Why Is Great Leadership Like a Fine Watch?

A fine mechanical watch is exquisite in its own right. But if you look closer, you’ll see more than just a special timepiece. It is also useful as a framework for leaders who want to improve the quality of their organization’s performance. What does that leadership framework look like? Here’s my perspective…

I’m continually amazed at how unrelated things in life tend to line up with almost perfect timing. Nearly a year ago, I decided I wanted to own a “real watch,” so I began researching popular brands. Around the same time, I was recruited to run Birkman International. Birkman is a 72-year-old company that provides businesses with a roadmap that helps teams work better together and drive operational performance.

These two unrelated events have allowed me to witness the elegance and intricacies that both watches and companies need to run well.

What Do Watches Teach Us About Great Leadership?

Imagine opening the case back of a mechanical watch. Inside you’ll find what seems like a highly complicated collection of gears and wheels. Most of us only open our watch when there’s a problem with its function. The same holds true for businesses — we never seem to look inside until we detect an issue.

In a properly functioning company, each individual, department, and team knows its role. They work at the right pace to accomplish their respective tasks. It is all about coming together at the right time to achieve success. Just like clockwork.

Look Inside

When you open the back of the case and look carefully, you’ll see that it is powered by a mainspring. Without it, the entire mechanism won’t work. The same is true with any company.

The mainspring of the business is the CEO who provides the power needed to drive the business forward. As the mainspring, a CEO is responsible for keeping the organization under a kind of tension that creates motivation, movement, and results over time. However, to ensure consistently high performance, this tension must be released in a regulated way.

This is where the Chief Operating Officer (COO) steps in to serve a critical function. The COO is an organization’s balance wheel. This leader is responsible for distributing the power generated by the CEO, releasing it to the rest of the organization at a steady, reliable pace, like the hands of a watch.

However, unexpected things happen sometimes. For example, what if you accidentally drop your watch? The balance wheel absorbs the shock and ensures that the movement keeps spinning at the right rate. Similarly, unexpected things will happen at work. Regardless, the COO ensures that daily business operations continue to run smoothly and reliably.

A Fine Watch at Work

Once a watch’s power is being created and released at the correct pace, it’s up to the gears and wheels to do their job. But first, these components must be positioned in all the right places. Likewise, employees must be placed in the right position before they can move your organization forward effectively.

For any watch (or any company) to perform well, the real trick is to make sure every “right wheel” works with all the other “right wheels.” This is when the elegance of a great organization reveals itself. It is also when underperforming teams require careful attention. Leaders may need to open the “case back” of their organization and diagnose issues by investigating two questions:

  1. What is stopping us from achieving the desired results?
  2. How do we get things running the way they should?

The good news is that, often, new parts aren’t required to fix a broken watch. The same is true in business. Throughout more than 30 years as an executive, I’ve found that organizational problems aren’t rooted in individual employees, but in the friction between all the moving parts. This is why great leadership can make a significant difference.

Making Everything Run Like Clockwork

If you take a watch apart, clean the pieces, reassemble it, and oil it, you end up with a wrist piece that runs properly. Likewise, if we take sufficient time and care to work with our people, we’re likely to find an effective solution to any problem.

In business, “oil” is the understanding of ourselves and others’ needs. This helps us communicate well with people so they can overcome the friction that arises from misunderstanding and mistrust. This gives us the ability to move forward in unison.

To maximize business results, leaders must take time to break down what their organizations are doing at their core. When we define our company’s purpose, bring it into focus with laser-sharp clarity, and provide a psychologically safe environment for team members to communicate, we build a foundation for truly remarkable results.

When we add oil to watch components, the mechanisms come to life. The same holds true for businesses. The latest technologies may increase efficiency, but they cannot reduce human friction within a team. Similarly, a modern smartwatch may be a reliable way to keep track of time, but it does not compare to the craftsmanship of a fine watch.

Effective Leadership Endures

The tagline of luxury watchmaker Patek Phillipe is, “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” In other words, if you properly care for one of their watches, it will last hundreds of years.

