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The Social Workplace: Nowhere To Hide #TChat Recap

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.”
–Dalai Lama

Excellent point. But the Dalai Lama’s quote begs a key question: In the social workplace, how much transparency is too much? Moreover, what does “privacy” really mean today, for employees as well as employers?

Obviously, there are no simple answers. And best practices only continue to shift, as social tools and conventions evolve. However, this issue affects everyone in the world of work. So that’s why TalentCulture invited a social-media-savvy HR attorney to help our community explore these issues at this week’s #TChat forums. We were thrilled to welcome Mary Wright, former General Counsel at employment litigation firm Ogletree Deakins, and founding Editor of HR Gazette, a daily online newspaper for HR professionals and employment lawyers. (For event highlights, see the links and Storify slideshow at the end of this post.)

Social Disclosure: Less Is More. Or Is It?

Ubiquitous social media channels. Smartphones with cameras. (Does anyone remember “old school” film cartridges anymore?) Circles of “friends” we’ve never even met face-to-face. It seems like nothing is truly private anymore. Most of us share photos, post comments and tell the world whatever pops into our minds throughout the day. But how does all that activity expose us professionally in unwanted ways? And what are the implications for the organizations we represent?

Here’s the kicker question: In an open social environment, how can companies encourage employees to serve as brand ambassadors, while ensuring that those same individuals use appropriate discretion?

Knowledge Is Power

As many #TChat participants noted this week, the answers start at the top. Senior executives must lead by example and encourage others to follow. Treating employees with candor and respect means that candor and respect will likely be returned. Communicating company objectives and priorities helps employees feel valued and empowered. And clarifying social policies provides a framework that makes it easier for employees to comply. Sharing more information with employees doesn’t need to put employers at risk. Instead, it can create a spirit of collaboration and strengthen employee engagement.

At the same time, employers should respect employee privacy. Again, leading by example is key. Managers should avoid gossip around the office and outside of work. This sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? And yet, I’ve overheard managers openly discussing an employee’s personal hardships, including private medical information. When managers breach that kind of trust, it leaves a memorable impression for everyone involved.

Amplify This? Think Before You Go Social

These days, social media adds another dimension. Employers can no longer afford to operate without documented social media policies. But what should the guiding principle be? Here’s a simple idea from Dave Ryan:

And what is an employee’s responsibility when interpreting social policies? Jen Olney offered sound advice:

https://twitter.com/gingerconsult/status/383017281405853696

Or perhaps for some of us, that sequence should be Stop. Think. Stop some more…and more…and more…then send.

In other words, before posting a comment or photo, consider for a moment who may see that information. How might they perceive it — for better or worse? Ask yourself, “Would I want my grandmother or daughter to see what I am about to make public?” Remember, once you post it, you won’t have control over where it may be seen, or how it will be interpreted. So perhaps the very best policy is for each of us to take responsibility for ourselves, and err on the side of caution.

To see more about this week’s conversation, see the resource links and Storify highlights slideshow below. And if you have ideas, feel free to share a comment, or post in the #TChat stream. This is just the start of an ongoing dialogue — so please weigh-in anytime!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Workplace Privacy vs. Transparency

SAT 9/21:

Mary Wright

Watch the Hangout with Mary Wright now

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager Tim McDonald framed the topic in a post that features a brief G+ Hangout video with our guest, Mary Wright. Read the Preview:
“TMI: A Fresh Take On Privacy By An HR Lawyer.”

SUN 9/22:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro outlined 5 issues for business leaders to consider about transparency in today’s social world. Read: “Private Workplace Lives In a Public Social Age.”

MON 9/23:

Related Article: Entrepreneur David Hassell talked about why and how trust is the most precious currency for any new venture. Read: “Want to Build a Business? Lead With Trust.”

TUE 9/24:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro shared compelling leadership lessons learened from a cultural clash at a software company in transition. Read: “5 Social Skills Business Leaders Must Master.”

WED 9/25:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio show now

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman spoke with Mary Wright about legal issues and implications surrounding privacy in the workplace — from multiple perspectives: employers, employees and job candidates. Listen to the radio show recording now!

