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The Great Resignation – When Employees Woke Up

2021 turned out to be a year that introduced many new terms into the common vocabulary. One of the most popular terms – The Great Resignation.

  • Pandemic
  • Hybrid Work
  • Non-Fungible Token – and many more 

For the human resource professional, none turned out to be as life-changing as “The Great Resignation”, at least, on the professional front. 

Sure, for HR teams, the pandemic caused a lot of strife. Re-engineering of processes that support the hire to retire Lifecycle of employees, was the need of the hour. Supporting colleagues as the threatening environment led to mental health issues, was equally, if not more, important. Amidst all of this, however, what ended up taking precedence was hiring. Fueled by the aforementioned wave of resignations that corporates witnessed. But, why did The Great Resignation happen? 

Let’s try and understand this by recounting the sequence of events that occurred starting in early 2021.

The Great Resignation – Why?

When the pandemic initially started digging in deeply across the world leading to lockdowns (or curfews or variations, thereof), the expectation was that hiring would stall. That companies facing a business impact would control operational costs by laying off or redeploying their staff. Unsure about the way the economy would play out, most organizations tended to err on the side of caution. Consumers were, after all, expected to become conservative and cautious in their approach.

What happened, however, was quite unexpected. For the most part, consumers changed their behavior while making their purchases. The growing e-commerce world became the gateway to personal happiness in a much bigger way. Unable to visit farmer’s markets and malls, shoppers filled up their e-carts. Clicking away on their screens, keeping the economy going. Restricted from dining at their favorite hangouts, people ordered in, making full use of services like UberEats.

Unexpected Revenue Shifts

Other than in industries like travel and hospitality, executives in most other sectors were pleasantly surprised to see that the dive in revenues and profits was not as sharp as expected. In many cases including technology and healthcare, there was a rise! 

As swiftly as the revenue graphs had sloped downwards, they turned upwards and started reaching new highs! Further waves of the pandemic led to additional learning over the course of the following months. This experiential learning enabled policymakers to change their approach when it came to managing their economies.

At the start of the pandemic, many governments across the world had locked down their entire nations. In more recent times, the preferred approach has been to try and create containment zones whenever there seems to be a fresh outbreak of the virus. This new mechanism of fighting the spread of this disease is extremely beneficial for the world of business. It prevents a complete stop of the production cycle.

So, what has been the benefit of this new reality for our workforce?

The Destruction of Boundaries

For the first time ever in many industries, “human capital” is truly free from the shackles of the physical office space. The past twenty-odd months have shown us that work can continue seamlessly even when carried out remotely. All it needs to keep these running smoothly is an evolution in work practices.

Even in organizations that are in the manufacturing or product space, there are enough roles that can be played off-premises. An additional benefit is the “remote interview”. Candidates can be interviewed virtually (literally and figuratively) at the drop of a hat. No more juggling personal schedules or taking a leave of absence from the current job. Just thirty minutes sculpted out during the day.

The Rise of Digital

A huge reason for the world being able to come out largely unscathed (relative to what was anticipated at the start) is the fact that technology has advanced to a level where the element of distance has been negated. Exploding technologies have been brought into mainstream facilities like video conferencing, showcasing tech-enabled shifts in the way business work is now conducted.

The digital landscape also propelled learning across walls. Aspirational professionals, ranging from fresh graduates to experienced C-suite executives, used this opportunity to pick up new skills and dig deeper into chosen fields of work.

The Availability of Choice

One of the major (positive) side-effects of the pandemic has been the self-awareness that many have gained. This self-realization has encouraged many to decide the operating rules for themselves. From flexibility in terms of work location to flexibility in terms of work hours, workers are looking at customizing the kind of work commitments they make, much like the way they choose to personalize their Subway® sandwich. The talent-hungry corporate world had chosen to play ball – creating work models that suit varied types of individuals. With a shift from ‘pay-for-time’ to ‘pay-for-output’, employees balance their work and personal life, in a more controlled way, putting themselves in the driver’s seat.

Conclusion

In essence, 2021 can be clearly proclaimed to be the year when workers woke up and The Great Resignation started. Truth is that not all may have awakened out of choice. Some amongst us might have been jolted awake by the rude interruption of the dreaded virus, as they found themselves retrenched or having had to leave their work to take care of an ailing family member. But, the end result is the same. It seems, as we get further into 2022, that professionals are indeed awake and about enjoying their days in the sun! What a time to be working!

 

Why Trust and Transparency Matter in the Workplace

Many business experts champion trust in the workplace. They include the likes of Stephen Covey and my dear friend, David Horsager. (His 8 Pillars of Trust and his many excellent books should be required reading.) However, what is perhaps less well known is the neuroscience of trust. As a species, we’ve developed an array of neurochemical survival mechanisms. Employers often ignore these mechanisms, and as a result, miss the opportunity to build trust and transparency in the workplace. 

The Neuroscience of Mistrust

Let’s start with the opposite of trust. It is the “fight or flight” response we experience when faced with a perceived threat. These “threats” elevate the hormone cortisol, which narrows our focus to deal only with the immediate. The threat could be actual, imminent, physical, or merely a harsh interruption in our day. The problem is, our bodies can’t easily tell the difference.

Of course, cortisol has other important functions. Cortisol controls blood sugar levels, memory formation, and blood pressure. At normal levels, it keeps us engaged with the day’s activities. When elevated, cortisol puts us on “alert status” and makes trust a low priority.

Trust and the Willingness to Take Risks

In my book, The Velocity Mindset, I discussed how cortisol can prevent leadership teams from identifying and achieving objectives. Additionally, I highlighted the role another hormone, oxytocin, plays in velocity (speed with direction and alignment).

Trust in the workplace—and its neurochemical roots—are key drivers for business success. Compelling research by Dr. Paul Zak and others champions the well-established science around oxytocin and trust. According to one study, oxytocin “affects an individual’s willingness to accept social risks arising through interpersonal interactions.” Additionally, researchers have found that oxytocin “enhances an individual’s propensity to trust a stranger when that person exhibits non-threatening signals.”

Obviously, creating artificial trust in the workplace via oxytocin injections would be a short-sighted and ethical nightmare. Nevertheless, there must be practical ways to promote trust knowing that our biology.

Fortunately, trust in the workplace can be accomplished with common-sense approaches, as Horsager and others have shown. An Oxford study summarizes the key drivers and human resource practices that develop trust. These include mutual respect, open communication, and fairness, especially in appraisals of work. The study also identifies factors which decrease trust, such as a lack of transparency in decision-making.

The Risk of Betrayal in the Workplace

Trust is the gold standard. It is the glue that makes alignment and velocity possible. The benefits of increased trust in the workplace are enormous. Over the long term, it increases individual employee productivity and engagement. To paraphrase Zak, it improves collaboration and cultivates a happier, more productive workforce. On the other hand, the consequences of breaking that trust are far worse than not having it in the first place.

Studies have shown that a betrayal of trust, whether familial, cultural, or institutional, creates high levels of long-term stress, including the release of cortisol. If such responses become ingrained in an employee’s experience and memory, the chances of returning to a state of unqualified trust are slim. Consequently, employees might resist a manager or HR professional’s efforts to right a wrong or be transparent after a breach of trust. 

Though a proactive HR team may be capable of rebuilding this trust, the effort is complicated by the very neurochemicals that make us human.

Transparency: The Path To Velocity

It is not easy to win trust and transparency in the workplace. As a result, people are taking a risk when asked to make decisions that may not benefit them. The deciding factor is often how comfortable they are with those asking the question. Transparency, trustworthiness, empathy, and understanding are not just words. They are requirements for every HR professional and executive who aspires to true leadership. 

Today, it is impossible to take a “my way or the highway” approach to business. We need everyone’s buy-in to remain focused on tasks that support a purpose. Trust and transparency in the workplace, like everything else that enables leadership, begins with an understanding of what makes us human. And most importantly, it requires a willingness to work hard to gain that trust. 

Looking to Build a Strong HR Department From Scratch? Follow These 6 Steps

Building an in-house human resources department for your business, or a company where people can outsource their HR needs to you? The initial steps can be overwhelming. The best way to build a solid HR foundation is to create policies, standard operating procedures, and risk mitigation plans. Implementing policies that align with your workplace culture will improve overall employee experience and mitigate operational and reputational risk. Here are some important components to keep in mind to build the foundation for a strong HR department–from scratch. 

1. Organizational Design

Organizational design is the backbone of the company. It facilitates efficiency by eliminating double work and smooths out bumpy processes and procedures that may be in place. That’s because it delivers the proper information to the right employees at the right time. While this is a relatively new element in human resource departments, organizational design has been around for decades. A tried and true method is the McKinsey 7-S Framework created in the 1970s. You use it to see whether different parts of your organization are operating harmoniously together and find ways to improve. The structure is split into seven key components, and at the center of the framework is the company’s shared values. These components comprise of the following:

  • Strategy (your business plan)
  • Structure (how your business is organized)
  • Systems (daily activities)
  • Shared values (mission statement and goals)
  • Style (the leadership)
  • Staff (the culture and the capabilities of the staff)
  • Skills (what the organization is actually capable of)

2. Employee Compensation and Benefits

Workers search for companies that focus on well-being, meaning the best talent is looking for the best compensation and benefits. According to a recent study, 32 percent of businesses with 10 or fewer employees are now offering benefits packages. Your business should also have something to offer. Principally, the larger your business grows, the more comprehensive your compensation and benefits package will need to become. In-house HR departments should know what employees want so that they can attract and retain talent

3. Onboarding/Recruiting Procedures

Proper onboarding is important because it can cost 90 to 200 percent of an employee’s annual salary to replace them. Effective onboarding will reduce the chance of quick employee turnover while potentially increasing retention. Listen to what your employees want and give them a full idea of what their job will entail. In a BambooHR survey, of the employees who left within six months, 26 percent didn’t believe it met their expectations.