This aligns with my approach to leadership. I believe executives are merely caretakers for their successors. As the leader of a business now entering its third generation, I take heart in knowing that if we do the work to improve ourselves and better our organization, our impact on the world will be an enduring legacy.

I hope leaders everywhere share the same vision. The future of business depends on it — as does the future of work.

8 Ways to Create a Lean Workflow in 2017

Sometimes when we focus so much of our energy on workplace efficiency, we end up making the problem worse. I once worked at a marketing company that changed its workflow structure so often, half the job was remembering which processes we were currently following. It made work scattered and impacted the confidence of everyone in the office.

Essentially, the workflow changes had the reverse effect than what was intended. Keeping your office’s workflow lean is important, but it must also make sense and be easy to implement. That seems like a tall order, but we’ve rounded up eight tech-oriented tips to ensure your workflow in 2017 is clear, consistent and efficient.

  1. Visualize Your Workflow

Using a workflow visualization software tool can help you see your workflow from varying angles. It helps keep your project on track from start to finish. It’s also ideal for when you’ve found space to run two projects simultaneously, after an initial plan to configure them concurrently.

Visualization allows us to see problems in a more tangible way. The benefit of using software over a physical chart is that you can seamlessly manipulate variables, share findings with a larger audience and travel with your analysis.

  1. Check in With Each Department

The C-suite, a company’s most important executives, often play an integral role in creating workflow. As a result, you should strive to work with the leaders of each department to see areas of improvement. Each department is the expert in that segment, and they are most equipped to alerting you to problems or solutions. Even checking in via email or chat message will suffice in many cases. Workflow notification software can help remind of this.

A lean workflow cuts down on lead times for manufacturing and minimizes labor costs, which cuts the cost and time for both your customers and your staff. It also helps avoid the problem of re-work, since all departments know what the others are doing. Checking in with and become acquainted with all departments can help guide toward a lean workflow that saves a substantial amount of money.

  1. Choose Function Over Style

Choose software that aligns with your company’s needs. Don’t go for the most expensive package for your workflow software – simplicity is often key. However, if you are in a specialized field with specific needs, you may want to invest in software tailored to your business.

Software companies will tell you their product is integral to creating a leaner workflow, though some smaller businesses may not need a very expansive package. For any software, verify there aren’t cheap competitors with similar features, and look into a trial option where you and co-workers can try it out for a period before payment.

  1. Consider Spreadsheet Alternatives

Spreadsheets are something everyone is familiar with, though they can present issues when digging through substantial amounts of data. Plus, manual entry is very time-consuming, to the point of being costly. Workflow software like TrackVia allows custom workflows, notifications and automatic spreadsheet updating, making manually updating spreadsheets to account for inventory or other data a thing of the past.

  1. Look for Apps Compatible With Familiar Software

Improving your workflow doesn’t always mean changing every software imaginable. In many cases, certain software has a mobile companion app that works collaboratively with the desktop app, to ensure easy collaboration and work-anywhere capabilities. That’s the case with Google Drive, which has both desktop functionality and a mobile app. See if your favorite apps or software has something similar.

  1. Make Meetings and Functions More Efficient

For the imminent company meetings, you can save ample time by using certain tools for planning. AllSeated can help organize seating, while a variety of flyer creator tools can help promote your meeting with premade templates. There are an abundance of event-related workflow tools that can reduce the time spent on planning.

  1. Analyze the Most Delayed Projects

If you remember any particular projects from 2016 that suffered delays, it’s prudent to look back to see exactly what went wrong. Was there an interruption somewhere in the workflow? Without workflow software, it may be difficult to find. With the right software, reverse engineering of these issues can help alleviate problems in the future.

  1. Continue the Efficiency Outside of Work

An organized home life can aid in a similarly organized work life, with scientists finding that physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to focus. As a result, it’s important to use some of the same tips for workflow for at home, in regard to daily tasks and chores. Getting in the habit of having a lean workflow at work and home will have familiarity with certain tools and habits become like second nature.

