Posts Tagged: Company Culture


What is a Pre-Mortem Exercise?

March 18th, 2015

Have you ever worked in an organization that pulls the whole team together to review how to launch a new product or open a new office? The idea here is to create a “no fear zone” where teams can discuss and share what went well, what did not go well, and what lessons can be applied to future projects. When completed properly, “pre-mortems” can be a great way to promote learning, improve team behaviors, and create greater efficiency.

Imagine this scenario, a CEO calls a meeting with key staff to discuss a failed product launch or a quarter that is 20% off plan. Why would this meeting be called today when the product launch is next week and the quarter doesn’t start for another three weeks? While reading The Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday, I became very overwhelmed by the concept of reviewing what could go wrong before it can go wrong.

ID-100185794A pre-mortem exercise is when you openly talk about every single thing that could go wrong with a project before the process implementation and execution begins. The goal is not be dark or negative, but rather to create an environment that encourages learning and proactive discussion about the downsides of efforts and actions before minor stucks turn into problems. This is exactly why athletes workout and why actors have rehearsal—practice makes perfect! We can never have too many business dress rehearsals or scrimmages.

Each and every business can greatly benefit from understanding contingency planning. When this type of thinking becomes natural and organic, it preconditions your team’s actions to fix what breaks. In other words, if you discussed what could go wrong and one of those potential snags begins to unravel, it might get addressed before it becomes an issue simply because the team anticipated this minor crisis and is fully prepared to handle it with ease.

Try a pre-mortem exercise today—what do you have to lose? Only learning, team building, and efficiency.

Outside-In® Chronicles: Why is Bruce Springsteen Called The Boss?

March 11th, 2015

I recently attended my first Bruce Springsteen concert this past week in Hershey, PA. We talk about leaders only being leaders when they have followers. Well Bruce has followers. After all, he is the Boss, right? I bet you don’t know why he is called the boss. Well, back in the early (glory) days he was the one who had to collect the night’s receipts and be responsible for distributing the money to bandmates. At first, Bruce hated the name because of what boss typically means as a stereotype. I think it’s safe to say at this point he has tacitly accepted his moniker. And after watching him play for three hours and ten minutes with barely a sip of water? There is no doubt in my mind that he is in charge, in control, and on top of every little detail as a master showman can be. He is The Boss today but for very different reasons than way back when!

After watching his performance I can assure you he is a good leader. He has such high energy and regard for people including his bandmates and crew, the fans, and all those that he can help. (Bruce brought seven different fans on stage to jam with him, sing, and to share their cause). Without fear or thought that they might in anyway be there to hurt or harm him or others!

All of this Boss talk got me thinking. Do you like being called boss? I had a favorite administrative assistant who called me jefe, which means boss and I hated it. She insisted she meant it in a different meaning than the stereotype. Jefe meant that I was in charge and that she could count on me.

So I looked up the definition of boss. And guess what I learned?

Boss as a noun seems reasonable enough to me. Someone in charge of a team or organization. Each culture and its value is different in each group however, someone, is always responsible for a team—even in self-directed teams.

So how about Boss as the adjective? Boss means excellent or outstanding. If everyone can be the boss and live up to excellence or be outstanding then let’s all get name tags! An environment of results and outstanding can’t be all bad, right?

ID-10066133Now we are getting into it. Boss as the verb. To dictate. To lord over. To domineer. To push around. To browbeat. To create undue pressure. This is where the stereotype exists!

No one wants to work for a boss. Few people tolerate dictators or lords if they can help it.  No one wants second class treatment when they can be equally important. I’m sure that being pushed around or browbeat isn’t motivating for long. Bossing and managing by fear mongering works for as long as the Boss has power. Which is usually only as long as it takes employees to figure out what to do about it.

So unless you’re Bruce Springsteen, be careful about acting like a boss!

