Tag Archives: Culture

Accelerating Culture Change Through Leadership Development

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I recently ran across the third report in the Real Work Leadership series of reports from Korn Ferry. Create an Engaging Culture for Greater Impact looks at changing culture through the lens of leadership development. An interesting take.

The report is the analysis of a global survey of views on leadership development fielded in July and August of 2015. With more than 7,500 survey responses from 107 countries, 3 in 4 of the leaders who responded were from their organizations’ business functions; the remainder were from HR. That’s pretty unusual and made the results more interesting. Remember those demographics as you see some of the findings below.

Respondents ranked their top 7 priorities for leadership development within their organizations. Remember, only 25% of the global pool of respondents were in HR.

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I was interested to note that only one of the top seven priorities for leadership development is operationally performance driven:  #4, Accelerating time to performance. Right in the middle of the pack. #1 and #3 were change related, and #2 was talent acquisition related. I find these surprising from a group overwhelmingly made up of non-HR leaders. But looking at the final three – Driving engagement, Diversifying the leadership pipeline, and Becoming more purpose and values driven – enables me to back off of my surprise. If these were the only choices from which to rank the important leadership development priorities of senior leaders, then the only real surprise is that Accelerating time to performance is not rated the top priority.

The survey analysis goes on to suggest that Developing leaders to drive strategic change really means developing leaders to accelerate culture change. That would be really interesting if true. That would mean that 5,625 very senior business leaders around the world think that changing their culture is their very top priority. That would be outstanding. For someone like me, who thinks that culture is the one of the most critical business sustainability dynamics, this is music to my ears.

The report is mostly about leadership development. That’s a big part of Korn Ferry’s business. So that makes sense. And there are a number of interesting data points that you might want to consider in your business. Things like the following:

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But this:

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Remember again that the vast majority of respondents in this survey were not HR leaders. But the data ought to give HR leaders all over the world ammunition to begin to link their leadership development strategies to their organization’s business strategies in new and compelling ways. Especially as they relate to culture change. Perhaps this from the report is one of the most simple descriptions of the interconnectedness of culture, leadership, and strategy – and so, performance:

“The starting point for organization alignment is mission, purpose, and strategy. Ideally top leaders define these elements, the path to execution , and the values and behaviors that will support implementation and success.  Once they have done so, these individuals must communicate this information clearly, consistently, and repeatedly throughout the organization.”

I liked this survey analysis. We talk about culture all the time. (Well, I talk about culture all the time.) We don’t often talk about culture through the lens of leadership development, though. And as this paper reports, leadership development – particularly as we are in the midst of a demographic sea change of Biblical proportions – may be an integral strategy for moving cultures forward for performance, for talent acquisition, and for business sustainability.

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Filed under Change Management, China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Demographics, Korn Ferry, Leadership Development, Learning/Development

Should Leaders Wear Their Hearts On Their Sleeves?

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Most readers of Data Point Tuesday know that I’m focused these days on the intersection of culture, organization performance and humanity in the workplace. Deloitte’s new culture change solution unit, CulturePath, has just published a white paper that has an interesting spin on culture, organization performance and employee emotion. This statement in the executive summary of Take your corporate culture off cruise control; Power up the emotive engine in your workplace, really caught my eye:

“A variety of forces are coming together to make cultural alignment a priority for most companies… By getting deeper into how cultures work, and by pushing the emotional connections, companies can actively manage their culture to drive critical business outcomes.”

I believe “emotional connections” is another way of describing humanity. So I read the rest of the report with interest.

Deloitte reports (through its annual Human Capital Trends report) that 87% of executives cite “culture and engagement,” the highest of all HR-related challenges, as one of their top challenges – with a full 50% describing the challenge as very important. This is stunning. Whether or not 87% of executives are expressing their concern about their organization’s culture and the state of employee engagement in that organization is beside the point. Culture is becoming more than strategy’s breakfast. It’s becoming a context within which leaders are beginning to pay attention to human beings rather than skillsets. And this new report gives some insight into just why execs are paying to attention to emotion and humanity.

