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Is Your Business a Revolving Door? 10 Ways To Keep Your Best Employees.

employees

Is Your Business a Revolving Door? 10 Ways To Keep Your Best Employees.

Employee retention and turnover are important terms to every business owner and leader. But sometimes the driving factors behind why employees leave aren’t fully grasped or addressed by leadership, and if that disconnect persists, the business suffers while some of the best employees beat a path to the door.

“Leaders know that it’s vital to attract good talent, but knowing how to keep good talent involves an important process that leaders must learn and practice,” says Steve Baker (www.greatgame.com), a business coach, vice president of The Great Game of Business Inc., and co-author with Rich Armstrong of GET IN THE GAME: How To Create Rapid Financial Results And Lasting Cultural Change.

“Making employee retention a priority for your company is essential for continual growth, success, and sustainability.”

Baker and Armstrong offer 10 tips to business leaders and managers on how they can retain their best employees. Make employees feel they’re part of something special. “In the same way that you promote the value proposition of your products and services to potential customers, you should do the same with employees, only focusing on your attributes as an employer,” Armstrong says. “Inclusivity and pride are feelings you can leverage to help them understand that working for your organization is a unique opportunity.”

Emphasize the purpose and meaning of the work. “The outstanding employees you seek to hire and retain have special talents, skills, and drive,” Baker says. “Make it clear to them that what they are doing benefits both the company and your customers in important ways.”

Ensure deserving team members are rewarded. Successful companies reward employees who go above and beyond. “Recognition, bonuses, and promotions demonstrate your respect and appreciation for hard-working team members,” Armstrong says.

Give employees more responsibility. One of the most effective employee retention strategies is to give them greater responsibility to make a bigger difference. “This starts with financial literacy training and continues with regular updates on business statistics like profits and revenue, and details on how their efforts are moving the needle,” Baker says.

Surround employees with other talented workers. People like to be a part of teams that are built for success. “By creating groups of skilled and motivated workers,” Armstrong says, “you can tap into a competitive and cooperative partnership that will benefit the business as a whole.”

Mentor employees. “When you prioritize personal growth and development,” Baker says, “employees see that their careers are going somewhere and that their organization’s interests are aligned with their own.”

Nurture trust in leadership. All great relationships are built on trust, and the workplace is no different. “Outstanding employees will stay if they trust leadership,” Armstrong says, “and that trust grows from leaders being honest, open, and interested in their team members.”

Get employees emotionally invested. People are passionate about the things they have helped create. “The more you engage employees in the development of the organization,” Baker says, “the more emotionally invested they become and the more likely they are to stay.”

Create a positive work culture.  “If you create a drama-free environment where honesty and integrity matter, your employee retention rate will rise,” Armstrong says.

Provide competitive compensation. “None of the other retention strategies matter if you continue to underpay an employee,” Baker says. “It is important to stay on top of what constitutes fair compensation in your industry.”

“Increasing employee retention and keeping it at a high level is challenging,” says Armstrong, “but you can start by getting your people in the same game the owner is: the game of business.

“You can build a winning culture by creating a business of business people. Allowing employees to contribute to a greater good and valuing their contribution inspires loyalty and commitment. At the end of the day, it’s all about creating a winning company and a company of winners.”

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Rich Armstrong (www.greatgame.com) is the president of The Great Game of Business Inc., and co-author, with Steve Baker, of GET IN THE GAME: How To Create Rapid Financial Results And Lasting Cultural Change. This book is the how-to application of Jack Stack’s 1992 bestseller, The Great Game of Business. Armstrong and Baker co-authored the update of Stack’s book in The Great Game of Business – 20th Anniversary Edition. Armstrong has nearly 30 years of experience in improving business performance and employee engagement through the practice of open-book management and employee ownership.

Steve Baker (www.greatgame.com) is the vice president of The Great Game of Business Inc., and is a top-rated, sought-after speaker and coach on the subjects of open-book management, strategy, and execution, leadership, and employee engagement. Baker is a career marketing and branding professional and an award-winning artist.

corporate structure

How Consultants Can Help Companies Create a Sustainable Corporate Structure

At this point, you’re probably asking why corporate structure is so important. The answer is that a flexible structure is necessary to lead a global organization. This type of corporate structure is at the forefront of the knowledge base and has relative value in organizations throughout North America and the rest of the developed countries. When executives generate flexible corporate structures inspiring innovation and creativity, they will secure a foothold in an ever-changing hypercompetitive marketplace.

Corporate structure has been defined as a pattern by which organizations can divide their activities and tasks as well as control them to achieve higher degrees of coordination. [1] Corporate structure, therefore, refers to the bureaucratic division of labor accompanied by control and coordination between different tasks in order to develop communication within organizations. [2] [3]

Centralization and formalization are the most common structural aspects to examine corporate structure. [4] Thus, important milestones in corporate structure could include centralization and formalization, which inspire employees to take risk-related efforts and generate more innovative solutions. To examine centralization, executives should explore the degree of control and authority over decisions at hierarchical levels — that is, how much employees can undertake daily work operations without a supervisor and/or how much employees are encouraged to make their own decisions and/or how much employees need to refer to someone else when making decisions and/or how much employees need their superior’s approval before they do almost anything in their businesses.

