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Women Executive Supply Management Summit Introductory Event

ISM's 93rd Annual International Supply Management Conference

St. Louis, MO
May 2008


Susan Franzen, President of LifeU, Inc.

In the first of a series of ISM programs designed for women — a precursor for the official summit scheduled for Feb. 4 and 6 in San Antonio, Texas — this unique, first-time event kicked off with Susan Franzen, president of LifeU, Inc., speaking about aligning employee contributions for unstoppable momentum.

"Each of us is driven to contribute, and we want to do it in a meaningful way," Franzen said. She emphasized fostering an employee attitude that prefers constructive versus deconstructive conflict. To ensure this requires alignment — having the right people in the right roles moving in the right direction for high-impact performance.

When alignment is achieved, benefits include increased trust and commitment among employees, as well as decreased deconstructive conflicts and increased decision-making.

Franzen shared indicators that an organization is out of alignment, especially in the area of declining performance levels. This does not necessarily mean the organization is at fault, however; as Franzen explained, employees can be out of alignment with themselves, their roles or their teams. "If you're in alignment, you're creating an environment in which people feel they can get behind you," Franzen explained. "Once you achieve alignment yourself, you can start helping employees pursue their own."

Ideally, Franzen said, employees will feel like they are contributing in four ways: impacting the financial stability of the organization, its customers, its internal business processes and learning and growth strategies for themselves or their teams. When contributions are made within this framework, she added, it is up to employers to establish and maintain motivating environments, recognize and reward these efforts, and enforce consequences for "blind" contributions — those which fall outside this framework.

Her dynamic session was followed by an hour of speed networking facilitated by Cyndi Joiner, senior director at Alvarez & Marsal, and Laurie Manderbach, senior vice president and managing director of corporate services for Wachovia. Attendees had the opportunity to efficiently and simply expand and enhance their professional networks.

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