The section, “Putting emotion in the culture equation” is another attempt by consultants and researchers to emphasize the value of the Deloitte CulturePath 1human. The value of the heart. We need this. Deloitte’s particular push, aligning culture with business strategy, seems the right way to go and suggests that there are three primary avenues to make emotional connections with talent:

 

  • Higher purpose – pride in the mission helps lead to commitment to the organization as a whole
  • Examples from the top – the stories and actions from leaders at the top have power much greater than any “program” communication
  • Participation – by linking the deeds of individuals at every level to larger goals, meaning can be generated across the organization. If every action is linked to the higher purpose, talent will generally be more committed.

It’s becoming more and more clear that connecting emotionally to employees through their humanity is a winning approach to innovation, productivity, competitiveness, and top- and bottom-line growth. Leaders who focus on building their trustworthiness, accessibility and comfort with transparency are far more likely to appear human and to relate more effectively with the humans in their workforce. Turns out, emotions are a good thing. And wearing your heart on your sleeve just might make you a better leader – and improve your organization’s performance.

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Filed under China Gorman, Company Culture, Culture, CulturePath, Data Point Tuesday, Deloitte

Business Resilience and Freedom

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Creating a great workplace culture that is employee focused is hard. Worthwhile and hard. Creating a freedom-centric culture is also worthwhile. And even harder, because it is focused not just on creating a culture that is based on trust, it is focused on creating a culture without fear.

WorldBlu, is an organization dedicated to developing world-class freedom-centered (rather than fear-based) organizations and leaders. Their vision is to see one billion people leading and working in freedom. Founder and CEO Traci Fenton has spent 20 years studying the effects of freedom in organizations and has come to agree with leading thinkers and scholars like Warren Bennis, Philip Slater, and others, that democracy in the workplace is inevitable because “it is the most efficient social system in times of unrelenting change.”

Traci and her team have just published the results of some interesting analysis in a report titled, Freedom at Work: Growth & Resilience An empirical analysis of how freedom and democracy in the workplace impact business performance. If you’re convinced, as I am, that corporate culture impacts business performance, then this analysis will be of great interest.

Each year since 2007 WorldBlu™ has published its list of Most Freedom-Centered Workplaces™. In that time, more than 130 companies in every industry that range in size from 5 to more than 60,000 employees from all over the world have met the standard to become WorldBlu™ certified. Companies like DaVita, Menlo Innovations, Glassdoor, WD-40, Great Harvest Bread Company and, yes, Zappos, all proudly claim to be cultures free from fear.

This report, Freedom at Work: Growth & Resilience, looks at WorldBlu™ certified companies and how they fared in terms of s growth and survival during and after the Great Recession of 2007. The data are impressive. S&P listed companies’ revenue growth rate during the 3-year period of 2010 – 2013 – the end of the downtown and beginning of the recovery paled in comparison to WorldBlu™ certified companies during the same period.

June 16 2015 WorldBlu 1Additionally, the exit rate of WorldBlu companies during that same time period was less than half the national average.

June 16 2015 WorldBlu 2As the report states, 2007 – 2011 were bleak years for businesses and their employees. And many businesses around the world failed, closed their operations or sold out. Case studies from Menlo Innovations and DaVita are fascinating examples of organization leaders who take their commitment to culture several steps further than creating trust between leadership and employees. They truly approach their entire ecosystem in a democratic fashion and the results were significant. Take a look.

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Filed under China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Freedom at Work, Traci Fenton, WorldBlu

I’m Not Your Mother!

data point tuesday_500Some things are simple. Some things are complicated. And some things that seem simple are actually pretty complicated. For example, it seems like a simple observation that happy employees are better employees. And, in fact, data abound to prove that point. But how to get happy employees is a little more complicated.

Early in my career as a business leader I always believed that people were my critical competitive edge and that creating a strong, caring culture was my job. But happiness? Come on. I wasn’t my employees’ mother. The nature of the employer/employee relationship, I believed, was a commercial relationship. Employees come to work, do a good job and I pay them. The more I could remove obstacles from their ability to do good work, the more I could offer development and thanks for a job well done, the better they performed. It wasn’t rocket science. Treat people well and they’ll treat your employees well. I got that. But trying to make them happy? I didn’t think that was part of the deal. (And I was a pretty effective business leader.)

