©2017 Switch and Shift, LLC
We are excited to announce that we are relaunching my original podcast, Work That Matters. Mark Babbitt and I will host the weekly show.
The focus has shifted since the last episode was released. The new show will focus on helping you learn ways to improve the experience of work by raising your workplace intelligence. Topics include the future of work, transformational leadership, reexamining what we know about truly positive, human workplaces and offering up new insights.
In the meantime, let’s get to the heart of our first new episode…
In this episode, we talk with China Gorman. China is the former CEO of Great Places to Work®. She now leads UNLEASH America, an organization that helps leaders prepare for the future of work. Here are some key highlights from this week’s new episode:
China Gorman is the former CEO of Great Places to Work. She now is the U.S. Managing Director for Unleash (Formerly HR Tech World.)
She is an advisor to companies and speaker on creating more human workplaces, the future of HR, and talent management practices from a CEO perspective.
Check out Unleash America’s upcoming event in Las Vegas, Nevada. Some of our favorite thinkers on the future of work are speaking at the event:
Going forward, new episodes will be released every Tuesday. We are eager to pick-up this very important topic–creating positive experiences of work. We would love to hear your ideas on topics and guests that fit our show’s focus. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, send along questions you might have. Mark and I will in future episodes answer questions you submit.
You’ve heard it before: No one person is more important than the whole team. This is especially true when building high performance teams.
The best teams win together, learn together and adapt together. They lose together and, over time, they grow together. In high performance teams, their interactions and communications are fluid, relevant, and even playful.
Astonishingly great teams are capable of achieving results in large part because their leader intentionally shapes the conditions that help people do exceptional work together.
The complexity of human nature and office politics can obfuscate where a leader needs to focus his/her attention. Amidst office drama, jockeying for resources, or decoding the tone of the boss’s emails, it is easy to become distracted and overlook what needs to be done to build great teams. These are, however, daily realities of business. The exceptional leader rises above the distractions. When that happens, these ten focus areas become more apparent paths to more meaningful work, and help build high performance teams.
Clarity is made up of four items: goals, priorities, expectations, and a short feedback loop. With clarity, a team knows where to shift its focus and determine the level of effort necessary to finish an assignment. In the absence of clarity, teams make up what they think is important. The leader is rarely pleased with the outcome.
It is easier to trust and understand colleagues when relationships are high-quality. Great teams make time to eat together, have coffee together, plan together, review progress, and even share a drink together. We find safety in relationships where there is a bond.
High-quality teams solve problems. They do not get to absorbed in idolizing the problem. Instead, they develop a bias for solutions and what is possible. Central to this focus is clarity and quality relationships. Clarity provides the parameters to solve problems. Relationships help us determine who needs to be involved and when to achieve the desired solution.
In a results-oriented culture, people practice radical candor. Author and consultant Kim Scott popularized the term in her book with the same name. Scott explains radical candor this way:
“Care Personally at the same time that you Challenge Directly. When you challenge without caring it’s obnoxious aggression; when you care without challenging it’s ruinous empathy. Do neither, it’s manipulative insincerity.
It is maddening and demotivating to spend time on a project that goes nowhere. Progress is particularly powerful for teams. Leaders must remain aware of impediments to progress and then remove barriers swiftly.
A strength is not just what we are good it. It is also something that energizes. It’s a performance advantage to pair up a strategic thinker with another team member who is strong in execution. Know how to position team members to maximize their strengths individually and collectively. This also boosts work fulfillment.
A team that knows its purpose and how they make a difference can innovate, adapt to change more easily, and make stronger decisions. Purpose is a calling that unifies the team’s collective effort. Without purpose the team’s focus can meander, undermining performance and discipline.
Climate is what it feels like to work in the team. In a cause-and-effect relationship, employees’ perception of their boss influences their commitment and effort that ultimately effects results. As a leader, know what your actions and words create. Collaborative, affiliative, and coaching leadership styles have a positive effect on climate and motivation. On the opposite end of the spectrum are authoritative and controlling leadership styles. Both approaches undermine motivation and often lead to toxic workplaces.