Upcoming 3/26 Talent Seminar: Why Your Company Can’t Grow Without an Employee Value Proposition

March 10th, 2015

Please join us on Thursday, March 26th (5:30-7PM) for our Outside-In® Talent Seminar featuring guest speaker, Jeanie Heffernan, Senior Vice President of Human Resources from Independence Blue Cross. Jeanie will discuss the development of the Independence Blue Cross employee value proposition and share how it serves as a catalyst for program development, employee messaging, and business growth. Join us for a great discussion, drinks & appetizers, and networking with like-minded professionals!

Eventbrite - Outside-In® Seminar: The Happy Harry's Story

WHO SHOULD ATTEND? ID-100249475

You should join us if you are:

  • An HR Leader
  • In Talent Management or Recruiting
  • A business leader looking to enhance employee engagement and inspire growth within your company
  • Looking to expand your knowledge on best business practices
  • Seeking HRCI recertification credits*

*This seminar is currently pending approval for HRCI credits.

ABOUT OUR GUEST SPEAKER

jheffernanJeanie Heffernan leads the People Strategy for the Independence Blue Cross Family of companies.  In this role she helps the organization to build a culture of People With Purpose and ensuring that we are fully engaging our talent and have the right organizational structure in place to achieve the  Business strategy and goals.  She oversees Benefits, HR Operations, Talent Management, Talent Acquisition, Associate Communications & Engagement, Compensation, HR Metrics and Technology and Independence University.

Jeanie joined Independence in 2011 with 25 years of experience in multiple business sectors including  health care insurance, banking and technology.  Prior to joining Independence , she was Senior Vice President Human Resources for Keystone Mercy/Amerihealth Mercy Health plans, now known as Amerihealth Caritas.  Prior to then she was the Chief People Officer for Coretech Consulting Group, an IT staffing and project solutions company.

Jeanie has been active in the Non-Profit arena over the course of her career and has served on the Boards of the Peoples Emergency Center, The Veteran’s Group and currently with Graduate Philadelphia. Jeanie has also been an active volunteer with Rebuilding Together Philadelphia for over 10 years.

How the Outside-In® Companies Do The Whole Trust Thing

March 4th, 2015

Last week, my company celebrated a Values Holiday around our core value of Trust. Every twenty or so business days we focus our attention on reinforcing one of our twenty values. This is incredibly powerful stuff as “culture work” helps us all be mindful of expected behaviors in our workplace. I jump out of bed every single day because our values are ubiquitous to all the roles we play and all the people we meet.

Trust for me was learned behavior. Not that I was untrustworthy as a young person. I just did not understand that my very character was shaped by my words, thoughts, and actions. I remember being a young college kid just starting to date (the girl who I knew was the one, and I married her!) Kim held my up to high standard and I guess her perspective and opinion really mattered to me so I lived up to it. She simply taught me to be trustworthy by expecting it and as in any important relationship, I did not want to let her down. I think the challenge for all of us is to adopt this approach in more of the relationships in our life, not just the ones that we consider the most important!

So, I decided to do a survey on what constitutes trust in a relationship and I asked my team, “What type of actions and behaviors build trust?” Everyone has had different insights and experiences that shape them, however, all are valuable points of views. I hope you enjoy the trust thoughts as much as I did!