With these eight tips, a leaner workflow in 2017 will help you accomplish your goals more efficiently than ever.

Photo Credit: SplitShire Flickr via Compfight cc

Mobile Hiring: A Smarter Way to Seal the Deal

Written by Todd Owens, President and COO, TalentWise

(Editor’s Note: Learn more about issues and opportunities in mobile hiring from Todd and Brandon Hall talent acquisition analyst, Kyle Lagunas. Listen to the #TChat Radio show now.)

During the past few years, innovative technologies have revolutionized HR business processes. The first wave focused on talent acquisition — with the advent of applicant tracking systems, and the recent surge in mobile recruiting. Now, mobile hiring is emerging as the next wave in this era of HR transformation. Why is mobile hiring important? Let’s take a closer look.

The Mobile Workplace Imperative

No one doubts that mobile connectivity is changing the world. 91% of Americans currently own a cell phone, and globally more than 6.8 billion mobile phones are in use. Now, tablets are making tremendous inroads, with sales that outpace mobile phones by a wide margin.

As these next-generation digital devices become central to our personal and professional lives, organizations are recognizing the value of integrating mobile capabilities into every facet of business operations. In fact, mobile technology is just one dimension of the SoMoClo (Social, Mobile, Cloud) revolution that is reinventing the workplace. HR has leveraged the power of SoMoClo for recruiting. The next logical step is hiring.

Mobile Hiring: Building Stronger Candidate Connections

First let’s look at mobile recruiting trends. Each month, one billion job searches are conducted via mobile devices. When properly executed, mobile-friendly recruitment leads to conversion rates that are 5-10 times higher than traditional PC-based recruitment, but at lower cost. A key benefit of going mobile is immediacy. While 70% of mobile searchers act within the hour, only 30% of PC searchers do. It’s no wonder why recruiters are scrambling to source talent through mobile channels.

However, even the best recruiting efforts can be undone when the candidate experience is disrupted by a cumbersome, outdated hiring process. What does it say to the candidate you’ve spent valuable resources recruiting — the one you’ve sourced and attracted through mobile channels — when you send a paper offer letter via snail mail and ask for a reply via fax?

Too often, there is a disconnect between the satisfying high-tech, high-touch experience of mobile recruiting, and old-school hiring methods. Unfortunately, it occurs at the most critical moment — in that stage between the job offer and onboarding. Why take that risk? It’s time for hiring to step up.

The Business Case For Mobile Hiring Now

Early adopters are seeing dramatic results, as the demand for mobile hiring support soars. For example, consider metrics from the TalentWise platform. Our customers send job candidates directly to our mobile-optimized portal to expedite the hiring process. In less than a year, we’ve seen a stunning 5-fold increase in mobile traffic — from only 8% of candidates last year to 43% today. Employers can’t afford to ignore that kind of exponential growth.

Mobile isn’t about devices. It’s about immediacy and “always on” access — and hiring should be, too. A weak hiring process is bound to affect your retention rate. In fact, studies estimate that, without solid on-boarding, 22% of new hires leave within the first 45 days.

Your organization only gets one chance to make a lasting first impression with today’s on-the-go talent pool. A mobile-friendly hiring process can give you a clear competitive edge. Is your offer letter truly digital? Can candidates sign it through a smartphone or tablet? Or must they print an email attachment, sign it, scan it and send it back? That model is just an email twist on a paper-based process, and it comes with all the old compliance risks and security issues of hardcopy workflows.

How To Catch The Mobile Hiring Wave

So what’s the first step to making your hiring process mobile friendly? Take a hard look at your hiring process. Audit every step. Go through it yourself as if you’re a new hire. Decide what is critical, think holistically, and optimize according to your priorities. For example, offer letters and screening authorizations are essential, but 401k enrollment forms may not be as important. HR managers should be able to monitor the status of multiple candidates from their tablets, but payroll may be better managed from a desktop.

Once you have a clear view of your current process, from both a candidate and administrative perspective, you can identify a technology solution that effectively “mobilizes” these functions. The path to a streamlined solution may be easier than you think.