In high performance teams, team members’ commitment and performance increase when they believe you are genuinely invested in their success. Broaden your perspective on growth. Instead of focusing only on professional growth, also spend time helping each person on your team grow outside of work. Simple ways to do this include not sending emails after 6 pm. This signals to employees that downtime from work is key. Another way to invest in your employees’ growth is paying for classes that enrich their lives.
Employees want greater alignment with their personal values and the company’s, too. One way to look at this growing workforce expectation is as a source of fulfillment. Fulfilling work is an intrinsic motivator that has a long-lasting influence on performance. Evaluating the opposite dynamic–believing in a value but not acting in alignment with it–we become anxious. Lasting cognitive dissonance becomes distracting and consumes our thinking. It is difficult to summon the mental focus to do phenomenal work when doubt shadows our thoughts and actions.
Each of the focus areas are important. But knowing when to use them is far more valuable and effective. The place to start? Understanding your current team’s reality versus where you need them to be in order to be considered one of your organization’s high performance teams.
In a tight labor market, employers need to develop a stronger workforce – and increasing employee engagement is an effective solution. However, many companies fail when it comes to engagement.
HR thought leader JoAnn Corley said, “Organizations are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on employee engagement programs, yet their scores on engagement surveys remain abysmally low.” In fact, according to Gallup, employee engagement is at a worldwide low of 13%.
A powerful engagement plan gives you a competitive advantage. Thought leader Fred Coon shared his insight with Forbes Magazine. He explained that to increase employee engagement employees want four things:
Leadership guru Simon Sinek argues that defining your “why” can’t be an afterthought. It’s the most crucial element that represents your business. Employees want to work with a company with a cause they can rally behind.
If you want employees to find meaning in their work:
It’s always a mistake to treat your employees as mindless drones. Do you want your employees to put their heart and soul into their work? Recognize them for who they are, not just the role they fill. If you recognize team members as individuals, they will contribute more to your organization. They’ll also allow the innovative side of themselves to come out more often.
If you want your employees to feel recognized as individuals:
Innovation isn’t just a buzzword. It’s a critical way that your company can gain an advantage entering new markets. Research finds that there’s a strong correlation between engagement and innovation.
If you want engaged employees:
If employees feel disrespected and they don’t know their work matters, they will do the bare minimum. However, they’re more engaged when they feel respected and valued. Treating employees this way makes them more likely to go the extra mile.
If you want employees to feel respected and valued:
Although it takes time to develop employee engagement, it’s an investment that pays off. Businesses with engaged employees outperform businesses with low engagement by 202%. Engaged companies also grow profits as much as three times faster than competitors.
Engaged employees have greater productivity and generate increased customer satisfaction. So ultimately, increasing employee engagement creates higher profits for the company.
When organizations choose to invest in their employees, it is a permanent game changer.
In the first article of this 3-part series on Capitalizing (on) Curiosity, I discussed the documented benefits of curiosity for companies at the individual, team and company-wide levels. And in the second article, I shared several easily cultivated mindsets known to be effective in promoting a curiosity-driven culture. This final installment in the series includes some simple, straightforward steps you can take to encourage, support, and promote curiosity at all levels of the organization.
In my first article of this 3-part series on curiosity, I discussed the essential role and corresponding benefits of curiosity in the workplace. This article delves deeper into what is necessary to create a curious-positive culture.
It starts with taking note of people’s mindsets (including your own). There are certain thought patterns that create the conditions for curiosity to soar, and enable it to have the greatest positive effect and overall impact on individuals and teams throughout the organization.
Hard evidence of the powerful benefits to companies who capitalize on curiosity has led many, in different industries across the globe to get on the curiosity band wagon and declare it a major priority. Yet, recent studies show while leadership believes they embrace the value of curiosity and actively encourage and support it, employees do not agree.
Great coaches skilled at bringing out the best in others have a zeal for enabling teams. Enabling employees, in this sense, means empowering team members with resources and ability to complete their tasks, and helping them develop the language and mindset to envision their own success.
The end of the calendar year (and for some of us, the fiscal year) is staring us down. If you’re reflecting on what you didn’t accomplish this year, this post is for you. If you’re procrastinating and thinking, “It’s almost the new year. I’ll wait and start accomplishing my goals then,” then this post is for you, as well.