  1. ID-100250128Being reliable.
  2. Being up front with one another.
  3. Honesty.
  4. Constructive criticism.
  5. Do what you say you will do.
  6. When the person follows through, and does what they say they are going to do.
  7. When you do something to assist the other person, without having to be asked, or better yet, when they are not expecting it.
  8. Consistency.
  9. Reliability.
  10. Trust is something earned, not something that is given. Trust is earned over time as people prove that they are people of their word and simply that they are worthy of trust.
  11. Without a doubt, honesty builds a relationship more than anything else. Honesty is an essential building block, and without it you don’t have much, if anything!
  12. Honesty. Consistent, unwavering, believable honesty.
  13. Knowing someone on a personal level and their ability to be direct in communication.
  14. I am really impressed, and inclined to go the extra mile, when someone helps me even though it was not necessary or expected. They just helped me because they were being team-based, or simply generous. That makes me see the person differently and help them at any opportunity. It is more than returning a favor. It is more like I have elevated that person to a new level of respect. It doesn’t even have to be something done for me – it can simply be that I observed a person’s kindness when “no one was looking”. That is big for me.
  15.  Aaaahhhh Trust. Trust is like money yet more valuable. It takes time to build or accumulate, but can be blown in an instant of bad decision. What builds trust? Proving you’re trustworthy not by what you say, but by doing what you said you would do. In order to maintain trust, one must be honest, humble, and genuine.
  16. Being honest and following through while not “over-talking” others. By “over-talking,” I’m referring to talking at a higher level than necessary or for the audience to understand. Always strikes me as dishonest and that they are doing it to hide or shade over something.
  17. For me, the formation of trust occurs over time, and with effort from both sides. I think one of the reasons that our team works so well together is because we’ve developed a deep level of trust of over the past six months. We take the time to genuinely get to know each other, as colleagues and as friends. We build trust both at work and outside of work, even if it’s as simple as a 30 minute lunch where we talk about our families. An important component of building trust is earning it by following through on tasks, or being there to lend a hand without being asked. I trust that my team will support my decisions and be there if I need council. I also trust that they will not take judgement, and instead will help me to learn and grow from the situation.

Trust is a two way street. And my favorite insight from the team? Trust takes much more time to earn than it does to lose it. Gone in a moment as they say.

Take my personal challenge and try to answer the question yourself—how often do you live these suggestions in building trust? All of us can do better. What type of person are you when it comes to trust?

In order for trust to be built, you need a drive commitment from both parties. Both must be open to building and maintaining that trust. Formation of trust takes a long time, but can be lost in a matter of moments.

Trust is a regular deposit in a relationship—it must be balanced but always must be nurtured.

Outside-In® Talent Seminar: Gore’s Employer Brand Journey – Join Gore and Change

March 2nd, 2015

On Thursday, we partnered with Graham Williamson, Regional Recruiting Leader, and Steve Shuster, Global Brand Manager, from W.L. Gore & Associates to present Gore’s Employer Brand Journey – Join Gore & Change at our Outside-In® Talent Seminar. Local business professionals and students joined us at University of Delaware’s Goodstay to network with like-minded individuals and to learn how Gore has built and developed their employer brand and unique culture.

ID-100248850Graham and Steve led the discussion on the evolution of W.L. Gore & Associates and credited several variables to the success of their culture and hiring process. With an extraordinary approach to attracting, engaging, and maintaining quality employees, Gore has made a name for itself as the #22 Greatest Place to Work in 2014, according FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For®.

Our guests praised Graham and Steve after enjoying the exhilarating presentation. “I liked Gore’s stance on recruitment, the experience they try to create for the candidates, and how they try to find someone that meets their culture and not just smart people,” said guest George Cook. “I was able to leave with new ideas and knowledge from an employer that I did not have prior to the seminar.”

Interested in attending our Outside-In® Talent Seminars? We have several guest speakers lined up for 2015, continuing Thursday, March 26th with Why Your Company Can’t Grow Without an Employee Value Proposition. Our feature presenter, Jeanie Heffernan, SVP, Human Resources at Independence Blue Cross, will be sharing the development of IBX’s employee value proposition and how it impacts program development, employee messaging, and business growth. Join us for a breakfast, networking, and a valuable discussion! Get your tickets here.

Outside-In® Chronicles: Mother Knows Best – Parental Leadership (Dale Carnegie Style)

February 18th, 2015

What can we learn about leadership from watching a parent? Just about everything. Parenting and leading require the same concepts and principles—communication, setting expectations, establishing roles, and setting boundaries. Let’s not forget building relationships and knowing what is important to the other person. In Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, one decree involves baiting the appropriate hook to suit the fish. In other words, knowing your audience and what they want. This requires you to think and speak in terms of the other person’s interest—in the Outside-In® world, this means being Customer Centric.

