Posts Tagged: Company Culture


How to Make Your Business a Talent Magnet

September 21st, 2016

Every company, large and small is challenged when it comeVector business conceptual background in flat style. The hand of businessman holding magnet and attracts happy customers or clients of different age and race to the business.s to attracting, developing, and retaining the best talent. For decades now, “lean” has been the buzz word in manufacturing. The lean business model has spread across industries, including the recruitment of quality talent. Here are a few tips to help you attract and keep the best and brightest, while remaining efficient:

Attract

What if, instead of bearing the cost of recruitment, (fees, travel expenses, etc.) you could have all the top candidates be drawn to you like a magnet? Corporations such as Apple and Google have perfected the art of employer magnetism. But you don’t have to be a tech giant to create a similar attraction.

Businesses need to focus on creating a workplace environment in which people enjoy working, according to Roberta Matusun, author of Talent Magnetism: How to Build a Workplace That Attracts and Keeps the Best. She also points out that, apart from the product or service they offer to consumers, businesses should also brand themselves as an employer.

Create Purpose

A mid-sized California BioPharm company has been able to capture the element of purpose. They boast a job satisfaction rate of 77% of their 18,000 employees. Almost all of them (90%) stated that they feel as though they have a “high job meaning.” Purpose is especially important when you are targeting a younger workforce as Millennial generation; it is said, work for the purpose, not the pay.

How to Create Purpose

Graham Kenny, writing for the Harvard Business Review says purpose, is not a company’s values, mission or vision. Your purpose statement needs to say; “this is what we are doing for our customers.”  To craft an effective purpose statement, it is important to convey the impact your organization has on the lives of the people it serves. Success in this area will inspire your employees to become invested.

Engage, Motivate, Retain

Face it, at times it is simply hard to get out of bed in the morning. Imagine working in an environment where you wouldn’t be missed if you didn’t show up at all. It is imperative that the modern workplace is structured to make employees feel integral to the day-to-day operations. Doing so creates a culture of engagement and a feeling that the success of their organization is dependent on the full participation of each individual, no matter their position. When employees feel motivated, they become more engaged, and that translates directly into improved retention.

By creating a corporate culture in which employees enjoy working, feel they have a purpose, and understand how they connect to the overall “big picture,” you will not only attract the most desirable talent but most importantly, inspire them to stay.

Please Stop Writing about Millennials in the Workplace

June 15th, 2016

Millennials chatterIn five years, a majority of workers will be Millennials. Boomers are retiring or being replaced at a rapid pace of 10-13,000 per day! Everyone talks about how Millennials are going to change work for the rest of us. They have. But the change started long before they came on the scene in large numbers. The only point that matters is that many of us want to work differently. And have been working on it since Millennials were born.

Smart businesses have realized that most of us don’t work for a paycheck. We work for a purpose. Which is why so many of us care about working some place that has a mission!

They say Millennials only care about their growth and new skills. Haven’t we all grown tired of video games and smoothies at work? Food and tchotchkes barely, if ever, really mattered that much compared to how much I liked my job. But, chances to have new experiences? Lead new projects. Learn new technologies. That is what real talent has always wanted.

Nobody can lead like a 5 star general anymore. Command and Control is dead. Communication and ideas must flow freely. And decision making is distributed and pushed out to the front lines, putting decision makers much closer to the customer. This is not new, this is 20 years in the making kind of stuff. Millennials (and the rest of us) want leaders that can coach too and value our whole selves. So please, stop writing and talking about Millennials in the workplace. We get it, there’s a lot of them.

Is “No Silos’ an achievable goal?

February 10th, 2016

Silo Mentality‘ is “an attitude found in some organizations that occurs when several departments or groups do not want to share information or knowledge with other individuals in the same company.” (Investopedia)

The key phrase I’d like to point out in the above definition is “do not want to share.” Why? I’ll get to that, but first let me set up where I am coming from.

No Silos is one of our Outside-In® values. We like to brag about being one team where politics, title and departments do not create barriers to doing business for us. With multiple brands, teams and functions this value symbolically declares our equality — regardless of title or role — to everyone internally and externally in the business.

