Matthew Hudson | November 27, 2008
Matthew Hudson | November 23, 2008
One of my favorite TV shows is Survivor. It is a true laboratory of cultural undercurrents that drive decisions and alliances in a vacuum. If you are not familiar with the show, the concept is to outwit, outlast and outlplay the other people stranded on the island with you.
As the game unfolds, what appears to be people sharing common values and beliefs, but ironically what value they do share is deception. The game is supposed to be based on trust, but trust is the one thing that is missing.
Each week, players show faces and say things that communicate they are with you and “aligned” with your plan. But at “tribal council” we find out that everyone was lying the whole time. And the true irony of this game is that the “winner” (who gets $1M) is the one who can fool everyone into believing they are trustworthy.
We have said many, many times that the true “face” of your corporate culture really lies beneath the surface. The people who will do the most damage to your culture can often times be the ones that are causing the most damage. They play the game in your presence, but tear it down in your absence.
Unfortunately, most companies only do reviews once a year; so whatever damage has been done is not managed as it happens. The message today? Deception. The one thing that brings down more cultures or kills culture change initiatives is deception.
I’m often amused by sales companies who believe everything their salespeople are telling them. They are salespeople. Its what they do - sell! They tell us they get and are going in the new direction with us. They are great at convincing people. they are great a garnering trust.
But always remember, learning is a change in behavior. Listen to their actions and behaviors, no their “pitch.” Don’t let the art of deception bring you down.
Matthew Hudson | November 20, 2008
I once bought an air pump at a Target store in Fort Worth, Texas. Now, remember we like Target, but this story will show that even the good ones can make mistakes.
Anyway, the air pump I got was the super-deluxe-blow-the-tire-of-a-monster-truck-up-in-four-seconds-version with color racing stripes on the side. A real man’s air pump if you know what I mean. This pump was amazing. It could do everything…except pump up my basketball, which is why I bought it in the first place! So I had to return it.
When I arrived at the Target store, I took my place in the line at the “Guest Services” counter. (Everything Speaks in action.) The gentleman in front of me was returning a defective videotape he had purchased three days prior. He had his receipt so it should be no big deal right? One would think so.
There were two girls working behind the counter and when the man in front of me placed the video on the counter the girl looked at it and said “Oh, great! One of these!” holding it up to show her partner. “I hate the way we have to do these now. Do you know where that new log book is?” she asked her friend. “Not me” the friend answered, “look in the back.” The girl went to the back and like your favorite Warner Brother’s cartoon, a loud series of bangs ensued. Emerging from the back, the girl held up her trophy, the elusive log book, used to process returns of videotapes.
During this process, the gentleman in front of me did what we all have done before. He turned to the line behind him and apologized like it was his fault! Have you ever done this? The girl continued her disapproving comments to her fellow team member (another Target culture vocabulary word) while she processed the man’s return. People behind me started to switch lines. They didn’t want to be responsible for messing up this girl’s day. No way!
Imagine how this customer, excuse me, guest felt. Imagine how the Target team member felt as she was processing it. Imagine how the other guests in line, like me, felt. What do you think the impact was on the business? Exactly. In all likelihood, that Target team member cost her team money and future business that day. We know that it cost Target the gentleman with the video’s business. He expressed this to everyone in line after he got his return processed.
Now this is not an indictment of Target. Target has been very successful at achieving change to a service culture (without our help we might add), but today was not their day.
Let’s examine this incident. The new process for returns was probably a wise decision for the business because it kept the cost of the return down which in turn kept the cost of the newer goods down. (Target does not have to inflate pricing to recoup lost income.) Okay, so we passed one question. Obviously, this was a good policy for the guest or customer because they receive the benefits of lower costs and, with Target giving 5% of their profit back to the communities they serve, the customer benefit is even greater. So, we pass question two. But what about question three? How does it impact the employee? Here is where Target got bit.
Somewhere in the implementation of this new process, Target forgot to consider what the implication would be on the employee who had to carry out this new procedure. This is where we see many companies trip up. They fail to recognize the impact their decisions have on the employee.
If you are customer centered, then you better think about who services your customer as much as you think about the customer!
Here was an example of a policy designed to help the customer that backfired. It failed to consider the service provider. Your best service is only as good as your best service provider. One little known fact is that Disney spends more money on litigation each year than any other company. Who would want to sue Mickey Mouse?
Matthew Hudson | November 17, 2008
At times, culture change has been likened to a chess game. Your opening move sets up your whole strategy and says a lot about how well you will do. The bottom line is how you launch your culture change is critical. Here are some rules to remember when planning your opening move:
1. Make it an event. Give employees plenty of notice that something new and wonderful is coming. Do not give them too much detail ahead of time. This is like the marketing we talked about in the “Creating Your Corporate University”. Tease the event, but most importantly, make it an event. Hype it up and get them excited for the day.