Formalization, as another structural aspect, is operationally investigated through measuring the extent to which working relationships and decisions are assigned by formal language that represents official statements, policies, rules, and procedures — that is, how much rules and procedures are generally documented and/or how much relationships with our supervisors are on a formal or planned basis and/or how much employees can ignore the rules and reach informal agreements to handle some situations.

It is important for management consultants to understand that corporate structure can be reshaped by executives when they develop knowledge sharing and inspire employees to create new ideas for a better environment among business-units and departments. Two prominent scholars by the names of Sirkka Jarvenpaa and Sandy Staples maintain that the informal structure could facilitate new idea generation to build a more innovative climate within organizations. [5] Management consultants can particularly help executives to implement organizational changes that develop better collaboration among subordinates and managers.

Centralized versus decentralized decision making is also a topic that management consultants must deal with. Scholars found that more emphasis on formalized and mechanistic structures can negatively impact the executive’s ability to exert such changes. [6] On the contrary, a more decentralized and flexible structure may improve departmental and managerial interactions. The mechanical or centralization at the commanding level of leadership impairs the opportunity to develop relationships among managers, business units, and departments.

Management consultants should at least be aware that executives can reshape corporate structure to be more effective when the command center of organizations can disseminate information in a decentralized and organic way as opposed to the mechanical and centralized command center. Decentralized structures shift the power of decision-making to the lower levels and subsequently inspire organizational members to create new ideas and even implement them while centralized structures may negatively impact interdepartmental communications and inhibit knowledge exchange.

A recent empirical study conducted at Texas A&M University affirms that there is a negative impact of centralization on various knowledge management processes such as knowledge acquiring, creating, and sharing among both managers and departmental units. [7] On the contrary, a more decentralized and flexible structure may enable executives in improving departmental and managerial interactions that can lead to identifying best opportunities for investment that potentially leads to improve knowledge utilization processes for companies. Both management consultants and executives have acknowledged some form of relationship between corporate structure and the knowledge utilization process. Ergo, executives can positively contribute to knowledge management through building more decentralized structures within organizations.

The key take-away for management consultants is to facilitate knowledge management by developing a more flexible structure that is considered an essential source for developing relationships. Furthermore, scholars such as Brian Fugate, Theodore Stank and John Metzer have affirmed that knowledge management is a significant indicator of improving organizational performance. [8] Knowledge management can, in fact, improve organizational performance through increasing sales, customer satisfaction, learning opportunities, innovation and quality of products and services while still keeping the shareholder. With this view, executives to develop a flexible corporate structure that links knowledge management and firm performance together to serve the customer needs and become more profitable.

Therefore, if the corporate structure is not completely in favor of supporting knowledge management, executives cannot effectively manage organizational knowledge to improve performance and companies cannot be effective. Hence, the key kernel for management consultants is that corporate structure is a resource that enables organizations to solve problems and create value through improved performance and it is this point that will narrow the gaps of success and failure leading to more successful decision-making.

Moreover, flexible structures can directly impact leadership effectiveness. For example, leaders inspire followers to generate new solutions and a better environment. An empirical study by two prominent scholars by the names of Frank Walter and Heike Bruch in the University of St. Gallen provides evidence that a highly centralized structure has a negative impact on leadership practices, while decentralization positively contributes to executives in developing a more innovative climate. [9] These findings are enhanced by the crucial role of decentralized structures in facilitating the exchange of ideas and the implementation of more innovative solutions based on stipulating the power of decision-making at all levels of the organization.

Furthermore, highly formalized structures are more bureaucratic, and this negatively contributes to the effectiveness of leadership in changing the existing situations and creating a better environment.

In conclusion, management consultants are aware that organizational performance can be enhanced when executives reshape corporate structure to develop a more flexible corporate structure that provides open access to knowledge and information. Thus, this article suggests that flexible structures constitute the foundation of a supportive workplace to disseminate knowledge and subsequently enhance overall organizational performance. I also presented some very beneficial managerial implications for management consultants and industry leaders and simply extended the current literature by showing how management consultants can help executives to enhance leadership effectiveness by reshaping corporate structure.

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Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.  

References 

[1] Bowditch, J.L., & Buono, A.F. (2000). A primer on organizational behavior, New York: John Wiley & Sons.

[2] Scott, W.R. (2003). Organizations: Rational, nature, and open systems, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

[3] Pounder, D.G. (1998). Restructuring schools for collaboration: Promises and pitfalls. New York: SUNY University Press.

[4] Lee, H., & Choi B. (2003). Knowledge management enablers, processes, and organizational performance: an integrative view and empirical examination. Journal of Management Information Systems, 20(1), 179-228.