Silo MentalityBut I am here to say that we have silos, and probably always will. There are a few sources of silos that are unavoidable. For one, it is only natural for people to imprint strongly or bond with a team, a client, or group of people (when you start in the same orientation class, for example). Folks are always going to find some commonality to silo around. Everyone looks to self identify — where we live, who we know, what we know and of course who we work with or share information with. We tend to discriminate or create silos when we don’t know others. It is easier to not help or not share when you are strangers. So with strong relationship bonds, silos are naturally created.

Another example of unavoidable silos in business are organizational functions. The operations, finance, HR and sales teams (and so on) are by nature separate functions that create silos for a number of reasons: knowledge/expertise, common projects & goals, shared leadership, or even the fact that people sit closer together. Work is organized in such a way that you spend a lot of time together working on similar work, and therefore barriers are created between one functional group and another.

So yes, companies and organizations will always have silos. There will always be groups of friends, project groups, account teams, functional departments and leadership at every company. Let’s go back to the phrase “do not want to share” in the definition of silo mentality. There is one thing that separates a company with silo mentality and one without: it’s the willingness to share information.

If you sense a Silo Mentality at your company, dig deeper into the why. 1. Are people unwilling to share information with other teams? 2. Are there rules from leadership that prevent information sharing? Or 3. Is it the organizational structure that makes it hard (but not impossible) to work across teams and departments?

At Outside-In® Companies, we have experienced a lot of organizational change lately as we get organized for growth and scaling. As we define roles and put infrastructure in place, we are experiencing some of #3. But what I can tell you, is that our issues with silos are not as severe as the stories I hear about from companies that experience #1 and #2. How about needing to fill out an actual form that must be approved by each department head to receive permission to talk to another department? So much for collaboration at the water cooler or getting together for happy hour to create, solve or address business problems, large or small.

Or this recent one. Sales and Account Management teams refused to include the Service team in the customer conversation. These departments misconstrued who owns relationships, and maybe most importantly who is involved with delivering an experience to the customer! Imagine trying to get anything done!

So yes, at the Outside-In® Companies, we do have Silos. But our Silo Mentality is not because we are unwilling to share with our team members or because we have rules in place that prevent cross-team collaboration. In fact, with No Silos as a value, cross-team collaboration is encouraged. The No Silos value is about building relationships because you can. And encourages reaching out across silos — without rules, forms, sign up sheets or leader’s permission. Regardless of a one leader’s behavior, one can always talk to or work with whom they want.

Now, back to the question at hand, “Is ‘No Silos’ an achievable goal?” No Silos is an aspirational value. It’s impossible to have No Silos in a business. But you can reinforce a ‘No Silos Mentality’ and adjust your organizational structure to break down barriers that prevent departments or teams from working well together. The mentality or mindset is achievable, and one we always strive to improve upon.

Does your company have a Silos Mentality? If so, you have a leadership problem. Yup, I said it. Silos exist because leaders allow it, can’t address it, or are rewarded or incentivized to allow them to exist. So dig deeper to find out the why.

Outside-In® Chronicles: Hard In and Easy Out

November 11th, 2015

Outside-In® Chronicles: a throwback post, originally published five years ago in November 2010 While many of the same “people questions” exist, the state of the economy, with the lowest unemployment rate since April 2008 (5.0%), makes the answers or solutions uniquely different. And through all the ups and downs in hiring, our mantra of “hard in, easy out” has remained the same.

Leadership is all about the “people side of the business”. It just seems as if the focus and importance of people issues ebbs and flows with the state of our business. For the last two years, most “people” conversations have been exclusively about cutting costs, reducing head count or associated expenses, and/or plans to create efficiencies. Many businesses find themselves in a spot where they are lean and this means that many, many organizations find themselves panicking quietly about people and talent issues. I hear these questions each and every day with more urgency:

Should we hire to add headcount or use temporaries?
I do not have staff to conduct hiring; how do I get started again?
Should I have a long term strategy or simply react now?
How do I make hiring a core competency? What role should my managers and staff play in the process?

I will let you in on a little secret – HR folks of all kinds are now finding jobs at a steady, if not record clip. We cut them fast and hire them back just as fast. Perhaps a little too fast. Over the last twenty years I have operated within an informal mantra, “It should be hard to get into your company as a new hire, yet very easy to leave”. This statement of hard in, easy out is simple to remember yet profound in its significance to your business.

