Part 2: Ignite your Culture – How to Create a People Centered Business

A happy workforce is good for business. That translates to an environment where employees are inspired – where people WANT to make a difference. In this people-centered paradigm, strategists are looking beyond questions like “how can we be profitable?” Instead, they’re asking questions like “how can we be a great place to work?”

Companies that embrace the great-place-to-work model are at a competitive advantage in the war for talent. The best candidates are seeking those companies out. That’s making it more imperative for other aggressive companies to adopt that model as a key business goal.

What steps can a company take to be a great place to work? It starts with understanding key components of workplace satisfaction.

Employee engagement – companies with top-to-bottom engagement are more productive and perform better financially.  Engagement means staff are passionate and positive about what they do, and feel aligned with the company mission and goals.

Transparency – this came up as the #1 factor in a 2013 survey by Tinypulse. Open communication is key. The more employees feel connected with management, coworkers and work teams, the happier and more engaged they are.

Appreciation – being recognized for their work came out #1 in a huge Boston Consulting Group survey of over 200,000 people from around the world.

Other factors like compensation and company stability ranked high also, but focusing on the 3 above guides us to a key understanding: that a culture with open, positive communication can lead directly to a better workplace.

Better Understanding, Better Tools, Creating Positive Habits

The people-focused approach is rich in engagement, transparency, communication and appreciation. The more a business can systematize these values, making them part of daily interactions and processes, the more they become integrated into company culture. It’s one thing to have a mission statement on the masthead – it’s another thing to live it every day.

How can a company make its core values a daily habit for employees? The process of discovery leads, fundamentally, to conversation. People are social creatures by nature: we need to talk to each other. Open dialogue between people plays a part, and so does transparent information exchange as a business process. Turning values into habits means communicating in regular, ongoing ways, not just during staff meeting and performance reviews.

In business, that includes the tools we use and how we use them. Interactive systems like project management software, teleconferencing, email, calendaring, shared drives and other resources can all be used to open up regular communication. New business software platforms are also emerging, focused on getting to the unity and clarity of purpose that keep employees engaged.

People thrive in a business environment where they understand the value of their contribution. Difference makers can be inspired simply by knowing that they DO make a difference – it creates a feedback loop of confidence. They know where they fit into the big picture. A company with transparent, appreciative culture – plus the tools and practices to keep their goals front-and-center every day – is well on its way to fostering a great working environment. That inspires everyone to step up and say “I can do that,” here’s how it fits, and here’s how it’s going to make a difference to the bottom line.


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Part 1: Can you afford “not” to have a people centered approach to Business?

Are we looking at business backward? Success is driven and measured in financial terms, but people are the heart of business. People matter most, and paradigms are changing to reflect that. New business traditions are emerging that value human factors side-by-side with financial ones. Employee satisfaction is as important as profitability.

How can success be viewed in terms of human capital rather than financial capital? Harvard Business Review poses some intriguing questions, and offers illuminating insight, in a new article on talent management.

The Cost of Money, the Cost of People

The real cost of money is near zero in today’s business climate, according to HBR. Interest rates and inflation are in balance. Capital is plentiful and cheap, comparatively speaking.

Talent, by contrast, has a very different cost basis. This is not meant in financial terms like salary or recruiting costs, but in terms of human value. It can be understood by looking at what a person is worth to your organization, what the impact might be if you lost half of your best people, and what the impact might be if you could swap out some of your sluggish performers and replace them with star talent.

“The business press refers to a ‘war’ for talent,” HBR says. Human capital is precious. Cultivating, attracting and retaining good people means more than quantifying the value of employees; it means building relationships and putting people first.

Key Questions

For business leadership, the questions are changing. Placing greater value on human capital is directly related to business growth, customer satisfaction and financial performance. Here are some questions that are popping up:

Are our employees inspired?
Who are our difference makers?
What sets them apart in our organization?
How can we empower others to become difference makers, and to be inspired?

Inspired employees and difference makers comprise only a small part of the average company – 12 to 15%. Other companies, however – those that make employee satisfaction a priority – have a lot more of those inspired difference makers that move business forward.


Creating teams that can’t fail

remote working

After twenty consecutive quarters of revenue decline, IBM’s marketing lead, Michelle Peluso, recently decided that the solution lies in relocating her remote-working team to one of six regional centers. Abandoning IBM’s long-held support for telecommuting, IBM marketers must now move so they can stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ or leave. This is a policy which didn’t work out well for Yahoo! (or should we say Oath), and will likely fail for IBM marketing.

Continue reading “Creating teams that can’t fail”

Cloning your key staff


Every entrepreneur has at some point wished they could ‘clone’ their best team members. Faced with mounting challenges, they’ve muttered to themselves something along the lines of: “If only I could find someone else like Jane – she just gets it.”

Not literally clone Jane, but mirroring her performance and approach. The ‘chosen few’ are often just that – few. Owners prize employees who are fully engaged with the culture, committed to the mission, delivering against their goals and sharing the journey. Replicating that approach is key to scaling the business. Continue reading “Cloning your key staff”

A failure of culture and of courage

Failure of courage

Fresh on the heels of harassment claims at Uber, come revelations about widespread sharing and lewd discussion of photos of servicewomen in the US Marines. Different organizations, with similar institutional failings of respect and systemic bias. The Marines have a clear mission, established processes, discipline, levels of transparency unimaginable in the commercial sector, and yet tens of thousands of its staff appear to be engaged in illicit and destructive behavior.

But why?

Continue reading “A failure of culture and of courage”

Become an HR Rebel with a Cause at HR West 2017

HR rebel with a cause

Let’s be clear – the stories we read about institutionalized discrimination and harassment at high profile companies like Uber, are not just a failing of management, but of HR. Most of us don’t enter the HR field to protect institutions, post-rationalize actions, or build legal cases. We enter it to help people reach their potential. Sometimes we need to speak truth to power. When the time comes, how will you respond when careers, well-being, livelihoods and reputations are on the line?
Continue reading “Become an HR Rebel with a Cause at HR West 2017”

Ignite Your Culture – a White Paper about Creating a Culture of Ownership

ownership culture

Many organizations struggle with employee engagement. They seek better performance from their staff while at the same time giving them a sense of purpose. But their efforts fall short and in some cases are demotivating and disenfranchising. In our latest white paper, we examine the path to a creating a high-performance culture. First off, we take a look at the history behind performance reviews – the standard way to assess employee contribution. Spoiler alert – they are broken and being abandoned by many high-profile organizations.

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Managing Millennials – Balancing Control with Autonomy

Managers are bombarded by confusing advice about the wants and needs of millennials. Already the largest working generation, the 54m Americans between 18 and 34 represent tremendous potential for organizations. They tend to be well adapted to change, technologically savvy, and poised to unleash innovation. But as a manager, how do we successfully motivate this group to maximize satisfaction and opportunity for both the individual, manager and business? Millennials want feedback, but how often and how do you know it’s constructive? How do you match a need for control with a desire for autonomy?

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HR: 5 Human Resources Compliance Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

Welcome to the latest Options4Growth blog! We’re your go-to source for all topics related to  HR compliance and so much more.

It’s easy for small and mid-sized organizations to focus so much attention on day-to-day business issues that they forget to keep tabs on an area that could be a serious and costly liability – human resources compliance. Small business owners may not have the resources to properly dedicate to all of the issues involved with human resources compliance, but it doesn’t mean they’re any less liable for them. Let’s have a look at some of the top compliance-related issues companies may face.

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