1871_001-2A great example of baiting the right hook involves my experiences as a young boy on any typical Saturday morning involving chores. The morning began with the Dale Carnegie approach from my mother, “Chris, remember today is chore day and if you still want to go to your friend’s house you have to clean up your room!” The answer was always, “Sure, Mom.” She would march off to scrub a wall, sweep, vacuum, or do the mounds of laundry that her active family always produced. Me? Well, I would go to the opposite side of the house; constantly moving and dodging parental contact. And then childhood pastimes would get the best of me—Saturday morning cartoons, eating, frankly staring at the ceiling, or even doing homework would be better than chores.

Then the second and even third requests would come, “Chris, why have you NOT started to clean up? You’re not going anywhere today and you’re really close to losing out on the whole weekend.” No longer was Dale Carnegie present in our household. It was “do it or else” time. Which never, ever worked. The more you push and tell me what to do, the less I will listen. (Did I mention I am an entrepreneur?) Try to make it my idea. Ask me. Explain the value of accomplishing the task. Even bribe me to do it. Don’t tell me what to do.

I find leaders start this way in work situations. We start by giving one a gentle push to complete a nagging, maybe slightly-behind project that is more important to us than the ones of whom we are asking. Then we check in and we get more directive, “I want that done by Monday. Are we in agreement?” And we end with the threat, “You know that your vacation day is in jeopardy and you are falling well off of plan. Performance reviews are right around the corner you know…”

water-24420_640So what does the inventive and creative Mom do when progress is behind? She takes the hill like a true Leadership General. She heads for the trash bag under the sink. Nothing moves people (or children) faster than the reach for the trash bag. Not following? Mom would grab the bag and head to our room or wherever our stuff happened to be piled that day. And she would say, “Anything I pick up you will not get back, it’s going to Goodwill.” And then I would come running, perhaps with tears streaming, “NO!” Sometimes it took action, not words to move the task or project to completion!

PS – Don’t try this on teenagers. They are prone to mumble, “Good now I don’t have to do it.” Or, “I have too much stuff anyway.” Any verbal warfare they can think of that gets to you!

Top 8 Ways to Earn the Right

February 11th, 2015

ID-100249765You asked. You sent your request. You emailed, you called, you stopped by the cubicle. You said please. Should you whine, kick, and scream? Should you remind people of your self-worth and importance by using your title, tone of voice, or some other power play? Maybe you will threaten or refuse to respond to their email? Eye for eye, right? We all need to get things done. We need people to respond to our emails, come to meetings, pay invoices, and return calls. To say yes to your next step. To go on that date. To clean the room up. Every single day we must find away to get others to act on our behalf. However, they don’t always do it.

Many times, although not every time, it is because you deserve the response you got. You have not earned the right with that person—you simply want something done. There is so much going on, so many priorities, and much to compete with your need. How do you get anyone’s attention? This is the difference between average and good, between a bonus or nothing, and between being offered a promotion or being shown the door. Success is about the things we can’t see, it is about our interpersonal and relational skills.

Here are the top 8 ways to earn the right with your stakeholders (or just about anyone):

  1. Treat people like you would like to be treated. Of course this is common sense, but do you reply to emails in the same time frame you expect from others? How about returning phone calls?
  2. Respond no matter what the circumstances. Even if you do not have an immediate answer for someone, get back to them quickly and acknowledge their request. My wife often asks, “Did you hear me? I know your thinking but please acknowledge me.” I see staff get a request and scramble to find the answer or response and then get back to the inquirer much later than was comfortable. If they had just reached out to acknowledge that the other person was heard.
  3. Establish a cultural internal service level for yourself. How quickly will you get back to someone? Give yourself deadlines to improve the quality and speed of your responsiveness.
  4. Realize that in order to get something done it is easier to know the players. Invest time in key relationships with customers and associates at work. Do it proactively, with a plan, and in advance. Why? Proactivity always pays off. By the time you get to this investment you will need it.
  5. Read the book Business Relationships That Last. Ed Wallace is someone I consider a good friend. He wrote a terrific book on how every relationship can be viewed by a relational ladder—the process to relationship building.
  6. Know how much relational equity your organization has in the moment. How long has your company worked with this supplier? How long has your associate worked on this project? Your boss knows the team. What was the last meaningful attempt reset and invest in the people? Did your team deliver last time around? Score the situation and know your relational scorecard.
  7. Build your reputation and be the giver. Be the one that does the extras for the team.  Volunteer to assist team members and spend that spare time helping. Grab the extra project or workload. Invest in others.
  8. Don’t be the taker. I met some very successful soccer players when I coached. I have had sales people that sold more than their quota. And we all know those really smart, intelligent, and talented associates that never give and only take. They are always late, always delegating, and often behind. They are a hot mess and can’t seem to do a damn thing on their own and it shows. Do not be this person.

