Happy Holidays test

As the year comes to a close, we are prepping some new content and thoughts to share in 2015, so we want to make sure this posts not just to the blog here, but to our website. So, here it goes.  The test.
Happy New Year

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Media is buzzing with news that new CEO

Media is buzzing with news that new CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, is expecting her first child. Amid criticism that Mayer won’t be able to give her full attention to saving Yahoo, the Yahoo board is being applauded for hiring Mayer after they knew she was expecting. We would love to hear your thoughts. What do you think? Why is it such a big deal? http://ow.ly/ckuoA

It’s true. We are what we consume.

It’s true. We are what we consume. I recently watched the film, Miss Representation, which documents the effects of media’s representation of women, and how it is impacting the numbers of women who are seeking leadership in all aspects of our society. The world needs women leaders more desperately now than ever; we need the minds of great women and great men working together to solve the challenges we are facing around the planet.

Awareness is the first step. Action is the next. Be willing to unplug and really see yourself and the women in your life as more than appearance. I hope you find this as thought provoking as I did: http://ow.ly/cfPDo

For more information, check out: http://www.missrepresentation.org/

Where do good ideas come from? How to get strategic ideas from line workers.

Ideas are everywhere, but many companies, and leaders struggle to get their teams to speak up and share ideas.  Why?  Some employees may feel it isn’t worth it, that their ideas are not good enough or valuable.  Or that surely, someone “smarter” than them would have already done it or suggested it. Perhaps, they don’t feel comfortable making suggestions or challenging the process.

As a leader there are several things you can do to solicit ideas.  Here are a few:

  1. Ask.  Sound simple?  It is.  Try it.  But when you get a good idea, find a way to celebrate it – publicly.  When you get a bad idea, or one that could never be implemented, don’t shut it down.  Ask more questions.  Understand the idea or spirit behind it.  Let the presenter be heard.  And Celebrate it – publicly!
  2. Suggestion Box (really just another from of asking) – I have seen companies set up digital and analog versions of this. Some work, others don’t.  Just setting up the box isn’t good enough, and the downfall of the process when it doesn’t work.  You need to design a vetting process – maybe as simple as a select group of people to filter each idea, ask the presenter more questions and formalize the process of getting a sponsor somewhere in the organization.  Creating a vetting process helps everyone involved feel engaged and a part of the future.
  3. Focus group meetings – Schedule a meeting with a handful of staff to meet with at least one member of management. Encourage feedback on processes and procedures. Maybe something isn’t working quite as well as you hoped, this might be a good time to figure out why. We met with the owner of one of the top ski resorts here it Utah. Once a month, he schedules a group of his line staff to come in and meet with management. At least one member of management is required to be there. If he is traveling, he makes sure to send someone else, etc. He told us that some of the best ideas have come from those meetings

When an employee is hired, they bring their whole body and mind with them.  It is up to us as leaders to get that out of them, and to have them use all the tools they bring with them.  If ideas aren’t floating around and being harnessed, encouraged, vetted and implemented it is time to look at culture.  What is missing?

Written by Zack Clark, MBA

Zack is a Senior Consultant and one of the founding partners at Five Degrees Consulting. Connect with on LinkedIn and Twitter, or leave a comment below.

This is a blog we share  between several of the Consultants at Five Degrees, guest authors and colleagues.  We work with companies large and small on People and Organization strategies.  Our work specializes in organizational development, leadership effectiveness and executive development. With a focus on working with leaders at all levels to create an intentional corporate culture, we help organizations increase employee engagement, energize working teams, develop critical leadership competencies and enhance strategic communications for more information about our services, please connect with us.

All Work, No Play…

In college I worked as a branch manager for Kinko’s –hands down one of the best companies I have ever worked for.  It was in that role I learned about aligning team goals to corporate goals, using the correct measurements to drive performance and results and about having work-life balance.

Part of the Kinko’s philosophy said:

“We strive to live balanced lives in Work, Love and Play”

(Learn more: http://www.paulorfalea.com/background/kinkos.cfm)

So, what does that mean and how does one achieve it?  I have worked for big companies; I have started new companies and invented new products – sometimes doing more than one of these things at the same time. All take a lot of time, and can create periods of time when life is out of balance – and that is ok.  You cannot always be balanced, but when you forget what balance is, and fill your life with only work you run the risk of waking up one day wondering where it all went, or if there was a point to it at all.

Schedule time for work and time for play:  My personal approach is to use my Outlook calendar and task list.  Blocking out big chunks of time to play with kids, connect with old friends, read, write and exercise.  No one can schedule over the top of an hour that shows as full on my calendar. (they’ll try, you decide if it is worth it)

Manage your task list, don’t let it manage you:  Write it down, assign it a date and if appropriate, a time.  Prioritize tasks.  I use an “A, B, C” model.  A’s get done first, B’s Second, and C’s can be pushed to tomorrow if need be.  (Note, if C’s get pushed to too many tomorrows, why are they even on the list)

Follow your dreams and passions:  Not everyone can do the job they would be most passionate about (I never did get to sing in a rock band), but find a role or job that fulfills more than just the paycheck need.  Life can feel more balanced when you are passionate about work.  I work hard and play hard.  Many times I play hard at work, because work is so much fun!  In both my companies I love the clients, team-mates and industries I get to play in.  And I get paid for it.