What opportunities and issues do you see on the horizon for mobile hiring? Share your thoughts in the comments area.

WPFl8ZJCTbSWd3aW36zfeEA69ZEo44fOfHHdTeu8j9Q(About the Author: Todd Owens is President and COO at TalentWise and has been with the company since 2006. Previously he held senior Product Management and Business Development roles at Wind River Systems and Siebel Systems. A former United States Navy submarine officer, Todd has twice been recognized as a “Superstar for outsourcing innovation in support of HR organizations” by HRO Today magazine. Todd holds a BS degree from the United States Naval Academy and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.)

Image Credit: Carnegie Library

Game On! Playing To Business Strengths #TChat Recap

This week, the TalentCulture community took a fascinating look at gamification in the workplace. And in my opinion, everyone earned badges and gold stars, as we shared collective knowledge at #TChat events.

Our two expert guests are masters at explaining the connection between business gamification and big data. These smart senior executives brought key concepts to life with practical ideas and real-world examples:

Guy Halfteck, Founder and CEO of Knack, a company that integrates games into the hiring process to help companies define desired talent characteristics and improve recruiting outcomes.

Mark Howorth, COO at Panavision, who previously served as Partner and Sr. Director of Global Recruiting at Bain & Company. He has seen the power of gamification at work, as three of his #TChat Twitter comments revealed:

(Editor’s Note: For full highlights from the #TChat Twitter event, see the Storify slideshow at the end of this post)

Gamification: What’s In A Name?

“Gamification” is a controversial term, but the concept it simple. It’s about employing game theory and mechanics in business environments to drive problem solving, boost workforce and customer engagement, capture better organizational insights, accelerate responsiveness, improve learning and increase ROI. Last year, Gartner predicted that by 2015, more than 50% of organizations that manage innovation processes will integrate gamification.

Gartner identified four ways that gamification drives engagement:

• Accelerated feedback cycles. In the real world, feedback loops are slow (annual performance appraisals) with long periods between milestones. Gamification increases the velocity of feedback loops to maintain engagement.

• Clear goals and rules of play. In the real world, where goals are fuzzy and rules selectively applied, gamification provides clear goals and well-defined rules of play to ensure players feel empowered to achieve.

• A compelling narrative. While real-world activities are rarely compelling, gamification builds a narrative that engages players to participate.

• Tasks that are challenging but achievable. While there is no shortage of challenges in the real world, they tend to be large and long-term. Gamification provides many short-term, achievable goals to sustain engagement.

Gamification: What Makes It Tick?

Gamification is serious business. As Accenture explained in a detailed report early this year, companies are striving to understand what makes games so appealing (a shared sense of purpose, challenge and reward). They are decoding gaming mechanisms (personalization, rankings and leaderboards), and applying these mechanics in imaginative ways across business functions. Accenture identified seven essential elements:

Status: Because gamers are motivated by recognition of others in their social circles, game-based business solutions must make it possible to enhance players’ reputations.

Milestones: Levels are everything in gaming, and enabling participants to perceive progress through incremental accomplishments is vital to sustaining interest.

Competition: This is a major motivator that maintains engagement.

Rankings: Visually displaying progress and rankings help participants benchmark their performance to their own goals and others’ performance. Rankings tap into natural human competitiveness, and motivate participants to continue, so they can improve their position.

Social connectedness: Successful gamification initiatives create a strong sense of community.

Immersion reality: With visually rich graphics and animation, digital environments can help immerse participants in their virtual reality.

Personalization: The ability to customize promotes a sense of control and ownership.

In their book, “For The Win: How Gamification Can Transform Your Business,” Wharton professor and gamification expert, Kevin Werbach and New York Law School professor Dan Hunter, take a deep dive into gamification.

In this informative video, they explain how gamification helps people “find the fun in the things you have to do.” They make it easy to understand gamification, with examples of successful companies that are applying these techniques, and advice to help organizations avoid common pitfalls. We hope you find this, along with the collected resource links and #TChat Twitter highlights slideshow below a helpful resource for game-based initiatives in which you may be involved!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Games + Big Data + Talent Management = Trifecta!

