Ban These 5 Words From Your Corporate Values Statement

feb18-05-131585897-csa-images
CSA Images/Getty Images

Practically every organization today has a set of core values that ideally function as the “operating instructions” of the company.  The goal of articulating the essential and enduring principles of your organization is to inform, inspire, and instruct the day-to-day behaviors of everyone who works at your company. But this rarely happens, because most core values statements don’t get at what’s unique about the firm.

According to the Booz Allen Hamilton and Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program researchers, most corporations’ values incorporate similar words and ideas. 90% of them reference ethical behavior or use the word “integrity,” 88% mention commitment to customers, and 76% cite teamwork and trust.

I’ve seen this first-hand in my work helping companies define or re-define their core values. Several words always come up in practically every discussion, no matter if the company is a large enterprise or a small

Continue reading "Ban These 5 Words From Your Corporate Values Statement"

IKEA’s Success Can’t Be Attributed to One Charismatic Leader

feb18-02-ikea

During my conversations with CEOs, it always comes to a point where they say: “I want to leave a legacy.”  Any CEO would be satisfied with the business legacy left by Ingvar Kamprad, the IKEA founder who died last weekend.  The store he founded, with its iconic blue and yellow logo and functional, minimalist furniture, is the largest furniture retailer in the world.  Latest figures show it has 190,000 employees, 411 stores in 49 countries, and a revenue of 36 billion euros.  Famous for its Allen wrench-assembled flat-pack furniture, Swedish meatballs, and the maze-like shopping routes through its showrooms, it hit upon a winning formula.  It provided a differentiated offering that disrupted the industry at the time: affordable, build-it-yourself home furnishings sold in massive stores built on cheap, out-of-town real estate. But how did it hit on this winning strategy?

There is no doubt that

Continue reading "IKEA’s Success Can’t Be Attributed to One Charismatic Leader"

Dealing with Sexual Harassment When Your Company Is Too Small to Have HR

feb18-01-515041695-Ralf-Hiemisch
Ralf Hiemisch/Getty Images

The subject of sexual misconduct at work is dominating mainstream conversation and board room agendas. This doesn’t just mean men and women who run large global enterprises, Fortune 500 behemoths, film studios, and media platforms. The conversation is happening in small businesses as well.

In the U.S. 43% of employees work in organizations with 50 or fewer people. It would be a mistake to think that a smaller workforce means a decreased chance of sexual harassment. In fact, a few characteristics make small firms more susceptible.

For example, at a smaller firm, people may engage with each other more frequently and that proximity can make the impact of any harassment feel disproportionately large. It can be extremely disruptive if two out of twenty employees suddenly can’t work together and need to be separated. And the legal and punitive costs of sexual harassment cases can feel steeper to a firm

Continue reading "Dealing with Sexual Harassment When Your Company Is Too Small to Have HR"

Sexual Harassment Is Pervasive in the Restaurant Industry. Here’s What Needs to Change

jan18-18-93490829-Linus Gelber Alert-the-Medium
Linus-Gelber/Alert the Medium/Getty Images

Scores of recent stories have exposed the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in industries such as Hollywood, tech, politics, and academia. Less attention has been given to lower-paying jobs, such as those in the service and hospitality industry, where the problem runs rampant.

More sexual harassment claims in the U.S. are filed in the restaurant industry than in any other, where as many as 90% of women and 70% of men reportedly experience some form of sexual harassment. While the industry has had its share of high-profile stories (with a number of well-known chefs and TV personalities being accused of inappropriate behavior), even more insidious is the routine harassment of service workers by managers, coworkers, and, importantly, customers.

There are several factors that make restaurant employees particularly susceptible to sexual harassment. First, men make up the majority of management and higher-paying roles in the U.S. restaurant industry.

Continue reading "Sexual Harassment Is Pervasive in the Restaurant Industry. Here’s What Needs to Change"

Stop Neglecting Remote Workers

jan17-17-740519507-Harry-Haysom
Harry Haysom/Getty Images

When we talk about the importance of building strong relationships with employees, there’s a growing contingent that we often neglect: those who don’t work in the main office. This means not just the 31% of Americans who work remotely four or five days a week but also the people in satellite locations, where workers can easily feel forgotten. I’ve experienced this problem both as a manager and as an employee. For instance, when I ran a startup in San Francisco that was acquired by a company based in Toronto, I went from overseeing on-site and off-site employees to leading an entirely off-site branch of a faraway business. Being a remote employee myself, and having my entire team also fall into that category, forced me to think differently about how to build team culture and keep everyone engaged and motivated.