But as I matured as a leader, I did begin to wonder about this notion of working to create happiness at work. I spent some time at Zappos – a culture whose leader is all about making his workforce happy. And while the Zappos culture wouldn’t be a fit for me, it worked for them. And they were happy. Really happy. And their business results were such that they could sell the business to Amazon for over $1 billion.

And then I became CEO of the Great Place to Work Institute and was covered over in data that prove a direct line from employee well-being to financial performance. And so while early in my career the notion of employee happiness didn’t register as a leadership imperative, I now believe that creating a culture that, in Tony Hseih’s words, delivers happiness to employees is quite clearly a practical and effective way to achieve top line growth, profitability, customer loyalty and, most importantly, employee loyalty.

In preparation for the Globoforce WorkHuman Conference in a couple of weeks, I was reading up on employee happiness and ran across one of their white papers, The Science of Happiness. It’s a quick read and makes some rather simple but profound points backed up by reliable data.

Here are 6 reasons why you want happy employees based on research from the Wall Street Journal and the iOpener Institute. Happy employees:

  • Stay twice as long in their jobs as their least happy colleagues

  • Believe they are achieving their potential 2x as much

  • Spend 65% more time feeling energized

  • Are 58% more likely to go out of the way to help their colleagues

  • Identify 98% more strongly with the values of their organization

  • Are 186% more likely to recommend their organization to a friend

Download the paper. It’ll take you less than 10 minutes to read and will give you some simple ideas to begin to see the benefits of focusing on employee well-being and happiness. And then join me at the WorkHuman Conference June 8-10 in Orlando and let’s talk about happiness, gratitude, culture, and employee and organization success.

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Filed under China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Globoforce, WorkHuman, Zappos

Deloitte’s HR Wake Up Call

data point tuesday_500Deloitte recently released its 2015 Global Human Capital Trends report, their annual comprehensive study of HR, leadership, and talent challenges compiled using data from surveys and interviews taken by 3,300+ HR and business leaders in 106 countries around the world. The report identifies 10 major trends that emerged from the most current research, and cites the capability gap (measuring the distance between the importance of an issue and organizations’ readiness to address it) associated with each, as well as practical ideas for how to help organizations combat theses challenges. Ranked by importance, the top ten talent challenges reported for 2015 are: culture and engagement, leadership, learning and development, reinventing HR, workforce on demand, performance management, HR and people analytics, simplification of work, machines as talent, and people data everywhere.

Deloitte’s data highlight considerable gaps in capability among all 10 trends, with the majority of capability gaps getting larger compared to last year. Global Importance vs. ReadinessLet’s take a look at the top five talent issues for 2015: Culture and Engagement ranked as the #1 issue overall for 2015 (not a surprise to us at Great Place to Work®), barely edging out leadership, which ranked as the #1 issue in 2014. This highlights organizations’ recognition that understanding their culture and focusing on building great cultures is a critical need in the face of a potential retention and engagement crisis. Building Leadership ranks as the #2 talent issue for 2015, with close to 9 out of 10 respondents citing the issue as “important” or “very important.” Despite this, Deloitte’s data show that organizations have made very little progress towards meeting this challenge since last year. Learning and Development jumped to the #3 talent challenge in 2015, up from the #8 spot last year. And while the number of companies rating learning and development as important has tripled since 2014, the readiness to address it has actually gone down (!?). Reskilling HR came in as the 4th most important talent issue for the year, with business leaders rating HR’s performance 20% lower than HR leaders’ ranking (and that is with both HR and business leaders ranking HR performance as low on average). Workforce on Demand was the #5 talent challenge for 2015, with 8 out of 10 respondents citing workforce capability as “important” or “very important” in the year ahead.

Through data analysis and extensive conversations with organizations around the world about these challenges, Deloitte arrived at six key findings that give us a bird’s eye view of how organizations are approaching talent and work:

  1. “ ‘Softer’ areas such as culture and engagement, leadership, and development have become urgent priorities.”
  1. “Leadership and learning have dramatically increased in importance, but the capability gap is widening.”
  1. “HR organizations and HR skills are not keeping up with business needs.”
  1. “HR technology systems are a growing market, but their promise may be largely unfulfilled.”
  1. “Talent and people analytics are a high priority and a tremendous opportunity, but progress is slow.”
  1. “Simplification is an emerging theme; HR is part of the problem.”

