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Creating A Company Culture Where Ideas Are Encouraged

Building A Company Culture That Supports Innovation And Creativity

The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued. — Sir Ken Robinson

I came across this powerful quote the other day and it stopped me in my tracks.

It brought me back to a time-honoured session that I would always roll my eyes at — the brainstorming sessions that no one wanted to be a part of. It’s when everyone is sitting around the table with their minds running at warp speed trying to come up with a great “idea.”

Are You Ignoring Ideas?

Yet, this leader knew that this was the way that we are going to innovate. But, he ignored the vast majority of ideas because they did not come from his most favoured people in the room.

There was a commercial years ago that played out this scenario.

You had a room full of people all looking bored. There was one “slacker” in the group that came up with an idea. However, it was as if he was not even in the room.

Dead silence. No one listened and they basically ignored him.

The Staid Organization

But when the most chosen one spoke out with the same insight, verbatim, it was as if the river parted. The prodigal son has spoken. The leader went on and on about how brilliant that idea was. Meanwhile, everyone’s gaze went to the overlooked young “slacker,” and they all just shrugged their shoulders.

In real life company culture, however, everyone can have ideas and they should be as valued whether you are on the lowest rung of the ladder, or up near the top (see my tips on five things you should do to help your career growth). This new generation of worker has numerous ideas about the workplace that organisations should pay heed to.

As I give speeches to college campuses across the Middle East (I’m based in Dubai), I am amazed by what I hear in the Q&A sessions and the overall level of discussion. I always end by saying I can’t wait for them to infiltrate all these staid organisation because they will bring change. They will liven up any “BS” session.

The Big Question Is, Will They Be heard?

However, there is no need for these sessions if you keep your ears to the ground. One of the roles I always enjoyed at my former companies was to walk around the floor at 10 am every morning and around three in the afternoon. Each day I would stop by someone’s desk to see what they were working on. This created a bond, and if they did not see me, they would seek me out.

I had advance knowledge of many issues, and I got a ton of ideas about what we could do to improve the workplace. Was it called brainstorming? Absolutely not.

“MBWA” Is Not New

MBWA is managing by walking around, and it is the greatest brainstorming model ever invented.

I read about a company that would require all of its workers to spend one day in the call center. Whether you are the big shot VP or the help desk person, everyone spent time in the pit.

Another unique trait of this company was that the driver that picked up people at the airport for interviews was part of the decision making process. His opinion was sought as to whether this person coming in for an interview treated them with respect during their drive.

Was it all about them, or did they offer conversation and ask questions? In other words, did they connect to people regardless of their title?

Your Takeaway

Communicate openly with your team, both direct reports and co-workers. That means recognising them for the good work they do. Create this atmosphere and you will improve their engagement with you as a manager.

Overcoming The Fear Of Employee Engagement

Engaging your workforce may be a scary thing. Especially if you haven’t done it much.

As with any relationship, it’s scary to find out that your employees don’t think exactly like you, even if you know that all people have different ideas, plans and ambitions. But these different ideas and plans are what will give your company strength and make employee engagement such a powerful tool for every entrepreneur.

The Benefits Of Engagement

I probably don’t have to emphasize the positive sides of employee engagement. According to ACCOR, 90% of leaders know it’s impact. However, the same study points out that only 25% of companies actually have an engagement strategy in place. (Source. Officevibe)
So we can say, most of the companies out there are not doing something they know is good for them. I can only guess that one reason for that is fear. Fear of change.

You may not like to hear what your employees think. But there’s no reason to fear it. Rather, these options should be embraced.
One of the biggest bonuses of employee engagement is collaboration: sharing ideas and making your company better, stronger and more competitive.

Saving Time And Money

This is one of those essential parts of leadership where you can’t go with what most other leaders are doing. You must do better than most to get an edge for your company. $37 billion is lost every year in the States because of bad communication in the workplace. As a leader, I’d prefer not to lose that kind of money. (Source: Slideshare)

Keeping the most talented people working with you is important for all leaders and HR specialists. Time and money is spent on attracting and training them yet these resources are often lost when they leave for the next project or opportunity.
75% of people who quit their job, actually quit their bosses. The leaders who spend more time with their workers and collaborate with them, are less likely to be broken up with. If we look at our personal relationships, we’re not surprised if a couple breaks up because they’re not talking enough. So there’s no reason to be surprised, if your top talent leaves, when they are not heard.

