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Do Your Company’s Values Make Sense

Core Values
On websites or internal company portals and communities, there is a tab or tile that says “Our Values”.  They are there for everyone to see when and if they choose to look at them.  We use them to inform prospective employees, our current team, and business partners about who we are and what we’re about. Yet, according to a recent PwC survey, 63% of CEO’s want to increase communication to stakeholders about values and purpose.
Before jumping into another communication plan full of town hall meetings, email blasts, etc. to get the word out about your organization’s values, I encourage leaders to take a step back and look at how else they are communicating or not communicating the values.

Do your values make sense?  Many of you will look and say, “Of course they do.”  However, if your actions and the way you run the business are saying one thing and the words are saying another, then the answer is no, they don’t. These questions can help you decide if your reality is meeting the aspirations of your values.

  • How well have they been integrated into your business strategy?  Can your stakeholders see how the values are playing out in your business strategy.  When someone looks at TOMS or Life Is Good’s business strategies, their is no doubt what their values are.
  • Do you look for them in who and how you hire?  It’s one thing to say that you have certain corporate values.  It’s another to overtly make them part of your hiring and onboarding process.
  • Can I see them in the way you manage talent?  Nothing kills the credibility of a value statement more quickly than saying, for example, that we value collaboration, innovative thinking, and the power of great ideas only to then promote and recognize the people who get results while completely disregarding your stated values.
  • Are they part of our decision making?  When tough decisions need to get made, are the values one of the key factors considered?
You see, it’s one thing to say what you value.  It’s another to make them come alive.

Getting Real is Now an E-book

Getting Real Front Cover

It finally happened…Getting Real is available as an e-book.  

Get one for yourself. Share this with a friend or colleague. Don’t miss what Marshall Goldsmith calls “instrumental in taking your personal leadership strategy to new heights.”
Available on Amazon.
Cheers!
Edith

About Edith Onderick-Harvey

Edith Onderick-Harvey is a highly regarded consultant, leadership and talent expert, and speaker. She is the author of the Amazon bests seller Getting Real:  Strategies for Leadership in Today’s Innovation-Hungry, Multi-Tasking, Time-Strapped World of Work. Edith is frequently quoted in the media including The New York Times, CNN.com, HR Executive, and American Executive.  As the President of Factor In Talent,  Edith works with leaders to take performance — their own, their team’s and their organization’s — to the next level.

Compelling Clarity 2016

Compelling Clarity 2012Earlier in my career, I was interviewing with the SVP of HR, the chief people officer, for a senior role in a large organization. He was still fresh to the company, having been there about 6 months. I asked him where the firm was going and what made him get up in the morning and go to work. He looked at me and with a shrug said “Edith, its insurance,” like it was the craziest question in the world. How silly to expect that a senior leader, six months into his job would be able to articulate a compelling picture of the place he worked. He had a golden opportunity to communicate his vision of what this organization was about and where it was going and he came up with nothing.

There was no second interview.

This story is not meant to reflect badly on the insurance company. I know plenty of executives in insurance companies who would answer that question very differently.

This SVP obviously wasn’t able to communicate a vision. Over the past 18 months, many of our organizations have been lacking in “the vision thing.” We’ve been focused on a lot of things that were important but that people perceive as negative — cutting costs, losing sales and revenues, reducing headcount. But as the recovery starts, we need to think about where we want to go from here, because it won’t be where we were before 2008.

Whether you are hiring to rebuild your team, developing employees, or trying to retain or more fully engage your talent, the first step for taking performance to the next level and creating competitive advantage is to develop Compelling Clarity. Compelling Clarity is about creating a vision and expectations that are so clear it is difficult to say ‘where are we going?’ or ‘what should I be doing? ‘and so compelling no one needs to ask ‘why am I doing this?’ Instead, they say ‘I need to be a part of this.’

Ask yourself these questions:

      • Where does my organization (or division or group or…) need to go?
      • Why are we going in that direction?
      • What will we look like a year from now?
      • What top priorities will get us there? 
      • How will we know we’re successful?
      • Why do I want to be part of this? Why should someone else want to be part of this?