I traveled to headquarters to meet the team, figure out the

Continue reading "Stop Neglecting Remote Workers"

Make Civility the Norm on Your Team

dec17-25-jakob-owens-225914
Jakob Owens/Unsplash

We all want to come to work and be treated with kindness and respect. Unfortunately, my research shows that there is rampant incivility in most organizations. I found that 98% of the workers I surveyed over the past 20 years have experienced rude behavior and 99% have witnessed it. And the situation seems to be worsening. In 2011 half said they were treated badly at least once a week — up from a quarter in 1998. So what can a manager do to ensure that people on their team or in their department treat each other well?

Articulate values and set expectations. First, managers need to set expectations. This starts in the interview process when you have the opportunity to articulate your values to prospects during the hiring process. Be explicit about your organization’s values and then encourage candidates to decide for themselves: Do they truly want to

Continue reading "Make Civility the Norm on Your Team"

Why Sexual Harassment Persists and What Organizations Can Do to Stop It

dec17-21-506716251-bubaone
bubaone/Getty Images

The sheer volume of sexual harassment allegations against public figures reveals just how entrenched such abuses of power are. They’ve forced us to acknowledge that many men in leadership roles marginalize and intimidate colleagues (usually, but not always, women) of lower status both verbally and physically. Sexual harassment happens everywhere: in the most lucrative industries and in minimum-wage jobs, in glamorous fields as well as the most ordinary.

Of course, none of this is new. The insidious ways harassment hurts not only the targets of harassment, but the places they work, have long been documented. Multiple studies have found that experiencing harassment drives women to leave their jobs, taking their ideas, relationships, and potential out the door with them and creating the costly need to hire and train new employees to fill the roles vacated. Their exit also erases any path to leadership they may have been on. And

Continue reading "Why Sexual Harassment Persists and What Organizations Can Do to Stop It"

Where Employee Surveys on Burnout and Engagement Go Wrong

dec17-14-bbk074-Amy-DeVoogd
Amy DeVoogd/Getty Images

To tackle employee burnout, companies need to assess just how burned out their staff members are—and why. Many organizations conduct surveys to gain this sort of insight, but serious flaws in how those surveys are designed often lead to bad results. Well-intentioned leaders, following an inaccurate roadmap of where the problems lie, end up wasting time, energy, and resources on the wrong things. For example, they may ask people if overwork is an issue and then try to reduce the load, when the real problem is more psychological.

A seminal paper in the Journal of Vocational Behavior defines burnout as “a reaction to chronic occupational stress” characterized by emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and a “lack of professional efficacy (i.e., the tendency to evaluate one’s work negatively).” So it’s multifaceted. But when you take all those things together, the researchers found, the polar opposite of burnout

Continue reading "Where Employee Surveys on Burnout and Engagement Go Wrong"

8 Tough Questions to Ask About Your Company’s Strategy

nov17-29-50701564-Gjon-Mili
Gjon Mili/Getty Images

Companies often fail to address the tough questions about strategy and execution: Are we really clear, as a leadership team, about how we choose to create value in the marketplace? Can we articulate the few things the organization needs to do better than anyone else in order to deliver on that value proposition? Are we investing in those areas, and do they fit with most of the products and services we sell?

If your answer is yes to these and the other tough questions in the exhibit below, you’re among the select few. In our experience, one of the biggest challenges in business today is that way too few companies are asking or answering these fundamental questions.

W171106_LEINWAND_TOUGHQUESTIONS

 

Why is that? Why is it so difficult for leaders to talk about these topics?

Often, executives avoid questions they are not sure how to answer. Or leaders and

Continue reading "8 Tough Questions to Ask About Your Company’s Strategy"

Listening Is a Lost Art in Medicine. Here’s How to Rediscover It

nov17-03-668662237-Aaron-Tilley
Aaron Tilley/Getty Images

William Osler, often called the father of modern medicine, famously advised his students: “Just listen to your patient; he is telling you the diagnosis.” A century later, clinicians and health system leaders started tuning out the patient’s voice, turning instead to electronic health records and the latest care protocols to manage their most complicated and high-need patients. We believe it’s time for an urgent and strategic reset. The factors that lead people to become our nation’s costliest are complex. But they call for, at the start, the simplest intervention: listening.

According to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), “High-need individuals are disproportionately older, female, white, and less educated. They are also more likely to be publicly insured, have fair-to-poor self-reported health, and be susceptible to lack of coordination within the health care system.” Overall, these patients make up just 5% of the patient population, but

Continue reading "Listening Is a Lost Art in Medicine. Here’s How to Rediscover It"

The Best Companies Know How to Balance Strategy and Purpose

nov17-02-106540137-Skeezer
Skeezer/Getty Images

Most companies have articulated their purpose — the reason they exist. But very few have made that purpose a reality for their organizations.

