January 29, 2018

Collaborative Culture

As much as it’s funky to have exposed brick, a foosball table in the lunch room, and lattes at 3pm, those won’t ensure your company has engaged employees who will do passionate work. Culture is much deeper. It’s a feeling and an instinct that can’t be forced or faked. And it takes work to upkeep. Every day. From everyone.

Here are seven areas to consider in making your company a great place to work.

Give – No matter the survey, compensation always makes it into one of the top reasons people stay or leave a company. But if money is the number one concern of employees, you have a serious issue. Pay people properly.

Define – What makes people want to bring their best every day and feel appreciated? If you can’t explain it in a sentence or two, dig deeper.

Value – What does your company stand for and what won’t it do? Two significant questions that seem easy enough to answer yet most struggle with them. We want to be a part of something that aligns with our values.

Open – Not all decisions can be made by committee. In fact most people want leadership to guide the way, but keep communication open enough for people to feel you genuinely want their input and ideas.

Stretch – Departments are created for a reason. Sales focuses on revenue while product design improves the offering. But don’t box people in so they can’t offer input to areas where they might not be subject matter experts. Some of the best ideas may come from the most unexpected places.

Lead – From small companies with a handful of employees to the Fortune 50, the relationship people have with their direct report and the people closest to them in their day-to-day work experience, will be the single biggest reason they stay or leave. Model the behavior you want from others.

Together – Teamwork and collaboration are a core elements to great culture. We want to belong and contribute so afford everyone the chance to do both.

Like trust, respect is earned not mandated by an org chart. So if you want great company culture, create an atmosphere of respect and trust and watch what happens.

Or work on your foosball skills

January 24, 2018

Stop the Busy

We live busy lives often being busy doing busy things with others getting busy on busy tasks. But how often do we take time for think time or better yet, do nothing?

Andy Puddicombe is the co-founder of Headspace, a project that aims to demystify meditation and make it applicable to everyday life. For more than a decade, Andy’s meditation training took him all over the world.

Andy became a fully ordained monk at a Tibetan Monastery in the Indian Himalayas. In his TEDTalk, Puddicombe explains the importance of making time to do nothing.


January 21, 2018

Labels and People

I'm an extrovert introvert who enjoys collaborating in team and group environments but also needs and enjoys some chill time on my own to recharge. I’m an ENFP (Extraversion, Intuition, Feeling, Perception) which means I focus on intuition and external connections. But there is a strong internal piece which is key to process how I feel about things and how they fit into my value system.

I live in the world of possibilities – which can trip me up on follow through – but I see life as a gift and literally wake up every day looking forward to the possibilities. I have my share of down times and self-doubt which again is typical of someone driven by emotion and connection.

Mix it up

When I look at the 20 or so people I spend the most time with, it’s a mix, which is typical of an ENFP as I get energy from others and the varied traits they bring. And some of the closest people in my life are actually introverts. If you know one or are one, you know the label isn't completely accurate. The ones in my life are incredibly personable, engaging, and funny. Introvert means shy and withdrawn and I disagree with those broad labels.

I have a colleague who is an introvert and prefers to solve issues at work one-on-one in plain language through conversation and collaboration while her boss wants every report in triplicate to outline the effectiveness of the analysis of the plan. One gets energy from relationships while the other can’t operate without reports and structure. Sadly, the highest ranking official wins the day and the organization loses an opportunity for both to thrive.

Person to Person

One of my best friends – who is definitely an extrovert – is a very successful investment advisor who does most of his work on the phone or with clients rather than sitting in his office doing paperwork. His energy comes from being with and helping people and he does it all day long.

So if you have someone on your team who isn't like you, celebrate that, celebrate them, and get to know their way, their perspective, and their view on the world.

Teamwork and culture are not achieved by insisting everyone homogenizes into one sanitized process but rather by respecting personality traits and gifts. The combination can be magical which is why open collaborative leadership is critical.

