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.


business psychology

What Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath Teaches modern Businessess

New York TimMalcolm_Gladwell_2014_(cropped)es Bestseller, Malcolm Gladwell, adds a fifth book to his list of works with, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and The Art of Battling Giants.  In typical Gladwell form, his novel explores the psychological, sociological, and economical factors that coalesce together, explaining how underdogs sometimes finish first.

For examples Gladwell examines how someone with dyslexia can become a world class attorney despite difficulties reading efficiently or how a basketball team, with little talent and a coach with no prior basketball knowledge, were able to win their league. Stories like these filled with casts of colorful characters line David and Goliath, giving Gladwell his unique and flowing style that is all his own.

However, as idiosyncratic as his work is, David and Goliath commonly dives in the deep by provoking hair raising theories with very little substantial support. Specifically, Gladwell’s theory of “Desirable Difficulty,” which pokes at the idea that being dyslexic, losing a parent, or living in London during the WWII bombings are considered desirable difficulties. He claims that when people are placed in difficult circumstances, it provides them the opportunity to fight like they have nothing to lose. Supporting the ole’ adage, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.

Gladwell uses examples to examine this philosophy. Specifically, the story of “talentless” basketball team with their neophyte coach, Vivek Ranadive. Before their season, Vivek and his assistant recognized that his daughters youth basketball team possessed little underdogtalent compared to their competitors. Vivek wondered how  he could take this group of underdogs and transform them into winners. So, Vivek began exploring his options. He discerned that if they could master their defense, specifically the full court press, and wear down the stamina of his opponents his team had a chance to be competitive. With nothing to lose, Vivek implemented his strategy, which ended up working . To garner success with his team of underdogs, Vinek had to play the game like he had nothing to lose and in the end his strategy paid off.

Stories like this are rampant among businesses’ beginnings. Take a look at a company like Zappos. From Zappos’ inception they believed that the consumer would purchase shoes off the internet. By thinking outside the box and trying something completely new in an already established and competitive market, Zappos was able to succeed against the Goliaths of the time to become a billion dollar company(with an amazing culture to boot)

For anything to remain successful in this world it must be willing to adapt, including businesses.  Organizations,  just like animals and people, must be willing to adapt, innovate, and learn to remain dominant.  There are major lessons in David and Goliath that every individual and organization should learn such as: Continue reading

Employee Engagement

“First Break all the Rules” to Get your Employees Engaged

51lEgKNNeWLHere at HRO Partners, we frequently herald the importance of promoting an engaging workplace and cohesive culture at your organization because we are committed to the idea that having engaged employees is indicative to your success. Much of our beliefs are based on Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman’s book “First Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently.”

In their book they interview managers from an eclectic set of industries and from all across the world in search of what makes other managers more successful. They learn that each manager should embrace their personal strengths and treat their employees with empathy. However, in their search of what makes managers distinguishable from good to great, they uncovered something very interesting. They discovered that employee engagement is one of the most overlooked variables compromising businesses’ success. Organizations have been overlooking a variable that  costs American businesses 300 billion dollars annually and that 70% of American employees are described as disengaged. Our authors created a short, simple, and quick set of questions that measures employee engagement and distributed these questions to millions of employees in organizations all over the world. Their results supported the idea that organizations with highly engaged employees performed better than those who reported high levels of disengaged employees.

 Marcus and Curt discuss what managers can do to create an engaging workplace environment and came up with 4 keys things that great manager’s do that separates them from the rest of the herd.

Continue reading

Employee Engagement

5 Genuis Lessons from “Delivering Happiness” That Could Save You Millions

download (1)Tony Hsieh chronicles his tumultuous journey to becoming CEO of Zappos in his book “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose.”  Tony, a Taiwanese American, grew up in the Bay area of California where as a child he quickly showed a knack for business by organizing numerous financial opportunities around his neighborhood.  Then Tony attended Harvard University, where he studied computer science and met his future business partner Alfred Lin.

Upon his graduation from Harvard, he moved back west and began LinkExchange in 1996, a tech start-up that was involved with internet advertisements.  Two years later, he was able to sell LinkExchange to Microsoft for 265 million.  Shortly after, in 1999 he started a venture capitalist group called Venture Frogs, where he was introduced to the company that would eventually become Zappos.  Tony initially invested in Zappos with finances from Venture Frogs, but after the “dot com” bubble burst, he was left with a tough decision.  Zappos, still in the building phase of their business, was not yet profitable and required another investment or it would be forced to shut down.  Tony was originally just an investor and adviser to Zappos, but just two months after making his initial Venture Frogs investment, he became the CEO and invested nearly all of his personal finances into Zappos.  Eventually his decision paid off once Zappos saw continued growth, becoming a company valued at 1.2 billion dollars in 2009.

What is very unique about Zappos is how Tony’s leadership style impacted the company culture. He fixated on creating a culture that united employees around bringing customers the best service possible.  By concentrating on customer service, Tony was able to “WOW” his customers and build a loyal customer/fan base.  Also, his decision to provide his employees with above average benefits, team building activities, and numerous training opportunities resulted in a company with highly engaged employees.  Zappos’ unique idiosyncrasies, like their culture book, core values, and utter transparency, provide examples of why Zappos’ employees are so engaged.

But building a culture as supportive and cohesive as Zappos’ doesn’t require your organization to develop a culture book; each company is unique.  However, there are five tips guaranteed to increase employee engagement based on the book “Delivering Happiness” and Zappos’ engaging culture: Continue reading

Quote of the Day

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”.-Lao Tzu

Sometimes the hardest part is just starting a task.

Quote of the Day


How to use employee engagement to increase productivity

Below is a recent online article written by Simon T. Bailey in the Memphis Business Journal

Engaged employee“What is “employee engagement”? Psychologists, sociologists and CEOs alike are still arguing about the proper definition of the term, but they agree on the basics: An engaged employee is fully absorbed, satisfied, and furthers the organization’s mission through positive action.

As an emerging leader, you probably embody engagement, and you know how it affects your productivity.

What is the link between engagement and productivity?

Gallup has been conducting an ongoing study of international workplaces, monitoring how employee engagement levels affect output and performance. The study claims that if each organization were to double its customers, they could potentially save their countries’ economies. The study spans over 140 countries, and has been conducted over the past five years. If this is true, then there may be a way to improve both focus and output in your team.

Improving employee engagement

What can you do to encourage high employee engagement in your team members, leading to increased productivity and better performance? Here are a few you can take to create a perfect environment for enthusiastic workers:

Continue reading