4. Occupational Health and Safety Program

According to a study published in 2018, 1,027 Canadians die a year due to work-related accidents. That’s about three people a day. Therefore, you should adhere to the Occupational Health and Safety Act set by your province and the Canada Labour Code. All employers in Canada are required to follow these by law.

5. Training and Development

When it comes to recruitment, you want to have a good training and development program implemented within your business. An IMB study showed that 35 percent of millennials felt compelled to work at a company with optimal training programs. In fact, it’s one of the top reasons they are likely to sign on with a business. Plus, 52 percent of millennials are drawn to companies that give them the opportunity to advance in the workplace. Furthermore, employees that don’t receive the training they need are 12 times more likely to quit their job. 

That’s not all. A recent study found that businesses with thorough training programs had more than twice the income per employee than those without them. The American Society of Training and Development also found that those who spend $1,500 on training generated 24 percent more profit than those who spent less. This is evidence that skimping on training affects your bottom line and hurts you financially in the long run. 

6. Internal vs. External HR Teams

There are many pros to having an in-house HR department. Specifically, it is a lot easier to cultivate a positive culture, resolve problems, and adjust practices to enable organic development. The cons of having an internal HR team are that it can be expensive. Additionally, it can be hard to find the right specialist or team that aligns with your company values.

A pro of having an external HR team is that specialist companies have in-depth knowledge and skills in specialized areas. These may include legal compliance, coaching and development, and benchmarking. It also gives companies the time to focus on their business rather than human resources and employee compliance issues. 

The cons of outsourcing your HR team are that it can feel impersonal and disconnected from the company’s culture. This department outside the company can be an issue as you are giving up control of select processes. You also won’t be able to keep track of daily startup operations and related HR concerns. What is best for your company will depend on your own set of challenges and the resources you can access.

It’s a good idea to plan and have realistic HR goals that align with your company values. As your team grows, your business needs will require some tweaking. Having a plan in place from the outset will make this process a lot simpler and allow for organic development.

Business Needs vs. Employee Needs: Finding the Happy Medium

It’s been a hard year and a half, and as the pandemic continues to fluctuate, illness and lockdowns have taken their toll. The effects extend into the workplace, too, as companies struggle to find a happy medium between employee needs and business needs.

During this time, employees reevaluated what a workplace means to them and how job satisfaction plays into their overall happiness. Many employees found that they’re happier when they don’t have to commute, dress up, or stick to prescribed business hours. Others are ready to get back to the workplace where there are fewer distractions and more in-person collaboration.

Many businesses, on the other hand, are eager to get back to an in-office model without Zoom meetings. Managers want to communicate quickly with employees at their desks, instead of via chat. It’s understandable but short-sighted for employers to try to get back to a pre-pandemic way of operating. As the health implications of COVID-19 can’t be undone, neither can the effects it’s having on the workplace, which is why the need to find a happy medium is important.

These changes create a need for HR teams to adapt to the realities of these changes. Therefore, it’s time for businesses to adapt their return-to-office plans to ensure that they are employee-centered. Now more than ever, balancing employee needs against the needs of the business is imperative.

Listening to Employees

Work-from-home employees are not shy about their preferences and pain points around remote work. Coworkers commonly talk amongst themselves about how much they like not having to dress in full business attire or commute. They also expressed frustrations around digital communications and how, since they’re online, the workday can stretch beyond regular hours.

Before putting forth a return-to-office plan, businesses must listen to what employees truly want. To avoid turnover, some employers plan to skip a return-to-office life altogether, especially since a lack of remote work options is a deal-breaker for many employees and may send them searching for a job elsewhere. Many employees have already made that step, citing lack of remote work options as the main reason for seeking other opportunities. Notably, according to a survey by ResumeBuilder, 15% of workers are planning to leave their jobs before December.

What is the best way to find out what employees need to be happy in their current positions? Ask them. Hold a company-wide meeting to discuss what they like about working remotely, what can be improved, their thoughts on returning to full-time office work, and any questions they may have.

HR teams should leverage anonymous channels like digital surveys to make sure every voice is heard. These tools are perfect for individuals who are not comfortable speaking up in a large group, or for those who worry that their opinions will reflect poorly on them. 

Company leaders should also trust employees. They know how they work best, as well as the ways working from home affects their work-life balance. HR teams know happy employees are more engaged, produce better work, and stay in their positions longer, creating positive business outcomes.

Balancing Employee Needs With Business Needs

While keeping employee needs top of mind is essential, HR professionals must also evaluate how best to serve the company. If remote work begins to negatively impact employee and company performance, that can’t be ignored. Conversely, if an organization consistently meets KPIs, is growing, and employees are engaged, there’s no need to return to the office five days a week.

Instead of assuming performances and company operations will improve in an office setting, HR teams should strive to find balance. There’s no need for extremes. Companies don’t need to decide to keep operations fully remote or shift them entirely back to the office.

Over the course of the pandemic, it’s become clear what job functions need to be performed in person versus remote. Some team members can complete all of their job functions from home, while others have duties that require in-person work.

Companies should try to strike a balance and meet their employees in the middle. Offer a schedule that accommodates working from home alongside in-person work. For example, some organizations can easily let employees work from home three days a week, while requesting in-person attendance for meetings.

Companies can also strike a balance by easing the dress code to make going into the office feel more comfortable. Additionally, they can find cost savings by allowing employees to work from home. Businesses should evaluate whether they can stagger when different staff members come in. By doing so, they can use a smaller office space, saving on rental costs and utilities, among other expenses. At the same time, employees will appreciate the flexibility of being able to choose to work from home on a regular basis.

Looking to the Future

Before implementing a return-to-office plan, HR teams must equally weigh the needs of the business against those of their employees. Therefore, it may be tempting to develop this kind of plan quickly. However, HR teams must take time to listen to employees and measure their needs alongside business goals. This will create a happier and more effective workplace for everyone.

5 Ways Leaders Can Create a Successful Work Environment

impact awardWhat is a great “place” to work today? With many abandoning the office tower or business park cubicle office, we’re increasingly emerging from an era of great workplaces to the new territory of worker-centricity. While some thought the great place to work was about amenities (commuter buses, reduced or free food, and onsite everything), we’ve known something else all along–supportive leadership in the work environment is key. 

Executives in great organizations believe that every employee benefits from outstanding leadership. Engagement is dependent on leadership, as Gallup’s research consistently reports that nearly 70% of employee engagement is within a manager’s control. Managers who prosper in today’s hybrid work environment will boost engagement with the five core leadership practices.

1. Building and sustaining trust.

The core of the coming modern enterprise is an authentic leader’s ability to gain and establish trust. The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed declining confidence in social institutions and organizational leaders worldwide. The world’s two largest economies, China and the U.S., showed significant decreases in the trust of both politicians and corporate executives. Employees who trust their leaders demonstrate greater satisfaction, loyalty, and involvement, all antidotes to undesirable talent drain and loss.

Trust fuels the teamwork and progress that leads to innovation, a key determinant of long-term growth and survival. Managers erode trust when they are not honest and truthful, and trust is difficult to regain. Trust erosions lead to decreases in integrity, and we don’t fully engage with those we don’t trust. Successful leaders engage and enroll people in goal-driven missions that spark collaboration leading to improved teamwork and productivity. 

2. Leading from values.

When was the last time you considered what your team or company holds in high regard? Typically, we keep our values in the highest regard and build reward and consequence systems that reflect leaders’ values. Engineers and scientists, for example, are recognized for their accomplishments with honorific titles or other expressions of acknowledgment. At the same time, sales and marketing professionals might reap great expense-paid prizes. The more selective the set of values, the more they shape performance.

Values help people connect to organizations and the world in ways more significant than individual accomplishment and effort. For example, if a startup values frugality, people will likely be encouraged to monitor capital and resource consumption. When a manager recognizes effort routinely, the manager demonstrates care and will actively bolster employee satisfaction and engagement. Values guide the decisions we make and the actions we take. Leaders gain faster results and build better relationships by consistently articulating and aligning colleagues to shared values.

3. Creating communities.

While there is truth in the observation that culture eats strategy, growth businesses are now shifting to community thinking within the work environment. A community invites deeper levels of belonging and commitment, while culture implies one-way approaches. While leaders will never underestimate the influence of culture on work processes — or how things get done — they will invest in creating communities where the practices of improvement and resilience thrive. 

Communities, not cultures, pay attention to wellbeing, commitment, innovation, and revenue. As they do, expenses and problems decrease along with skepticism and stress.

Managers and leaders who succeed facilitate employee involvement in decision-making and product and service delivery. Managers expand their capacities for including and involving others and encourage broad knowledge and skill sharing. When managers lead the way in strengthening the bonds, performance vitality and output increase. Employees improve their connections among their colleagues and partnerships between leaders and their teams thrive. 

4. Growing transition readiness.

Most people can let go of the past and successfully embrace a new order or a different future. However, the time between a specific history and an unpredictable future creates and powers uncertainty. In the face of not knowing, we fill in the gaps to reduce the psychological tension that arises with an unknown future. The remedy to not-knowing is to equip a generation of leaders with the knowledge and skill to navigate uncertainty successfully.