Concept of confusion and right strategy of a businessman

First, let’s address “hard in”. Your employees want to feel proud of how we bring new staff into the business. It is great if your process for hiring is effective and makes it exclusive. It should be difficult to get hired. Truthfully, it should be a process that never, ever stops. How many of you regret that your stopped viewing talent over the recession? Most of us (if we are honest) know it to be true. We need cash and TALENT to win as opportunities continue to emerge!

The “easy out” is just as important. Trust me when I say that the workforce knows they will not work for you for a lifetime. They expect to have seven or so different roles throughout their career. This reality is reinforced every moment with a media frenzy of companies that make business decisions that impact their workforce! The workforce knows business can no longer afford to be loyal. And surprise! They won’t give it to you anyway. There is too much churn and reality in the business world for anyone to be lulled into a false sense of security. No longer do candidates call us and say, “I am just looking for a safe company that I can stay with for many years.” That is no longer the reality for most employees.

My suggestion is to create an honest, open environment around this issue. Your culture must be capable of accepting the fact that you are “leasing” an employee for a period of time. You want their productivity, their creativity, their innovation and they in turn get fair market value in compensation and learning that makes them a more valuable asset to their careers.

Make it hard to get in to your company, yet make it very easy to leave. Do this and you will have the talent you need and the honesty that makes business simple, refreshing and a great story to share.

When do company values go wrong?

September 16th, 2015

We are in an era where workers are looking for reasons to why a business exists beyond making money. A time when it’s commonplace to discuss the greater purpose of a business and the values that are important to both the leaders and employees of a company. The values of a company are the personality of the place. The behaviors that the founder(s) and leaders want from all employees in their absence. These behaviors act as an ongoing compass that provides employees direction when they are on their own or faced with an opportunity or crisis in the business. When the business purpose is not clear, it is almost assumed that the purpose is to make money. But today there are so many other reasons for the business to exist; to do good for social causes, to be active in the community and to exist for greater good!

So, in the modern business world we celebrate values. Google is famous for the value or corporate motto “Don’t be evil”, which really encourages all employees to think morally about the impact of their decisions on the people who use their service. And as the legends suggest, software engineers often pound the table when a suggested change will do evil.

Despite businesses as large as Google or Zappos having values and a greater purpose than just making money, I am asked frequently about the implications of having corporate values. What happens when the company values are misinterpreted by employees, or even customers for their personal gain? “Don’t be evil” is regularly misquoted as “Don’t do evil.” Big deal? Not so sure.

One of our values that is often misquoted at Outside-In® Companies is being Front Door. Picture a house with three doors; a front door, side door and back door. Now imagine how communication flows in any good size group. Inevitably issues and opportunities arise. Conversations need to happen. Not everyone likes, knows how or knows when they need to have the hard conversations that represent being Front Door. So being direct is front door, being indirect is side door, and water cooler chatter or gossip is back door.

front-door

Now imagine that an employee misinterprets the Front Door value as their right to say anything they want directly, regardless of tone or its impact. For instance, screaming expletives and justifying the behavior by saying, “I am just being Front Door” is an abuse of the value’s intent. And undermines the goal, which is to get in front of small problems before they fester into larger ones. Front Door is not a right to be mean or to lack other professional attributes when you go about your business. When this happens, it can mean one of two things. The employee has a misunderstanding of the meaning of the value OR that employee is misusing the value with intent of personal gain, and therefore is not a culture fit.

To elevate this another level, what happens when a leader appears to behave in a way that defies the values? When leaders run a company in defiance of its values, only bad things happen and a decline is inevitable. For example, when a leader continues to promote an employee that habitually defies the company values, a ripple effect of decline is inevitable. The key word for leaders to note is “appears.” A leader may be acting within the definition of the value(s)’s intent, but the appearance of defiance can have a ripple effect as well. In this case, the onus is on the employee to be Front Door with the leader to say “you are not living X value.” This gives the leader a chance to explain the missing perspective and prevent a decline. Having company values feels good, but living values and holding teammates accountable is the mark of a true values-based organization.

