Category Archives for Company Culture

A Formula For Leadership

  • July 6, 2017

Leadership is not a formula or an equation

One of the recurring themes I’ve been thinking about  lately has been this basic equation:

(Bad Leadership + Low Accountability) x Bad Culture = Big Problems

The lead company on this in the headlines has been Uber.  The litany of events that have cropped up to face Uber since the beginning of 2017 are epic in their scope.

Here’s a 5 month timeline:

Think about that timeline for a minute.  Five months from the time a former employee wrote a blog post about a pervasively bad culture to the termination of the CEO and the launch of a major employee relations program.  This doesn’t even take into account the brand damage suffered from social efforts like #DeleteUber or what the future impact to the business will be.  They’ve taken some steps recently and are hopefully getting started on getting things were they want them to be. 

This brings me back to my “formula” of which the Uber story is just one example.

(Bad Leadership + Low Accountability) x Bad Culture = Big Problems

The examples are plentiful, if you look for them.

You may wonder what all this stuff in Silicon Valley has to do with CUE and positive employee relations.  Most CUE members don’t work in startups or in the rarified high-tech air of Silicon Valley or Hollywood.  The thing that differentiates CUE members is they do good work in positive employee relations every day.  Doing that basic work to build a healthy culture and to foster good leadership is what keeps these problems at bay.

And if you think this is just a story from the tech world, this EEOC case against a Tampa based janitorial company was announced yesterday. Tampa-Based Janitorial Service Provider Rejected African-Americans for Jobs and Punished Black Employee for Opposing Discrimination, Federal Agency Charges.   We’ll see how the case turns out eventually, but it is surely not a headline any employer wants to see.

Here’s another headline from Miami: Did Miami’s biggest developer avoid labor taxes? The feds are investigating.

Here are some thoughts on how Silicon Valley might want to move forward from Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn.

Here’s another good way to stay focused on doing the right thing when it comes to employee relations.

CUE Member Early Bird Rate Now Available

Members can register now for the biggest savings by taking advantage of our Early Bird Rate of $775 now through July 29th.  Our theme is Building the Positive Employee Experience, and you can save money by registering at the Early Bird member rate of $775 now through July 29th.

 

Unlocking an Ownership Culture Part 2: Owners Increase Value and Assume Responsibility #CUE40

 

During the CUE Spring 2017 meeting, Greg Hawks delivered a highly entertaining and enlightening keynote session on how we can unlock an ownership culture at our companies. In the first article in this series, we discussed what an ownership culture is, and how to foster that culture through leadership and accountability.  In this article, we’ll explore how owners add value and best practices to invest in them. You can read more about cultivating an owner’s mindset in the final article in this series.

Owners Increase Value, and Renters Only Maintain

Greg has two jobs. By day, he works as a Corporate Culture Specialist, where he mentors leaders, develops teams, crafts culture, and empowers employees. After hours, he’s a real estate investor who manages rental properties. His real estate strategy is simple: buy nice houses, and put nice people in them.

Greg’s not a handyman, but as an owner, he wants the people who rent his homes to have safe, functional, and beautiful homes. One day Greg received a call from a renter who has a large family, and who cooks a lot. The renter disclosed that the oven was broken. The oven was part of a combination oven/stove appliance.  When he got to the house, Greg learned that not only was the oven broken, but three of the four burners weren’t functioning.

Greg was surprised that the renter didn’t call him sooner about the stove. Perhaps the renter wanted to maintain the situation and was concerned that if she called to complain about the stove that her rent would go up. Or, maybe the renter was afraid that if she complained, Greg would accuse her of breaking the stove.

It’s tough to think about a positive outcome when you’re not sure what the consequences of your actions will be. This is especially true if we’re not sure what the other person’s response will be. The unknown is always scarier than reality. Our minds go to a dark place when we’re not sure of outcomes.

Have you ever been afraid to tell your boss about a mistake, a broken process, or an accident? If so, then you probably understand why the tenant was reluctant to call Greg.

Encourage and Invest

Most people show up to work intending to do a good job. No one likes the feeling of constantly failing. Unfortunately, we don’t encourage and invest in people enough. The great thing about this tactic is that it’s totally free. It just takes mindfulness and time.

