This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

October 20, 2004


The events of 9/11 had a serious and permanent impact on the US psyche, creating a level of cynicism not seen since the Depression. As we transition into a stronger economy, it is interesting to listen to cynics, disbelievers, doubters, and pessimists. Even though the positive numbers are becoming stronger---even in manufacturing, there are people who still think---and act---like the economy is in trouble and will not improve.

In spite of reports of stock market gains and drops in unemployment, some journalists wonder in print and aloud in the published and broadcast news media if growth can be sustained. Over the years, news purveyors have learned that bad news sells better than good news. This practice will continue, though we expect that the intensity of the cynicism will gradually diminish as good news about economy, jobs, and prosperity continues.

These cynics influence others, dampening some of the trends associated with economic growth. For example, workers considering a job change may delay their action based on what they hear from people who do not believe that conditions are as good as others see them. Unfortunately, the workers who are manipulated by the cynics may suffer unnecessarily. They may miss opportunities because they take too pessimistic a view and thus act too cautiously.

When we look at cynicism as a trend, we recognize that such attitudes are always present in any population. The question is the degree of influence on a society of this negative thinking.

In the corporate world, cynicism can limit growth. Negative energy---thinking, attitudes, behavior---can suppress positive energy, smothering optimism and enthusiasm. When this influence is felt, sales, morale, quality, and workforce stability are threatened. As companies begin to grow again, aggressively seeking and pursuing business opportunities, employees with cynical, negative attitudes will find themselves unemployed.

Understandably, there has been a lot of cynicism over the past few years. Much of the cynical attitude today is directed against employers who move jobs overseas. As more jobs become available and workers adjust their skills and competence to match emerging job needs, these attitudes will change.

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