[5] Jarvenpaa, S. L. & Staples, D. S. (2000). The use of collaborative electronic media for information sharing: An exploratory study of determinants. Strategic Information Systems, 9(2), 129-154.

[6] Jung, D., Wu, A. and Chow, C.W. (2008), Towards understanding the direct and indirect effects of CEOs' transformational leadership on firm innovation. The Leadership Quarterly, 19(5), 582-594.

[7] Zheng, W., Yang, B. & Mclean, G. N. (2010). Linking organizational culture, structure, strategy, and organizational effectiveness: Mediating role of knowledge management. Journal of Business Research, 63(7), 763-771.

[8] Fugate, B.S., Stank, T.P., & Mentzer, J.T. (2009). Linking improved knowledge management to operational and organizational performance. Journal of Operations Management, 27(3), 247-264.

[9] Walter, F. and Bruch, H. (2010). Structural impacts on the occurrence and effectiveness of transformational leadership: An empirical study at the organizational level of analysis. The Leadership Quarterly, 21(5), 765-782.

 

language

The Most In-Demand Business Language Skills in 2020

The year 2020 is here. If you’re soon to join the workforce, or if you’re a seasoned professional planning to take their career to the next level, learning a second language can be one of your best moves.

 

According to the World Economic Forum, the 10 skills that one needs to succeed professionally in 2020 are:

1. Complex Problem Solving

2. Critical Thinking

3. Creativity

4. People Management

5. Coordinating with Others

6. Emotional Intelligence

7. Judgment and Decision Making

8. Service Orientation

9. Negotiation

10. Cognitive Flexibility

 

Being a bilingual speaker has clear cognitive benefits. All these skills can be acquired and refined by learning a new language. A second language is a highly regarded skill as well. In our increasingly interconnected world, companies that operate (or aim to operate) internationally with customers, partners and talent distributed across the world, are looking for multilingual people.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the language skills that will be the most in-demand this year. These skills are a second language and the cultural awareness that comes with it. Let’s take a closer look.

Why You Should Learn a Second Language

What specific language you should learn will probably have to do with your industry and your location. For instance, if you’re based in the United States, learning Spanish might be your best option. Estimates suggest that approximately 99.8 people of Hispanic descent will live in the United States by 2050. And, with a collective buying power of over 1.72 trillion dollars, the Hispanic population is one of the most promising consumer sectors in the country.

We can see an increase of culturally-sensitive advertisement targeting Spanish-speaking customers, as well as an increase in the request for professional translation services.

On the other hand, you might want to learn a language you could tie concrete professional opportunities. For instance, if your industry is booming in Italy, you should learn Italian. If your sector’s great innovators are in Denmark, perhaps you should learn Danish.

Throughout the last twenty years, the British Council has produced a series of reports titled “Languages for the Future”. It was concluded that post-Brexit, UK-based professionals should take their time to learn Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, French, Arabic or German. Think about what’s best for you, considering your location, industry, discipline and goals.

Of course, if you find a language and/or culture you’re particularly interested in — whether because you enjoy their media, or because of your own ethnic roots, even better.

It’s worth taking a moment to further explain how a second language might benefit you professionally.

For starters, bilingual workers tend to get paid more. And, with the digitalization of the workplace, remote work on the rise, and an increasing number of companies of all sizes sourcing talent internationally, bilingual workers have a clear competitive edge. They can communicate better through international organizations, and they tend to have higher cultural awareness than their counterparts. Cultural awareness makes for a healthy, strong and diverse company culture, and it’s also the key to high performance. Cultural awareness is the vehicle to above-average creativity, critical thinking, and negotiation skills. Let’s see why.

Cultural Awareness & Why We Need It

Cultural awareness has been defined as:

“ [S]sensitivity to the similarities and differences that exist between two different cultures and the use of this sensitivity in effective communication with members of another cultural group.”

Those who have cultural awareness can see their own culture from the perspective of an outsider, and see the differences between cultures in an analytical, intelligent and sensible way.

Cultural awareness has been linked to increased creativity because it’s about raising above our assumptions and experience and empathizing with others. Those who have spent a season abroad, taking part in academic or professional programs, have developed this creativity by constantly dealing with mundane situations that they couldn’t navigate through on “pilot mode,” as they would in their own culture.

Understanding differing preferences, interests and codes of conduct also boosts your emotional intelligence and makes you a people-oriented, flexible professional with leadership potential.