If your answer is “I don’t know” to any of these you’re going to be less able to attract or retain top talent as you move forward. You’ll be appealing to people who want a job but not attractive to people who want to make an impact. Without a sense of where they’re going you’re people can’t perform at the high levels you need.

Be ready to talk about your vision and gauge the reactions. After all, you don’t want to find yourself saying, with a shrug, “Edith, it’s…”

Crystal Ball

I’m looking into the crystal ball…

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could go to the tarot card reader or crystal ball seer to know where our businesses and industries are headed?  What’s the next trend?  What needs will our customers have?  How do we keep our brand, products, and services relevant?

As leaders we are always balancing today and tomorrow — keeping one eye on the demands of today while keeping the other eye on the opportunities and threats of tomorrow.    That said, by just taking a few minutes a day we can keep that future in view, giving us the information and ideas that we can translate it into meaningful actions for our business today.

The following are some common sense ways to keep ourselves thinking about tomorrow while we’re making success happen today.  How many do you do on a regular basis?

  • Take a look at your company news releases on the intranet.
  • Follow an RSS feed, read blogs or trade journal articles about your industry
  • Follow an RSS feed, blog or trade journal about completely different industries than your own.  If you’re in healthcare, follow a high tech guru.  If you’re in biotechnology follow something from the hospitality industry.  You never know where a great idea will come from.  After all, 20 years ago who ever thought we’d listen to music and play games on our phones?
  • Read newspapers from emerging markets.  The internet makes it easy to access English language versions of many publications. You can also listen to the radio or podcasts.  I listen to the BBC a couple of times a week when I’m driving to and from meetings.  I’m always amazed by the completely different topics and regions of the world it covers compared to U.S.-based news.
  • Talk to someone younger than you.  Try to talk to someone a generation younger than you.  Their perspectives and insights, especially related to technology, will amaze you.
  • Go to a meeting where not everyone does what you do.  I always walk away with a much broader perspective when I have been at a meeting with people whose business or profession is completely different from my own.
  • Work through ‘what if’ scenarios about your business. Think of what’s highly probable and what’s less probable. Then develop ideas for how your company or team would address that scenario.  For example, what if someone came into the market who could deliver the same quality product at 1/3 the cost?  What if a new technology allowed people to access your product for free or a very low price?

What are You Talking About with Your Team?

Strategy2Strategy: noun,  a plan, method or series of maneuvers for obtaining a specific goal or result or a particular long-term plan for success.

One of the laments of managers is that their people aren’t strategic enough.  They want strategic thinkers. They want the group to be viewed as strategic advisors.  They ask people to develop strategies for achieving certain outcomes. Usually, what they are getting is tactics.

When I speak with managers about this dilemma, I often ask them how they spend their time with their people.  The response is usually that they talk about what the person is doing, specific issues related to a specific task, the plan for this week or next.  Rarely do I hear them say they are talking about strategy.

To develop strategic thinkers you have to talk about strategy.  What is strategy about?  It’s about the long term.  It’s about putting disparate pieces together and seeing the connections.  It’s about understanding how what you do works in the larger context.  It’s about how a result will be achieved and why it is important.

If you want to develop more strategic thinking, demonstrate it in your conversations with your team.  Share industry insights with them.  Talk about how larger company issues impact what they do.  Talk about how what they do impacts larger company issues.  Discuss the implications of what is happening today for long-term success.  Ask them to think about how their approach to a particular issue or problem will impact other steps that are needed to achieve the goal. Ask them to assess the consequences of their actions on near-term and long-term outcomes.

Try this in three meetings this week. And then again the week after and the week after.  Make it a regular part of the conversation.

Their Meetings are a Waste of Time Too

Executive Meeting
When working with a group of global executives from a wide variety of companies the other day, the conversation turned to their executive team meetings. Specifically, they were talking about their weekly executive team meetings being a waste of time.

Any executive knows it’s important to get their team together for regular meetings. The problem is that, like many of the meetings we’ve all attended, what is happening in those meetings is a poor use of that precious time together. If we want things to change, we have to change how we spend our time.