Consider Nokia. Before the iPhone was introduced, in 2007, Nokia was the dominant mobile phone maker with a clearly stated purpose — “Connecting people” — and an aggressive strategy for sustaining market dominance. Seeking to extend its technological edge (particularly in miniaturization), it acquired more than 100 startup companies while pursuing a vast portfolio of research and product development projects. In 2006 alone, Nokia introduced 39 new mobile-device models. Few imagined that this juggernaut, brandishing vast resources with such steely determination, could be quickly brought down.

In retrospect, it seems inevitable. Nokia was so immersed in executing its strategy that it lost sight of its purpose. When Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone as “a leapfrog product that is way smarter than any mobile device has

Continue reading "The Best Companies Know How to Balance Strategy and Purpose"

Stop Using the Excuse “Organizational Change Is Hard”

jul17-19-164899138
During nearly every discussion about organizational change, someone makes the obvious assertion that “change is hard.” On the surface, this is true: change requires effort. But the problem with this attitude, which permeates all levels of our organizations, is that it equates “hard” with “failure,” and, by doing so, it hobbles our change initiatives, which have higher success rates than we lead ourselves to believe. Our biases toward failure is wired into our brains. In a recently published series of studies, University of Chicago researchers Ed O’Brien and Nadav Klein found that we assume that failure is a more likely outcome than success, and, as a result, we wrongly treat successful outcomes as flukes and bad results as irrefutable proof that change is difficult. For example, when participants in one of the studies were presented with a season’s worth of statistics for a star athlete who had logged worse numbers than
Continue reading "Stop Using the Excuse “Organizational Change Is Hard”"

Nike’s Co-founder on Innovation, Culture, and Succession

Phil Knight, former chair and CEO of Nike, tells the story of starting the sports apparel and equipment giant after taking an entrepreneurship class at Stanford and teaming up with his former track coach, Bill Bowerman. Together (and with the help of a waffle iron) they changed how running shoes are designed and made. Knight discusses the company’s enduring culture of innovation, as well as the succession process that led to former runner and Nike insider Mark Parker becoming CEO. Download this podcast

Why Your Company Culture Should Match Your Brand

jun17-23-53017220
Ask people how to develop a good corporate culture, and most of them will immediately suggest offering generous employee benefits, like they do at Starbucks, or letting people dress casually, as Southwest Airlines does. Rarely do people point to encouraging employees to disagree with their managers, as Amazon does, or firing top performers, as Jack Welch did at GE. But in fact, it’s having a distinct corporate culture — not a copycat of another firm’s culture — that allows these great organizations to produce phenomenal results. Each of these companies has aligned and integrated its culture and brand to create a powerful engine of competitive advantage and growth. Their leaders understand that a strong, differentiated company culture contributes to a strong, differentiated brand — and that an extraordinary brand can support and advance an extraordinary culture. It doesn’t matter if your company culture is friendly or competitive, nurturing or analytical. If your culture
Continue reading "Why Your Company Culture Should Match Your Brand"

When Health Care Providers Look at Problems from Multiple Perspectives, Patients Benefit

jun17-13-34948064
Mr. Smith was ready to be discharged home after his laryngectomy, an extensive operation that removes a patient’s throat due to cancer. In the opinion of Dr. Lu-Myers, he was a capable man who had passed his physical and occupational therapy evaluations with flying colors. Mr. Smith had fulfilled the doctor’s list of clinical discharge criteria, and she was eager to send him home. She planned to entrust him and his family to manage his dressing changes, as well as his tracheostomy and drain care, with the support of frequent outpatient nursing visits — all very routine protocol, especially for someone who seemed alert and capable. The day before Mr. Smith was to be discharged, Dolores, his nurse, approached Dr. Lu-Myers with some concerns: “Mr. Smith seems depressed to me, and you know, his wife has never come by to visit. I’m worried about us discharging him.” Dolores explained that Mr. Smith was
Continue reading "When Health Care Providers Look at Problems from Multiple Perspectives, Patients Benefit"

When Health Care Providers Look at Problems from Multiple Perspectives, Patients Benefit

jun17-13-34948064
Mr. Smith was ready to be discharged home after his laryngectomy, an extensive operation that removes a patient’s throat due to cancer. In the opinion of Dr. Lu-Myers, he was a capable man who had passed his physical and occupational therapy evaluations with flying colors. Mr. Smith had fulfilled the doctor’s list of clinical discharge criteria, and she was eager to send him home. She planned to entrust him and his family to manage his dressing changes, as well as his tracheostomy and drain care, with the support of frequent outpatient nursing visits — all very routine protocol, especially for someone who seemed alert and capable. The day before Mr. Smith was to be discharged, Dolores, his nurse, approached Dr. Lu-Myers with some concerns: “Mr. Smith seems depressed to me, and you know, his wife has never come by to visit. I’m worried about us discharging him.” Dolores explained that Mr. Smith was
Continue reading "When Health Care Providers Look at Problems from Multiple Perspectives, Patients Benefit"