A manager successful at helping others through transitions possesses self-awareness and openness to change and growth through learning and development. These managers refuse to see opportunities and people as problems but rather as contributors. When work is perceived more like an invitation than a requirement, an organization’s esprit de corps positively changes.  Improvements measured by meaningful metrics rise.

5. Maintaining a Customer-First Work Environment

When employees can connect their experience and employment to a paying customer or stakeholder, the commitment to excellence thrives. People want to do their best to deliver a quality product or service to those they feel connected to. Customers and new markets are eternal sources of inspiration when we successfully recruit and involve employees in a customer-first mission. A team’s connection to a customer contributes to the motivation for peak performance. When we care, we act in a customer-first way.

Managers and leaders improve organizational energy by harnessing a customer-first spirit across the enterprise with both customers and employees. When colleagues treat each other as customers, it translates to appealing work environments. A standard of care and excellence replaces indifference created by the isolation many experience in today’s hybrid workplace.

To reawaken work and succeed in the new world of work, we must put these five practices into place to boost engagement. Leadership growth in these action areas contains the kernel of power to transform careers, lives, organizations, and the communities we serve. Begin the journey to building teams and communities on the path to personal and organizational prosperity.

 

#WorkTrends: How to Build a Company Where Everyone Wants to Work

We’re obsessed with culture in HR — and for good reason. We want our offices to be engaging, fun places to work, and anyone who has worked at a company with a toxic culture knows how miserable the experience can be.

Of course, there remains one unfortunate truth: A great organizational culture doesn’t happen overnight. But Diane Adams, chief culture and talent officer at Sprinklr, says culture is something that can be built, as long as you take the time and effort. Adams is the author of “It Takes More than Casual Fridays and Free Coffee: Building a Business Culture that Works for Everyone,” and she joined me to talk about what you can do to build a better culture.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

The Steps to Building a Great Culture

If you’ve ever tried to overhaul your organization’s culture, you know it can be as daunting as trying to repair your own car for the first time. It’s not fun — it’s scary, and you may even feel that no matter what you do, there’s a great chance of making things worse.

That’s why Adams has broken down the process for creating a great culture into seven steps. She shared the first three of those with us; to find out the rest you’ll have to read her book!

The first step is to define your mission and values. This will provide clarity to your organization about the standards you expect and the goals you hope to achieve. And the second step is to ensure that those values are being lived — or, as Adams puts it, “integrating them in everything you do.” One way to do this is to have a recognition program. Sprinklr has a peer-recognition program that makes it easy for employees to nominate their coworkers.

Connected with this is her third step: Be sure that you’re using your communications to effectively define the organization’s values. “One of the things that I think great companies do is ensure there are frequent, two-way communications,” Adams says. At Sprinklr the company’s town hall meetings are always in a Q&A format, to ensure that employees know they can speak their minds.

Where Culture Building Can Go Wrong

We talk a lot about values when discussing organizational culture, and we often see in the news examples of companies whose behavior has crossed ethical and legal lines.

In many cases these organizations aren’t living up to their values. And it’s these values, Adams says, that organizations have to always be sure they are emphasizing. Maintaining these standards can be more difficult than it looks, no matter how well-intentioned the organization is.

Don’t believe it can happen to you? Adams offers a thought experiment: “If we have our top salesperson bringing in the highest revenue [in a manner] which is totally contrary to our values, what are we going to do?”

It’s an intriguing thought that points to a dilemma that organizations often face. And while we in HR have our opinions, the reality is that it’s ultimately up to the leadership to make sure the organization is living up to its values. Ensure that the leadership is engaged with the cultural mission. If they’re not, you might have bigger problems on your hands.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

#WorkTrends: Building a People-Focused Culture

Donna Kimmel is executive vice president and chief people officer at Citrix, so I guess you could say she’s literally a people person! And that makes her the perfect guest for this week’s #WorkTrends topic: the importance of building a people-centric culture. It’s something that too many organizations merely pay lip service to, rather than investing the time required to ensure that their cultures really do revolve around their people.

Building a people-centric culture isn’t just about providing perks and lunchtime dance parties (a girl can dream though, right?). A truly people-centric culture connects people to their work in a unique, personal way, even integrating technology into the workplace so that the employee experience is everything it can be.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

Get People to Be Their Best Selves

For the folks at Citrix, the first step of building a people-centric culture is about empowering people to be their best selves at work. While this starts with hiring quality talent, there’s much more to it, Kimmel says. “It’s marrying culture, technology and space,” she says.

The company has worked to make sure it’s truly living out its values, and has created programs to better channel employees’ passions into their work, she says. While the technology that some Citrix employees use is a bit beyond my pay grade, the principle behind the focus on technology is easy to understand: Citrix does everything in its power to give employees the tools they need to enable productivity.

Kimmel says the element of space relates a bit to technology, but also to the actual workspaces that employees use. Citrix was a pioneer in remote work. “We’ve been working virtually for many years,” she says. But this focus on space doesn’t just mean kicking back on your couch while working. Citrix made sure its office spaces are designed in a manner that encourages collaboration, while also accommodating the varying work preferences of its many employees.

Managing Different Generations

No matter the industry, many large organizations share a challenge: managing multiple generations of workers. Kimmel says there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this issue. Your fixed-gear-bicycle-riding programmer is going to have different needs and goals than your buttoned-up senior analyst. What’s important, though, is that management makes the effort to understand what best motivates each employee. “It’s about us being flexible and adaptable, because different generations may need different ways of interacting,” Kimmel says.

However, there’s a constant that applies for every generation: the ultimate motivation is passion. Employees of all ages want to find fulfillment beyond their paycheck. This is why it’s so important to get to know your employees on an individual level, Kimmel says. Discovering your employees’ passions helps you create alignment with their responsibilities — and creates a ripple effect all the way down to customers.

Bring Marie Kondo to Your Office

Like many of us, Kimmel is a fan of “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” Recently she wrote an article for HR Technologist about how we can tidy up our workspace, and I asked her for a few tips on how we can declutter our organizations.

Kimmel pointed not to a physical space that needs tidying, but a digital one one. She suggests looking at your technology and assessing whether it streamlines your processes. For example, are your employees switching between programs too much? Even minor inconveniences can become incredibly frustrating over time. “Technology can be a bit of a double-edged sword,” she says. “It can be very overwhelming for us.”

That’s why Citrix is building an intelligent workspace to let employees keep all of their texts, emails, documents and anything else they need right in front of them. The system will also have an artificial intelligence aspect, so it can learn what employees need over time. “It’s really about trying to cut out that excess noise that gets in your way,” she says.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

This episode is sponsored by Citrix.

Good Management Skills: Nature or Nurture?

 Earlier this year, Gallup issued a fascinating study that looked at why great managers are so rare. It concluded that while one of the most important decisions a company can make is whom they select to manage, companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82 percent of the time. It turns out managers drive 70% of employees’ engagement and experience of work , which makes their role crucial in retaining talent as well as achieving organization goals.

The Gallup report goes on to state that about one in ten people possess the talent to manage. Though many people are endowed with some of the necessary traits, few have the unique combination of talent needed to help a team achieve excellence in a way that significantly improves a company’s performance. These 10%, when put in manager roles, naturally engage team members and customers, retain top performers, and sustain a culture of high productivity.

While it is an interesting theory, I’m convinced that while raw talent plays a part in great management, the secret to a pipeline of better managers is better preparation. Managing is a distinct job but according to McKinsey, new managers get the least training and tools for the job to succeed. The ones who thrive with responsibility and pressure but without these basics are the naturally gifted 10% (counter-intuitively, they’re often chosen to get the limited leadership coaching companies do provide).

Few jobs can be done well without tools fit for purpose and training to develop skills. Everyone knows half of the old Vince Lombardi quote that starts, “Leaders aren’t born they are made.” While that can also be said of managers, the rest of his quote is even more telling: “And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”

Management skill and leadership pipeline are the top talent concern of CEOs yet 5% believe their pipeline is sufficient, so it is time to invest in the hard work of growing great managers.

These four steps can help your organization cultivate, grow and instill management skills:

1. Recognize “Managing” As Real Work.
Like the domain processes for things like sales, development, and customer service, managing is also a distinct function that follows a consistent, teachable framework. To be effective, managers must communicate goals, triage execution priorities, drive actions and accountability, report progress and give feedback to their teams. This universal framework for managing is not obvious to new managers and middle managers’ domain workloads may not allow them sufficient time to do these well. Managers can easily sink into a recursive cycle of triage and reporting with little time to communicate goals and feedback – which leads to more triage and worse results. Establishing and reinforcing the simple management framework can help them break the cycle.

2. Start At The Beginning
At first promotion to manager, make sure people receive training on what management means and they understand the framework for managing. Their domain skills may qualify them for managing a function, but rarely prepare them to do so. Course material should cover the management framework, the importance and impact of engaging their teams, bridging skill and perspective differences, and accountability techniques. At each subsequent promotion, deepen the training on the framework, self-awareness and strategic thinking to deepen their skills.

3. Foster Desire To Be A Skillful Manager
Create and reinforce natural desire, curiosity and self-interest in improving management skills by messaging and modeling its distinct importance. Line of business executives can incorporate it as a regular topic in their 1on1 discussions with managers to validate its relevance and importance. Identify coaches within business units that can help managers enhance their people management and leadership skills individually or in informal meet ups (much as you would domain mentorships). If managing well is a visible company value, more people will manage well.