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, hundreds of community members gathered with Mary on the #TChat Twitter stream for an expanded discussion about this topic. For highlights from the event, see the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Highlights: Transparency vs. Privacy In The Workplace

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-transparency-vs-privacy-in-the-wor.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Mary Wright for adding your insights to this week’s discussion. Your legal and HR expertise added depth and perspective to a topic that increasingly affects us all.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about information sharing in the new era of social business? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, we tackle another “world of work” hot topic — The Dark Side of Workplace Effectiveness — along with two of the HR community’s best-known social commentators: John Sumser, editor-in-chief of HRExaminer; and William Tincup, CEO of HR consultancy Tincup & Co. So save the date (October 2) for another rockin #TChat double-header.

In the meantime, we’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Pixabay

Want To Build A Business? Lead With Trust

If you could define business success, what would it look like to you? Would you focus on market share? Growth rate? Revenue? Profitability? Or something else?

At young companies, conversations tend to revolve around how to raise seed funding, where to invest capital, and how to compensate key contributors. Often, it seems that our perception of business success (or failure) largely revolves around money.

While it is true that a well-run company requires appropriate funding and sound financial management, I would argue that there is something even more vital to the sustained growth of any venture. It’s not something you can buy or sell — nor does it come prepackaged on a shelf.

I’m talking about trust.

Broken Trust: Good Examples Of Bad Behavior

From the Enron debacle to the Madoff scandal, stories of insider trading and fraud have captured headlines far too frequently. Our nation is losing faith in corporate leaders, and there’s a growing demand for corporate accountability and transparency.

The only way to turn this around is for those at the top to take responsibility and lead by example. We must create open, transparent cultures that promote accountability, integrity and honesty.

The truth of the matter is that employees need to know what’s going on in order to feel connected with their work and perform at their highest level. Staff concerns about the stability and the health of the company are a distraction that can erode trust, inhibit productivity and have a negative impact on the bottom line.

Creating an environment of trust goes far beyond releasing quarterly reports. It requires a daily commitment to transparency that’s infused into all aspects of business operations, and reaches all levels of the organizational chart. Most importantly, it requires team coaching and open communication across all functions, with management that listens and responds to constructive criticism.

Trust Is The Cornerstone Of Culture

Leadership legend, Stephen M. R. Covey said:

“High trust is a dividend; when it goes up you’ll find that everything happens faster and cost goes down. It’s that predictable.”

Although trust can take a long time to build, once we have achieved a state of trust, we often take it for granted. But the fact of the matter is that trust is at the core of the daily work activities that collectively make up company culture. As Deborah Mills-Scofield explains in the Harvard Business Review:

“Trust trumps everything. And everything flows from trust — learning, credibility, accountability, a sense of purpose and a mission that makes ‘work’ bigger than oneself.”

When it comes to trust, the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts. For example, many startups have created cultures based around staff perks like a ‘no vacation policy’ vacation policy, providing employees with top-of-the line equipment, offering flexible hours, and letting staff work from home. While benefits like these may attract and retain top talent, there’s also a higher mission. Companies that offer these unique self-directed work options are sending employees a message that says, ‘I trust you, and I trust your judgment in using these privileges.”

Earlier this year, HubSpot released its long-awaited Culture Code – a presentation that summarizes the organization’s nine core beliefs. The document is remarkable because it emphasizes that trust is at the center of Hubspot’s organization. Rather than creating binders full of company policies, HubSpot has created a simple three-word policy for nearly everything: use. good. judgment. From social media activity, to travel expenses, to sick days, HubSpot understands that a healthy company starts with trust.

The Trust/Time Ratio

Of course, trust is a two-way street. Not only is it essential for employees to trust management, but leaders must trust their teams, and feel confident in their ability to move the company forward.

As Stephen M.R. Covey explains in his book, The Speed of Trust, trust is the great liberator of time and resources. It’s also an essential condition for growth. He notes that “when trust goes up, speed will also go up and cost will go down,” and that “when trust goes down, speed will go down and costs will go up.” Therefore, he concludes that the speed at which you can grow a business is directly proportionate to the time that you invest in creating trusting relationships.

Leading By Letting Go

One of the most important lessons I learned as a CEO was the importance of trusting your team. As the leader of any organization, large or small, your primary job is to communicate the vision; give your people the information, tools and resources to move toward it; and then get out of the way. This frees your staff to be as productive as possible, while allowing you to focus on your responsibility to drive the company forward, strategically.