See if this sounds familiar. The team holds a 2-3 hour meeting every week. The vast majority of the time — 70%, 80%, maybe 90% — is spent focusing on status updates about what has already happened and on operational data that could just as easily be posted and read in a report. Often, many people have already heard the information in other meetings and this is being done for the CEO, VP or whomever the senior person in the room is. Or, the meeting is a mix of agenda items that were pulled together when the executive assistant sent out the weekly request for topics for the meeting. The topics are often pet projects someone wants to share or something the individual wants ‘some input on’.

Any discussion or problem-solving is focused on narrowly focused issues that may have short-term impact but in the grand scheme of things, really did not need everyone in the room’s input or perspective. A couple of people could have talked about it and made the decision what to do. The resulting decision could then be communicated to the larger group, if necessary.

Invariably, the agenda doesn’t get fully covered because the team ends up in a deep debate about one of the topics or gets into a drawn out discussion about implementation details that are best left to those whose job it is to implement.  How can we get out of this meeting hell and use this very expensive time for effectively?

1.  Focus on strategy. Establish separate meetings to deal with operational issues. Otherwise, operational issues will always dominate the meeting.

2.  Focus on decisions not discussion. Any discussion should lead to a decision. Background information that is needed for the decision should be sent and read before the meeting.

3.  Prioritize based on value and importance not just urgency. Sometimes an urgent issue needs to be addressed. If everything is on the agenda because of urgency, you’ve got a problem.

4.  Create an agenda that drives the focus on strategy and decisions. Trash the ‘who has something for the agenda approach?’

5.  Ask, ‘why should we be talking about this?’ about any topic that creeps onto the agenda. If it’s purely information sharing, write a report or create a dashboard. If it’s a decision better made elsewhere, get it off your agenda.

For tips from Fast Company on how to stay productive during days of endless meetings, click here.

Five Capabilities Mid-Level Leaders Need to Forge the Future

Mid-Level LeadersMid-Level Leaders — Senior Managers, Directors, Senior Directors — are the linchpin for creating results in most of our organizations. Their task is to interpret the company’s vision and strategy, create a localized vision and strategy for their organization, and then create the capacity for execution and results. The role of bridging the strategic and operational, vision and execution future needs with today’s pressing demands, and the expectations of senior leaders and the front line has always been challenging. In today’s environment of multi-generational workplaces, rapidly changing technology, increasing competition and an ambiguous economic climate it is even more so.

                  Our recent research has identified 5 critical capabilities
                 Mid-Level Leaders need to help their organizations forge the future:

Drive collaboration and break down silos. Creating an environment in which collaboration across work groups, departments, time zones and geographies occurs easily is essential for Mid-Level Leaders to succeed. Previous barriers to collaboration are quickly falling away thanks to the collaborative tools and technologies that seem to change daily. Mid-Level leaders should make creating a culture of collaboration and investments in technologies to facilitate collaboration a priority.

Manage talent. No one has a better view to the young talent in the organization than the Mid-Level Leader. Mid-Level Leaders should conduct talent reviews to create a broader understanding of the talent in the organization and to develop key talent early in their careers.

Drive performance and create a culture of accountability. In a workplace where more and more people collaborate and where talent is valued, differences in performance expectations come more clearly into focus for everyone. The Mid-Level Leader needs to establish standards for performance and create accountability for meeting those standards. Nothing destroys the desire to collaborate or the desire for strong performers to make an impact, than the knowledge that people aren’t held accountable for their performance, or perceptions of favoritism, or lack of equity.

Make Effective Decisions. Effective, efficient decision-making is a key role for Mid-Level leader, especially in an environment of collaboration and cross-functional integration. Mid-Level leaders need to think about how they can establish approaches that allow them to get broad input efficiently, weigh and balance that input, and use it to make decisions that drive the organization forward.

Engage and Retain Talent. Innovation, creativity, and excellence are what will propel success for American companies as global competition increases. Mid-Level Leaders need to truly embrace the thinking that “people are our greatest asset” and focus on engaging and retaining talent broadly. More often than not people come to work wanting to perform well and make a contribution. The more the environment engages their hearts and minds, the better that performance will be.

