Denise Norberg-Johnson

Financial Columnist

Denise Norberg-Johnson is a former subcontractor and past president of two national construction associations. She may be reached at

Articles by Denise Norberg-Johnson

March 2014
The idea that employee attitudes affect work performance is not new. Management professor Frederick Herzberg’s employee motivation research from the 1950s is still taught in business schools. READ MORE
March 2014
It may seem that running an electrical contracting business is harder than it used to be. Technology can mechanize many tasks and reduce errors, but research has revealed that employee attitudes have a greater effect on productivity than anyone realized.
February 2014
In a December 2013 interview on “60 Minutes,” CEO Jeff Bezos declared, “Complaining is not a strategy.” In the electrical contracting industry, each day is a battle for the cash flow to make it to the next project, so what can electrical contractors learn from a guy whose optimism is legendary? READ MORE
January 2014
Each New Year offers the opportunity to forget past mistakes and hope for a brighter future. Part of planning for success requires an understanding of history. From a 2008 discussion of whether the United States was entering a recession, I learned some lessons that offer hope for 2014 and beyond.
December 2013
As the year ends, you are probably taking your final steps to minimize your business and personal tax obligations for 2013. Consider Judge Learned Hand’s view of your “fair share” from the U.S. Court of Appeals decision in Gregory v. Helvering (1934): “Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. READ MORE
November 2013
In the last two columns, you learned how to calculate the return on your investment in human capital and what factors contribute to a successful hiring process. This month, we explore the potential of your training and development program to maximize your return on investment in human capital. READ MORE
October 2013
Last month, I showed you how to calculate the return on your investment in human capital—the knowledge, skills and experience of your people. This month, we look beyond the numbers at the factors in your hiring process that either maximize or reduce your return on investment.
 Selecting the right people
September 2013
Your financial statements only partially reflect your company’s overall performance. The return on investment (ROI) in “human capital”—the knowledge, skills and experience of the people who produce your results—is easy to calculate but difficult to maximize. There is no line item for “people” on your balance sheet, so managers tend to focus on reducing employee compensation and development costs. READ MORE
August 2013
Every time you purchase a fixed asset for your company, you attempt to evaluate which option provides the greatest return on your investment over its useful life. Forecasting “capital productivity” offers a variety of ways to evaluate these choices and make the best decision. Here are two relatively simple methods to help you.
 Cash payback