If you can’t get things done it is your fault. If you don’t hear back from others in a reasonable time, that is on you. You might need training. Perhaps you’re low on the relational ladder and you need to figure out how to climb a rung or two. My point is simple really: To get what you want you need to walk, talk, and chew gum like the other person. Lastly, you need to give and create value in an authentic way.

Image courtesy of ratch0013 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Upcoming 2/26 Talent Seminar: Gore’s Employer Brand Story

February 6th, 2015

Please join us on Thursday, February 26th (7:30-9AM) for our Outside-In® Talent Seminar featuring guest speakers, Graham Williamson and Steve Shuster from W.L. Gore & Associates. A strong employer brand is a sustainable competitive advantage in the quest for talent. Find out what Gore learned on the way to developing their employer brand and what principles you can apply to any organization.

Eventbrite - Outside-In® Seminar: The Happy Harry's Story

WHO SHOULD ATTEND? ID-100248850

You should join us if you are:

  • An HR Leader
  • In Talent Management or Recruiting
  • A business leader planning to implement or improve his/her company’s culture
  • Looking to expand your knowledge on best business practices
  • Seeking HRCI recertification credits*

*This seminar is currently pending approval for HRCI credits.

ABOUT OUR GUEST SPEAKERS

Graham Williamson, Regional Recruiting Leader

grahamGraham provides leadership to W.L. Gore & Associates’ Recruiting team and is part of a global HR leadership team at Gore responsible for aligning the HR strategy with enterprise objectives. For the past twenty years he has been involved in different sectors of the staffing industry from executive search in Europe to consulting and leading recruiting teams. One of his passions is Gore’s work on employer branding and the current global thread through this work is the focus on creating experiences for candidates and businesses that positively differentiate Gore.

Steve Shuster, Global Brand Manager

steveshusterbwSteve has thirty plus years of business experience with W.L. Gore & Associates. During these 30 years he has experienced many roles, such as; sales, marketing, product management, brand management and business leadership. Steve has extensive knowledge in value pricing, product development, market assessment and global markets.

Currently, Steve is the global Enterprise brand leader responsible for growing and protecting the GORE® brand and portfolio of Enterprise brands. For the past five years he has focused on developing and implementing global brand management processes for the Enterprise. In this role he developed, mentored and led associates globally around the importance of adding value to the portfolio of brands within the Enterprise. As part of this role he developed new strategic approaches to branded offerings throughout the Enterprise. Steve also co leads the Global Employer brand initiative. Steve is also a passionate champion for the Gore culture. At this point in his career his energy is derived from helping others grow through leadership development mentoring and coaching.

What Does it Mean to “Earn the Right?”

February 4th, 2015

How many of us know what earning the right actually means? Today, my son asked me if he could go to a friend’s house, and I shared a story with him instead of saying yes or no. I told him that when I want to hike all day on a Saturday with friends, I am certain to find out what I can do around the house on Friday night prior to my fun. His response was a perplexing one; he did not think that he needed to prove himself to anyone to get what he wanted. He simply wanted what he wanted. This may work with a teenager on occasion (especially when his parents get worn down from the barrage of constant requests), but it rarely works in business. The challenge here is that successful staff members figure out how earning the right works, while unsuccessful ones run out of here while the rest of the staff might just help them leave! Earning the right is one of the values that we have at the Outside-In® Companies. To be successful no matter how you define success? This is a prerequisite.

