business psychology, Company Culture, Danny Gattas, Employee Engagement, Employment, Engagement, Event, Uncategorized

Culture is Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year – For Good Reason


Largely due to its tracking of which words were looked up the most, Merriam-Webster announced “Culture” as its Word of the Year for 2014. Chosen at the end of each year, the word serves as aCulture-resized snapshot of what people have been thinking about and talking about for the past 12 months, and what will
continue to be a hot topic in the coming year. (While “Culture” had one of the largest spikes in look-ups, the words “Celebrity Culture,” “Pop Culture,” “NFL Culture,” “Media Culture” and “Company Culture” also had big years.) And from what I’ve experienced consulting with organizations across the country, thankfully, we can expect to continue focusing on culture in 2016 and beyond.

“Culture is a word that we seem to be relying on more and more. It allows us to identify and isolate an idea, issue, or group with seriousness,” said Peter Sokolowski, editor-at-large for Merriam-Webster, elaborating, “And it’s efficient: we talk about the ‘culture’ of a group rather than saying ‘the typical habits, attitudes, and behaviors’ of that group.”

I am sure that most experts on Employee Engagement were not surprised by Merriam-Webster’s choice.

Legendary management expert Peter Drucker was one of the first to get it right years ago when he coined the phrase “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast.”

Interviewing for Cultural Fit – Case Study: Google
Determining cultural fit in the interview process can be extremely challenging. When organizations are very large, it can be especially difficult to define what qualities make candidates mesh with a culture of thousands of people who are, essentially, quite different.

When Google started growing at an exponential rate, its Senior Leadership had a “stroke of genius,” according to Russ Laraway, Director of Media and Platforms: they decided to define what it means to be “Googley.” By articulating this concept, it became much easier to assess whether candidates would thrive in Google’s environment.

The definition of being “Googley” includes: Thinking Big, Having a Bias for Action, Being a Good Communicator, and the Ability to Work at a Face Pace in Small Teams.

By specifically defining what type of employees they were looking for, Google was able to attract the right candidates and build an extremely strong corporate culture. Laraway discovered, “We began hiring people who were often more Googley than we were!”

The company grew from 2,500 to 25,000 employees in only six years, Google’s unique culture flourished, building one of the most well-known Magnetic Cultures around the world.

Call to Action #1: Revisit your definition of the perfect person you are trying to hire and carefully interview for these characteristics.

Character versus Skill
Of course a candidate having both excellent character and skills is ideal, but sometimes people fall a little short on one end. Which aspect is a better compromise? Do you hire the person who has years of experience executing the job duties, but seems slightly off in regards to cultural fit? Or do you hire the person whom everyone on the team loves, but will need some additional training to improve his or her skill set?

I would take the person with the right character any day of the week. Character is ingrained in a person’s core being and dictates how he or she will behave. It encompasses one’s ethics, values, dedication, motivation, and outlook. It is nearly impossible to alter a person’s character, for better or for worse. Skills are things that are learned. If a person has everything you are looking for as a potential employee, but he or she does not have the exact skill set desired, it would be prudent to still consider that person for the position.

Of course, as an example, if you are hiring a Search Engine Optimization Specialist and the candidate has never worked with computers, that would be too much of a stretch. However, if you want a candidate who can type 80 words per minute, you should not exclude the perfect candidate because he or she can only type 65 words per minute. A great personality and a high level of motivation will ultimately mean more than those 15 words per minute. A magnetic organization should offer training for employees to improve their skill sets anyway. New employees’ skills should be developed through training initiatives, regardless of their proficiency level. If you try to develop character in training sessions, good luck to you.

In summary and your Call to Action: Skills can be taught, character cannot. Evaluate your Recruiting Process for valuing character and attitude over technical skills and aptitude. Online retail giant Zappos made this famous by actually having two separate interview teams, one for attitude and the other for aptitude.

Call to Action #2: Ensure that you are using the right behavioral questions to assess each candidate’s Cultural Fit with your organization.

 

As 2015 winds down, we can expect a new word of the year soon. But that doesn’t mean we can forget about the power of Culture.

 

Kevin Sheridan is an Internationally-recognized Key-Note Speaker, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and one of the most sought-after voices in the world on the topic of employee engagement. He spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant, helping some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, has been consistently recognized as a long- overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement. His book, “Building a Magnetic Culture,” made six of the best seller lists including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. He is also the author of The Virtual Manager, which explores how to most effectively manage remote workers.

deleteKevin received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1988, concentrating his degree in Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior. He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold three different companies.