The truth is plain and simple: if you’re a leader who wants to grow a company, you must have faith in your staff to get the job done – without you hovering around their desks. It is impossible to innovate while being bogged down in the daily minutia of your company. Trust allows you to remove yourself from the details and create necessary space to focus on long-term growth.

Trust is a natural human instinct, yet we tend to over-complicate it when we try to apply it to the business world. The best way to create a culture of trust is to begin by being open and honest with ourselves and those around us. By committing to being transparent in all our interactions, we will gradually create a culture of trust around us. And as trust grows, we should expect to see business results follow.

How do create and sustain trust within your organization? What results do you see?

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome. Learn more...)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Recognition Done Right: 9 Points of Light

(Editor’s Note: We’re thrilled to share this excerpt from the book, “What’s Your Green Goldfish – Beyond Dollars: 15 Ways to Drive Engagement and Reinforce Culture” by Stan Phelps. For more information about Stan and his “Goldfish” series of business management books, see the end of this post.)

On the 9 INCH journey to the heart of your employees, the 4th INCH involves RECOGNITION.

“You matter. These two words can change your mood, change your mind, and have the power to change lives and the world if we understand and leverage them in the right way.”  –Angela Maiers, TED Talk, June 2011

Recognition fuels a sense of worth and belonging in individuals. No rocket science here. As humans we crave acceptance. Dale Carnegie spoke of the importance of recognition nearly 80 years ago, in his landmark guidebook, “How to Win Friends and Influence People:”

“Be lavish in your praise and hearty in your approbation. A drop of honey gathers more bees than a gallon of vinegar.”

Recognition Resonates

In a recent survey, 35% of workers and 30% of chief financial officers said frequent recognition of accomplishments is the most effective non-monetary reward. Thanking people for their hard work and commitment is key to making them feel appreciated.

Shifting a Mindset

Most managers take an, “if, then” approach to recognition. Positive psychology expert, Shawn Achor believes this paradigm needs to change, “…from thinking that encouragement and recognition should be used as rewards for high performance as opposed to thinking that encouragement and recognition are drivers of high performance.”

9 Examples: Recognition Done Right

Let’s look at 9 companies who give a little extra when it comes to employee recognition:

Kudos and Shout-Outs

Every week The Nerdery agency compiles a video of shout-outs, with employees publicly praising their fellow nerds for going above-and-beyond. Five shout-out recipients are chosen for free lunches the following week. The weekly shout-out video is played for all at the Friday afternoon Bottlecap Talk, where the agency celebrates the successful launch of a recent project with a show-and-tell demo led by the rockstar developers who made it happen.

Custom Awards

Rackspace created a special award for employees who are fanatical about serving customers. It’s simply called The Jacket. It signifies fanaticism and hence is a straightjacket. Only one employee wins the jacket at a time.

Decision Lens awards top-performing salespeople with custom-made action figures designed to resemble the employee.  According to Co-Founder John Saaty:

“It’s a humorous way to acknowledge the great efforts of our sales team, and something that’s more memorable than the usual plaque or something like that.”

Executives at Zappos pick a monthly “hero” and award them with a parade, covered parking spot for a month, a $150 Zappos gift card, and a cape.

Immediate Recognition

American Express has a Prize Patrol. A group of four or five leaders get together and surprise their coworkers with flowers or a gift in front of their colleagues to celebrate their accomplishments.

Take Note: The Best Things In Life Are Free

A recent study confirmed that the cost of recognition awards has only minimal impact on employee perception of appreciation. 57% reported that the most meaningful recognition is free. Just look at some of these quotes to judge the impact:

Former CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, Doug Conant, is a big proponent of the power of handwritten notes. In Doug’s words,

what's your green goldfish cover“Look for opportunities to celebrate. My executive assistants and I would spend a good 30 to 60 minutes a day scanning my mail and our internal website looking for news of people who have made a difference at Campbell’s. Get out your pen. Believe it or not, I have sent roughly 30,000 handwritten notes to employees over the last decade, from maintenance people to senior executives. I let them know that I am personally paying attention and celebrating their accomplishments. (I send handwritten notes too because well over half of our associates don’t use a computer). I also jump on any opportunities to write to people who partner with our company any time I meet with them. It’s the least you can do for people who do things to help your company and industry. On the face of it, writing handwritten notes may seem like a waste of time. But in my experience, they build goodwill and lead to higher productivity.”