The Next Step

Now that we understand how learning a second language can boost our career and help us bring greater value to organizations, we could:

-Learn about the in-demand languages in your industry

-Find a learning method or strategy that fits your needs and the way you like to learn

-Consider using apps, films and other unconventional learning assets

-Set clear and realistic goals

-Explore relevant institutions, schools or academic programs

Remember that learning a second language isn’t just about adding a line to your resume. It’s about growing as a person and as a professional. And, like all learning processes, it’s basically neverending. You should always be looking to learn something new. As Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”

purpose

Putting Purpose Above Profit: 3 Steps to Drive Long-Term Results in Times of Uncertainty

Purpose, by its nature, is defined as the reason for existing and goes beyond making money. It is about people coming together to make an impact in something they believe in with the trust that revenue and growth will follow, rather than as an end in itself. To be a  ‘purpose-driven’ organization, companies need to stand for something and look to positively impact society. “Innovation cannot advance in a positive direction,” Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce recently said, “unless it’s grounded in genuine and continued efforts to lift up all of humanity.”

Here are 3 steps to re-capture your purpose to drive long-term results in these uncertain times:

Go back to your WHY.

Now, more than ever, companies need to revisit and return to their purpose /  WHY / core values. During hard times, leadership is forced to make quick and tough decisions. By going back to their purpose, each choice can be tied to the long-term vision of the company and help avoid costly short-term/knee-jerk decisions. “So many businesses are lost right now. At BirdEye we are focused on navigating these uncharted waters by focusing on our core values  – customer obsession, family spirit, world-class and innovation.” said President & COO, Dave Lehman “Purpose-driven results are measured by the impact we have on our customers and partners. That way, we can all get through this together.”

Connect employees with a vision they can believe in and embrace.

As leaders quickly pivot a company’s direction and change priorities, the stories and reasons behind the change matters. When teams and individual contributors understand how their roles fit into the company’s WHY, everyone feels part of a greater good and can own the company’s key messages. Executives can’t be connected with every customer directly, so it’s critical to empower employees with a foundation to go and expand the brand. Research by Bain & Company shows that if a satisfied employee’s productivity level is 100% and an engaged employee’s level is 144%, the productivity level of an employee that is truly inspired by the company’s purpose is an impressive 225%.

Show empathy and advise with humility.

Emotionally connect with your customers and focus on how they are managing in this time of great uncertainty. Ask the personal questions and be willing to spend time sharing your personal stories first. Selling in this environment is about doubling down on fixing their problems and addressing their concerns rather than pushing your products or services. In these unprecedented times, authentically connecting and helping your customers is the only way to drive business. For example, IKEA wants “to create a better everyday life for the many people” and Southwest Airlines strives to “‘connect people to what’s most important in their lives.”  In essence, a company should be selling their vision and aligning their purpose with their customers. Human beings need to feel connected. People will remember how we act today more than any product or service they buy from us.

Businesses that embrace the idea of purpose and profit being intertwined are companies that will drive innovation and achieve long-term success. Leadership needs to communicate more than ever that we are in this together, reinforcing that the company is truly a community that shares the same core values.

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JANEL DYAN is a well-regarded executive brand strategist and expert on how to build a story to achieve brand alignment for both company and leadership success. She founded Janel Dyan, Inc. (JD) in 2014, which provides transformative brand strategy and style consultation to high-visibility clients across various industries. Her work has been seen by millions through public experiences at Fortune 500 companies, the United Nations, and the World Economic Forums, among others. Dyan also runs Beyond Us, which provides opportunities to build confidence in women through a platform for sharing clothes with other women who are ready to take the next step in their professional lives. Dyan resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two sons. Her book Story. Style. Brand.: Why Corporate Results Are a Matter of Personal Style, is available now.

company

Is Your Company’s Bench Deep Enough During Difficult Times?

In the uncertain times that the coronavirus produced, business leaders were forced to face the fact that employees might not be available every day to do their jobs – either because of their own health concerns or because they were scrambling to make childcare arrangements because of school closings.

And, as the economy takes a hit, some businesses may even need to downsize, leaving the remaining workers to take on duties they are unprepared for and weren’t hired to carry out.

That’s one reason why it’s always a good idea to cross-train employees, allowing someone else to step in when circumstances necessitate it, says Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture and the ForbesBooks author of the Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business (www.culturecodechampions.com/training).

“Ultimately, you want everyone who works for you to broaden their knowledge and expand the scope of what they normally do,” says Higgs, a founder and former CEO of Mustang Engineering who recently launched the Culture Code Champions podcast.

“The result is a more efficient and productive workplace.”

In his younger days, Higgs was an Army Ranger, where the need to cross-train was inescapable.

“If you are on a critical military mission and someone goes down, another Ranger needs to take over that person’s duties,” Higgs says. “Otherwise, the mission would be scrapped.”

The average business day may not be as severely distressing as a military mission, but just as in the military, cross-training comes with benefits, he says. It prevents mistakes. It improves accuracy. It saves time. It saves money.

And each additional duty an employee can take on during uncertain times could make the difference on whether a project or order is completed on time, and whether missed deadlines leave customers unhappy, costing the business money – or even leading to it going out of business.

“Some business leaders may say they just can’t work in the time for cross-training because they and their employees are too busy,” Higgs says. “They probably are busy, but it needs to be a priority and they need to figure out a way to find the time. We’re probably seeing right now just how important it can be.”