First, be mindful of the specifics behind an employee’s actions. As humans, it’s easy for us to go to a negative mindset. In business, we’re taught look for mistakes, speed up production, and manage the numbers. We’re trained to look for things that are broken, but not for things that are going well.

Carefully observe behavior and provide specific examples, since generalities are easily forgotten. For example, if I tell you, “Thank you, you did a great job today,” you might feel good. But if I tell you, “Thank you so much for taking the time to clean your aisle. Your inventory is so perfectly straight that it’s practically saluting! You’re making it so much easier for our pickers since the aisle is so organized and clean. You’re doing a great job.”

 

Help Me, I’m Stuck

 People often come to leaders and say, “I’m stuck” or “Please help me.” The best gift you can give someone is to help them create more value to other people. It’s free, and it doesn’t take any skill. It just takes some patience, observation, and intention.

Best of all, creating more value for other people is not only free – it’s also accessible. If you want to learn something, you can learn it for free on YouTube or at the library. If you have a learner’s mentality, you can teach others how to adopt one, too.

Here are some ways that you can encourage and invest in people that are meaningful:

  • The gift of time and attention. Put your device in airplane mode and focus on the conversation.
  • There’s never enough humor in the workplace. Lighten up and have some fun.
  • Don’t just tell an employee that they’re doing a great job. Give them public recognition.
  • Consider your legacy. If you’re thinking about retiring or leaving the company, tell your successor how great your successor is. Be her ambassador even if you no longer work closely together. Brag about her to the CEO, because she is your legacy.
  • Let employees take pride in their work. Don’t make them invisible when the CEO or a customer visits. Let them brag about themselves and their team.

Owners Assume Responsibility; Renters Avoid It

As owners, we buy problems that we don’t create, so we are forced to deal with them.  If you’ve ever seen a makeover show on DIY, you know that there are always problems hidden in the walls, foundation, or attic. Owners determine the ROI on the solution and decide whether to fix the problem or resell the property “as is”.

At work, we always deal with problems that were created down the hall, or further upstream in the process. We fix the problems that started elsewhere, and it can be quite frustrating and disheartening. This is where positive employee relations can give you an ROI that can’t be quantified.

If we give people a platform to brag about how well they fixed a problem, or give them the opportunity to talk about creative solutions, they’ll start to adopt an owner’s mindset. They’ll also start assuming responsibility for fixing more problems. They may even start bragging on their coworkers. If we don’t, they will leave, because owners don’t want to be turned into renters.

 

Greg Hawks is a Corporate Culture Specialist who brings an expansive leadership portfolio to your service.  For two decades he has mentored leaders, developed teams, crafted culture, and empowered employees. His approachable personality and vibrant demeanor are useful attributes for attacking mediocrity. He is not a motivator, he is an instigator. His playful attitude cloaks a directness that pinpoints root issues. Through Hawks Agency, he has originated the Like An Owner® platform. Compelled by the belief that individuals who Think, Act, Lead, and Create Like An Owner® will be more fulfilled and productive. Also, organizations who commit to implement an Ownership Culture will find loyalty and rapid growth, regularly.

Guest blogger Liz D’Aloia founded HR Virtuoso to help companies optimize their employment application processes. HR Virtuoso creates customized, company-branded short form employment applications that work on any mobile device. This allows companies to get far more applications, and also keep their existing applicant tracking system. Prior to launching HR Virtuoso, Liz rose through the ranks of transportation, retail, and mortgage companies as a Senior Employment Attorney and VP of HR. Liz is a nationally recognized blogger, speaker, and HR practitioner. Please contact her directly at liz@hrvirtuoso.com with blog ideas, speaking engagements, and consulting requests.  Follow us @hrvirtuoso.

Unlocking an Ownership Culture Part 3: Owners See the Whole House, Not Just Rooms #CUE40

  • May 8, 2017

Owners tend to roll out the welcome mat faster than renters do.

 

 

During the CUE spring 2017 conference, Greg Hawks delivered a highly entertaining and enlightening keynote session on how we can unlock an ownership culture at our companies. We got so much good information, that we’ve divided his presentation into three parts. In the first article, we explored what an ownership culture means, and how accountability comes into play. In the second article in the series, we learned how owners increase value and assume responsibility.