Fall marks another seasonal shift – a time of transition and change, a turning over of a new leaf.
While change is a natural part of a growing organization, leaders know that most change efforts don’t resemble the peaceful image of a leaf falling gracefully towards the ground.
Competing forces cause your change efforts to veer away from its intended course.
Perhaps your culture needed a course correction, your leadership needed an overhaul, or your systems, tools or processes needed to be fixed or improved.
Share with our audience a pivotal change you made during your professional or organizational growth journey.
How did you leverage Change Champions within your organization to help you “weather” the change?
How did you deal with the forces that tried to work against you? Or, share with our audience a change tip you learned that you’ll never forget.
When I was in college, the president of our university, Steven Sample, spoke to one of my classes and shared a tip I will never forget. He told us, “In your lifetimes, you will have five to six different careers. Not jobs, but careers.” His underlying message was that change is inevitable, and to succeed professionally you need to develop a broad-based skill set that is transferable.
As startups grow, it’s inevitable that people’s roles will change. When my company grew from four people to 10 over the span of six months, there was an enormous amount of uncertainty and transition. But through honest conversations — we call them “courageous conversations” — with all of my employees, we were able to find the right roles to set up every employee for success.
It’s very easy to say yes to meetings and small tasks throughout the week. But all these little tasks and scheduled meetings add up and become death by a thousand cuts. In the latter half of this year, I implemented meeting days on only two weekdays — rarely more — and this has allowed me to capitalize on the “mental mode” I need to be in to get more done on those days.
Sometimes, after months spent building a challenging product, it can seem like the light at the end of the tunnel will never come. In these darkest moments — when the gratification of customer feedback and revenue hasn’t yet happened — it’s crucial to revive your team’s belief by reminding them of your “why”. For us, it’s creating a never-before-seen piece of tech to reinvent our industry.
There are many types of boards, but the best are your champions. They only get in the way when you are doing something stupid. So when our board saw we were launching too many products at once without the capital to do so, they encouraged us to go with the most valuable one, and shift the rest of our company toward consultancy and publishing. The results have been fantastic.
After launching a brand new venture and getting flooded with leads, I was running ahead of the steamroller trying to pick up every quarter. This is clearly a plan that will end in disaster. You can’t sacrifice your process to chase every lead. As soon as I stepped back, I was able to take a look at the leads objectively and figure out a process to better qualify them and quantify them.
During a rough patch in our growth, we went through every aspect of the company and made massive changes to improve, which has drastically helped our efficiency and profits. Change should be a part of the culture: If something doesn’t work, employees should not be scared to scrap it and go in a different direction.
When my side business started taking off, I’m ashamed to admit it took me over a year before I finally quit my day job. I loved my job, I loved the friendships I built, and I couldn’t bring myself to leave it all behind. Here’s my plan that finally helped force me to cut loose: Setting a deadline three months in advance and giving notice, and booking a trip starting the day after the deadline.
We decided to split our long-time Silicon Valley office into three offices: San Francisco, San José and Provo. This was a seismic shift that, at times, was difficult. The lesson: Don’t be afraid to make radical changes in how you run your company. We work differently now, but the flexibility opened other doors — shorter commutes, lower cost of living, a bigger house or even better choice of schools.
Most entrepreneurs will tell you to trust your gut. While I believe that as well, the data scientist in me says decisions need to be backed up with empirical evidence. If someone says they can do something, ask for proof or talk to past clients. If you can, optimize everything scientifically and verify results. It may seem like a lot of work, but it will save you time and a lot of money, too!
There is significant political and legislative risk associated in the law practice. Our firm has branched out our practice into areas such as business and risk consulting, as well as venture investing. Our struggle was staying engaged with the base operations that serve as the foundation of the firm. Shifting focus and adding revenue streams is vital, but never forget to stick with the basics.
o successfully dive into the future of work, we need to better understand each generation’s mobile communication preferences. To do this, EmployeeChannel, Inc. – a leading provider of mobile apps for employee engagement and communication – compiled the infographic below.