A few suggestions he has for working cross-training into harried schedules include:

Make use of downtime. Few people are busy every minute, so take advantage of any downtime to slip in cross-training, Higgs says. “That way no one is just sitting around waiting for the next project,” he says. “At Mustang, for example, if an instrument engineer’s work slowed down, then we moved him or her over to automation or some other functional area that was related to, but slightly different from, the person’s regular job.”

Schedule time. “I’m skeptical when people tell me they don’t have any downtime, but let’s assume that’s so,” Higgs says. “Then I recommend you set aside time specifically dedicated to cross-training. It’s that important.” Figure out who you need to cross-train, he says, and find the areas of your business where cross-training will pay off the most.

Implement “lunch-and-learns.” Nearly everyone eats lunch or takes a break at mid-day, and that’s a great time to set up some lunch-and-learn times when someone in the company can teach others about what they do, Higgs says. “At Mustang, we even had vendors come in and talk about their products and services,” he says.

“An added bonus to cross-training is people who don’t normally interact are brought together and develop a better appreciation for what others do,” Higgs says. “That helps to create an even greater sense of team throughout the organization, which is especially important during difficult times like these when everyone needs to pull together.”

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Bill Higgs (www.culturecodechampions.com/training), an authority on corporate culture, is the ForbesBooks author of Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business. He trains companies on how to improve their bottom line by improving their culture, and recently launched the Culture Code Champions podcast, where he has interviewed such notable subjects as former CIA director David Petraeus and NASA’s woman pioneer Sandra Coleman. Culture Code Champions is listed as a New & Noteworthy podcast on iTunes. Higgs is also the co-founder and former CEO of Mustang Engineering Inc. In 20 years, they grew the company from their initial $15,000 investment and three people to a billion-dollar company with 6,500 people worldwide. Second, third and fourth-generation leaders took the company to $2 billion in 2014. Higgs is a distinguished 1974 graduate (top 5 percent academically) of the United States Military Academy at West Point and runner up for a Rhodes scholarship. He is an Airborne Ranger and former commander of a combat engineer company.

strategy

Latest Bayer-Monsanto Trial Reminds Us that Culture and Strategy Must Stay in Sync

What does culture have to do with the latest challenges at Bayer and Monsanto?

Since culture goes hand in hand with strategy, quite a lot.

But this fact — that strategy and culture are interrelated — has gotten lost in the current zeitgeist where culture is viewed as the last piece an organization puts in place, something you can just create or layer on.  An afterthought of sorts to innovation, product development, sales, marketing, teamwork, and strategy.

From the minute an organization comes to be, if not sooner, culture is there. It’s the basis on which founders and leaders express their purpose, their vision, and mission. It shapes the way decisions are made about what to produce and sell, to whom, and how.  Workplace habits and standards, behavioral consistency — even rituals and language — all flow from culture, not vice versa.

In other words, culture is a starting point for all of these things and more, beginning above all with an organization’s strategic agenda. Culture defines the who and the why behind strategy.

As companies grow and evolve, they tend to lose sight of the fact that culture and strategy go hand in hand, and forget that culture was initially embedded in everything they did. Culture gets reduced to a statement hanging on a poster in the office kitchen, conference room or front lobby. The connection between culture, strategy, decision-making, and behavior gets lost. The two are no longer in sync. That puts the company’s strategic agenda and intentions at risk.

This might seem disappointing yet harmless. Not so. Because a disconnect between culture and strategy and everything that flows from them can result in exactly the sort of conflicts and miscues we’re seeing with a range of organizations, large and small. Corporate strategy gets muddled and culture gets confused. The organization gets shackled in decision making, risk management and problem-solving. This has been a challenge with Bayer and Monsanto, as well as for GE, P&G, Boeing, a host of big retail companies, and across the healthcare sector.

As explained in my new book Strategic Teams and Development: The FieldBook for People Making Strategy Happen, culture should inform and help determine every decision leaders take and every action taken throughout the organization at every level, across borders, from executive group and staff directives to day-to-day choices and behavior within teams.

How can you make sure culture and strategy continue working hand in hand, and that culture doesn’t devolve into a string of empty buzzwords staring up from a culture deck that teams and individuals glance at without following through on?

The following four questions will help you assess whether and how your organization’s everyday thought and behavior is aligning with its culture — and make sure you’re not heading down the slippery slope of letting actions and decisions drift away from their cultural drivers:

1. Does the decision we are about to make reflect our values and culture around caring for our customers and their needs in a way that treats them as the assets that they are?

2. Will this decision contribute to our profit and sustenance in a way that remains true to our culture and to the purpose, vision and mission it has led us to shape?

3. Does this decision help us maintain our competitive advantage and differentiate us meaningfully in a way that aligns with our culture and values?

4. Is this decision in line with the ethics and values of service and integrity our culture embodies and is this meaningful stewardship for our full range of stakeholders?