Greg has two jobs. By day, he works as a Corporate Culture Specialist, where he mentors leaders, develops teams, crafts culture, and empowers employees. After hours, he’s a real estate investor who manages rental properties. His real estate strategy is simple: buy nice houses, and put nice people in them. Along the way, he’s learned a few key traits about having an owner’s mentality.

Owners are Inclusive

Owners tend to be inclusive, and readily welcome you into their homes. On the other hand, Greg learned that renters tend to be exclusive. Greg likes to check on his properties, and although he has excellent relationships with his tenants, they often hold the door ajar and say, “Oh, it’s you again.” In other words, they don’t exactly roll out the welcome mat for him.

In our last article, we learned that Greg had a renter who was reluctant to tell him about her broken oven and stove. Remember, Greg’s real estate strategy is to buy nice houses and put nice people in them. So, he immediately wanted to make things right and asked the renter to pick out the stove.

Greg knows that the tenant is going to have to live with the new stove, so he wanted to involve her in the buying process. The same thing happens at work all the time. We make decisions that impact others, without involving them or getting their buy-in. We see this all the time with conversations that are about “corporate vs. field” or “sales vs. operations”. It’s a mindset that makes us want to huddle up, hunker down, and keep them out because “they don’t have our best interest in mind.”

Identify Behaviors That Create Factions

It’s hard to figure out a renter’s mindset, just like it’s hard to figure out an employee’s perspective. Sometimes we think we’re treating people well, but we often get blamed by our employees for things that are beyond our control. This can begin a vicious cycle at work. We stop involving our employees in our decisions, and they quickly transform from owners into vandals. We start using words that start separating people into factions.

Every company has a subculture that feeds into this behavior. It even happens when we think we have good intentions. For example, every organization has unwritten rules and standards. Let’s say that you’re trying to warn a colleague about another team member’s personality quirk.  The minute you say, “Don’t worry about Joe, he’s just like that. I’m trying to help you out” you’ve painted someone negatively and created division.

Unfortunately, smart people do dumb things all the time and commit acts of vandalism. Vandalism happens when you talk about personal situations that skew other’s perspectives about that person. Instead of talking about personal situations, talk about capacities. If you’re working on a project, involve and include as many stakeholders as possible. It’s the way owners practice inclusion even when they feel resistance from others.

 

Owners See the Whole House; Renters See Rooms

If you’ve ever rented a room in a house, you probably thought that your room was the most important room there. As an owner, the value of the house is the entire property. You like the laundry room as much as the kitchen. You know that rooms don’t have any value without the context of the entire house.

In the workplace, we often create silos at the highest level of our organizations. This creates divisions throughout the company. It’s hard for us to see our department, or “room” as part of the whole. It’s typically very hard for high-level leaders to shift from being an advocate for their area to an advocate for the entire organization.

You don’t create value for your organization by being a champion for your area. Stop standing up for your department. Stand up for the “whole house” first, and then serve your department or division. You’ll add value to your own contributions, and also create value in the people around you.

 

 

Greg Hawks is a Corporate Culture Specialist who brings an expansive leadership portfolio to your service.  For two decades he has mentored leaders, developed teams, crafted culture, and empowered employees. His approachable personality and vibrant demeanor are useful attributes for attacking mediocrity. He is not a motivator, he is an instigator. His playful attitude cloaks a directness that pinpoints root issues. Through Hawks Agency, he has originated the Like An Owner® platform. Compelled by the belief that individuals who Think, Act, Lead, and Create Like An Owner® will be more fulfilled and productive. Also, organizations who commit to implement an Ownership Culture will find loyalty and rapid growth, regularly.

Guest blogger Liz D’Aloia founded HR Virtuoso to help companies optimize their employment application processes. HR Virtuoso creates customized, company-branded short form employment applications that work on any mobile device. This allows companies to get far more applications, and also keep their existing applicant tracking system. Prior to launching HR Virtuoso, Liz rose through the ranks of transportation, retail, and mortgage companies as a Senior Employment Attorney and VP of HR. Liz is a nationally recognized blogger, speaker, and HR practitioner. Please contact her directly at liz@hrvirtuoso.com with blog ideas, speaking engagements, and consulting requests.  Follow us @hrvirtuoso.