Monday, October 31, 2011

Creating a Culture of Recognition

I had the pleasure of attending Globoforce's workshop on Building a Culture of Recognition last week. The workshop itself was conducted by Derek Irvine and was very well done. Derek set expectations for the "desired behaviors" for attendees upfront and then used recognition throughout the workshop to encourage attendees to participate. They definitely practice what they preach.

The premise for building a culture of recognition is that recognition leads to a more engaged employee and that engagement leads to better customer service and an increase in profits and revenues.

Another interesting tenet of their philosophy is that more employees need recognition not just the usual top 10%. Globoforce believes that in order to truly MOVE engagement scores you need to recognize those employees that are in the middle of the bell curve. Those employees that are your steady workers, the ones that show up everyday and do consistent work. We need those employees to keep our organizations moving. Often this group of employees is overlooked in most rewards and recognition programs as most are focused on the top performers.

In most organizations the middle of the bell curve represent consistent, average performers and that can be on average 60-70% of the workforce.

The question then becomes: if you want to move engagement scores higher, do you focus on your top 10%, who are highly engaged anyway, or do you move to the 60-70% group that can use recognition? Think about this question for a really makes sense.

That is a premise that we at Intellectual Capital Consulting believe in as well.

Derek outlined a framework for building a culture of recognition:

1) Tempo begins at the top. Leaders have to give and receive recognition.
2) Must be tied to strategic goals and objectives. Metrics must also be created.
3) Involve program participants and invite their input.
4) Call all managers to training. Enough said!
5) Establish key indicators of success early and measure often
6) Touch as many people as possible as often as possible.
7) Promote program or it will perish.
8) Match recognition with achievement
9) Ensure a recognition moment. Making sure the employee receives a personal message either public or private with the reward.
10) Right currency and reward of choice. Make sure reward is meaningful to the receiver.

I will be reading Derek and Eric's book, "Winning With a Culture of Recognition." Stay tuned for a review when I finish.

What are your thoughts on recognition? Best practices?

Monday, October 24, 2011

HR Themes from 3 Conferences

The conference season is in full swing and I had the opportunity to attend three wonderful conferences last week.

1) SHRM-Atlanta's HR Conference
2) The Performance Institute's Performance Conference
3) The University of Alabama's HR Management Conference

It is so interesting to participate and listen for themes to emerge. As I wrote notes for each one of the workshops/keynotes I attended, I began to see familiar topics. Here are the common themes from all three conferences:

1) Alignment-seemed to be the most popular theme. Whether it is alignment of organizational goals to the departmental level or aligning HR activities around organizational goals, the topic was mentioned at each conference. My personal opinion is that HR has a huge opportunity in the alignment area. As execution is the reason strategy fails...HR can exercise its strategic muscles in this area. "Execution trumps strategy every time," Rich Berens, Root Learning at the Performance Conference.

2) Engagement-is no longer a nice to have. Engagement is now a must have for a company's competitive advantage. Speakers at all three discussed engagement in the following ways:
1) Employees must be engaged with their work
2) Employees must be engaged with their manager
3) Employees must be engaged with an organization's strategy
4) Employees must be engaged with their team

Tracking and acting on engagement data is key so that those things that drive engagement can be identified and sustained.

3) Focus-such a simple word, but yet so hard to do. Speakers discussed the recent economic challenges forcing companies to get focused on what is truly important. Instead of rolling out 10-12 objectives, speakers discussed the necessity to simplify and focus on the top 3-5 strategic objectives. By focusing on a smaller number, it really makes an organization pay attention to what matters most. Whether it is an individual's goals or an organization's goals a smaller more manageable number keeps everyone's eye on the desired target...organizational success as defined by the strategic plan.

The next time you attend a conference, sit back and listen...listen to common themes across presentations.

For those of you that attended conferences over the last few months, what themes did you hear? Do tell...

Monday, October 17, 2011

HR You're A Rockstar

This week I am attending/presenting at three conferences, SHRM-Atlanta, The Performance Institute and The University of Alabama's HR Management conference.

I am always excited to attend these conferences as I meet great people and learn a ton of new things.

Today, at SHRM-Atlanta's conference the energy was high and so was the knowledge sharing. If you want to check out the twitter stream, follow hashtag #shrmatl11. With record attendance with over 1100 HR professionals and resource partners, the day was off to a great start. Kat Cole, President of Cinnabon gave the opening keynote. She is fantastic, and at 33, what a dynamo. Kat talked about an organizational learnng building competence, confidence and connections to the business.

I guess what impressed me most today were the great conversations that I was able to participate in. They inspire me and validate for me that the work that I do is truly important. Here are some snippets from my conversations today:

1) The economy is still a hot topic especially around Atlanta. Most individuals I spoke with whether employed or not, whether a practitioner or a vendor, seemed to be surprisingly upbeat. Even with the news media and politicians talking about a double-dip recession, I certainly didn't feel that opinion coming from today's attendees.