4. Give Managers Tools To Manage With
Most performance tools were designed to help HR centrally track goal setting and review completion rather than to help line managers. To create management capacity and competency, provide performance and management tools that directly help managers manage at their best. Workboard, for example, is a Web and mobile app that automates the management framework for managers (and provides HR and executives with greater transparency and confidence). It’s a performance and productivity app designed for line of business managers to continuously communicate goals, manage shifting priorities, assign and track actions, automate status reporting, maximize 1on1s and give more regular feedback.

There’s never been a more important time to build managerial skills. CEO’s value it, competitive advantage in a recovering economy depends on it, complex businesses need it at all levels, employee engagement and talent retention hinges on it yet very few people are born with these skills. Management skill and capacity building is strategic to HR’s partnership with the business and any performance, talent and employee engagement initiative.

 

Eradicate These 10 Dysfunctions and Create a Stand-Out Culture

Every organization would like to build a high performance stand-out culture, but these ten non-strategic activities are barriers that must be overcome.

They are practised by most organizations and produce very little. They consume precious time and suck up emotional energy.

1. Committee Work. How many Committees do you have working on stuff? What would happen if you reduced the number by 50% and empowered folks to make a decision and get on with execution? Committees are charged with the responsibility of coming up with recommendations that satisfy everyone. Often these decisions take a long time to reach, they are watered-down and produce forgettable results.

2. Hyper-analysis. Analysis can paralyze an organization and is a symptom of being afraid to make a call. Don’t over analyze. Do the amount of study that is consistent with the decision to be made. A $10 Million decision will need more work than a $100K one.

3. Seeking The Last 5% of Perfection. Read this as trying to get it perfect. Crazy quest. Will never happen. Get it “just about right” and execute flawlessly. Keep your feet moving.

4. Co-ordinating. What VALUE is there in this? When teamwork fails or systems are deficient, we need a coordinator? Rubbish!

5. Consensus Building. You can’t satisfy everyone. Make the call. A consensus solution is generally one that has “rounded corners” to satisfy everyone and loses its originality.

6. Following Rules. WOW! A great way to stultify creativity and innovation. Sure, some rules are necessary. But some are also “dumb”. What if you reduced the number of rules by 50% over the next 30 days? Do you think it would open up the possibilities for people to do NEW THINGS?

7. Punishing Failure. Another great way to beat innovation out of a person. If you’re not failing you’re not moving forward. Failing is a necessary component of success. Honor failure and those who deliver it.

8. Giving Orders. Managers do it. Change Leaders don’t. Do you really believe people won’t do the right thing? If not, you haven’t prepared them. They haven’t grown. You have failed. Learn from it.

9. Benchmarking. Sure, this approach may help you improve your performance but copying will never make you remarkable, unforgettable or give you a competitive advantage. Consider “best in class” as the highest bar to BE DiFFERENT from. If you stop at the best you will be like every other organization in the herd – boring and common.

10. Doing What The Job Description Says. Don’t do what is right; stick to your job responsibilities. “It’s not my job”. “I’ll pass you over to Customer Care”. Customers love this one don’t they? Screw the formal job description. We need people to spot opportunities and do whatever it takes to create maniacal raving fans EVEN if it means going beyond their formal job limits. We do want people to step out don’t we?

This list of ten is a product of the past. It represents a control management culture.

Stand-out organizations today find a way to break away from as many of these as they can as quickly as possible.

Do you have the jam to do it?

Photo credit: Bigstock

5 Essentials of Strategic Renewal

Every organizational strategy needs regular updating regardless of how successful you’ve been. It’s simply not good enough to develop your strategy and put it on the shelf, expecting that it will work indefinitely.

Always be looking for and recording the factors that have changed since you crafted the last version of your plan. The business environmental involves dynamics that are relentless and unpredictable and it’s better to be prepared for them by proactively renewing your strategy every year.

Here are 5 basics of the renewal process:

1. Revisit Your Strategy. If you don’t have a strategic game plan for your organization, create one. Ensure that your growth objective, target customer groups and competitive claim are all still valid given your current circumstances. Markets and competitors change rapidly and it is vital that what you claim to be your uniqueness is still relevant and true.

2. FOCUS. FOCUS. FOCUS.
Concentrate on as few objectives and action plans as you can. Avoid the pitfall of many organizations that think this is a brainstorming exercise where the more objectives you can define the better off you will be.

The reality is that if you have too many things to do, you won’t achieve any one of them particularly well.

Define the minimum number of objectives that will allow you to achieve 80% of your strategy. Apply your scarce resource only to the issues that will yield renewal success so figure out a handful of things to do and get on with it. Attack the critical few not the possible many.

3. Modify Your Business Processes.
Renewal requires that you analyze your business processes and modify them to be compatible with your revised direction.

Don’t assume your existing processes will work; they were created to execute your old plan not the renewed version.

And if you decide that cost reductions are required, do the process change FIRST; cutting costs without changing the WAY you do business could impair how you serve your customers.

4. CUT The CRAP.
Strategy is just as much about NOT doing things as it is about choosing a new direction. Once you have determined your renewal path, eliminate the projects and activities that are no longer a priority but simply drain the organization of time and energy.

Most organizations have difficulty doing this; they relentlessly hang on to the comfortable activities of the past and wonder why they can’t make headway on their new course.

The fact is, you don’t have the bandwidth to continue with the past and adopt a new set of priorities for the future. Assign a CUT the CRAP Champion for your team and charge them with the task of cleansing your internal environment of things that are not consistent with your renewal plan.

5. Plan On The Run.
Don’t get fooled into believing that your renewal strategy will go as planned. It won’t. There are always unforeseen events that happen and execution elements that fall short of expectations and you will have to make adjustments to your plan “on the run”.

Avoid sticking to your original course when the evidence proves its a lost cause. Develop a handful of key performance metrics and examine your progress at least monthly (in times of turbulent change, weekly monitoring may be in order).

Learn from your ongoing results and adjust your plan accordingly. The plan on the run formula: plan – execute – learn – adjust – execute – learn – adjust…

Build constant strategic renewal into your culture.

BE DIFFERENT than the herd.

Make the renewal competency your competitive advantage.

Improving Employee Engagement Efforts

Most organizations realize the need for (and huge bottom-line benefits of) an engaged workforce, but the majority still struggle with it. Read more

3 Steps To Build A "DAZZLE" Culture

Satisfying your customers isn’t good enough in today’s competitive markets. Meeting their needs falls short of earning their loyalty. You need to dazzle them; leave them “breathless” whenever they touch your organization.

The challenge is to build an organizational culture that serves the customer in every way. Not one that pushes products and services at them. Not one that forces them to engage with the organization in an unfriendly way. Here are three steps leaders can take:

1. Hire “Human-Being Lovers”

People who are born with an innate desire to serve their fellow human beings. People who get absolute joy from serving and do whatever it takes to see someone’s eyes light up.

Customers can’t be delighted if an employee would rather be taking inventory than taking care of them.

You can’t train people to “love humans.” You can train them to “grin” with a smile in their voice, but that’s the extent of it.

To select the right candidate, the recruitment interview should always include the the question “Do you love humans?” with the follow up “Tell me a personal story that proves it”. If you get goosebumps from the answer, hire the person. If not, show them the door.

2. Trash Dumb Rules

Rules have a legitimate management control purpose but if they drive business away because customers are unwilling to play by them, what’s the point?

Have fun with the idea. I struck a number of “dumb rules committees” to seek out and destroy senselessness; I made it matter by holding my leadership team accountable for implementing the changes.

Rules that serve the customer requires their engagement. Ask them for their input in rule design; they will be impressed that you are open to asking for their help.

Empower your front line to bend rules in special circumstances when they don’t make sense to a particular customer and their loyalty is in jeopardy. Not every policy will be acceptable to every customer, so allowing some flexibility is required.

Don’t worry, your employees won’t give away the farm. Provide them with the skills to balance the needs of both the company and the customer.

3. Turn OOPS! Into WOW!

Sure you do your best to avoid making mistakes, but they will happen. That’s life in any organization.

The good news is that if your service recovery is remarkable when you disappoint one of your customers they are more loyal than if the mistake never happened.

The issue is that most organizations don’t have a service recovery strategy; they don’t like to admit they make mistakes and as a result don’t take the time to plan for when it happens (and it always does).

So how to recover? Fix the mistake fast and then blow the customer away by surprising them with something they don’t expect.

Surprise Is Magic

People expect the screw-up to be remedied but they don’t expect the extra personal attention you give them to atone for the mistake.

Speed is critical. A recovery succeeds only if it is delivered within 24 hours of the OOPS! After that, save your energy for the next one coming your way.

Leaving people breathless is not rocket science; it’s about delivering basic human needs. We want to feel special, treated as individuals and delighted by surprise.

Stand-out leaders understand this and create organizations to deliver.

 

Image: bigstock

Perfectionism At Work: Avoiding Burnout

It’s not unusual for employees to be driven to succeed, especially in a company which is striving for success and prides itself on hiring highly motivated staff. But, according to new research, reaching for perfection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

While you might think that perfectionism is a personality trait that would be productive, you would be mistaken. Studies conducted by York St John University and the University of Bath have shown that perfectionism can be a destructive force.

Perfectionism Is A One-Way Ticket To Burnout

Extremely high personal standards and goals? Your own worst critic? If that sounds familiar, then perfectionism may be an issue. In the workplace, perfectionists tend to be those putting themselves under immense pressure to reach goals that others perceive to be close to unattainable. In doing so they may spend copious amounts of time working on a task and going into meticulous detail.

