Archive for the ‘ Intentional Culture ’ Category

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.

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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.

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