Overcoming Fear

Luckily, in business, unlike in personal life, we can rely on technology in our everyday communications and collaboration with our teams. There’s a tools for almost anything your company might need. There are weekly progress reporting software like Weekdone that offer weekly feedback as a perk, or you can choose one of many specific tools that offer only feedback.

All of these tools have one thankworthy goal: making employee engagement and collaboration easier.

Just remember what Larry Ellison, former CEO and founder of Oracle, said: “Taking care of your employees is extremely important and very, very visible.”

There is nothing to fear but the fear itself. Fear is the mind-killer that stops our businesses from evolving and growing. At the same time, fear is not some force of nature that we can do nothing about. Fear is something we can fight and conquer, something that can be overcome on our quest of self-improvement.

 

Image: bigstock

5 Tested Phases to Create an Awesome Team

I often ask leaders which of the two delivers better results: great talent or a great team? Most of the time, they respond that a great team has a bigger impact on the results of an organization than individual star performers. However, if you look at most company’s people processes they primarily focus on talent – on how to attract, develop, engage, and retain.

They’re obsessed with getting the best performance out of individual employees. Few companies focus on assessing their leaders ability to create exceptional teams and even if they do, the tools available to assess team performance and develop awesome teams are sparse.

The majority of research and articles on developing teams focus either on what the team has to achieve or healthy team dynamics. I strongly believe that one can’t go without the other and that there are two elements to a high performing teams: the Team Goal and Soul.

Bound together with equal importance, they create a spiral which is sequential and expansive. You can almost consider them as Yin and Yang – they’re opposite forces but cannot exist without the support of one another.

The Goal is the “hard” side of a high performing team. It makes sure that the right skills and expertise are present so that the team can create and achieve it’s aspirational goal. The Soul on the other hand is the “soft” side of this team. It addresses and supports healthy team dynamics.

The spiral itself consists of five stages which take a team from conception to review of its performance. These stages are:

Purple Stage

Goal: Pick the Right Team

Soul: Break the Ice

The very first stage of any high performing team is to bring the right people together and make them comfortable with one another. At this point, the individual team members are not thinking about the goal they have to achieve and how they’re going to achieve it. Instead, they’re only focusing on getting to know one another and making sure that synergy is being created.

Blue Stage

Goal: Co-create an Aspirational Goal

Soul: Take a Personal Deep-Dive

This stage is about defining the task the team has to complete which has a shared meaning and is bigger than each individual member and also about the spark that ignites the fire for this shared meaning of existence. The goal must be aspriational and push them beyond their comfort zone. They have to believe that they can trust each other on a personal level and commit themselves completely and entirely to the success of the team.

Green Stage

Goal: Align the Right Strategy

Soul: Establish Ways of Working

This is the last step of preparation for the team. They all understand where they currently are, where they want to be and agree on who’s going to do what to get there. Together, they establish a strategy that will achieve the aspirational goal along with how they’re going to positively influence all stakeholders. They also need to address how they will handle situations where the team doesn’t work they way they should.

Yellow Stage

Goal: Deliver Results

Soul: Care and Manage Conflict

During this stage the team swings into full action and each team member translates commitments into action. Everyone is held accountable and everything is transparent. Of course, aspirational goals cannot be achieved without some level of conflict. However, a strong team creates strengths from these differences and believes in providing a helping a hand while having fun.

Orange Stage

Goal: Learn and Persevere

Soul: Celebrate and Grow

To grow, any process needs to be reviewed while people learn and grow from their mistakes. During this stage, the team is given the opportunity to shift the strategy as needed. It also caters for team members leaving and new ones joining. It’s all about collective feedback that isn’t personal and is given to help individuals, and thus, the team grow.

Though experience, I’ve learned that teams face more issues on the Soul side as compared to the Goal side. Perhaps it’s because leaders are so driven to achieve their targets, they often forget about the feelings of their people as the strive to reach the top. You can download the visual for the High Performing Team Spiral model here and comment below if you have any questions!

Picture: pixabay.com

How To Build High-Performing Teams

Imagine a stack of resumes that rises far over your head, towering up to the sky as far as the eye can see.

That’s what it can feel like to hire a new employee. The stack of resumes may not rise to the ceiling, but it certainly rises in your inbox. Yet there are hidden patterns within that stack, and if you know those patterns, you’re more likely to pick the right person for the job.

After researching 500,000 people, I’ve found patterns within the hiring process.