Each chapter in Deloitte’s report takes a deep dive view into the 10 talent trends they uncovered through their research with some interested findings. For example (in looking at the #4 trend, reskilling HR) Deloitte notes that nearly 40% of new CHRO’s now come from business, not from HR. Why are CEOs bringing in non-HR professionals to fill the role of CHRO? The answer may lie in their sinking belief in HR’s capabilities and abilities to provide solutions to people-related business problems.HR Performance

Deloitte puts it bluntly: right now HR is just not keeping up with the pace of business, and a reskilling of HR professionals while reinventing the role of HR is becoming critical. This need however, also creates an unprecedented opportunity for HR to play a big role at the highest levels of business strategy. But where do organizations start? Deloitte offers the following advice:

  • “Redesign HR with a focus on consulting and service delivery, not just efficiency of administration. HR business partners must become trusted business advisors with the requisite skills to analyze, consult, and resolve critical business issues.”
  • “Rather than locating HR specialists in central teams, embed them into the business—but coordinate them by building a strong network of expertise. Recruitment, development, employee relations, and coaching are all strategic programs that should be centrally coordinated but locally implemented.”
  • “Make HR a talent and leadership magnet… Create rigorous assessments for top HR staff and rotate high performers from the business into HR to create a magnet for strong leaders.”
  • “Invest in HR development and skills as if the business depended on it… Focus on capabilities such as business acumen, consulting and project management skills, organizational design and change, and HR analytical skills.”

There are very useful insights in this report – as there are every year. But this year the insights also serve as a warning to HR. A warning that it’s losing the confidence of CEOs and other C-Suite executives. That 40% of all CHROs are coming from functions other than HR should be sobering. That the top capability gaps are growing larger, not smaller, should be cause for concern. Without bringing furniture into the conversation, this report is a credible and important HR wake up call!

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Filed under China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Global Human Capital, HR, Human Resources, Leadership, Learning/Development

Peer Recognition, Culture and Going the Extra Mile

Data Point TuesdayWhat motivates employees? It is money? Feeling valued at work? Connecting with a company’s social mission? All these are good answers, but a new study from TINYpulse that analyzed over 200,000 employee responses relating to organizational culture found that peers and camaraderie are the #1 reason employees go the extra mile. While peer recognition and camaraderie might seem like two aspects of company culture that happen (or need to happen) organically, there are ways organizations can promote a culture that fosters peer recognition and camaraderie. As a potentially overlooked area of focus for organizations, peer recognition is a valuable way to foster a positive culture and create one where employees regularly “go the extra mile.” 44% of employees surveyed report that when they are provided a simple tool to do so, they will provide peer recognition on an ongoing basis. The happier the employee, the bigger the praise: 58% of “happy” employees report giving regular peer recognition, compared to 18% of the least happy employees. As TINYpulse states, “Professional happiness encourages 3X more recognition!”Nov 18 2014 HappinessThinking that money motivates employees seems an antiquated line of thought when looking at TINYpulse’s data. In fact, money isn’t even among the top 5 factors that motivate employees to go the extra mile. Out of 10, “money and benefits” ranks #8. The top 3 motivators for employees to go the extra mile are:

  • Camaraderie/peer motivation
  • Intrinsic desire to do a good job, and
  • Feeling encouraged and recognized

Motivation ChartFeeling encouraged and recognized at work can stem from a number of different sources, but regardless of where recognition most often occurs, TINYpulse’s data show that employees feel significantly undervalued overall. On a 1-10 scale, just 21% of all employees gave a score of nine or ten for feeling valued at work, meaning that 79% of employees feel undervalued, or not valued at all.

Value ChartCamaraderie and recognition have broader implications than just creating a more motivated workforce. Workplace cultures that embrace these are no longer expected to be just the few and far between: job seekers expect this of organizations, and they are ways to not only attract talent, but to retain it. Millennials especially (as I’ve discussed in past posts) place a high value on camaraderie and actively seek out such work environments. TINYpulse sites a recent report by Bersin and Associates, which found that employee engagement, productivity, and customer service, are about 14% better in organizations where recognition occurs.