Labels are for clothing not people.

January 16, 2018

The Revenue Diet Plan

A large cheeseburger with condiments is approximately 600 calories; an hour of high impact aerobics for a 200lb man will burn about 600 calories. A slice of pumpkin pie is about 350 calories; an hour of ice skating for the same man will burn about 340 calories. We know we need to eat better, work out more and take better care of ourselves but (on average) we don’t do that.

Often companies will look at the success of a certain campaign or promotion to get a sense of customer reaction or appetite. This kind of strategy is both flawed and short-lived. Patience is a virtue but rarely a business plan. We love cheeseburgers but don't want to gain weight; we want revenue but know it doesn't happen without effort.

Fries With That?

We want the customers now but can have trouble seeing the long term benefits of a sustained effort throughout the year. We wonder how these available channels can help us without realizing our contribution is critical to the equation. You and I have the collective patience of a three year old.

We are not built for strategy or long-term thinking. If things are bad, we want them to be good, immediately. If money is tight, we want money, right now. If someone promises that this campaign will help us get us out of this slide, we are happy to listen, right now. We want the burger and pie without the growing waistline.

Maybe this year we need more salad?

January 13, 2018

What Does This App Do?

Since the dawn of human existence, we have been working to improve our lives. There are better tools, advanced medical procedures, cleaner water purification, improved supply lines, more advanced urban development, and enhanced communication tools.

We live in a time where there are more scientists alive than in any other time in history, combined. There are reports that the world’s population could reach 10-12 billion.

The Shrunken Globe

We can send complicated documents across the globe with the press of a thumb on our mobile device. Our ability to share ideas is now instantaneous. And we are attempting to digest more content every day than we can ever consume.

So it’s curious when we get stuck with how to reach new customers, find new collaborative partners, and share ideas with those who will want to work with us. It has become an embarrassment of riches in a time when patience is scarce. And perhaps that's what is causing more clutter than good?

The Best Social Network

We seem to be able to grow our personal and professional networks on the social web yet the question remains how much human connection is going on? One way is to utilize a handy app that is in every smartphone – the phone.

This may sound revolutionary but the more things get complicated, the more we may need to simplify. And there is one way to make things far more simple.

Try the phone app; you'll surprise them all.

January 9, 2018

What's Holding Us Back?

I've done a rather unscientific study with colleagues, friends, and clients, and it’s clear many are taking a good look at their lives from all aspects – work, family, finances, love, spirituality, health, exercise, dreams – and making a plan to improve what is needed and move away from what is not helping them.

We need to take full responsibility for our behavior in all aspects of our lives and with whom we share. And the old adage you can’t bring your life to work is hopefully taking its last few gasps of life. Bring all of you to all you do or don’t bother.

Eyes Forward

Maybe it would be wise for us to take a few steps back and give thought to the people on our team and in our company; the people in our life who are enriching it and those who may be holding us back.

I have a friend who says she hasn't dreamed or created in a while. I would challenge that she may not have given herself the belief to act. Perhaps that’s what we all need right now? Perhaps we need to stop the busy and start paying closer attention to the humans around us and most importantly ourselves.

The results may blow us away.

January 3, 2018

Enjoy This Ride

The new year is fresh and many of us are looking it with optimism, but how often do we look at the past to compare it to what's ahead of us rather than focusing solely on possibilities ahead? One of my go-to songs is from a band called Morcheeba, it's entitled "Enjoy the Ride".

I think we spend far too much of our time looking back and looking forward and not enough time enjoying now. Now is not always fun and the ride is certainly not always smooth – in fact, it’s often quite bumpy. But if we pay more attention, we may stop chasing shadows in our work, our companies, our relationships, and our lives.

Maybe we'll enjoy this ride.

© 2018 Kneale Mann | knealemann@gmail.com | people + priority = profit
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Leadership Development Business Culture Talent Development Human Capital