The sheer crushing volume of resumes favors people who know how to look good on paper. Yet often, the best hire for you will be the quietly methodical communicator who doesn’t radiate charisma in an interview, or the pragmatic detail manager whose advantages don’t always shine on a job application.

You can turn an average team into a high-performing team. You don’t have to clean house. You just need to identify each person’s personality “specialty.”

The Fascination Advantage® assessment will help you understand your talent around you, so you can create better relationships, grow your business, and become intensely valuable to those who matter most.

It’s understandable that managers will unintentionally hire to replicate themselves, or that a gatekeeper will evaluate on the basis of resumes submitted, yet this is not necessarily effective. It leads to imbalanced teams and conflicted cultures.

It’s tough for members of a team to each add their highest value, if nobody knows each other’s highest value in the first place.

Hire To Optimize Your Team, Not Replicate Your Team

You probably already recognize strengths. If you want more value from your team, start to recognize differences.

Your Fascination Advantage results will identify your unique Advantages, and the Advantages of your team.

A team will succeed in predictable areas, and lag in others, based on the composition of Advantages within that team.

HR managers can handpick certain Advantages, hiring specifically to balance and complement existing team members, or hone specific specialty traits for the overall group.

The more accurately you’ve assessed how a team is seen by the outside world, the more precisely you can guide that team’s interaction with customers and clients. Corporations can better understand and optimize their employees for anything that requires communication, from sales and customer service to hiring and nurturing high-performing talent.

It’s even more important for each team member to understand which of his or her Advantages are most valuable to the team.

Diversity isn’t just about hiring a balance in terms of ethnicity, gender, and age. It’s also about hiring a balance of personalities.

Each speaks a different “language,” based on his or her approach to communication.

Often you’ll find raw gems of potential hidden underneath layers of one-size-fits-all expectations.

The 7 Advantages are…

Innovation: the language of creativity

Passion: the language of relationship

Power: the language of confidence

Prestige: the language of excellence

Trust: the language of stability

Mystique: the language of listening

Alert: the language of details

If your company has become stale and you struggle to innovate, you probably want to recruit people with a primary Innovation Advantage, because they’re creative and tend to challenge the status quo. If your team is chock full of enthusiastic, larger-than-life characters, then you will do well to recruit people with a primary Trust or Mystique to balance the team. Each Advantage contributes a different form of value.

If hiring someone new isn’t an option, that’s okay. Get a clear look at what Advantages already exist on your team, so you can maximize those.

Hiring Based On Advantages

Consider new hires in terms of Advantages and personalities, rather than just skills and experience.

HINT: On the Archetype Matrix (found at HowToFascinate.com/matrix), find the adjectives that describe the qualities you are seeking in a job applicant, a committee seat, or other role. Then, fill the role with a preference for those Advantages.

If you want precise analysis, for instance, you might screen prospects to find someone for Alert. If you want a conversationalist who can quickly draw in prospects, you might search for an applicant with Passion or Power.

By supporting and accentuating each person’s natural traits, companies can increase engagement. Engaged employees are more satisfied, and more likely to satisfy customers, which in turn leads to greater revenue and higher goals.

Your dream team is waiting for you. (And you might not even have to sort through that enormous stack of resumes to build it!)

Your free code to the Fascination Advantage assessment:

+ + THE FASCINATION ADVANTAGE + +

Most personality assessments tell you how you see the world.

Only one measures how the world sees you.

Here is your private code to find out how the world sees you:

—-> 1. Go to HowToFascinate.com/YOU

—-> 2. For the access code, enter TCHAT

The Fascination Advantage is the first marketing-based personality assessment. Answer just 28 questions, and you’ll find out how others perceive you. Created by Sally Hogshead, and based on results of 500,000 participants, this test will reveal the very best of how the world sees you.

World-class branding expert Hogshead has discovered a new way to measure how people perceive your communication. Find out what makes you intensely valuable to others, so the world will see you at your best.

Hogshead rose to the top of the advertising profession in her early 20s, writing ads that fascinated millions of consumers. Over the course of her ad career, Hogshead won hundreds of awards for creativity, copywriting and branding, and was one of the most awarded advertising copywriters right from start of career, including almost every major international advertising awards.

Note: Sally Hogshead will appear on the February 11th edition of the TalentCulture #TChat Show.