Consider how your organization recognizes its employees – how do you recognize peers? Do employees at your organization feel valued – do you? Maybe it’s time to institute some formal recognition programs, which we here at Great Place to Work consistently see as best practices at organizations on the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For list. “Ramping up” recognition programs doesn’t need to mean excessive time or investment either. It could be as simple as instituting a gold star program, installing a white board in the break room for “biggest save of the week” comments, or having an employee mentor another for an hour on a specific skill. Our advice is to start small, and build on positive outcomes.

But by all means, provide formal and informal ways for your employees to recognize the contributions of their peers – that is, if you’d like more of your employees to go the extra mile for your customers!

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Filed under China Gorman, Company Culture, Data Point Tuesday, TINYpulse, Workplace Studies

It’s all About: Trust, Honesty, and Transparency

Data Point TuesdayCompany cultures, the good, the bad, and – well in the interest of being nice we’ll leave it at that – have been the focus at Great Place to Work® for the last 25 years, since Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz researched their book The 100 Best Workplaces in America. What their research revealed is that the key to creating a great workplace revolves not around the building of a certain set of benefits and practices, but through the building of high-quality relationships in the workplace, relationships characterized by trust, pride, and camaraderie. What we call a great company culture. As Erin Osterhaus, researcher for HR technology reviewer Software Advice, points out in her blog about a recent survey, the term “company culture” has seen an astronomical rise in use since 1980, due in part to publications like The 100 Best Workplaces in America, as well as companies’ recognition that culture has a direct impact on how happy, and healthy employees are– and, how well they perform. With the rise in attention to the topic of company culture, enter the adoption of roles created specifically to focus on company culture. As Osterhaus points out, Google, #1 on the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For List for the last three years, was one of the first companies to adopt such a position (Chief Culture Officer) in 2006.

company culture over timeConsidering all the research and data that surround the term “company culture” today, Software Advice surveyed 886 U.S. adults to learn how they define company culture, and to better understand what culture means to the group it impacts the most: employees and job seekers. What did they discover? Most survey takers described “company culture” as a value, belief, or habit of employees that worked at an organization, or the overall feeling of the environment at that company. The majority of respondents listed their ideal company culture as “casual or relaxed” followed by “family oriented,” “fun,” “friendly,” and “honest and transparent.” However, when asked which of these five attributes would most likely convince them to apply at company, respondents stated that “honesty and transparency” would be the biggest influencer.

So while “casual/relaxed” and “fun” ranked over honesty as the most common definition of an ideal company culture, the fact that “honesty and transparency” are the bigger influencers on whether a prospective candidate actually applies at a company highlights what we’ve known about company cultures all along… that trust and values matter most.

ideal company cultureSoftware Advice’s data prove once again that it is fostering trust and building honesty and transparency that ultimately create a sense of camaraderie amongst employees and the fun, family feel environments that respondents report as their “ideal company culture.” As Leslie Caccamese and Katie Popp state in Great Place to Work’s recent whitepaper, Five Lessons for Leaders as they Build a Great Workplace, “What people often think makes a great workplace isn’t actually what makes it so.” While great amenities like workout facilities, foosball tables, and 4 star catered meals may initially come to mind when people think “great company culture,” it’s ultimately evidence of trust-based interactions between leaders and their employees that Great Place to Work looks for when evaluating companies for our Best Companies to Work For lists in nearly 50 countries around the world.

I’ll leave you with another quote from our recent whitepaper: “…by all means, install slides and fi­reman poles; scatter about lava lamps and bean bag chairs. Bring in the manicurist and the barista, and cater to people’s pets. Just make sure these things aren’t happening in lieu of deeper, more substantial practices like involving employees in workplace decisions, keeping them informed of important issues, tending to their ongoing professional development, and sharing profi­ts fairly. These types of practices will go much further in helping employees feel that theirs is a great workplace.”

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Filed under 100 Best Companies to Work For, Business Success, China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Great Place to Work, Great Place to Work Institute, Great Rated!, Relationships, Trust