SUN 9/15:


Watch the Hangout now

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager Tim McDonald framed the topic in a post that featured a brief G+ Hangout videos with Guy Halfteck. Read the Preview:
“Games and Data and Talent — Oh My!”

MON 9/16: Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro outlined 5 compelling reasons for businesses to integrate gaming into workflows, learning and management processes. Read: “5 Ways Leaders Win At Gamification Technology.”

WED 9/18:


Listen to the #TChat Radio show now

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Guy Halfteck and Mark Howorth about how games are emerging as a highly effective, reliable way to select, recruit and retain employees. Listen to the radio show recording now!

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, I joined Guy, Mark, Meghan, Kevin on the #TChat Twitter stream for a dynamic and enlightening discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. For highlights from the conversation, check the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Highlights: Games People Play: Ultimate Way To Measure Talent?

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Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Guy Halfteck and Mark Howorth for adding your voices to this week’s discussion. Your insights and passion for the business benefits of gaming strategies have captivated us all.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about gamification? We’d love to share 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 important “world of work” topic — Transparency vs. Privacy in the Workplace with HR/Employment lawyer, Mary E. Wright. So save the date (September 18) for another rockin #TChat double header. And keep an eye out for details in the next few days.

Meanwhile, the World of Work conversation continues! So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, on our LinkedIn discussion group. or elsewhere on social media. The lights are always on here at TalentCulture, and your thoughts are always welcome.

See you on the stream!

Image Credit: Graeme Lawton via Flickr

Workspace Design: Form, Function and Positive Feedback

“First we shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us.”
Sir Winston Churchill

What a wise observation. I love the idea that we have a hand in creating a world that eventually influences us.

When I first heard this quote during last week’s “World of Workspaces” #TChat Radio show, I was fascinated. Workplace design expert, Chris Congdon of Steelcase, shared the concept as she talked about developing work environments that support organizational goals.

Among other things, Chris explained how physical workspace influences the way we feel and act. For example, if a company wants to foster collaboration, creativity and innovation, merely filling an office with tall cubicles and fluorescent lighting just isn’t going to cut it.

Great Workplaces: Beyond Tangibles

Her primary message was this:  The best places to work are designed from the inside-out. It’s not enough to consider only the tasks that must be accomplished in a space. Nor is it enough to focus on ergonomics that make those workflows more comfortable or efficient. Before we can build business spaces that optimize performance and engagement, we must understand human motivation and behavior in workplace settings.

Actually, on a larger scale, isn’t that how leaders approach corporate culture? Our mission is to create not just physical space, but complete ecosystems that bring out the best in every contributor. And in turn, that ecosystem rewards us in ways that reflect and reinforce our brand vision and values. It’s a continuous loop.

“First we shape our culture; thereafter, our culture shapes us…”

So, just as color schemes, work surfaces and lighting must be carefully considered when developing any physical workspace, we must be equally deliberate in developing organizational culture, piece by piece.

Snapshot Assessment

That conclusion triggered a reality check for me. I quickly took a mental inventory of the physical environment and the organizational “vibe” at Achievers. Here are several highlights, and the intentions behind them:

Achievers Toronto1) Open Design:  Our workspaces are based on open floor plans and are surrounded by lots of natural light. There are very few individual offices. That’s intentional. We want our environment to encourage the kind of energy and enthusiasm that we hope is synonymous with our product.

2) Visual Cues:  Our Toronto office features a giant red wall inscribed with our company values. It’s one of the first things you see as you enter the front door of the building. Such a public display of company values may not guarantee that all employees internalize them, but it’s a constant reminder to employees, customers and business partners of what we want to represent.

3) Flexibility:  Steelcase reminds us that individuals prefer to structure their own tasks throughout their day. That’s why we offer a variety of options — group seating for collaboration, as well as various quiet and private areas. The more options we offer, the more likely our employees will feel they “fit” into the environment — regardless of their mood or work requirements. Actually, this philosophy aligns with employee recognition best practices as well (our area of expertise at Achievers). It’s human nature. Under some circumstances, a person responds best to public recognition. Other times a private, sincere expression of gratitude is more effective. Variety is the solution.

