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.



How to “Break All the Rules”- Playing to your strengths

In Curt Coffman’s and Marcus Buckingham’s book, “First Break all the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, they outline how to obtain success; a perplexing problem that plagues numerous organizations. In their book, they establish countless solutions to everyday problems, with one in particular being highlighted; playing to your strengths.

All too often, organizations and individuals focus on improving their weaknesses over their strengths. Our authors argue this should not be the case. In their book, they highlight the importance of incorporating strengths to outweigh weaknesses. To provide an example of this imagine a baseball team. Here we see a group of 9-10 players (depending on the league) playing each night to win. You have pitchers, infielders, outfielders, power hitters, etc, all of whom should be the best at what they do. From a manager’s or coach’s perspective, training these individuals to be the best  is vital to the team’s success. A manager’s duty is to ensure that pitchers are the best that they can be. This comes at the cost of pitchers not being the best hitters, and vice versa, the best hitters not being fabulous pitchers. However, a baseball team’s success is predicated on how well each player is able to utilize their strengths to achieve victory.

This is also how managers should aim to build their teams, by not focusing on improving the weaknesses of their employees. Rather, focus on improving strengths. This will ensure that managers are more capable of being successful in the workplace. An example of this would be if a sales rep is great at interpersonal communication  but not the best on completing paperwork, allot leniency for that employee. This will ensure that the entire team is more capable of being a great unit rather than merely mediocre.

Remember, if you need any HR or Human Capital management needs we’re always here at HRO Partners.

Call us at 901-737-0123 or reach out at


How to Determine That One “Winning” Metric

Great insight!

Open-Book Coaching

By Bill Fotsch

Some people say the journey is just as important as the destination. That’s certainly the case when it comes to defining winning. True, you want to be sure that the definition of winning you come up with is right. But the process you use to develop that definition is just as important.

We have continually refined our process of helping companies define winning over the past 20+ years. It’s the typical starting point of our work. Our current recommended process involves the following five steps, done in parallel:

  1. Gathering input from all employees through an employee survey
  2. Gathering input from management, using a management questionnaire
  3. Assembling the past five years’ worth of financials, along with budget versus actual for the current year to date
  4. Assembling existing management reports
  5. Gathering input from customers as captured in our customer outreach script. (This will be used in determining your winning…

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Take an “Engagement Selfie”

Here is guest blog by our friend Kevin Sheridan, surrounding engagement.Kevin

“While watching the Chicago Bulls at the United Center, I took this “selfie” and it prompted me to think that every worker needs to regularly take an “engagement selfie.” If you’re not familiar with what this is, let me explain and empower you and your organization.

The Problem with Old Fashioned “Engagement Groupies”

Like Ellen’s famous Oscar selfie — or “groupie” as some called it — earlier this year, employers have been taking “engagement groupies” for years by conducting employee engagement surveys, which group individual responses to protect respondents’ confidentiality. In this process, responsibility for and ownership of engagement rests on the shoulders of employer, creating a paternalistic model where employees have no ownership of and responsibility for their own engagement.

Any relationship should be a two-way street. Whether it’s family, friend, club, church, temple, or community connections, the people involved must give and take to maintain healthy relationships. If one person is always taking and never giving back, others will likely feel the relationship is unbalanced and unfair.

In a work setting, a large part of employees’ engagement stems from their personal choices. I believe each of us wakes up in the morning empowered with the choice of approaching the day and our job with either optimism and engagement, negativity and disengagement, or the apathy that lies in the middle of this engagement continuum.

Are You Making Your Own Luck?

As an entrepreneur, I have a very special appreciation for the importance of self engagement. Anyone who has started a company from scratch could spend hours reciting all the challenges and barriers that threatened the ultimate success of their venture. Almost every successful entrepreneur I’ve known will credit their success to determination and perseverance during the times when all indicators suggested the venture was doomed to fail. Choosing optimism and passionate engagement is what carried them through.

“Luck is the point at which Opportunity meets Preparation,” is a quote attributed to many people, including first-century Roman philosopher Seneca and famed American media mogul Oprah. Whoever said it first had it right, though.

Think about it. Do you make an effort to make your own luck or are you waiting for it to appear from out of nowhere?

Why Every Employee Should Take an “Engagement Selfie”

New situations pose new challenges, and accepting a new challenge begins with choosing an attitude to deal with it. Instead of choosing the road to victimhood and disengagement, we can empower ourselves and choose positivity and engagement.

Try it. Take this free engagement selfie, which will confidentially reveal how engaged you are as an employee, as well as give you useful tips on what you can do on your own to become more engaged at work.

Taking engagement groupies is now passé and antiquated. Still, most organizations aren’t rebalancing ownership of employee engagement to be shared between employer and employees.

Gone are the days when all responsibility was placed on “the company man.”  It’s now time we rebalance the ownership of employee engagement by empowering employees to see how engaged they really are and get useful advice on how they themselves can have a powerful effect on their own engagement.


Kevin Sheridan has spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant and Keynote Speaker.  He has helped some of the world’s largest corporations break down detrimental processes and rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors in the process. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, is consistently recognized as a long overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement, and his most recent book, “Building a Magnetic Culture,” made the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today best-seller lists.


Web page:

Twitter: @ kevinsheridan12




Wonderful blog post by David Kaiser

Here is a fantastic article that was recently published in Chief Learning Officer Magazine by Rob Bogosian titled, “The Perfect Deadly Storm: Corporate Silence.  He starts the article discussing the recent Lufthansa mass-murder suicide and how the organization’s culture contributed to the disaster.  He then walks through various other business corporations outside of aviation that suffered losses due to mis-communication from leadership that directly impacts the organization culture.  Resulting in a culture of silence.

In the article he asks these 4 questions to determine if your leaders within your organization may be operating in a culture of silence.  The questions are…;

How many times in the past three months have leaders in your organization:

  1. Experience the “bovine stare”, or a blank look, when they ask for input from the team?
  2. Had someone on the team disagree with them in a group setting?
  3. Had someone suggest an idea or problem solution that was very different from them or from the common views expressed by group members?
  4. Said to a direct report, “Let me play devil’s advocate” or something similar?

Jcultureust curious to see how many of you out there feel that your organization is one of a “culture of silence” or one that promotes open communication.   There are ten critical statements that are very valuable to use to help determine, identify, and rate your organizations culture.  They are provided in this survey below.

Please help by taking this anonymous quick 10 question online survey  that rates the 10 critical statements to see if your organization’s culture is one of silence or one of openness.  Feel free to use these critical statements from my survey in your organization.  

I will share the results with everyone on a future blog post.  I’m curious to see the results.  I want the results to be authentic so I need your help in taking a few short minutes to complete the survey. Thank you!

Question:  What do you think leaders should do to make a culture that promotes active engagement and openness that will prevent a culture of silence?  Share your comment below.