Long before he became CEO of iProspect, back as an analyst at Bain Capital and KPMG, Robert J. Murray had an idea on how you should run a services business.

“One thing that always surprised me in prior work experiences is when your assets walk out the door each day, why aren’t companies doing more to value the people doing the business?”

Mr. Murray thinks he’s found the answer to that, and many of his employees agree. His formula:  hire competitive people, promote early and often, and give constant feedback — including  notes of encouragement he calls “iProps.”

Recognizing Milestones

The tenure program at Sweetgreen called Shades of Green has blown up into a competition and become a status symbol among employees. Every teammate gets a free shirt — the longer you’re with Sweetgreen, the darker your shirt. Who knew a free t-shirt could help shape company culture? After you’ve been with Sweetgreen for a year, you also get a pair of green high-top Converse sneakers. At two years, you get a t-shirt and a neon green iPod Nano Touch. After three years, you get a lime-green Sweetgreen bike.

The diamond program Brady, Chapman, Holland encourages generosity in daily work life. When a BCH employee does something exceptionally well for a client, a fellow employee or the community, an acrylic diamond is tossed in a jar. When the jar is full, they celebrate by playing a game or going to a sports bar.

Do these ideas inspire you to think creatively about recognition in your organization? How could recognition be more meaningful where you work?

stan phelps headshot with ruler(Author Profile: Stan Phelps is the Founder of 9 INCH Marketing, an organization that inspires leaders to think differently about business — challenging them to value customer experience as a competitive differentiator and the importance of employee engagement in building a strong corporate culture. Stan helps brands explore new opportunities, showing them how to be more successful in tomorrow’s changing world, and working with clients to create experiences that are memorable, meaningful and on-brand. Driven by client objectives and inspired by bold vision, Stan and his team get results through programs that win big. Visit Amazon.com to learn more about his books “What’s Your Green Goldfish?” (employee engagement insights) and “What’s Your Purple Goldfish?” (customer engagement insights).

 

Chief Culture Officer, Onboarding & Beyond: #TChat Preview

At recent HR and leadership conferences and chats with colleagues, I’ve been hearing a lot about an emerging trend: Companies are hiring Chief Culture Officers. No, the CCO is not always interchangeable with the Vice President of Human Resources. It’s not as simple as it seems.

The CCO is on the leading edge of employee engagement. He’s in charge of onboarding, and beyond. And I mean, beyond. She might be part of the VP of HR’s peer group, or she might be in the C-Suite. It’s pretty fluid right now, and our TalentCulture community will discuss the Chief Culture Officer’s many permutations during this week’s #TChat.

Some leaders believe changing the nature of a company’s culture requires a revolution, a movement. Some believe (as do I) that culture springs from trust and communication. And others think it takes an ecosystem of management, business partners and executive leadership. Still others believe line managers and rank-and-file employees should have a say. What isn’t in debate is the need, now that the job market seems to be at a tipping point, for a dose of company culture-building. A giant dose of workplace and people happy!

Who is the Chief Culture Officer? Is it you, or does it require someone of a different temperament? To whom should the CCO report? Should the VP of HR report to the CCO? So many angles, and we only have an hour to discuss them. Here are this week’s questions:

Q1: What is a Chief Culture Officer? Do they exist? If so, what is their role & why?

Q2: How should the CCO facilitate and maintain employee connections, communications & collaborations from day 1?

Q3: Cultural ecosystems of biz = employees, contractors, vendors, service providers, alumni, new applicants. T or F?

Q4: Who should the CCO report to & why? Who should report to them?

Q5: What social HR technologies should the CCO implement to their cultural ecosystems & why?

If you feel the need for a little culture in the workplace, please join us at #TChat Twitter Wednesday night, Aug. 15, from 7-8pm ET (6-7pm CT, 4-5pm PT, or wherever you are), to talk about the emerging role of the CCO.

Matt Monge (@MattMonge, themojocompany.com) will be our guest moderator. Joining him will be yours truly (@MeghanMBiro) and Kevin W. Grossman (@KevinWGrossman), as well as Sean Charles (@SocialMediaSean), Salima Nathoo (@SocialSalima) and Brent Skinner (@BrentSkinner). We look look forward to looking at trust, culture, ecosystems and executive reporting structures with you, this week. It’s a controversial topic, so bring your opinions and be ready back them up with examples and facts.

See you there!

Image credit: Trust, by vagawi