner. In short, community, connectivity and convenience.

Not much happens there now. Online shopping has eroded retail. People connect more on the net than in person. If you want to shop, the nearest mall is a better option. 

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Playing to strengths

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Buy low; sell high 

Two things, very simple; makes sense. In 40 years in finance I rarely found people who were consistently good at both. The industry has a natural bent to invest rather than divest. In early years as an analyst, people asked me what to buy; few asked what to sell. 

Some were better at shorting, ie selling, but not always good at covering the short, ie buying. When natural buyers or natural sellers had to do the opposite of their strength, it was often too early or too late.

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Recessions Revisited

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What should you care about?

Recessions are back in the news. Some say we are overdue for one. Should we worry? 

In the US, there have been 10 recessions since WWII — one every seven or so years. The last one ended in 2009 — about 10 years ago. So there’s a bit of a worry.

There’s no sign of remarkable new economic strategies to offset one. Geopolitics appear unstable. Politicians seem more erratic. There’s no sign of any statesmen coming to the rescue. In fact there’s no sign of any statesmen. 

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Ode to the disrupted

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Hard yards for incumbents and startups

General Electric (GE) was dropped from the Dow Jones last year. After more than a century, the oldest member finally left. It was replaced by a drugstore chain.

Many incumbents have a similar profile to GE. They have long histories. Many are profitable, household names that remain viable. Their balance sheets are strong and their reach is deep. 

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