There’s no arguing that in the short term, perfectionism could achieve excellent results here and there. Unfortunately, in the long-term, it’s a very dangerous personality trait. Perfectionism is very closely linked to burnouts, which happens when stress levels hit the roof leading to fatigue and withdrawal.

Perfectionism And The Workplace

Employers have to take some responsibility for the perfectionism epidemic. Modern workplaces are often highly focused on performance outcomes and employee performance is closely monitored. Highly charged work environments are counter-productive. While they may be striving for better results, perfectionism and work stress produces poorer performance.

Dr Thomas Curran, who co-authored the research, said “We suggest its [perfectionism’s] effects can be managed and organisations must be clear that perfection is not a criteria of success. Instead, diligence, flexibility and perseverance are far better qualities.”

Don’t Burn Out, Take Time Out

Perfectionism may be part of a person’s make up, but it can be exacerbated by employers who are results driven and have high expectations of staff. Innovative companies, just like Google, can look at ways to achieve results by decreasing workplace stress.

1) Take Time Out – Asking employees to work overtime isn’t good for productivity or performance. The most productive employees are those that have time to take a break. Encourage staff to take their annual leave and recharge their batteries, and never keep them late in the office, and you’ll see an improvement in productivity.

2) Depressurize Work Environments – Look for alternative work environments to take away some of the stress. This can be as simple as changing office lighting, to bigger moves towards remote working and flexible working hours. Flexible working arrangements can boost workplace productivity by 71%, not a figure to be sniffed at.

3) Take Failures on the Chin – Instead of chasing results by micromanaging and reacting negatively to missed deadlines, encourage employees to take charge of their own work and use failures as an opportunity for improvement, not as an excuse for loading on more pressure. Use failures to your advantage and work on strategies to avoid them in the future.
Bearing these three points in mind could be the solution to mitigating the negative consequences of high pressure work spaces and perfectionism on the part of management and employees.

IMAGE: BIGSTOCK

6 Ways to Help Employees Ease the Crush of Student Debt

Millennials are feeling the crush of student debt—but they aren’t the only ones. Generation Xers and Baby Boomers are also struggling to pay off their student loans or the loans they incurred to fund their children’s education.

As a result, a growing number of employers are adding student loan refinancing programs to their voluntary benefits packages and total rewards strategies. Student loan refinancing programs (such as SoFi) enable workers to pay off their student loans faster, often saving borrowers thousands of dollars over the lives of their loans—money that can be put toward living expenses or the funding of other employer-sponsored benefits such as 401(k) and retirement savings programs.

In addition to providing access to a student loan refinancing program, employers can help workers by offering them sound financial guidance like these six practical (yet often-overlooked) strategies for repaying student loans more effectively:

  1. Getting organized is step one. Employees with multiple loans often have trouble keeping track of everything—especially those with multiple lenders. These individuals should load all of their loan information into a spreadsheet or use online tools such as those provided by tuition.io to get better organized.
  2. Sign up for automatic payments. Setting up auto payments with lenders minimizes the chances of missing a payment (which hurts borrowers’ credit scores). And many lenders offer a .25% interest rate discount for setting up auto payments.
  3. Consider bi-weekly payments. Paying every other week (as opposed to monthly) results in an extra month’s worth of payments every year, which can save borrowers a significant amount of money on interest. It also helps them pay off loans faster. In addition, paying more than the minimum amount is a wise strategy for those who can afford it. Even an extra $20 speeds up the repayment timetable and saves on interest.
  4. Review your options and think about refinancing. Prepaying, changing repayment plans, and refinancing are three options employees should consider if they want to reduce the money they’re spending on interest. Refinancing at a lower rate is often worth exploring soon after borrowers leave school, increase their income or improve their credit.
  5. Look into federal loans. Although there are only a handful of lenders who refinance federal loans, it can be an attractive, cost-saving option for many borrowers with high-interest-rate Direct unsubsidized and PLUS loans. But, as with any refinancing, borrowers should do their homework before refinancing federal loans with a private lender.
  6. Seek forgiveness. Federal loans might be eligible for forgiveness; however, these benefits don’t transfer to private lenders through the refinance process. The most common federal loan forgiveness programs are for borrowers in the military, those who work in public service or education, and those who utilize one of the government’s income-driven repayment plans such as Pay As You Earn (PAYE).

While they’re simple enough, these six strategies can make a world of difference to the financial well-being of your workforce.

Giving employees the programs and guidance they need to ease the crushing effects of student debt helps them take greater control of their current finances as well as secure their financial future. What’s more, it positions your organization as a true employer of choice—not only to current generations of workers but for those to come.

About the Author:

Dan Macklin is co-founder and vice president of SoFi, the nation’s second largest marketplace lender. SoFi offers mortgages, personal loans, student loan refinancing and more to high achieving professionals.  Previously, Dan spent 12 years at Standard Chartered Bank leading enterprise sales and product development across London, Singapore and Shanghai.

And That’s Why The Guys (And Gals) That Work Make Cultures That Rock

“Now that ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Lemme tell ya them guys ain’t dumb
Maybe get a blister on your little finger
Maybe get a blister on your thumb…”

—Dire Straits, “Money for Nothing”

The Guys That WorkFor nearly 40 years we’ve been the guys that work. Childhood friends who in adulthood continue making an annual trek to “hangout.” Men of a certain age who continue to invest in a friendship that’s seen many ups and downs, ins and outs, and others who have come and gone over the years. Men who have had varying careers, varying relationships, some with children and some without, who have experienced hardship and loss as well as success and enduring love. Men who have created an inclusive culture from a shared collective of unique behaviors and experiences that extend well beyond the bounds of their own inner drum circle, affecting many others in their lives – family, friends, colleagues and today even passerby on social networks.

The guys that work. But it’s not all unconditional bromance love-fest because there’s a valuable return for us all – the catch phrases, the sounding boards, the support networks, the referrals and all the memories that keep us motivated, working hard to keep working together and reinvesting in our personal culture.

Just like the “guys at work” reference that Geddy Lee makes about his bandmates and long-time friends in Rush, a progressive rock band that’s been playing together for over 40 years. But the “guys at work” include everyone who works for, in and around Rush, and their extended families and friends. It’s been their inclusive culture for decades (and that includes guys and gals).

Because for those cultures that rock, we’ll not only salute you, men and women alike, we’ll work for you and evangelize for you. Of course that’s a reference to a classic rock song by AC/DC called “For those about to rock,” but it’s a mantra that continues to ring true when it comes to workplace culture today. Great “bands” and brands focus on culture first and foremost so it will drive engagement, business outcomes and ultimately success.

Jim Knight, a leading training and development expert who wrote Culture That Rocks and worked with Hard Rock International for 20 years where he led the renowned School Of Hard Rocks, put it this way on the TalentCulture #TChat Show: Culture is only as strong or weak as the employees that collectively make up the heart and soul of the organization. Company culture should be hard to copy, but not hard to understand.

Right on. Both Jim and I have our culture brand-crushes – one of his is Southwest Airlines and one of mine is Apple (outside of my own mothership PeopleFluent, and TalentCulture, of course). But we both agree that culture is unique in lesser known brands and entities much closer to home as referenced above. What’s interesting is that although company culture is “personal” and we’re familiar with the phrase “home is where the heart is,” but we never hear “work is where the heart is” for cultures that do rock.

And it’s both. Company culture again is that collective set of shared experiences – good and bad and all in between – where we love what we do first. Then we’re loyal to those that we do it within and around and for, and then ultimately the company itself. It has to go from the inside out no matter the inspirational and motivational leadership up top.

Marcus Buckingham concurs. The renowned speaker, author, 20-year veteran of Gallup, and founder and chairman of The Marcus Buckingham Company told me that his research data actually clarifies my above points. But how long people stay and how productive they are while they’re there depends massively on what they end up doing within the job, the actual work that you’re doing actually fits the best of who they are.

The reality is that no matter much the culture rocks and the work loved, the players still come and go due to continuous economic fluctuations and job transience. But there will be more coming and even returning than going when the culture works and keeps us motivated and invested in the high-performance and rewarding shared experience.

And that’s why the guys (and gals) that work make cultures that rock.

Planning For Tomorrow: Generation Z

While a lot of companies are still struggling with millennials, a smart HR manager is already looking at the generation Z, oldest of whom are turning 18 and slowly entering the workforce.

Generation Z will be, by all estimates, even trickier than millennials for whom  money is not as important as potential for growth and self-improvement. First studies with the newest generation, conducted by Adecco, show that although potential for growth is important to them as well, it is not such high a priority (41% for Millennials vs 30% for Generation Z).

Although they have been criticized for having a 8 second attention span, research by Altitude suggest that “Gen Z have a carefully tuned radar for being sold to and a limited amount of time and energy to spend assessing whether something’s worth their time“ and “One-way messaging alone will likely get drowned out in the noise.“

Evolving Your Business

This is something that HR specialists, managers and team leaders must adapt to. If employee engagement and two-way communications are important when dealing with Millennials, then in 5 years time it will be a vital part to attract and keep talent from the newest generation. Luckily, there are a lot of options.

It will require a very fine tuning of a company’s environment (culture and communications) to attract young people while unemployment is going down. The same studies mentioned previously show that for young people getting a dream job is more important than ever.

An attractive work environment is a place where an employee wants to work. For Millennials, it requires a positive relationship with a supervisor, clear two-way communications and a chance to improve yourself. I’m sure it’s the same for generation Z but they want more of everything. And they want it to be online. Communication must be fast, mobile and available on your iPhone. Work should be engaging (think of social online games),There must be enough independents that they can prove themselves and earn immediate recognition.

