Thursday, January 16, 2020

Are You a Culture Change Skeptic?


Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds:

Are you a culture change skeptic? Do you have a hard time seeing how your organization’s work culture affects employee behavior, performance, or enthusiasm - so you tend to think it just doesn’t even exist?

We consultants – or “culture refinement experts” – deal with skeptics all the time. The way “into skeptical hearts” is to listen and understand their point of view, share your plan, and let the results – over time – speak for themselves. Numerous studies have proven the positive impact of culture on performance and how fulfilling employees see their work.

Who is in Charge of Culture?

Who is responsible to manage an organization’s culture? The assumption is that no one is formally assigned to the role to manage culture. We can cite examples of culture officers but the best answer is that senior leaders have the ultimate responsibility to manage their organization’s culture. Their job is to ensure consistent performance for the benefit of a “triumvirate”: customers, employees, and stakeholders. If they don’t create a work culture that supports efficiency, innovation, high performance, and employee engagement, they won’t satisfy that triumvirate.

How do you know the Positive Impact was due to culture change?

Our clients are the best people to answer this question. Senior leaders who experience our culture process believe that culture is the primary driver of the results they’ve seen. Results of the culture change process include:

     ASDA, a UK grocery chain, was selected as the top employer of choice by a Sunday Times survey. Sales and profits outperformed the entire retail sector over a two-year span.
     Banta Catalog saw profits increase 36%, employee engagement increase 20% in six months, and retention increased 17% over a two year period.
     Foodstuffs Auckland (New Zealand) found ROI on their culture project exceeded $600,000 within the first year. Turnover fell 28% while the out-of-stock reduction of 1% resulted in $100,000 of additional profit.

Culture Change is Dangerous to One’s Career

Someone might come to the conclusion that a person leading organizational change will risk losing their job. Often senior leaders who embrace the positive power of culture find themselves in organizations that don’t support this world view. They may choose to leave, to go find a more values-aligned organization. Or, they may be forced out, often because their department or division culture (despite its successes) is very different from the parent organization’s culture.

These scenarios do occur, yet more often we see culture champions celebrated because of the positive impact of culture refinement on the business.

I am delighted every time I help a “culture skeptic” understand the power of culture, of values alignment, in a workplace to increase revenue, profits, employee work passion, and positive customer experiences.

What are your assumptions about culture change?


S. Chris Edmonds
 
is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at http://drivingresultsthroughculture.com. Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here


Thursday, January 9, 2020

Key Qualities of a Vibrant Culture Leader


Guest post by Colin D Ellis:

People who are true leaders stand out. Others want to be around them because they know
they’re worth following. But what qualities do these leaders have that make them exude such strength of character, while other supposed leaders fall short?

According a leadership survey conducted by McKinsey, U.S. companies spend around $14 billion on leadership development. Yet only 7 percent of respondents in the survey felt that their leaders are effective.

That’s the thing about leadership. We can send people to endless programs and get them to follow particular pathways, but unless they make the decision to be a good human being when everyone around them is doing the opposite, they’ll never reach their potential.

Those that do will go on to become role models for others, make courageous decisions, remove roadblocks to get things done and challenge the status quo. In order to do this and to be the catalyst for vibrant workplace cultures, they need to do one thing that most managers don’t -- they need to relentlessly develop their emotional intelligence.

Vibrant culture leaders are emotionally intelligent. They are role models in every sense of the word and set the example for others to follow. They take the time to listen, grow and work closely with their staff to remove barriers and inspire incredible performance from those around them.

Emotionally intelligent people like this are a positive driving force for culture evolution within their organizations. They’re empathetic when it’s easier to be dismissive. They make time for new ideas and thinking. They have a tractor beam that others are drawn to and people know that they won’t allow themselves to get dragged to the dark side.

These are the people whose conversations, meetings and training sessions are different. Whose communications are tailored to individuals, who can converse with all levels of people, who celebrate success and who make their employees feel that anything is possible.

Vibrant culture leaders stand for something. They have purpose, influence, ethics, and they continually look to safeguard the future of their organization. They do this by getting to know each member of the team, setting expectations well and holding people to their promises.