4) Reinforcement:  We believe that the most critical step any company can take in creating a workplace is to build a culture of “thank you.” Of course, employee recognition isn’t as visible as desks or chairs, but it is likely to be the most durable investment you’ll ever make. If you reinforce behaviors that move business goals forward and encourage employees to embrace core values, these intangibles will become as integral to your organization as the furniture.

Bottom line: When designing a workplace — don’t forget to decorate early and often with recognition!

Image Credit: Pixabay

Office Space: Work in Progress #TChat Recap

Every organization needs the right balance of caves and commons. What that precise balance is depends on what the organization’s particular goals and challenges are, and more granularly, what the immediate situation of a work team is.
Leigh Thompson, Harvard Business Review

This week, the TalentCulture community took on “The Office” as our primary topic. No, we didn’t talk about today’s finale of the long-running TV show. Instead, we focused on real-world workspace — what our physical environment means to us, how it influences our mood and behavior, and the role it plays in our creativity and productivity as individuals, teams and organizations. (For highlights from the #TChat Twitter event, see the Storify slideshow at the end of this post.)

Special Guests: Workspace Wizards

Perhaps no other company understands the concept of workspace better than Steelcase. That’s why we invited experts from that company to share their insights at this week’s #TChat events. If you think of Steelcase as a file cabinet manufacturer, think again. It’s now a global leader in design and furnishings for business, healthcare and education markets. I’m familiar with Steelcase from its work with schools. Just as office space shapes business behavior, classroom configuration has an impact on student learning.

This brief video of the Steelcase “Learning Lab” is a great way to see how Steelcase views workspace:

Key Takeaway: “Place” Matters

Yesterday’s #TChat Twitter conversation was the live-action conclusion to our deep dive into workspace issues and ideas. We seemed to agree on one key point:  These days, “workspace” is often determined by our location at any given moment. Many of us are in constant motion, and we take our work along for the ride — for better or worse. That means flexibility and choice are essential.

But all of us have a primary spot that we call “ours” — even if it’s in a bedroom corner. So, throughout the Twitter chat, many participants (including me) shared pictures of our workspace, or our vision of the ideal setting. Not surprisingly, those images are as diverse as the hundreds of #TChat participants who join us each week! One of my favorites is the Pons Huot Office, shared by Katja Matosevic. (Check out the #TChat Highlights Slideshow below for more, or look at this Forbes gallery of 10 Cool Office Spaces.)

Are you inspired yet? Read on!

#TChat Week-in-Review

SAT 5/11

Sneak Peek: Organizational Pyschologist and #TChat Ambassador, Dr. Marla Gottschalk, helped us frame the week’s theme in her TalentCulture blog post, “Your Workspace: How’s It Working For You?”

SUN 5/12 Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro identified “5 Habits Of Leaders Who Create Workspace Culture” in her weekly Forbes column.

MON 5/13


Listen to the #TChat Radio recording now

#TChat Preview: Our community manager, Tim McDonald, posted a detailed the week’s theme and key questions in a preview post: “If These Workspace Walls Could Talk.”

TUE 5/14

#TChat Radio: Chris Congdon, Director of Research Communications at Steelcase, offered fascinating perspectives about the human psychological and physical factors that influence workspace design. In particular, she focused on the importance of choice in satisfying diverse preferences and multiple work modes.

WED 5/15

Related Post: Sourcing specialist and #TChat Ambassador, Ashley Lauren Perez, offered another spin on workspace design — specifically its role in supporting talent acquisition and retention. Read her post, “Employer Brands: Big-Company Ideas for the Rest of Us.”