To be a good corporate steward you have to have your eyes wide open for the needs of all types of stakeholders: customers, employees, investors, partners, and suppliers.

These questions intersect with one another in multiple places, forming a complex lattice. Decisions that impact competitive advantage or corporate stewardship will have implications for profit and sustenance. All choices will ultimately impact customers and the way your business meets their needs. There may be conflicts between one category and another, too.

Most companies check in on how they’re doing with culture every year or two at most. But given culture’s crucial foundational importance to strategy and all that flows and is expressed from it, much more attention is needed.

These four questions should be asked regularly and rigorously at all levels of operations and decision-making. They should form the basis for decision-making protocols and policies about everything from risk management and safety standards to financial management and personnel matters.

And if the answer to any of them is “no” it’s time to stop and rethink before taking action.

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Daniel Wolf is President and Co-founder of Dewar Sloan, a consulting group focused on  strategy direction, integration and execution. For more than 25 years Dewar Sloan has served hundreds of corporate, healthcare, technology and nonprofit organizations. Author of Strategic Teams and Development: The FieldBook for People Making Strategy Happen and Prepared and Resolved: The Strategic Agenda for Growth, Performance and Change, Dan has held management and governance roles at Fortune 500 companies, SME ventures and in private equity ventures. He lives in Traverse City, Michigan.

translating

Translating Your Product For The Global Market? Beware The Silo Effect.

Those “silos” that often pop up in large organizations – where departments fail to share information, tools and priorities – can prove especially vexing when a product’s global success depends on translating information into other languages.

Because of silos, the same information might be translated separately by every department, costing the company thousands in extra (and unnecessary) translation costs. A product’s packaging claim could conflict with material the marketing department is sending out. Or trouble could begin brewing over translations that weren’t vetted by the legal department and inadvertently violate another country’s laws.

“Silos can land a project in marshy ground and create major, costly delays,” says Ian A. Henderson, author of Global Content Quest: In Search of Better Translations and co-founder with his wife, Francoise, of Rubric (www.rubric.com), a global language-service provider.

Here’s just one real-world example the Hendersons encountered: They were hired by a U.S. company that planned a European rollout of a new personal hygiene product. When Francoise Henderson began working on the translations, she noticed the ingredients list planned for advertisements differed from the labels on the bottles.

It turned out the formula had been changed because some ingredients were banned in Europe.

“No one told the marketing department, though,” Francoise Henderson says. “Translation is about communication, and yet communications breakdown happens way too frequently in the world of translation when someone’s not overseeing the big picture and making sure the silo effect isn’t undermining the larger effort.”

Why are silos so common and what can be done to address the problems they create? The Hendersons provide these observations:

Company culture. On occasion, it is company policy or company culture that leads to the emergence of silos. For example, Francoise Henderson says, company policies may be in place to avoid breaking antitrust laws, or keeping up walls might help prevent conflicts of interest. “Company culture and policies can be the hardest thing to change,” she says. “Encouraging communication is a good start.”

Empire building. While sometimes silos just happen in the natural course of things, in some larger corporations, the building of silos is deliberate. “People might harbor concerns that a more streamlined process will make their own jobs obsolete,” Ian Henderson says. This could result, for example, in a marketing team in Belgium refusing to communicate with the marketing team in Japan. One way companies overcome this problem, he says, is to have a central communications hub that all information flows through.

Basic confusion. A company may have up to five separate sources of content, such as marketing, communications, technical, legal and packaging. “Each of these areas may have no sense of where their work intersects with the others, and how there may be redundancies in translations and beyond,” Ian Henderson says. “This can lead to confusion and even unnecessary work through duplication.” Companies should make sure each department has an understanding of what other departments do, and that they regularly interact with each other, he says.

“Silos are not a new problem, and they are not going to disappear overnight,” Ian Henderson says. “But when they are approached with foresight and experience, they can be dealt with and eventually dismantled.”

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About Ian A. Henderson

Ian A. Henderson (www.rubric.com), author of Global Content Quest: In Search of Better Translations, is chief technology officer and co-founder of Rubric, a global language service provider. During the last 25 years, Henderson has partnered with Rubric customers to deliver relevant global content to their end users, enabling them to reap the rewards of globalization, benefit from agile workflows, and guarantee the integrity of their content. Prior to founding Rubric, Henderson worked as a software engineer for Siemens in Germany.

About Francoise Henderson

Francoise Henderson is chief executive officer and co-founder of Rubric, overseeing worldwide operations and Global Content strategy. Under her guidance, Rubric has generated agile KPI-driven globalization workflows for its clients, reducing time to market across multiple groups and increasing quality and ROI. Francoise has over 25 years’ experience in corporate management and translation.

career

Forget YouTube Fame; Social Responsibility is Key To Career Happiness.

American children and teens, when asked the age-old question of what they want to be as adults, lean toward careers that could bring personal fame or are just plain fun, rather than those that might contribute to the betterment of society or lead to scientific progress.