2. Theme the event. All great team efforts had a rallying cry or slogan. The most important part of your advertising campaign for your company is your tag line. Why? Because it constantly reinforces who you are and what you sell.
3. Put something tangible in their hands day one. This is a very common mistake companies make. They hold tremendous pep rallies with all the pyrotechnics and live music, but do nothing more than give speeches about the future. This event must be different from anything else they have experienced before if you want it to succeed. When Bell Atlantic started its drive to culture change, they created a set of values for its new service culture called the “Bell Atlantic Way.” This was printed on a card and given to every employee along with the pomp and circumstance.
4. Do not expect ANY changes from your event launch. Wouldn’t you be skeptical if you were your employees? It will take time to program your service culture. Prepare for this in advance. Do not be discouraged if two days after your launch everything seems back to normal. It should be. Two months after the launch, well that’s another story.
5. Have a plan for your next five moves already in place before you launch. Many companies launch well, but they get caught up in the day-to-day activities and start to let the culture change initiative slow. Prepare in advance, the first five moves you will make, including your culture training classes; your restructuring of positions if necessary; your vocabulary change; any signage that needs to change; and your training program to communicate your product, vision, mission, and service formula. (Do not try to do the latter all in one class!)
6. MAKE SURE PEOPLE/HUMAN RESOURCES IS INVOLVED! We cannot stress this part enough. The laws of today’s land favor the employee, even in the so called “at will” employment states. When you make the decision to cut someone from the team, make sure you do it following the proper processes. The cuts are not immediate in all cases (although your decision to cut the person is immediate). Make sure you have all of your documentation in place and all of your bases covered. The last thing you need is a wrongful termination lawsuit! The distraction alone will cost you the culture change – not to mention the financial hardship when you lose. By involving your People/Human Resources (Casting) team, you get a partner to make sure that you cover all of your bases. They know the laws and, better yet, they know what will really happen regardless of the law. Use them, but do NOT let them scare you off your path. Always focus on BEHAVIOR and you’ll be fine.
7. SPEED. SPEED. SPEED. Gradual change may seem like the right way to go, but trust us, you will lose. Keep your pace up and rolling and do not let the negative third derail you, as they will try. Never let the bus drop below 55mph!
Matthew Hudson | November 14, 2008
People draw the majority of their self-esteem from their job.
It’s a fact, no matter how hard we try to deny it, that as humans we create and base our self-esteem on outside influences. Every great motivational speaker from Napoleon Hill to Og Mandino to Denis Waitley taught us that we must take control of our self-esteem and what programs it if we are to be successful.
In order to have this discussion, we need a working definition of self-esteem. Our friends at the American Heritage Dictionary define it as ‘confidence.’ With this definition, we are not too impressed with our friends. We find it easier to understand if you deal with each side of the hyphen.
The word esteem, when used as a verb (as it is here), means ‘to hold in high regard.’ When we give something esteem, we hold it in high regard and give it great importance. When you put the two together your definition becomes “to hold one’s self in high regard.”
This is certainly easier said than done. Most troubled people are such because on the outside they profess to hold themselves in high regard, but on the inside they know the truth. You probably know a lot of these people. These are people who try to put on an outward display of their positive self-esteem. This effort actually induces more stress on them than if they would just face the truth.
As people we want to belong to something – a group, a team, a gang. We spend our whole lives trying to fit in. The programming we receive in life is what shapes who we are. Part of that programming is the impact of your company’s culture. There is a definite connection between what we do for a living and our self-esteem.
The problem is that we learn this connection between our self-esteem and our job very young in life and it becomes more than a connection to us – it becomes a definition of who we are. The important part for you to remember is that people draw the majority of their self-esteem from their job. This means the more fulfilling your employees feel their role is in your company, the higher their self-esteem. And we all know the connection between a high self-esteem and work productivity and quality.
It’s important to know about this connection for two reasons.
1. It helps you to understand why the culture cycle is so important. When you try to influence your people and your culture by coming into the middle of the culture cycle, you only make matters worse. You may have a temporary effect, but the patterns are developed already.
2. Studies have shown that people will protect their self-esteem at all costs. This does not mean they will keep a healthy self-esteem. People will put all of their energies into trying not to lose ground or, in essence, maintaining their current self-esteem rather than trying to raise it.
As people, we eventually accept the role we have in life and spend our days rationalizing it and convincing ourselves that this is the way life’s supposed to be. Psychologists call this our comfort zone. The hardest thing to do is push someone out of their comfort zone and get them to raise their performance. But this is exactly what you are doing. So if a person draws the majority of his or her self-esteem from his or her job and their job is really defined by your corporate culture, then their self-esteem is determined and impacted by your culture. As if you weren’t carrying enough weight on your shoulders, we have now added the self-esteem of every employee to the load!
We make this connection to help you understand where the employees are coming from. They will resist you in your efforts. Guarantee it. This helps you understand why.