#TChat Twitter: The community conversation was so fast and furious that once again, we trended on Twitter! Did you get in on the action? If not (or if you want a refresh), see highlights in the slideshow below:

#TChat Twitter Highlights Slideshow: “If These Workspace Walls Could Talk”

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Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

SPECIAL THANKS: Again, thanks to Chris Congdon and Steelcase for sharing your perspectives on workspace design and organizational culture. It feels like this discussion has only just begun!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about workspace issues? We’re happy to share your thoughts. Just 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 — reward yourself! Join us for events focused on recognition and employee engagement, with special guests, Stan Phelps founder of 9 Inch Marketing, and S. Max Brown, Principal of Leadership Directives at Rideau Recognition Management Institute.

Until then, as always, the World of Work conversation continues each day. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, or on our new LinkedIn discussion group. And feel free to explore other areas of our redesigned website. The lights are always on at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

We’ll see you on the stream!

 Photo: Thanks to Tom Bolt for the Einstein inspiration

If These Workspace Walls Could Talk #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Looking for the summary of this week’s events and resources? See the #TChat Recap: Office Space: Work in Progress)

Think about it…

Most of us will spend more than 30% of our lives in a workspace of some sort. A formal office with four walls. An isolated cubicle. An open shared space. A nook in your master bedroom. Or even in the front seat of a car.

Wherever you conduct business most frequently, that environment is bound to have a direct and dramatic impact on your psyche and your professional performance. And of course, workspace look and feel influences team and organizational performance, as well.

Workplace Design InfographicA Clean, Well-Lighted Place?

Ideally, work environments enhance efficiency, effectiveness, interaction and even innovation. But, as underscored in the infographic “Transforming Cubicleville USA,” if we don’t pay attention to key factors, our workspace can instead undermine communication, workflow and creativity.

So, how can thoughtful workspace design promote workforce engagement, boost workplace productivity and reinforce organizational culture? What does your workspace say about you as an employee or employer? Could even small changes improve job satisfaction and performance?

#TChat Events: World-of-Work Spaces and You

Truthfully, there isn’t one “right” solution to the challenge of workspace form and function. No two organizations are alike. Each has its own unique business requirements, values and personality to consider. It’s complicated.

But that’s why it’s our focus at #TChat forums this week. And that’s why we’ve invited an expert to frame the discussion — Chris Congdon Director of Research Communications at office furnishings manufacturer, Steelcase. This promises to be a fascinating look at what it takes to create a positive and productive workspace, so we hope you’ll add your voice to the discussion!


Listen to the #TChat Radio show…

#TChat Radio: Tuesday May 14, 7:30pmET/4:30pmPT

Tune into #TChat Radio live, as hosts Meghan and Kevin ask  Chris to share her insights on workspace design issues and trends.

#TChat Twitter: Wednesday, May 15, 7:00pmET/4:00pmPT

Follow our Twitter hashtag and be part of an open, collective conversation, as we explore these questions with Steelcase guests:

Q1:  How important are workspaces? Why?
Q2:  Do you work in a traditional office, home office, or a virtual one?
Q3:  What workspace features help you work productively?
Q4:  How have workspaces evolved over time? Is this for the better?
Q5:  How is your workspace a reflection of you and your work?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us anytime, and share your questions, ideas and opinions. Just be sure to add “#TChat” to your posts, so others in the community can follow the action.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image credit: Pixabay

Brain Surgery, Corporate Culture & Leadership Consistency

My husband, the love of my life, had brain surgery a few weeks ago.

The anticipation, wondering if it was benign or cancerous (it was benign), praying that the neurosurgeon would not suddenly get the shakes, being in a hospital away from home and having no family nearby all added up to make this one of the most stressful experiences I’ve gone through in a long time.

And while we were in the hospital, waiting for Marco to be admitted, something occurred to me.  This was a great opportunity to observe corporate culture.

  • First, I would experience it from the perspective of a customer (instead of as an corporate leader or HR pro or business coach).
  • Second, we would be exposed to all levels of employees: janitors, nurse’s assistants, charge nurses (responsible for all the activities in their unit during their shift), staff supervisors and doctors.
  • Third, we were going to be there for three nights and four days, 24/7.