When people don’t deliver, they lead with empathy, asking how they can help and ensuring that their employees understand what’s required. Where people still don’t deliver, they conduct performance management with strength and courage. Vibrant cultures hit their targets, which requires that all within the team do their part.

Vibrant culture leaders are a force of positive energy and see the good in everyone with whom they interact. In short, they’re good humans who have others’ respect and loyalty.

These kinds of leaders are critical for organizational performance as they make people feel valued for the work they do -- which leads to greater engagement, which leads to enhanced productivity, which leads to greater value for customers, which ultimately improves profitability and reputation. And they recognize that culture is everyone’s responsibility. They make time, find money and undertake activities designed to make a real difference in the way things get done.

When American Express introduced training to make their leaders into more emotionally intelligent people, sales increased by 10 percent. When AT&T introduced a similar training, productivity increased 25 percent. At the heart of every successful business you’ll find vibrant culture leaders.

Here’s how to become a vibrant culture leader
Improving oneself is one of the most life-affirming actions that one can take. It’s a demonstration that lessons can be learned to grow as a person, and that a person is dedicated to making a real difference in other people’s lives. Here are three ways to get started:

1. Become more self-aware. List the things that you (or others) don’t like about your approach, whether it’s the way you communicate, how you run meetings or the time that you try to motivate your team to meet goals. Find one way to change it and then work hard to make the change. It won’t be easy, but it will be worthwhile. Once you’ve improved on that behavior, pick another one and so on.

2. Say thank you often. As a self-aware leader you’ll realize that it’s the team that does all the real work, so use your manners and say thank you more often. Find different ways to do it -- place easily seen post-it notes, send a hand-written card, call out commendable performance in a team meeting or treat them to lunch. Let it be known to the team that you’re someone that appreciates the efforts that people put in.

3. Make the time to build the culture. Do something different. Take the team off-site for two days. Agree on a vision, establish the expected behaviors required from every team member, define the principles of collaboration, get to know each other and commit to challenging your status quo. This will create individual ownership, energy and motivation.

There’s no hidden art when it comes to being a vibrant culture leader. It’s simply a case of being a good person, being the catalyst for great culture and ensuring the team feels valued for its work. Who doesn’t want that?

* * *

Colin D. Ellis is an award-winning international speaker, best-selling author and renowned
culture change and project management expert who works with organizations around the world to help them transform how they get things done. Based in Australia, Colin is the author of four books, including his most recent, Culture Fix: How to Create a Great Place to Work (Wiley, Nov. 4, 2019). Learn more at www.culturefix.xyz.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Why Every 21st Century Sales Leader Needs to Be a Creative Problem Solver


Guest post from Mark Donnolo:

In my new book Quotas! Design Thinking to Solve Your Biggest Sales Challenge, I recount an auspicious meeting I had many years ago with Steff Geissbuhler, a partner at a prestigious New York City design firm. I was in art school at the time, studying graphic design and branding. Thanks to a couple recommendations from professors, I landed an interview with Steff for an internship with the firm. As he reviewed my portfolio, I expected him to ask how I got the ideas for my logo and design assignments. Instead, as he flipped through the pages, he asked me one question, over and over: “What was the problem you were trying to solve?”

It took me a while to fully appreciate Steff’s question. Design isn’t about creating something that looks great; it’s about solving problems. The same thinking applies to solving sales problems. Practitioners use a time-honored methodology called design thinking, a five-step, iterative process that starts with empathizing with those who are facing the problem, then defining the problem, brainstorming, and building and testing a prototype—all the while going back and forth with stakeholders, fine-tuning to get the solution right.

In my work with SalesGlobe I’ve developed Sales Design ThinkingSM   to help sales leaders solve problems around any sales or business challenge, like sales strategy, organization design, sales capacity, sales compensation, change management, and of course quota setting. It’s less ethereal than design thinking and more practical for the business environment.  