I was recently in a discussion with a colleague who had a meaningful, strategic dialogue with a long time customer of the Outside-In Companies® about how we could help them solve their workforce challenges. This is our wheel house. This is what we live for. This is what we want to do as workforce consultants all day long, every day. Unfortunately, we don’t spend all day doing this. Not all of our relationships challenge us to be our best and I sense that earning the right has 100% to do with it!

EarntheRightEarning the right is when you do the right things in a relationship to earn the privilege to ask for or expect something from someone else. This is relevant on your team. This applies if you work with other teams in the company and it certainly applies if your role is customer facing. Customer facing roles are based on relationships with existing customers, suppliers, new inquiring ones, and anyone that your business comes in close contact with.

In the world of business development and sales, the notion of earning the right is often a source of conflict for sales and service associates. Salespeople have to sell things, they need to ask for next steps and commitments and they must show forward progress. If you’re serving a customer the same is true. You must ask for commitments, information, time and calendar space, and you must be taken seriously to do the job.

Maybe you’re in a company and you need the assistance of others that are not in your team or division to help you get a project done. Although you are passionate and the project is urgent, why should anyone else care or help you? You will have to do more then plead and beg for a lending hand, that is for sure. The work starts well before your need arrives.

To earn the right, you must first understand that earning the right is on you, your cubicle mate, your leader, the founder, and even the janitor. It is critical to understand that we are always in the process of earning the right. Our actions and decisions can knock us down a few rungs on The Relational Ladder. This is a fluid and ongoing process. One that everyone uses (formal or informal) on whether we are going to say yes to anything.

This is why it can take months, years, even decades, to establish what is right with each other, prospects, and customers. Next week, we’ll be talking about the Top Eight Ways to Earn the Right!

Company Culture: Superheroes on a Mission to Mars

January 21st, 2015

ca1227df115dbb88This is the Outside-In® companies’ theme for 2015. I am Green Arrow, billionaire crime fighter extraordinaire. (We all like to play make believe, right?) I admire how he fights for good and backs the underdog—all things I aspire to do on a daily basis. Being Tony Stark or Isis at work has its perks, too. Our theme is fun and unique. However, our message is important and we want all to remember our theme and relate it to our plans and priorities. On our mission, we are very focused on being sustainable and relevant both as individuals and as a company. We really have three parts to this mission.

The first part is sustainability for our business. We want our profit to grow, we want to invest, and we want to remain resilient to economic ups and downs. We are striving to do all of these things while continuing to run our business in an Outside-In®, customer centric way. This takes success and bottom line results to execute. And we know this creates great opportunities for our people, our partners, our customers, and our stakeholders.

Part two of this mission is about our role in the community and planet around us. We care about people and our causes and we long to make a difference. What Superhero doesn’t look to our web page to see our focus supporting a different charity each month. This month, our focus is with SPARC Delaware. Helping today’s youth in the marketplace we serve with workforce skills and coaching is a direct way to lend some knowledge to our future workforce!

Our final part to the mission is about each of us as employees and our growth plans at work and at home. I know life and work can be both challenging and exciting. We want to energize and focus on our well being in many ways. We know part of this is about being Superheroes in all of our many roles as Mom or Dad, Recruiter or Leader, Board Member, Soccer Coach, or Civic Member. All of this takes energy and a plan and we are excited to help all figure out the best plan for them! This will take focus on health, exercise/nutrition, development and training at work, and a supportive culture that embraces modern workforce ideas that give staff flexibility while ensuring that the company also remains sustainable!

Your company doesn’t have a theme? Then how do you create alignment across the company and keep everyone informed on where the business is going and how you’re going to get there? Themes are not for every business, however, knowing that having fun is a big part of our culture we make it a part of our everyday lives. Traditionally, goals and plans are presented with PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets. Don’t get me wrong, these things work. However, all of us remember and retain important company information in different ways. Some like to listen, others absorb handouts and presentations, while others remember it through experience. This is where the annual theme appeals to all different types of learners!

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