Strategy & Choice

door-knocker-sm

The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. — @MichaelEPorter

 

 

I was recently having a conversation with someone about strategy. He noted that at the end of the day, strategy is simply about choice. As someone who does a lot of strategy work, I was taken by this elegant definition of strategy. A well-defined strategy should be an articulation of a choice you are making about how you will achieve your vision. It is also the choice of what you will not do to achieve your vision. It is saying yes to some things and no to others.

It’s also a guide for the choices you make about how to implement the strategy. On a tactical level, it serves as the guidepost for the daily choices and decisions that get made about what markets to pursue, what products to introduce, who to hire and promote and where offices should be located. It can be a touchstone for difficult decisions, providing criteria for weighing your options.

For the strategy to play its important role in guiding choice, it needs to be widely communicated and understood. It needs to be discussed on a regular basis so it is top of mind. Too many times I hear Directors or VP’s in large organizations that the strategy is not clear. If they don’t know it, how can anyone else?

 

 

 

Edith Onderick-Harvey is a recognized organizational and leadership development expert.  She works with Fortune 500 firms, growing companies, and universities to design their organizations, develop their leaders and continually elevate performance.  She has been quoted in The New York Times, Human Resource Executive, CNN.com and the author of the newly released book “Getting Real:  Strategies for Leadership in Today’s Innovation-Hungry, Time-Strapped, Multi-Tasking World of Work”

 

Tours of Duty

The AllianceReid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn has a new book, The Alliance. In the book, he and his co-authors, Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh suggest we need to think of employment, engagement and retention in a whole new way.

Since lifetime employment not even a thought in people’s minds, Hoffman and his co-authors suggest that rather than thinking about employment as this open ended agreement that, in reality, can be terminated by either the employer or employee at any time, engage employees in tours of duty. The tour of duty is a ‘mutually beneficial deal, with explicit terms between independent players.’ The book outlines three levels of tours.

Reed argues that the current employee and employer contract only contributes to a continued lack of trust. You can quit on me and I can let you go at any time. Tours of duty, on the other hand, set out explicit expectations and benefits (including helping to find a job elsewhere) for both the company and employee. This agreement promotes engagement because both sides are engaged in the agreement and both expect benefit from it.

It’s a thought provoking way to think about engagement. What do you think?

 

 

 

 

About Edith Onderick-Harvey

Edith Onderick-Harvey is a highly regarded consultant, leadership and talent expert, and speaker. Edith is frequently quoted in the media including The New York Times, CNN.com, HR Executive, and American Executive. As the President of Factor In Talent, Edith works with leaders to take performance — their own, their team’s and their organization’s — to the next level.

Bouncing Back

bouncing back

Resilience: the ability to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness

Resilience is key to the short-term and long-term success of our careers. Over the course of years or over the course of any given year, we are thrown unexpected curveballs that require us to bounce back and show our toughness. Here are 4 ideas for building resilience for yourself and your team:

  • Frame the situation. When a situation turns out badly or something negative impacts you, how do you think about it? Is it a blame game? Do you kick yourself for ‘doing something stupid again’. Stop. In every situation multiple elements impact the outcome. While it’s important to consider your role, look at the various players and the various roles. Don’t look at them to place blame but to learn. Think about it as an opportunity not an obstacle
  • Ask questions to find understanding. After assessing what role various people or institutions or situations played, follow up with questions for yourself. What was controllable? What wasn’t? What did I learn? How does all this make me feel? What could be different next time?
  • Take time. Sometimes, the curve ball has some pretty significant emotional impact. Take time to work through the emotions. Unpack them. Try to understand them.
  • Be expansive. Resilient people mark the ending of any setback by moving forward. They put what happened in its place and take steps to make things happen. When one door closed, they take the opportunity to open many others.

 

 

About Edith Onderick-Harvey

Edith Onderick-Harvey is a highly regarded consultant, leadership and talent expert, and speaker. Edith is frequently quoted in the media including The New York Times, CNN.com, HR Executive, and American Executive. As the President of Factor In Talent, Edith works with leaders to take performance — their own, their team’s and their organization’s — to the next level.