I am collecting stories where values have gone bad or have been misinterpreted or misquoted for the purpose of personal gain. Please send them to me at Icanhelpyou (at) thecbigroup (dot) com or share them in a comment below.

Outside-In® Chronicles: Summer Reading List

June 3rd, 2015

ID-100249568Summer reading is a part of the fabric that defines my free time as well as my summer vacation. The challenge is to decide how to recharge and rejuvenate with that precious time off. Do I really want to read an industry publication or study for that upcoming webinar to keep continuing education credits flowing? It’s not that I don’t like my industry or chosen profession, I just need space and time to decompress. The more space I can create or make more time to think, the more likely I am to find new ideas and thoughts that help with my day-to-day work!

However, sometimes it’s hard to get away without our smart phones tethered to our hand 24/7—we all have to find some compromise, right? The very device that lets you order pizza while on vacation or text the teenagers to find out when they will be home is the same piece of technology that pings every time there is a new email and some work issue that either ruins your vacation mood or requires immediate attention!

I once heard the pile of unread business magazines, articles, books, and white papers on your nightstand or work station referred to as the tower of guilt! I, for one, feel good when I take that pile of work and plow through it. Sometimes I read three or four books at the same time in rotation just to change topics for the sake of staying current. However, this is not the approach I like to take for summertime reading.

So if you’re trying too hard to work and want to recharge while coming back with a new perspective on your business, here are my top three must reads:
1. Anything by Gladwell. Malcom not only sees the world differently, but he does the research to back it up. Try The Tipping PointWhat the Dog Saw, or my all time favorite, The Outliers. If you want to think about your business place in a different way, try escaping to the world that Malcom creates!

2.  How to Win Friends and Influence People. So many smart people know something about their field of study or the technical aspects of their profession yet few invest in their relationships.  No books exists that is more time tested for helping you with tools and tips for great human relations skills!

3.  Zen and the Art of Happiness. Everyone gets down in the dumps from time to time. As Dale Carnegie is for great human relationships this book is for realigning your perspective on your daily life. Things happen to us each and everyday, it is what we do next that matters.

If you have a book that recharges and lifts your energy while helping you reflect and improve your business or your leadership persona please let us know!

The Practical Guide to Implementing the Value of Defined by Three Customers

May 27th, 2015

First things first, we all know there is only one paying customer. For the purposes of our value, specifically the way we think, we define our three customers as employees, paying customers, and vendors.

3Customers-01-150x150Defined by Three Customers is about balanced thinking and decision making for all three customer subsets. This is a compass designed to help guide us—it’s not foolproof nor perfect. However, it’s much more balanced than an equation where no thought or care for one “customer” comes into play.

Are you wondering if/how this is relevant to you? I can prove it to you! Did you ever work for the manager that never let his or her people leave the department or post for other positions? The manager’s needs in their job tend to get in the way of the needs of employees or the employer.

How about the salesperson who seems to never hit their plan because they are telling the marketplace and their prospects that they have a monthly quota to hit? They don’t do it intentionally, mind you. They show it in their actions—they are not balancing prospect needs and wants with their own needs.

How can you live the value Defined by Three Customers?

  1. As an employee taking care of your customer who will eventually take care of you, do things for your customers to add value and they will come back!
  2. Challenge (in a good way) and get to your vendors. You would be surprised what they can do to help if you share where you’re taking your business and what value they can bring to you get there!
  3. Sometimes one “customer” wins and another loses in the short term. We must have a long-term view. We can’t always get the employee the raise nor the feedback they crave. A vendor can’t always give favorable terms on their business. A leader can’t always make a balanced decision—their short budget depends on the quick hit. The key is to stay focused on the doing right things right everyday and we will balance the scales in the long run!
  4. Defined by Three Customers is an equal number of debits and credits in the relationship bank account. Make sure you’re taking care of your stakeholders all of the time!
  5. Think longer term. Think about taking care of all groups. Imagine you will break bread with your three customers on a regular basis. When we think about long-term relationships, we moderate our short-term needs and wants!

Do You Choose to Act Like a Temporary Employee or an Entrepreneur?

May 14th, 2015

temporentreWhat would you do with yourself if you realized that the world of work has changed dramatically and that we have a choice to make? We are basically temps OR we are entrepreneurs that must choose ourselves. That is my interpretation of a wonderfully honest book by James Altucher called Choose Yourself!