About the Author: Sally Hogshead is the creator of The Fascination Advantage™: the world’s first personality test that measures what makes someone most engaging to others.

photo credit: giant stack of resumes via photopin (license)>

Hiring? Promoting? How to Pick an A Player

(Editor’s Note: Last week at #TChat Events, the TalentCulture community explored best practices in candidate screening with Chris Mursau, Vice President at Topgrading, and Jean Lynn, VP of HR at Home Instead Senior Care. Afterward, some of our participants expressed interest in learning more about how the Topgrading method works. In response, Chris shared this post.)

Do you have difficulty determining if a job candidate (or existing employee) is an A, B, or C Player? If so, you’re not alone — only companies with highly sophisticated HR methods have perfected that process. However, this article helps by providing an explanation of how Topgrading experts evaluate current and prospective employees. These distinctions offer a measurable way to assess talent and build a winning team.

In many companies, “A Player” refers to someone highly promotable. Topgrading definitions of A, B, and C are different. “A, B, and C” grades refer to current ability, not promotability. However, Topgrading takes a deeper look within the A Player category to assess promotability. Here’s how:

A Player: The top 10% of talent available for a position. In other words, an A Player is among the best in class. “Available” means willing to accept a job offer:

At the given compensation level
With bonus and/or stock that corresponding to the position
In that specific company, with a particular organization culture (e.g. Family friendly? Highly political? Fast paced? Topgraded and growing?)
In that particular industry
In that location
With specific accountability levels and resources, and
Reports to a specific person (e.g. Positive A Player or negative C Player?)

In other words, if you’re a terrific leader, many more candidates will be “available” to you than a lousy leader.

A Player Potential: Someone who is predicted to achieve A Player status, usually within 6-12 months.

B Player: The next 25% of available talent below the A Player top 10%, given the same A Player criteria listed above. These employees are “okay” or “adequate,” but they’re marginal performers who lack the potential to be high performers and are not as good as others available for the same pay. B Players are unable, despite training and coaching, to rise to A Player status. If they can qualify for a job as an A Player, they should be considered for it.

C Player: The next 35%, below the A Player 10% and B Player 25%, of talent available for a job. C Players are chronic underperformers.

The only acceptable categories are A Player and A Potential. We further categorize A Players by promotability:

A1: Someone who is promotable two levels
A2: Someone who is promotable one level
A3: Someone who is a high performer, but not promotable

Example: The not-promotable store stocker, sales rep, or first-level supervisor who is an A3, is a high performer, an A Player — but just not promotable. These employees are high performers because they achieve their A-Player accountabilities, plus they’re terrific with customers, they’re totally reliable, they achieve excellent results, they’re highly motivated, super honest, and very resourceful at finding ways to be more effective in driving the company mission.

It’s important to value all of your A Players, including the many who are the heart and soul of your company — including the A3s who are terrific, but are just not promotable.

How Do A, B and C Players Differ On Key Competencies?
The following chart is a bit simplistic, because not all A Players are this great on all competencies, and not all C Players are this bad on all competencies. Also note: for management jobs, Topgraders look at 50 competencies — this chart features only 8. However, it provides some insight into the methodology:

Topgrading_Competencies Example

The Best Way to Identify As, Bs and Cs:
If you know the story of Topgrading, you know that this methodology has long been considered one the “secret weapons” Jack Welch used to improve General Electric’s success at picking A Players. In fact, the company’s success rate improved from 25% to well over 90%, using Topgrading to assess candidates for both hire and for promotion.

The methods are similar. Two trained interviewers conduct a tandem Topgrading Interview — and if there are internal candidates for promotion, rather than talking with outside references, the interviewers talk with bosses, peers and subordinates in the company.

It’s important to look for patterns of success. Bottom line, the “magic” of Topgrading comes from understanding how successful a person was in job 1, job 2, job 3, and so on, with the greatest weight given to the most recent jobs.

Summary: Extensive research shows that 75% of people hired or promoted turn out NOT to be A Players or A Potentials. Yet, Topgrading methods regularly achieve 80%+ success. For more real-world understanding of how this approach is applied, see case studies that demonstrate how companies improved from 26% to 85% on average, in hiring and promoting A Players.

Have you used Topgrading or other methods of assessing employee potential? What did you discover in your experience? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments area.

Mursau Bio Photo(About the AuthorChris Mursau is Vice President of Topgrading, Inc. He has been practicing, teaching and consulting with companies and individual managers on how to pack their teams with A Players since 2001. He has conducted over 2,500 in-depth assessments for internal and external candidates, helped hundreds of people achiever their A potential, and trained thousands of people in all things Topgrading.)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Stock.xchng