“While we’re focused on fame and fun, other countries are emphasizing discipline and a good work ethic,” says Dr. Steven Mintz (www.stevenmintzethics.com), author of Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior.

The latest example came in a survey Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Lego, where American children ages 8 to 12 picked vlogger/YouTuber as their No. 1 career choice. Chinese children, in comparison, overwhelmingly chose astronaut.

The results are similar to a survey Chicago-based market-research company C+R conducted a couple of years ago. American teenagers were asked about career aspirations and the largest percentage, 20 percent, said they want to be an athlete, artist or entertainer.

Mintz says the emphasis on fame – combined with a trend of many employers trying to create a “fun” work environment for employees – is troubling.

“Is this really what success looks like in the U.S.?” he asks. “Can we reasonably be expected to compete with the Chinese in the 21st century by making the workplace fun when the Chinese, who will likely surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest economy within the next 10 years, have skyrocketed to the top through hard work and discipline?”

But eschewing fun for fun’s sake doesn’t mean employees can’t find happiness at work. Mintz says that is better accomplished by creating a socially responsible workplace, which he says meshes nicely with the passion millennials and Gen Z have for social causes.

Some ways to help employees find happiness and meaning on the job, he says, include:

Establish an ethical culture. Companies should strive to create an ethical workplace culture where employees are encouraged to serve the interests of the company’s stakeholders – customers, clients and suppliers – and to do so ethically, Mintz says. Creating an ethical workplace starts with ethical values: emphasize doing what is right not wrong; doing good things not harmful ones.

Coach employees on the workplace’s values. Company leaders should engage employees in regular discussions about workplace ethics and the procedures that are designed to uphold ethical practices, Mintz says. “Employers must coach employees so they do good by being good, which means commit to ethical values,” he says.

Tap into the social conscience many employees already have. A recent survey reports that nearly one in five business-school students would sacrifice more than 40 percent of their salary to work for a responsible employer. “Some will work for nonprofits where they are committed to the cause,” Mintz says. “Millennials especially seek out purpose in their employment. I believe that’s because each of us is searching for happiness and greater meaning in life and our jobs provide one of the best sources to enhance our well-being.”

“Although there are troubling signs in our society regarding attitudes about jobs,” Mintz says, “I am heartened by other surveys that show millennials and Gen Z really care about what a business does, whether its actions are ethical and trustworthy, and that a purpose-driven culture exists that puts benefitting society front and center in their mission statement.”

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Dr. Steven Mintz (www.stevenmintzethics.com), author of Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior, has frequently commented on ethical issues in society and business ethics. His Workplace Ethics Advice blog has been recognized as one of the top 30 in corporate social responsibility. He also has served as an expert witness on ethics matters. Dr. Mintz spent almost 40 years of his life in academia. He has held positions as a chair in Accounting at San Francisco State University and Texas State University. He was the Dean of the College of Business and Public Administration at Cal State University, San Bernardino. He recently retired as a Professor Emeritus from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo.

culture

Is America’s Corporate Culture In the Dark Ages?

American work habits can seem downright oppressive when viewed from afar.

Various reports and studies show that Americans experience a more burdensome work week than many of their peers abroad, spending interminable hours at the office, wolfing down lunch at their desks, letting vacation days expire unused, and answering emails after hours and on weekends.

It’s practically the dark ages compared to the rest of the civilized world, where 20 to 30 days of vacation are the norm, the maximum length of the work week often is set by law, paid parental leave is mandated, and some countries have even tried to legislate the “right to disconnect” for workers besieged with after-hour emails and phone calls.

This divide between America’s doggedly industrious approach on the one hand, and the less-relentless global approach on the other, might make it seem that a corporate culture developed for a U.S. company would prove a poor fit beyond our borders.

But that’s not necessarily so, says Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture and the ForbesBooks author of the upcoming Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business (www.culturecodechampionspodcast.com).

“Yes, there are differences, but there are also commonalities,” Higgs says. “There are people in every corner of the world who want to serve others, do high-quality work, collaborate closely with others, and have fun while doing it. Where they live or where they’re from has nothing to do with those traits; they come from the person’s character, not his or her nationality.”

Higgs knows from experience. He is a founder and former CEO of Mustang Engineering, and from 2005 through 2014, Mustang opened several international offices.

“Our first was in Woking, England, about 30 miles southwest of London, and it grew to about 450 people,” he says.

Within the next few years, Mustang added offices in Melbourne and Perth, Australia; Mumbai, India; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Bogota, Colombia; Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia; and Norway.

“That’s a lot of different cultures around the world,” says Higgs, who recently launched the Culture Code Champions podcast, which was named a New & Noteworthy podcast on iTunes.

Higgs says certain principles that make for a winning corporate culture are universal. Why? Because they all relate to people, and people are the crux of any organization’s success. A few of those principles include:

Open communication is critical. Higgs believes in encouraging employees to speak up if they spot a problem or have a suggestion. A corporate culture that promotes such open communication can work well anywhere in the world, he says, because it spurs people who have a different take on things to share their thoughts. If employees feel comfortable speaking out, that can help a U.S. company operating in a foreign land avoid missteps.