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Email: kevin@kevinsheridanllc.com

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business psychology, Danny Gattas, Employee Engagement, Employment, Engagement, Guest Blog, Human Resources, Kevin Sheridan, Memphis, Recruiting

The End of Employee Engagement? I think not.


Below is a recent guest blog from our esteemed friend, Kevin Sheridan, regarding the status of Employee Engagement.

UntitledThere was a recent article in Forbes asserting that the Employee Engagement Movement was dying on the vine or fading away, like the Total Quality Movement (TQM) of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

In my opinion, there are several flaws in what the article suggested.

First and foremost, the big “elephant in the room” is the fact that by most measures only about 30% of the workforce is engaged, with the remainder being either ambivalent or actively disengaged. Are we to roll down our sleeves and think this is an acceptable level of engagement for our businesses, industries, and countries, and give up that easily? I hope not. Literally all of the best-in-class customers with whom I have worked in my 30-year consulting career eschewed such a defeatist attitude, and rolled up their sleeves to work harder to become even better. (Sounds a little like TQM, huh?) These organizations never lost their undying commitment to the well-defined concept of engagement, and its core underpinnings.

Second, regardless of what engagement is called, those people that have it never lose their passion for what they do, and pride in where they work. These two “Ps” of engagement will always yield superior outcomes, such as net-promoter results, customer referrals, customer satisfaction, higher quality and safety scores, and profitability. Regardless of whether we get tired of the moniker “employee engagement,” the myriad positive outcomes it creates will never go away. (To read the most comprehensive summary of these business outcomes click here.)

Third, if as suggested in the article, engagement has become a “check-the-box” exercise, then why are we not holding the people checking the box accountable, as well as those accepting the checked boxes, as opposed to conveniently blaming engagement?

Featured Image -- 609Lastly, a much healthier, opportunistic approach to engagement has played out in the hundreds of organizations I’ve helped shepherd from the nadir of engagement to achieve best-in-class status. All of these world-class employers took the following steps which are not typically taken by those stuck at “average”:

  • They never gave up, but rather made a long-term commitment to real change and improvement.
  • They had CEOs who eagerly took ownership for leading the effort and expected others to own it with the same level of steadfast dedication.
  • They tailored both their measurement instrument and process to fit the demographic make-up of their workforce, as opposed to using a “one-size fits all” survey and solution.
  • Contrary the what the article purports, the vast majority of companies and the engagement vendors they choose, give and actually guarantee, complete confidentiality for their survey and process. Best-in-class organizations on engagement are no different.
  • They instilled complete accountability on their managers for ensuring meaningful action plans are not only implemented, but effectively communicated, such that all employees knew that they were heard and that meaningful changes had been made based on their opinions.

cultureThey encouraged employees to begin to accept ownership for their own engagement, as opposed to waiting to be engaged by their manager and/or employer.

  • They gave their employees a tool through which they could confidentially see how engaged they were in their job, as well as get suggestions on what they could do on their own to be more engaged.

All of these steps are important, but the final two are critical to long-term improvement. Given that the vast majority of organizations have yet to take these two critical steps, it is certainly no time to throw in the towel and give up on engagement.

The proudest moments of my career as a consultant in this area, were standing shoulder-to-shoulder with senior executives who announced double-digit or best-in-class scores on engagement survey results and asked their entire team to stand up and give themselves a thunderously-loud standing ovation. Nearly all of the ovations ended, with the CEO saying something like, “This is great, but we are not done yet. Let’s set a goal to be in the top 3% next year.”

Rest assured, William Edwards Deming’s concepts on quality, continuous quality improvement, and the Malcolm Baldrige Award, are all alive and well today. The term TQM may no longer be bandied about, but its foundation pillars still stand as tall as those for employee engagement.

Inspiration for this piece:

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Guest Blogger, Kevin Sheridan having fun and smiling as always!

 Kevin Sheridan is an Internationally-recognized Key-Note Speaker, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and one of the most sought-after voices in the world on the topic of employee engagement.   He spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant, helping some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, has been consistently recognized as a long- overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement. His book, “Building a Magnetic Culture,” made six of the best seller lists including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. He is also the author of The Virtual Manager, which explores how to most effectively manage remote workers.

Kevin received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1988, concentrating his degree in Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior. He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold three different companies. 

Contact Links:

Web page: www.kevinsheridanllc.com

Twitter: @kevinsheridan12

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevinsheridan1

Email: kevin@kevinsheridanllc.com

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