2) Engagement and training are still important even with tight budgets. Smart companies are paying attention to engagement because they know this economic situation will pass. And when it does, employees will have choices. Smart companies are still investing in training to increase the skills and knowledge of their employees. Leaders know that making investments now will pay off in productivity and retention increases later.

3) HR peeps are Rockstars! I had so many conversations about business issues. Not just people issues but issues involving market share, mergers and acquisitions, capacity planning, customer retention, product development and many others. I was so excited to hear my fellow HR comrades having a business discussion without mentioning the words "policy", "procedure" or hear it comes...."seat at the table."

I can't wait to see what the rest of the week brings....

A big shout out to my blogger and twitter friends...@jheineck @havrilla @mattcharney @mikehaberman @mgrindell @teelajackson @incblot @debdooken @jennyinthesouth @JenniferAMartz.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The How-To's of Deliberate Culture Creation

Last week I wrote about culture, specifically discussing if it is created or does it just happen by chance. Most responses I received via comments and twitter stated that culture is created.

So my question to you last week was:

What is the formula for creating a culture that is a competitive advantage for your company?

I wanted to share with you the responses I received and then add my two cents:

1) The values of an organization must be articulated to employees (how business owners want to conduct business)
2) Those values must be cascaded into everyday processes, policies, procedures, relationships, etc.
3) Human performance has to be aligned with the values as a way of doing business.

(thanks to Debbie King of Evolution Management for 1-3)

4) Hire people that are aligned with the organizational values

5) Review values regularly with all employees by CEO (even review at the beginning of team meetings)

6) Employees should be empowered in the decision making process to determine how decisions align with organizational values.

7) Communication and leadership are key in the process. Leadership must demonstrate behaviors that are expected in the organization.

(Thanks to Melany Gallant with Halogen Software for 4-7)

8) Values that truly connect with people's higher aspirations (to improve, to serve, to create a better tomorrow) are easier to build culture on as employees can get behind these. Companies that have a more profit mind set might find it more difficult to build culture around.

(Matt contributed #8, no last name or company)

Ok.. here is my two-cents:

I agree with everything mentioned above. Culture must be grounded in values that drive behaviors. Employees need to understand those values and behaviors and the consequences of not behaving according to values. Managers have to make decisions based on those values and hold others accountable for the same.

Culture is a very delicate thing. It takes constant reinforcement and deliberate "care." But, the rewards are many. Just look at those who get it and do it right....the return is huge.

Who wouldn't want to work for Zappo's? The Ritz-Carlton?

Why do customers love the Zappo's and the Ritz experience? You can buy shoes and get a room's the employees delivering a world-class customer experience grounded in a culture that values the same.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cathy's Vents for the Week

I need a place to vent and what a better place than my blog. Sometimes you just need to get a few things off your chest.

1) I do not like this cold weather in HotLanta! More summer please.
2) Please, please quit asking me for free consulting. We are still in a dismal economy and I still have a kid in college.
3) Mediation is a place where you go to argue with rules
4) My dogs need a haircut
5) I don't watch Dancing with the Stars and I probably never will. So quit asking me, "Did you see Chaz Bono last night?"

And sometimes you need to be reminded of your blessings....

1) Our business has survived 14 years :)
2) My son is in college and he seems to like it :)
3) I get a new beginning at 47 years old :)
4) My dogs love me :)
5) We live in a country where you can be yourself...whomever that is :)

Ok, I feel much better!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Culture: Nature or Nurture

It's funny how topics come up in discussion in several venues over a short period of time. As you have read in a past blog post, I was at the Halogen's user's conference a couple of weeks ago, where I was on a blogger's panel. We discussed the topic of culture and how you can leverage culture to your benefit as a company in the recruiting and retention areas.

I also had the privilege to teach the PHR/SPHR preparation class and the question about measuring culture arose in a discussion.

Lastly, I was presenting to a group last week on how to create a "High Performing Organization" and of course culture came up in that discussion.

I guess the most common theme was the idea of culture creation. More specifically, "Are cultures created or do they just happen?

In each venue we discussed companies that had a very strong well known culture. The following companies were mentioned:

1) Nordstrom
2) Publix
3) Ritz Carlton
4) Chick Fil A
5) Zappo's
6) Home Depot
7) Quick Trip
8) Apple

Some on the list were the usual suspects, but some were surprises (Quick Trip and Chick Fil A). So I had someone ask, "Did they create their culture on purpose?"

Such a simple question, but huge on impact.

My answer is a resounding YES. You have to be deliberate in creating your culture OR you get one that is created for you. In my experience the latter is not a positive culture or one that is aligned with the organization's mission and values.

So of course the next question is, "How do you go about creating a culture that is positive and one that can be a competitive advantage to your organization like the one's mentioned above?"

I have some ideas, and have had some interesting discussions on the topic, but why don't you all help me out here....

What is the formula for creating a culture that is a competitive advantage for your company?

You can give me your thoughts and I will compile them in a blog post for next week.....I love it, I have just given my readers some homework! :)