We are temps in the sense that we go to work, do our jobs, and collect our paychecks. We don’t love what we do, however, we don’t even really know that there is another option. We don’t put a whole lot into our career when we act like a temporary employee. The career is simply a means to an end. I get paid and I am waiting for someone to tell me what to do and how to do it—that is the extent of the contract.

However, we are all, in essence, rented for a period of time (even though the job is not a true temporary position). Time is relative. If the average tenure of a public CEO is thirteen months, I could make the argument that it is a temporary assignment. It is our attitude, level of engagement, lack of drive to learn, and inability to grow or find ways to become more of an asset that often catch up with us. You act temporary and you don’t know any better!

Or maybe it’s not your fault at all and it’s simply the realities of today’s workplace that did it to you. No company or job is forever, right? The economy, markets, your company, and its industry, all play a key role. I think that is the point of the title of choosing yourself! You are responsible for you. No one else, let alone your current employer. You must own your skills and development and how you monetize what you are capable of! A job simply might not cut it anymore! Or perhaps it just part of you how monetize your time and capabilities?

Being an entrepreneur? Well, I think this is both literal and figurative. All of us must be resourceful, creative, hard working, productive, a risk taker, and a learner. We must find ways to create revenues for our employers and for ourselves on the side. This could be cottage industries, extra jobs, writing blogs or books. We are responsible for our own careers and for inventing ourselves!

The key to NOT being a temp? Act like an entrepreneur. Frankly, the book itself is full of implementable ways of choosing yourself and finding a way to own your income and your career. The magic is in being and thinking differently while you’re employed. Most businesses crave entrepreneurial thinking. Culture and external environment may dictate terms, but it starts within! I, for one, have supported many employees to become entrepreneurs. I have supported side projects and reviewed their cottage industry ideas. Quite frankly, I buy from them, too! This is how you choose yourself.

If cold calls don’t work, change your plans. If the product doesn’t sell, sell something else. If the meeting did not go well, then try again. This is what entrepreneurs do—and it is what great entrepreneurial employees do, too!

Want to meet great entrepreneurial employees? I have a few that get what it takes to chose for themselves! Mary Schaefer (left) is one of our Career Coaches at Barton Career Advisors, and Kelly Hocutt (right) is our Marketing Team Leader for the Outside-In® Companies.

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Outside-In® Chronicles: Three Things Grandmom Rose Taught Me About Leadership

May 6th, 2015

photo-2-223x300With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I wanted to revisit this blog about my Grandmom Rose and her significant influence on my leadership style.

My Grandmom Rose was an amazing person. When she was young, she absolutely loved to dance. When she was older, during a time when marrying those of another religion was uncommon, she left her Jewish faith to marry a man of a different one. And for decades, she fought for the underdog through volunteering for the rights and privileges of the blind here in Delaware. She lived to be well over 102—but her wisdom remains infinite. Although Rose died a few years ago, I think of her often. How could I not? Whenever I was sick as a child, Rose played 97 straight games of Candy Land with me. Imagine that. I think she let me win every time, too.

Today, I thought I would share a few thoughts on Rose’s lifestyle that I think translates pretty darn well into reminders for all of us in leadership positions.

1. Have a sense of mindfulness. This is a hard one. Are you centered and focused on the moment or the task at hand? Are you in the meeting you’re in? Or are you messaging others on your cell phone and trying to keep up with the rest of your day? Rose never knew technology and its advantages, but you always knew she was focused on you when you were sitting in front of her. As a leader, are you giving 100% to the team or person in front of you? Or do your distractions show? Does your lack of attention send the message that your time there is not important? Value the face time.

2. Ask valuable questions. If you’re in a sales, leadership, consulting, or frankly any role in life, there is nothing better than the ability to invest in others through asking questions. If you knew Rose she could ask some humdingers. They would just keep coming, too. They were good and stimulating questions. She genuinely cared about you and life—this showed through her investment in you. As a leader, how many times do you catch yourself talking, maybe dulling out general advice because it’s easier and feels good. Certainly easier than asking the style of questions that help people work through their own challenges and opportunities. Staff members want more than answers. They want skills they can use again and again. Does your leadership style involve a healthy sense of curiosity and frequently asking questions? Or are you too busy to lead and simply give out answers just to keep the day moving along?