There are already a lot of tools for this sort of interaction (most of them start-ups created by Millennials). Some of them (like Office 365) offer complete solutions as an EPN but this is actually not what most companies need. It’s better to find one or two apps that cater to a specific need. For instance, if you need a project management tool, you can try Basecamp, or if you need a feedback/reporting tool, Weekdone progress reporting app allows for quick PPP or OKR based solution, that give an overview of everyone’s work without spending those 8 seconds.

Online communication tools add a feeling of social media to working, which is very important to both Generation Z and Millennials. Whether it’s game-like achievements or collecting points, it’s familiar for the young. Don’t forget: this generation has never lived in a world without a smartphone or iPad. For them, 24h Internet access is a normal thing. And they prefer communicating “in spurts of shorter, but more frequent, bursts of information” aka texting.

They expect not to lose all this when going to the office.

Staying ahead
The rewards from attracting Generation Z early are many. First of all, you’ll be ahead of others that gives you a chance to win over the best possible talents. Secondly, the Millennials (who’ll soon make up most of the workforce) want the same things so you’ll have made your company a perfect work environment for most of the workforce out there.

Photo Credit: Big Stock Images

Stand-Out Leaders Putter At These 7 Things

Old school leadership is about control and pushing people to achieve results; setting and communicating objectives; delegating tasks; measuring results.

Nothing wrong with old school, it’s just that different priorities and actions are required if leaders are to meet the challenges of todays competitive economy and changing employee expectations.

New school leaders make it their priority to help people; to “take care” of them. They make it easier for people to do their jobs. They run interference; bash barriers and eliminate the grunge preventing progress.

New School Leaders Putter At These 7 Basics

1. They are mindlessly focused on detail.

Detail about individuals and what’s going on for them. It’s about the little things and the “small picture” where things get done. Where people take individual actions to move the organization forward. At the coal face where customer and employees engage. If a leader doesn’t know what’s going on where customer meets company, how can they help make it a better experience for all? Exactly!

2. They have an uncanny memory.

The putterer has the innate ability to remember what they’ve seen, heard and felt in the workplace so they can follow up and take whatever action is necessary. They correlate their experience with the strategy and objectives of the organization so they can remedy any dysfunction they see or reward any champion performance they observe.

3. They make the work environment comfortable for people.

Clean. Tidy. Organized. A place where people look forward to hanging out everyday. They are crazy about hygiene factors; the basic needs that people require if they are to perform well consistently. If they are working in a pit, don’t expect them to deliver sterling results. If they aren’t WOW’D by the comforts of their workplace, they won’t be in a mood to delight a customer.

4. They take action themselves when their personal intervention is critical to moving forward.

Putterers don’t delegate on matters requiring inspiration and direction. Small picture issues can’t be delegated as no one other than the leader can FEEL what needs to be done; their passion can’t be delegated. Furthermore, delegation of small picture issues sends the “I really don’t give a damn” message to all, and their currency with the troops takes a plunge.

5. They are constantly active.

Always on the move. Always looking for things to improve for people. Don’t forget the small picture has high resolution and is always in flux, requiring constant movement on the leader’s part. They keep their feet moving!

6. They anticipate.

They have acute sensor abilities, being able to apply what they’ve learned in other circumstances to a situation that is developing in front of them. And, as a result, either avoiding an unpleasant ending OR achieving something extraordinary.

7. They smile.

Putterers love what they do. They are happy. When confronted by disappointment they look for the pony. Their positive attitude is contagious. And it costs nothing. People around them catch the “smile virus”. It spreads. Imagine a workplace where everyone is smiling! Think it’s productive? Ya.

Stand-out leaders are awesome at the basics. How do you rate?

How To Cure A Sick Company Culture

Performance wanes. Employee engagement falls and morale sinks.

These are tell-tale signs that your culture is sick and needs attention. So how do you go about fixing it?

First, three housekeeping questions:

1. What is “culture”? Culture describes an organization’s working environment. How people behave. What they talk about. How they interact with and treat one another. The values they respect and hold sacred.

2. What is the purpose of culture? It enables the achievement of goals. It is a tactic, if you will, that facilitates healthy and effective execution of a company’s strategy because it engages every employee in its purpose. Culture is the engine of accomplishment. A finely tuned engine delivers high performance; a poorly tuned one is hit and miss.

3. What is the “right” culture? There is no shrink-wrapped version of culture that applies to every organization. You must create the unique one that works for you. There may be elements in common with other firms, but you discover this after the fact. Culture should never be copied; it should be created.

Cultural change requires an intervention; you can’t expect it to change without an imposition. The challenge is to move from “this is the way things are around here” to “this is the way things must look if we are to survive and thrive.”

Here are five steps that will create the culture that is right for you:

1. Start with building your strategic context. Culture is guided by the strategic game plan of your organization — “what you want to be when you grow up.” It’s an expression of what the inside of your organization must “look like” in order to successfully execute. Early in my career we had to shift from being a monopoly telecom business to a nimble customer-focused competitor; we needed to create a different culture to take us there. The journey began with creating a new strategic vision that would allow us to successfully compete in a world we had not previously experienced.

2. Develop the values you require every team member to align with. Successful execution begs that everyone is on the same page in terms of how to do their job. A value is a common-held belief, without which your strategy is impaired. Technology businesses require risk-taking, creativity and innovation to be successful; if employees don’t act in a way that delivers these values, dysfunction sets in and progress is eluded.

3. Define the behaviors that are required to exhibit each values. For each value develop more granularity to move away from an aspiration to something that is concrete and more understandable. For example, if “spirited teamwork” is one of your values, define in more specific terms what is meant by the value. What behaviors would you expect to see exhibited when spirited teamwork is alive and well in the organization. This is a critical step. Values need to be translated so that every employee has a direct line of sight that connects what they do every day to the values expected.

4. Assess the inside. Evaluate each employee in your organization to determine his or her “value fit.” Some will transition immediately to your new values; others can be convinced to adopt them and others will refuse. The point is you need to get everyone onboard fast; time is not your friend. Exit who you believe are the “non-adopters”; they will infect their colleagues if they stay and prevent progress.

5. Build your values into your reward and recognition programs. Make the expression of values matter by holding people accountable. Reward awesome “spirited teamwork” in front of employee groups. Publicize your “value heroes” so others know what is expected. Ultimately, include values as part of your variable compensation program, in which the consistent heroes are financially rewarded. If you have a 360-degree feedback program, include values as an important part of individual assessment.

The culture that is right for you is much more than an aspiration. If you don’t follow through with the specific executional elements necessary to give it “life,” it will remain a dream.

And nothing will change.

About the Author: Roy Osing is a former executive vice-president and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience. He is a blogger, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.

photo credit: Measuring a Shot 11-9-08 — IMG_7413 via photopin (license)

Find Your True Self And Run With It

“This above all: to thine own self be true.” – Shakespeare

How long does it take to tell a “brand” apart from an authentic person? From the first word out of his or her mouth, right? “Brands” tend to be a little too perfect — packaged, programmed, plastic. They push what they think we want to buy, not their real selves. It’s like the difference between processed food and the fresh, “real” food you can get at farmers markets.

I want authenticity when I hire, and even when I’m not. Catching my drift? I do not want some amalgam of what the applicant thinks the employer is looking for. I want to know you for the real you. I want to celebrate your personality – every nook and cranny. Real success has always been about knowing ourselves and staying true to that core. People who know themselves enrich an organization’s culture, and add to the workplace community with their spontaneity and honesty.

Branding isn’t without value, but it can’t be the ultimate measure. That has to go deeper.

Here are five ways to find your authentic self:

1) Take Shakespeare’s advice and be true to yourself. Know your values and never compromise them, even if doing so might lead to short-term gain. Integrity and authenticity go hand in hand.

2) Be good to yourself. We all have to take care of ourselves. And this means doing things that enrich us, body, mind and soul. Go fly fishing, tutor ex-cons, learn a new language, discover a cool new rock band, start a new business venture, bake cupcakes, read Trollope, hike the Andes. Find things that nurture you and make you feel good about yourself. This will deepen yourself of sense of self, and your self-confidence.

3) Have fun. Life is short and often hard. Fun and a sense of humor help us all get through. They also happen to be amazing productivity and community-building tools. I can’t tell you how many tough meetings I’ve been in where the mood is turned around by some genuine humor. Exercise your funny bone.

4) Don’t hide your so-called flaws. No one is perfect and no one is expected to be perfect. You may be cranky at times, pessimistic, even antisocial or a little weird. Well, guess what? Steve Jobs was a freak. Understand yourself — talents and “flaws” — and bring it all to the table.

5) Know what you want. Career trajectories are impossible to predict. But if you know who you are and what you want, you’ll save a lot of time and energy. To the greatest extent possible, only go after opportunities that ignite your passion and stir your soul.

Authentic people are exciting, original and refreshing, the essential element of an exciting, vibrant workplace culture that leads to knockout performance. Exciting companies are hungry for authenticity. Find your true self and run with it. Please let me know how it goes.

This post was adapted from Rethink Brand ‘You’: Find Your Authentic Self, which was published on Forbes.com.

About the Author: Meghan M. Biro is a globally-recognized leader, talent management and career strategist, and social community catalyst. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture Consulting Group, she has worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent.

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8 Actions You Can Take To Survive A Shift

When do you know a shift is occurring that will significantly alter the competitive landscape and terms of play?