Written by Zack Clark, MBA

Zack is a Senior Consultant and one of the founding partners at Five Degrees Consulting. Connect with on LinkedIn and Twitter, or leave a comment below.

This is a blog we share  between several of the Consultants at Five Degrees, guest authors and colleagues.  We work with companies large and small on People and Organization strategies.  Our work specializes in organizational development, leadership effectiveness and executive development. With a focus on working with leaders at all levels to create an intentional corporate culture, we help organizations increase employee engagement, energize working teams, develop critical leadership competencies and enhance strategic communications for more information about our services, please connect with us.

What is Culture, and how do I get one?

Culture can be defined as the shared attitudes, values, beliefs, goals and practices of an organization.  Simply, it is the sum of how we think, behave and operate as a group.  Every organization has a culture; some are just better than others.

Some corporate cultures are a sum of the manner that participants have thought, behaved and operated for years, and can be really toxic.  Unwritten rules of engagement that inhibit innovation, free flow of information and ultimately create an environment where people are constantly defending their actions, and spend more time playing political games than working in the best interest of the customer, team or organization.

Other corporate cultures are defined intentionally, and create environments where learning, growing and achieving are common.   Where the value of each player contributes to the overall success of the organization.

Most organizations are likely somewhere in the middle, which likely yields some departments, or teams, which are highly functioning, and others who are not.  In these types of organizations, upper-middle management is likely stuck, and any thought of “Culture Change” is scary.  What’s wrong with the culture we have?!

Creating an intentional culture begins with defining the purpose and values of the organization.  Why does the organization exist?  What do we want to stand for?  How can we get the best of our people to achieve that purpose?

Leadership and corporate culture in the 21st century will look much different than it’s hierarchical 20th century parent.  Motivating employees to unite behind the organization’s purpose will be key.  Aligning reward systems, and measurement around allowing each person to contribute her best, which just happens to also be the best for the customer, environment, stakeholder and shareholder will be key to sustainability, viability and corporate success in the 21st Century. This type of culture will require managers and leaders to engage, connect with and share information.  Micromanaging will not work.  Top-down goal setting will not achieve buy-in required to create long-term results.

All organizations have a culture; some are just better than others.  When you think about your organization, do you have the culture you want, or the culture that is just the sum of the behaviors, thinking and operating rules built by years of practice?

What companies are you aware of that have a clearly defined and visible culture? Google and Apple are a couple that I always think of. Perhaps, you have an experience with a company that doesn’t have an apparent culture. This might be apparent due to having completely different customer service experiences with different employees. One person gives a promise while the other person says, “Oh, I am sorry, they shouldn’t have told you that.” Let us hear your thoughts!

Written by Zack Clark, MBA

Zack is a Senior Consultant and one of the founding partners at Five Degrees Consulting. Connect with on LinkedIn and Twitter, or leave a comment below.

This is a blog we share  between several of the Consultants at Five Degrees, guest authors and colleagues.  We work with companies large and small on People and Organization strategies.  Our work specializes in organizational development, leadership effectiveness and executive development. With a focus on working with leaders at all levels to create an intentional corporate culture, we help organizations increase employee engagement, energize working teams, develop critical leadership competencies and enhance strategic communications for more information about our services, please connect with us.

The Best Time to Do Strategic Planning is Yesterday

The Best Time to Do Strategic Planning is Yesterday

Strategic planning is a lot like remodeling – it takes extra effort and it’s inconvenient. And, it’s always worth it.

Leaders frequently put off doing strategic planning because they are too swamped keeping up with the fast pace of change. They say things like, “we’ll do that in the Fall after we finish implementing this new HR system”, or “we’re short staffed right now and we can’t afford taking the time to talk about our future when we’re so busy!”

I once remodeled my kitchen. I spent weeks cooking on a camp stove in the middle of a dust storm on every surface in my house. I hated every inconvenient day that the construction crew was in my house (and many, many days that they failed to show up!) Five weeks later, however, I was throwing a party and lovingly caressing my new cabinets and listening to my friends gush about the new appliances and how much they LOVED my new kitchen.

The inconvenience is well worth the result. It’s true for remodeling and it’s true for strategic planning. I’ve never heard anyone look back and say, “I wish we would have postponed our remodel for a later date” after the fact. It’s only looking forward that people put off what needs to be done. We fear the inconvenience and extra work will not be worth it. It ALWAYS is.

Strategic planning is a lot like remodeling – it takes extra effort and it’s inconvenient. You have to keep doing your regular job while doing all of the additional work that comes with building a plan. If you have never written a plan – the time to do one is NOW. If it’s been a few years since your last plan – the time to redo your plan is NOW.

If you wait for the “right” time, you’ll just keep putting off using the most valuable tool you have to clarify your purpose, align your staff and engage your employees in building a shared future. Don’t wait any longer. Pull the trigger and “get ‘er done!”

Written by Clare Coonan, LCSW

Clare is a Senior Consultant and one of the founding partners at Five Degrees Consulting. Connect with her on TwitterLinkedIn, or leave a comment below.

This is a blog we share  between several of the Consultants at Five Degrees, guest authors and colleagues.  We work with companies large and small on People and Organization strategies.  Our work specializes in organizational development, leadership effectiveness and executive development. With a focus on working with leaders at all levels to create an intentional corporate culture, we help organizations increase employee engagement, energize working teams, develop critical leadership competencies and enhance strategic communications for more information about our services, please connect with us.

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