Smart hiring practices make a difference. It’s possible to take a new hire and train them to fit into your corporate culture, but it’s even better to hire people who are a good fit to begin with, Higgs says. “Whatever your values are, you want to make sure the new people you hire share those values, and that’s important both at home and abroad,” he says. A bonus is that, once you bring on good people, they often know other good people and can help you recruit.

A spirit of belonging helps promote a passion for work. People want to belong to something, which is why they buy the jersey of a favorite sports team or bumper stickers supporting a favorite cause, Higgs says. “For some reason, though, this sense of belonging rarely happens where people work,” he says. “But you can go a long way toward making people passionate about their work if you organize activities where they can get to know each other as people, not just coworkers.” In many cultures, people already like to spend time with coworkers outside of work, so for them it comes naturally.

“You really can break down the barriers that some think separate people in different parts of the world,” Higgs says. “Respect their local cultures, but invite them to belong to yours as well.”

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Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture, is the author of the upcoming book Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business. He recently launched the Culture Code Champions podcast (www.culturecodechampionspodcast.com), where he has interviewed such notable subjects as former CIA director David Petraeus. Culture Code Champions is listed as a New & Noteworthy podcast on iTunes. Higgs is also former CEO of Mustang Engineering Inc., which he and two partners started in Houston, Texas, in 1987 to design and build offshore oil platforms. Over the next 20 years, they grew the company from their initial $15,000 investment and three people to a billion-dollar company with 6,500 people worldwide; since then, it has grown to a $2 billion company with more than 12,000 people. Higgs is a distinguished 1974 graduate (top 5 percent academically) of the United States Military Academy at West Point and runner up for a Rhodes scholarship.

culture

Who’s Responsible For Your Company’s Culture? Look In The Mirror, Leaders.

Extensive research has shown that a positive work culture often results in productive employees who both value their work and feel valued themselves.
But company leadership, not the employees, usually creates that culture. Executives and managers have a significant responsibility to establish a positive culture that is conducive to company success.
“Culture can be thought of as the inner life of the organization,” says Cynthia Howard (www.eileadership.org), an executive coach, performance expert, and author of the book The Resilient Leader, Mindset Makeover: Uncover the Elephant in the Room.
“It is the self-sustaining mix of values, attitudes, and behavior that drives performance. Culture is the brand identity of the company, and it has the ability to attract and retain great talent or not. Thus, it’s incumbent on the leaders to be aware of their culture, what they can do to improve it, and honestly assess if it’s the kind of place where people want to be and want to grow.”
Another key reason that company leaders need to make work culture a high priority, Howard says, is because millennials — who comprise the largest segment of the workforce — rank culture as their top consideration when choosing where to work.
Howard offers five ways leaders can foster a positive work culture:
Model positive, respectful behavior. Howard says a positive work culture starts with the leader setting the tone, which can send the right message to leaders at other levels in the company. “Don’t play the blame game,” Howard says. “Encourage an environment where it’s OK to make mistakes and move forward. Frontline staff crave leaders who understand them and care about them, will mentor them, and will provide professional guidance to make fair and tough decisions.”
Show gratitude. “Show your gratitude and appreciation for accomplishments by acknowledging people during a meeting or with a note,” Howard says. “Celebrating wins lifts morale, and when people know they will be recognized for exceptional work, they’ll be more motivated.”
Communicate consistently and with clarity.  “Keep employees in the loop with consistent updates,” Howard says. “Give them regular feedback, not just at review time. This keeps people connected, feeling part of the team, and removes the mystery — and inherent tension — of where they stand. Create clear goals, and make everyone feel that they are necessary components toward reaching those goals. That inspires an environment of inclusion, pride and commitment.”
Really listen. “This is the important other side of communication that some leaders fail to master,” Howard says. “For the leaders underneath you and the employees throughout a company to truly feel valued, they have to know they have a voice and that it will be heard. Be open and encouraging to others’ ideas and solutions.”
Promote collaboration. One of a company leader’s primary jobs is getting the most out of their team — mainly by defining the importance of team. “Maximizing the strengths of a team means knowing each person’s uniqueness and talents and using them in the best possible way,” Howard says. “It also means creating a culture where everyone respects each other’s talents and is enthusiastic about working together for the greater good.”
“Poor culture leads to lots of turnover,” Howard says. “When you as a leader instill and insist on a positive culture, you reap the benefits. Happy, engaged employees mean a thriving company.”
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Cynthia Howard (www.eileadership.org) is an executive coach, performance expert and the author of The Resilient Leader, Mindset Makeover: Uncover the Elephant in the Room. She researched stress and its consequences in performance during her PhD. In the past 20-plus years she has coached thousands of professionals, leaders and executives toward emotional agility and engaged leadership.