It was the perfect incubator for observation. Would the corporate culture the hospital spent thousands of dollars and many man hours to create, translate into a consistent experience?


In the ICU unit, we had a nurse named Megan who explained everything to us. I’m not overstating this. From how each medication was going to help Marco heal, to showing me how to unfold the sleeper chair and set the locks on it so it wouldn’t roll away and everything in between. She made sure we were as knowledgeable about Marco’s situation as she was.

When she met us, she wrote her name and hospital cell phone number on the wipe-board so we would know who she was and how to get in touch with her.

She apologized for having to wake Marco up every hour.

When I asked her where the soda machine was, she asked me what I wanted, left the room and brought a Diet Coke back to me so I wouldn’t have to pay.

She lovingly patted my husband’s head when he was in pain and couldn’t have more pain killers.

She made sure we both understood that he was not to blow his nose for a month.

She brought extra blankets and pillows without us asking for them.

Watching Megan attend to my husband left me feeling comforted, safe and reassured. That was because of two things: She knew what she was doing and she genuinely cared about my soul mate.

Toni & Company

Toni was our nurse when we transferred from ICU to a regular floor.

In her first introduction to us, she wrote her name on the wipe board while explaining this was not her regular floor and that she was on loan from another floor. She didn’t write down her phone number.

We were transferred right around lunch time and my husband was ravenous. I asked Toni when we could expect lunch and her answer was “soon.” 45 minutes later, lunch had not arrived. I went to find her at the nurse’s station and inquired again. Her answer was, “It’s probably up on the ICU floor.” Another 30 minutes later, I left my husband to find her again and asked when his lunch was going to arrive. She sighed at me, asked all the other nurses where my husband’s lunch was and finally said, “I suppose I’ll have to go to ICU to get his lunch.” More time passed before we finally got his cold lunch.

Megan from ICU told us that if Marco got thirsty, extremely thirsty, we needed to call the neurosurgeon right away; it meant danger. The thirst happened during Toni’s shift. We told her five times over three hours what was happening, we told her the neurosurgeon wanted to be paged immediately if it happened. Each time I went to look for her (she didn’t come to us) she said, “Oh. Okay. I’ll call the doctor.” Finally, after 3.5 hours I went to the ICU floor, looked for Megan and told her what was happening. She immediately broke all protocol by leaving her floor to see Marco. She asked him a bunch of questions, her face got red and she said she was going to page the doctor right then. Five minutes later a sheepish Toni walked into the room ready to take care of him. She also told us that the neurosurgeon yelled at her on the phone.

It wasn’t just Toni either. None of the nurses on that floor wrote down their hospital cell phone numbers. When Marco got extremely thirsty he asked for Gatorade and another nurse said, “I’m sorry we don’t have any on this floor.” We weren’t asking for champagne for Pete’s sake! I asked several people if I could have a sleeper chair and the consistent answer was an apathetic, “I’ll try.”

Being on the ICU floor was like being at a Ritz Carlton. The last three days of his stay was like being at a charge-by-the-hour motel.

Organizational Consistency

What happened?  It was the same hospital system.  Each floor had the same motivational employee bulletin boards which reinforced the “competency of the month.”  The processes for responding to patients was the same on each floor.  And I’m sure they were operating from the same employee handbook.

Shouldn’t every employee take patient care seriously?

Obviously, the answer is yes. Yet I think one of the hardest things for organizations to nail down is consistency across their enterprise.  What happened last week reinforced three things every leader needs to understand and do something about:

  • An organization can have all the technical tools in place to create an incredible customer experience, but that is no guarantee that employees will use them.
  • Leaders, Recruiters and HR pros need to continue to focus their recruiting efforts on the technical and behavioral skills candidates present. One without the other is disastrous.
  • Great tools and employees with phenomenal technical/behavioral skills are lost without front line supervisors who know how and have the courage to hold their employees accountable.

It’s a three legged stool. Or is it? What other factors should be considered in creating a consistent experience? Why do you think there was such a stark contrast between ICU and the regular floor?