Beyond solving strategic business or sales problems, how can we build our creative problem-solving capabilities to become more competitive in our careers and industries?  Recently, in a nationwide survey of educators and policymakers, Adobe found that three quarters of the respondents believe that students need to develop creative problem-solving skills for their future careers. Almost 90 percent said that students who excel at creative problem solving will have higher-earning job opportunities, and 85 percent agreed that these skills are in high demand for today’s higher-paying careers. As I’m fond of saying, “You can’t offshore, automate, or AI creativity.”

Yet the respondents overwhelmingly agreed that this critical skill is either ignored or under-taught in schools.

That’s why I’m on a mission to share this skillset with sales executives.

Sales Design Thinking has five phases: Articulating the Problem Statement; Redefining the Challenge Question; Thinking Horizontally and Combining Parallels; Developing Vertically; and Managing Change.

Let’s take a hypothetical situation – communicating about organization changes after an event such as a merger or acquisition – and put that through the Sales Design Thinking process.

1. Articulate the Problem Statement. Typically, it goes something like, “We need to communicate the new organization structure following the merger because the team is confused – and we’re afraid they’ll miss their number.” But if you try to solve for that problem statement, you may miss the underlying issues. So, step one is to check yourself. Are you asking right question?

2. Redefine the Challenge Question. After thinking it through and discussing it, you’re likely to turn your problem statement into a Challenge Question. A Challenge Question is more powerful because it comes from expanded thinking, but also because it is a question. And questions provoke thinking and ideas more than statements, which tend to be static. For something as important as organization changes following a merger, a communications strategy has to be designed thoughtfully. Ultimately, your Challenge Question could end up closer to: “How can we best use all available communication channels to deliver a campaign to each audience about the changes that will affect them across the organization?” The Challenge Question focuses on more components than a problem statement and gives us a better starting point based on the real problems or root causes. In redefining the Challenge Question, a lot goes into discovery, including understanding the story of how we got where we are and creating a solution vision about what great looks like. If you think you understand the whole story, the news is that you probably do… but only from your perspective. This is where gathering insight from the team, the organization, and from analytics comes in.

3. Think Horizontally and Combine Parallels. In other words, brainstorm each part of the Challenge Question and start expanding your thinking. The best brainstorming comes in the form of questions that evoke further thinking. Who are the audiences? What are the key messages? How do people understand and process messages? What are the options for communications vehicles? How do they align to each audience? What’s required for someone to understand a message in terms of vehicle and repetition? What is necessary for someone to believe a message? For each question and each answer, look at how you might combine them into possible solutions.

4. Develop Vertically. Now you can begin to narrow down the universe of possibilities, solving for the challenge question and factoring in degree of change, and ease and cost of implementation. If the organization has sales teams on three continents, for example, it’s unfeasible to discuss the changes with everyone in the same room. But asking each sales executive to reach out to sales managers over the company’s instant messaging platform could be a highly effective way to make the message stick. Perhaps having them conduct follow-up workshops in person may reinforce those messages. Your challenge in developing vertically is to narrow down and simplify the abundance of ideas you created in horizontal thinking.

5. Manage Change. Change management requires a structured approach with frequent reinforcement. Messaging isn’t a one-off; it’s an ongoing process that requires management – and may also require tweaks and shifts as you roll it out.

Sales leaders face weighty challenges from strategy to execution to change management that have a direct impact on business results. You’ll find that if you pause, think, and practice the five steps of Sales Design Thinking, you’ll start seeing new ways to solve the real problem.

Mark Donnolo is founder and Managing Partner of SalesGlobe, a leading sales effectiveness, consulting, and innovation firm. For over 25 years, Mark has worked with Global 1000 organizations on strategies to grow profitably by developing and implementing strategies that improve the effectiveness of sales, marketing, and service organizations. Areas of focus include sales strategy, customer segmentation, channel strategy, sales organization design and deployment, performance management, and incentive compensation. Mark is the author of numerous books and articles. His newest book is Quotas! Using Design Thinking to Solve Your Biggest Challenge (ATD Press). Mark’s earlier books on sales effectiveness include: Essential Account Planning; What Your CEO Needs to Know About Sales Compensation; and The Innovative Sale. Access complimentary resources and subscribe to Insights at SalesGlobe.com.