There are some people who lead a shift and determine its direction. Steve Jobs engineered a series of discontinuities that not only changed the world of communication and social engagement, they also vaulted his company to another level.

But for most of us “mere mortals,” a shift is experienced after is has begun and marketplace changes are being felt.

Most retailers waited to see how online buying was going to evolve before morphing their brick-and-mortar business into virtual stores with cyber-selling.

The traditional media world is another example where the players are gradually incorporating digital and mobility capabilities into serving their customers and marketing their services.

It is rare that one is able to “see the forest for the trees” when discontinuity strikes; it is virtually impossible to see ahead and predict how it will all play out.

What is certain, however, is that those that decide to stand on the sidelines and observe the action forego any opportunity to influence the shift and have any control over the outcome.

Willing and active participants stand a chance of surviving; you either lean into a shift or be subsumed by it.

8 Actions You Can Take To Be a Shift Survivor

1. Be a learning organization, always listening for changes taking place in customer behavior. Study adoption rates of new technologies and customer solutions. Pay special attention to Millennials and women; they both wield the power to make you or break you.

2. Create a risk-taking culture. Shift survival = (doing) (lots of) (imperfect) (stuff) (fast). If you are not experimenting in the shift, you won’t survive it. Judge your survival competency on the number of failures you create.

3. Disrupt your current direction. Aggressively intervene on yourself and push for order of magnitude change. Modest change won’t satisfy the shift; monumental change might.

4. Apply “extension thinking” to overlay a trend in other industries on your business. Digital shift creates new value for people by connecting and controlling smart devices through cloud-based software platforms. What opportunities does this capability make possible for you? Study the trees and consider the broader implications.

5. Get your plan “just about right.” Reduce precision in the plan; increase precision in execution. Don’t try to create a perfect plan. It doesn’t exist, and while you are trying to discover it, you are not doing anything. Take an imperfect plan, execute it flawlessly, learn from the results you achieve and adjust it along the way.

6. Cut the crap that gets in the way of engaging in the shift. The projects and activities that may have been important in the old world may be grunge in the new, shifted version. How much stuff in the traditional print media business is crap in the digital world? How many resources are deployed in print vs digital? Preserving print robs you of the ability to engage the shift. Honor but expunge the old; you don’t have sufficient bandwidth to take on the new if you don’t.

7. Create VALUE that is relevant and unique for the customers you serve. Stop flogging products; start delivering experiences. Address the key wants and desires of the customers you choose to serve. Be the ONLY one that does what you do in order to stand out from the herd.

8. FOCUS. FOCUS. FOCUS. Do the few things critical to your shifted direction; avoid the possible many. Failure (and survival) is directly related to the amount of unproductive activity you have going on. Pick three (or four) projects and do them brilliantly.

Surviving shift requires different thinking and different action. if you presume that what got you here will get you to where you need to go, you’re fooling yourself.

About the Author: Roy Osing is a former executive vice president and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience. He is a blogger, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.

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What Talent Management, Engagement And Culture Share

Company success links directly to what talent management, employee engagement and organizational culture have in common. The causal link among the three elements is powerful. It’s much like a rowing crew’s connection among rowers, oars, and scull.

Previously defined, talent management is an organization’s commitment to recruit, retain, and develop the most talented and superior employees available.

That commitment is enhanced by effective employee engagement, a buzz-phrase for the past several years. Employee engagement is the individual’s investment of her/his time, energy, skills, knowledge, and creativity in the efforts and directions set by the organization.

Organizational culture contributes to a business’s employee engagement. We define organizational culture as the values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization.

Your company’s culture offers critical engagement factors. These factors impact the three talent management components: recruitment, retention and development.

Talent Management: Recruitment

Recruitment currently targets those in Generation Y, the Millennial generation. Recruitment is a talent candidate’s first contact with your company. Recruitment should positively engage that candidate from the get-go. Organizational culture has a say in how you recruit, and therefore in how (well) you engage. Consider this about Millennials:

  • They seek work that is social. They are technologically savvy. They want jobs that motivate by time off and job satisfaction, rather than just by compensation.
  • They appreciate recruitment via use of social media. They expect personalized attention. They anticipate internet-speed responsiveness.

How does your company’s recruitment process and procedure measure up?

Talent Management: Retention

Retention remains the money-saver to talent management. It is costly to hire, onboard, and bring a new hire up to speed. Strong employee engagement delivers stronger employee retention.

The SilkRoad Talent Talk Report 2014 states: “…in an unpredictable financial climate, companies need loyal, productive, and engaged employees more than ever. Employee engagement emerged as the most pressing concern…” Indeed, 53% of the 3,700 survey respondents indicated their company lacked an attractive culture to engage employees.

A company culture that offers, encourages, and maintains engagement by employees impacts every individual. Baby Boomers savor a workplace in which they can engage their energies and values. Gen Y workers relish a company that recognizes their independent skills. Generations in between approve of the chance to engage for their own reasons.

What salient employee engagement factors does your business culture provide?

Talent Management: Development

Development is significant action played by talent management. Developing employees from Day 1 throughout their time of service demonstrates company commitment. That commitment, perhaps greater than any other offering, stimulates employee engagement. The commitment to such development can be a cornerstone value of a company’s culture.

Employees have always requested, accepted and appreciated training, education, mentoring and development. They have asked welcomed opportunities to engage in personal and professional improvement. Consider the variety of ways an organization may satisfy that engagement:

  • Training that is job-specific or professionally generic.
  • Coaching and/or mentoring.
  • Formal education through university partnerships, tuition reimbursement, and online credits.
  • Professional associations and conferences.

Does your company offer developmental opportunities in each of these categories?

The connection is clear. Organizational culture can generate employee engagement. Employee engagement can support the three legs of talent management. They have in common a shared contribution to your business’s successful competition.

About the Author: Tim Wright is a professional speaker/coach/facilitator with expertise in employee engagement and culture improvement.

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Creating Company Culture Irresistible To Millennials

How do you create an atmosphere that keeps top performers at your organization? How do you keep your competitors from plucking your best talent? How do you minimize top performers leaving for opportunities elsewhere?

Gone is the “you should be grateful to work here” paradigm. It has been replaced by Millennials with, “Why should I work (or keep working) for you?” Leadership expert John C. Maxwell says, “Your ability as a leader to find, develop, and retain the best people is the single greatest factor in determining your success.”

The key to retaining young top talent is to cultivate a company culture that is hard to leave. Company culture starts with the leader. By leveraging these three guiding principles you can create a workplace irresistible to Millennials.

1) Connect With Your Team

More than ever before, it’s acceptable to be yourself in the workplace. These days, letting your hair down won’t undermine your authority but rather will boost the connection with your teams. The erosion of many of today’s workplace formalities has caused a rise in more and more people bringing their authentic selves to work.

Because they place a high value on transparency, Millennials respond well to authentic leaders. They won’t want to leave a culture where diversity is celebrated, one-of-a-kind experiences are shared, strengths are valued, voices given, and stories are shared.

At the end of the day, people leave people not companies. Invest the time and energy to create personal connections with your team.

Related Read: 30 Retention Tactics To Passionately Engage Millennials At Work

2) Coach For Development

The No. 1 reason Millennials leave an organization is due to lack of career opportunities. In my experience, it’s not because these opportunities didn’t exist within the company, but rather because the leaders didn’t communicate those opportunities. They were too busy bossing their talent that they forgot to coach their talent.

Leaders will receive more valuable feedback at all levels of the organization if they value each person in the organization regardless of their position or generation. D. Michael Abrashoff, former captain of the Navy destroyer USS Benfold, says it best: “Every leader needs big ears and zero tolerance for stereotypes.” If you’ve taken the time to create a personal relationship with your talent, you’ll know what uniquely matters to them and will be able to coach them beyond their perceived potential.

Boss less. Coach more.

3) Strive For What Matters

It’s easy for someone to quit a job, but it’s much more difficult for them to quit a cause …especially Millennials. They are suckers for significance. They long for meaningful work.

Lean into their quest for good by casting the vision of the net impact your organization is having in the world. And remember, vision leaks, so be sure to cast vision as often as possible and find creative ways to keep the vision front and center and top of mind.

Creating a culture dedicated to fostering authentic personal relationships, developing talent, and focusing on a cause will result in Millennial loyalty.

Retain on.

Question: What other workplace elements have you seen that attract young talent?

About the Author: Ryan Jenkins is an internationally recognized Millennial keynote speaker and author. Ryan runs a blog and podcast at www.Ryan-Jenkins.com where he inspires audiences with practical next generation leadership,communication, branding, and productivity advice.

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It’s Time For A New Job-Skills Training Model

I attended a presentation by Mary Owens at a local financial advisory firm. In her well-presented talk about the return of manufacturing to the U.S., she articulated a number of facts that got me thinking:

  • Manufacturing was returning because North American fuel (read: natural gas) is now becoming cheaper than the combination of diesel and Asian labor.
  • U.S. factories are utilizing the most advanced technologies.
  • And last, we can put millions of people to work.

This is good news, right? I think so. But we still have a major gap in fulfilling the training that these factories need. She described quite succinctly these additional points that I have been thinking a lot about:

  • Many industries are beginning to (re)grow, and they are using new technologies to do it.
  • In many industries, employers can’t find “locked and loaded” employees who have the skills to perform the jobs they need filled.
  • The current higher education and vocational system isn’t serving the employment needs of employers or job seekers.