3. Do one thing at a time. This sounds so…well, impossible in today’s world. Rose was really great about doing one thing at a time. I think she just wouldn’t understand why we think it is a good idea to multi-task to the point of exhaustion. Leaders get that adrenaline rush. Fight that fire. Answer that email. Text that message. All of these are signs of a normal, hectic day. However, before we know it the day is done. Did you accomplish your most important task? Did you finish what you started? It may seem old fashioned, but there is something to working on the hardest thing first and working on it until it is completed. It’s even more impressive if you do so without succumbing to the constant distractions of smart phones, tablets, and laptops!

When I was young, Rose took me to Gino’s for lunch every week for almost a year to collect that week’s plastic NFL football helmet. Each time she would laugh as I would eat one giant burger and then ask for a second one! Rose knew what was important in relationships. She knew what to bother with. If you see me turn off my phone, close my laptop, or shut the door to focus, know that in some small way, it’s my ode to Rose!

What Would Happen if We Stopped Taking Risks?

April 29th, 2015

Lets start with the obvious, avoiding taking any risk is actually a pretty serious risk all by itself! This requires us to avoid phone calls and interactions with customers and associates. We need to skip team meetings and duck out of the break room, too. The longer we stand still and stay status quo the more likely we are to fall a step behind or even lose altogether—all while our competitors and peers march forward.

The Outside-In® Companies believe in our value of taking risks. We definitely don’t steer around or away from it, but why does it matter for our employees to live this value? Who really cares anyway? In fact, why should any service company encourage risk taking?

ID-100309958First off, risk taking is really about decision making, the lack of perceived authority, task discretion, and reward for doing so. Employees that do not make decisions often do so because their company’s culture discourages it. This is cultivated through the management team and their practices. This is quite often an unexpected negative outcome of a company that lacks a cultural plan to encourage customer centric actions with those that have direct customer contact.

Employees that don’t make decisions have little or no choice but to get the answer for a customer from those that have the power or information. Usually, the power lies in controlling that information and it is intended to be a business control that simply hedges risk. However, in this case, it kills the customer! This can be because of a lack of training and knowledge or a matter of policy and the preferred hierarchical nature of the company.

Close your eyes and remember when this happened to you, a roommate, someone from your household, etc. Is there anything more frustrating than when you’re on the phone with that utility, or in line at the retail store, or airport and the service associate needs a manager? All you needed was to make a return, change a seat, or get your bill in the correct name. The worst part is that the supervisor does not do anything fancy—they just need a stupid code or a key to take care of your return or to move your flight.

A culture that values its customers empowers and encourages risks that take place in the act of serving a customer!

Employees that are not encouraged to notice what their customers are actually saying and then do something about it are not serving the strategic purposes of the business. The front lines see and hear it all. How many times have you heard a clerk or phone representative say that they have told management about a customer opinion so many times but no one listens. Then their voice trails off and their interest and engagement level wanes day by day! If we listen to customers as employees they will tell you why they are angry about a program or policy change, what is never in the store, when service is slow, or when a product has been replaced that should not have been. We can always hear it as employees.

A culture that values risk taking creates an environment where employees have tools and formats to share what they hear and take action! This is customer centric and systematic cultural risk taking. What did you learn from our marketplace today? What did our customers challenge us with? What do they need and want from us? Ask employees for feedback often, give all employees a format to share, reward this flow of insights, then categorize it and teach what to do with it. Most likely your plan of improvement needs tweaking. Employees just need permission to open their eyes and be empowered to see what needs fixing. Empowerment and the confidence to stand up and share what might be the next product or service that enhances your company’s top line strategy are the keys to grow your business.

Risk taking is a cultural tool to encourage customer centric and entrepreneurial behaviors for all of your employees. You have a choice in your organization; you can either treat employees like leased resources, or you can act and create an environment that encourages entrepreneurial behaviors that enhance your customer’s experience with you.

Go sit and listen to your employees, have Outside-In® eyes and ears, and gather the information you need in order to decide how to encourage risk taking that improves the experience for your customer base. Or come visit our office and see it in action!

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