Mary’s plea, as I understand it, is to invite the wealth community to invest in an educational system to feed these employers’ needs. I like Mary’s pluck. She is not the first to say it or practice it. It makes sense to see the need and fill it.

But … not so fast. Since writing about workplace apprenticeship a few weeks ago, I’ve continued to ruminate about these additional convergent problems:

  1. Trade schools and career colleges, while making a comeback, are not prolific enough to be a relevant source of fulfillment for these factory and other supporting jobs.
  2. Higher education has too many of the wrong students and isn’t coming close to fulfilling its pledge to any students or fulfilling its own historical role.
  3. Job seekers can no longer afford to create the debt that higher education is demanding.
  4. The public can no longer afford to support this Herculean effort in the form of needed government subsidies.
  5. Employers want to shift responsibility away from themselves and blame everything else—from schools to generational birth year, from government to parents.

If business wants “locked and loaded” workers, then where should it get them?

In his post, “How Education Is Failing To Serve Business’ Needs,”  Mark Lukens  discusses this very topic. His analysis of the raging debate about education not serving humanity’s need to think creatively is extremely relevant. To that point, I agree.

Then he says,

“If the education system is to serve the needs of business, then we need to start by asking what those needs are.”

 Ugh. I cringe. Education should not be the bitch of business. Education should be its own system and its own reward. And yes, I agree, it should shift its focus to help us to learn the needed skill of creative thinking; however, I envision a world where we get to learn for a variety of reasons, at a variety of times, and not always for job skills.

This bears the question, “Where do we learn the skills needed for a rewarding job?”

The answer keeps pointing me to employers. If they are the ones with the needs and they want a consistent, customizable result, then it is on their shoulders.

I believe that it is time for a new model. A model of efficiency and fairness. Let’s take the burden off of higher-learning institutions and the public. Let’s take the financial burden off of the individual as well. Let’s institute a model that allows business to serve itself. The model would allow people with the right behavior profiles to enter into paid apprenticeships to learn the absolute needed skills, aptitudes, and values needed by the employer.

We have hundreds of years of history filled with examples of an apprenticeship model. The last 100-plus years have taken us off track and placed the “burden” elsewhere. I expect that employers are going to rebel against this responsibility. But when they see that it actually MAKES them money through efficiencies rather than turnover costs, possibly the whining will stop.

I envision higher education rebelling because it will see its head count retreat. But it is time to stop the churn of unsuccessful, unhappy, and broke students overfilling our colleges and universities. It is only in the last 50 years that “everyone” went to college. Now “everyone” doesn’t get a result. So let’s stop it.

If we are to get out of our current morass, grab opportunity by the nose, and get back to work, it is time for employers to see themselves as training organizations. Profitable training organizations.

The future of work is dependent upon it.

 

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How To Avoid The New-Idea Trap

More technology. More suppliers. More products and services. More social media tools. More business tools.

New opportunities to improve our bottom-line performance are constantly “raining down” on us these days, making it a challenge to decide which to seriously consider and which to just let slide by.

Here are four skills that standout leaders use to successfully deal with the seemingly unlimited number of “potentially amazing” things that come their way.

1. They have a game plan for their business. Your game plan represents the CONTEXT for evaluating the new stuff that comes along. Think about your game plan as your touchstone from which you determine which new options you should consider. For example, a new digital technology will make sense to consider only if it is a better fit to achieve the revenue growth targets in your game plan than the technology you currently use.

2. They avoid “the chase” activity trap. It’s real easy to get caught up in running down every new thing that people present to you. And the chase never ends because there is ALWAYS something new being thrown at you. It’s not about what cool things the new stuff can do. It IS about how the new stuff fits your game plan and how it can better enable you to execute it. Let the dogs chase the cars. YOU thoughtfully sift through “the new” using your game plan as the criterion for applying your resources to evaluating new possibilities.

3. They set priorities for looking at “the new.” Remember, this evaluation activity will disrupt your focus on executing your game plan, so you have to be very careful not to waste precious time and effort. Pick no more than three “new” possibilities; rank them in order of positive potential impact and have a go at number one. And decide what you are going to give up if you take on something new. “Piling on” new work on top of existing work will drag you down and prevent you from achieving your goals.

4. They put the stop watch on new evaluations. If you don’t, evaluations could go on and on and on and on; “creeping incrementalism” in my words. And you may never make a decision as a result. The objective is to BE QUICK in your assessments, so you can then move on to the integration and execution phase. I have seen people on “the chase” with NO stop watch that NEVER returned to their game plan. They disappeared in “the new” analysis do-loop and never got out of it.

New stuff is potentially dangerous. It can take your eye of the ball. It can distract you from execution. And it can gobble up your precious resources of time and money.

Be disciplined in how you handle it.

You don’t have to chase everything that comes your way like many do.

It’s ok to pass up new sexy stuff that isn’t a fit for you.

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Redefine Culture By Leaving The Jerk Zone

Would you tell your other half, your housemate or your child not to tell you what they think? Or to rearrange their day for you without telling them why? Or order them out to buy you a sandwich?

Those might sound like stupid examples, but they’re real cases of ways people behave in the workplace, and they raise questions about the power of corporate culture.

A colleague of mine was once sent out to buy a sandwich by an executive in her organization. This colleague wasn’t his PA or an administrative assistant. It wasn’t her job to smooth out his day. She was a trained project leader, a change manager and responsible for training hundreds of colleagues in technical skills. But this executive expected that, because he was more senior, the needs of others should come second to his need to avoid a three-minute walk to the shops.

Where do these attitudes come from, and how can we free ourselves of them?

Welcome to the Jerk Zone

Why are attitudes like this allowed to flourish in the workplace? Why is entitlement, selfishness and ego allowed, even encouraged, in some of the leading workplaces of the modern world?

Some slither of it probably comes from the dog-eat-dog capitalism that was idealized in the 1980s. Triumphal egoists were idolized as value makers and we were told that greed would build a better world. But anyone who’s worked in reality knows that this is not the case. Cooperation, collaboration, and humility – these are the ways to build lasting working relationships, to get the real work done. That ‘80s template of macho management should have died with the financial disasters that followed in its wake, taking traditional unthinking deference to seniority in its wake.

But much of that behavior remains, discredited as it has become, and for much the same reasons it was allowed to rise. Because the rest of us are too timid to say no.

Part of this comes from humility. Uncertain of our own value we accept the assumed value of others, even when it becomes over-inflated with their egos. We feel insecure in our own value, and so lack the confidence to challenge the more confident. We accede to this culture, which can turn a workplace into a Jerk Zone, a place where it is acceptable to behave with unchecked selfishness.

But worse than this, if we’re not careful we help build the Jerk Zone. We worry about being seen as perfect in our roles, even though perfection itself is an impossible dream. This feeds our anxieties and insecurities, leading us to put on an over-compensating front. We inflate our own egos, like birds puffing up their chest feathers in an act of display. We too start to act the role the Jerk Zone creates for us.

Would you act like that at home?

We’ve all heard it at some point in our lives, the eternal cry of teachers faced with unacceptable behavior – ‘would you do that at home?’

If we want to get rid of the Jerk Zone, to change the corporate culture that can drive us mad, then we should ask that question again – of ourselves and of the people around us.

Our work and our lives aren’t separate. The same set of values that we hold up at home and in the public sphere should hold in the workplace. After all, do honesty or consideration stop mattering when we step through the office doors? Of course not. If we act lie they do then we are building a toxic space that can do no good for anyone within it. That’s the Jerk Zone, that takes decent people and turns them into objectionable egoists.

Would that executive have got away with ordering someone at home to go out and buy his sandwich? At home we expect respect, consideration, explanations. We can expect the same at work. To do any less is to treat ourselves and those around us with less dignity than we deserve.

I want to break free

How can we liberate ourselves from this toxic culture? How can we leave the Jerk Zone far behind?

Part of it, as with any management challenge, is asking ‘why?’ It’s a question so simple and so powerful that it crops up again and again in leadership thinking, from the Toyota Production System to the work of Simon Sinek. Look at where selfish behavior is strongest in your organization, ask why it is happening there and then work to root out the causes, whether it’s unhealthy processes, inappropriate measures or simply unchecked bad behavior.

Empower your workers to speak their views, and stand up for them when they challenge the big egos, even when they challenge you. Believing you are too important to be wrong is a step deep into the Zone. Empowering everyone to constructively challenge each other is a way to battle it, to keep the egos in check and show everyone that they don’t need to over-assert their personalities to be heard.

Above all listen. If you listen to others’ views and treat them with as much weight as your own then they will learn to do the same. A culture of receptiveness, humility and cooperation will start to spread, banishing that Jerk Zone to the past where it belongs.

You can leave the Jerk Zone, and take your whole organization with you. All you have to lose is your ego.

(About the Author: Mark Lukens is a Founding Partner of Method3, a global management consulting firm. He has 20 plus years of C-Level experience across multiple sectors including healthcare, education, government, and people and potential (aka HR). In addition, Mark currently serves as Chairman of the Board for Behavioral Health Service North, a large behavioral health services provider in New York. He also actively serves on the faculty of the State University of New York (SUNY) and teaches in the School of Business and Economics; Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship and the Department of Management, International Business and Information Systems. Mark holds an MBA and is highly recognized in the technology and healthcare space with credentials including MCSE and Paramedic. Most of Mark’s writing involves theoretical considerations and practical application, academics, change leadership, and other topics at the intersection of business, society, and humanity. Mark resides in New York with his wife Lynn, two children, and two Labradors. The greatest pursuit; “To be more in the Service of Others.”)

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