3 Key Management Practices Stand Above the Rest in These Changing Times

Prominent CEOs are standing up against racism, and the country is taking notice. This was the start of a blog that our CEO, Kirsti Tcherkoyan, wrote in September of 2017.   This message is still important, but in the age of #MeToo, and tumultuous political times, employees are speaking out against inappropriate behavior in a public display for everyone to see.   Leaders need to be vigilant, more than any other time in our history, about the culture they are creating.

In the news, we see examples of employee’s finding their voice and banding together in ways not seen before. New clients are coming to us with stories about female employees demanding a different color lab coat (not pink) so they don’t stand out from the men, or employees creating a social media page to complain about the company they work for.   The most recent example is an organization that holds national conferences, managed by volunteers.  They became aware of sexual harassment complaints involving their volunteers.   As a way to address these complaints, (because as we know our “volunteers”, need to be treated like our “employees”), they distributed an email address for people to submit complaints, and they have been inundated with allegations.   Organizations are scrambling, trying to figure out the best way to respond to these new situations and avoid possible adverse action or union initiations.

The narrative changes but the theme is the same: each time it comes down to people.  How are we, as an organization engaging people?   Are   employees feeling aligned to the mission, and what we are trying to accomplish?  Are people fully engaged?  Do they feel good about working for the organization?

Here’s how you should embrace this new environment and in the end see your organization flourish.  First and foremost, your employees should feel proud of the company they work for.   You can model this by embracing 3 critical practices:  transparency, feedback and meaningful conversations.

Transparency – Everyone knows what everyone else is working on

In addition to living and breathing values throughout the organization, set a tone of transparency that helps the company succeed. Hold all management team members accountable not only for delivery of their goals, but for an empowered work environment. Make sure everyone in the organization – both individuals and work teams – are clear on their own responsibilities and goals. Share successes together, recognize each other together, and create a cohesive team via transparency and mutual respect.

Ongoing Regular Feedback

People thrive in a business environment where they understand the value of their contribution. Give everyone a voice and let them know their feedback matters. People are 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.

Not Just Feedback but Meaningful Communication

Ensure that feedback is gathered and communicated in a way that is meaningful. That means you have to be able to clarify when communication is not aligned. Communication is not effective if it is one way. Both managers and employees must feel comfortable to give feedback, engage in open dialogue and clarify their position when appropriate. Make it clear at all levels of management that respectful behavior has to be part of that conversation, an integral component of company culture. If behavior is not addressed, it will always be the elephant in the room.

A company with a transparent, communicative 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 within a great place to work.

Jill Pappenheimer is President of Options4Growth and Co-founder of OpaConnect®, the first strategic performance management platform that connects people to each other, their teams, and the mission that drives them forward.

Calling All CEOs: A Case Study in Transparency

Posted on the walls of their Dubai offices, the consulting and training firm Biz Group, hangs decorative signs that say, “Supporting People’s Personal Growth,” “Believe in Your Dreams,” and “Then Make It Happen.” With interactive art spaces and an open-minded culture of transparency and curiosity, employees are vigorously encouraged to dream, think big, support each other’s visions, and celebrate the successes in their personal lives.

When I visited their offices last month, I was enchanted by their culture and their workplace. Biz Group calls their people “Bizzers,” and the central open area and meeting rooms are colorful, inquisitive spaces that looks more like a kids’ playground than a corporate office. The atmosphere of play reflects The Biz Groups’ style of using game-based strategies to help businesses grow and thrive.

Their reputation speaks for itself – Biz Group has been named a Great Place to Work in the UAE 2 years in a row, the #1 SME Human Capital company in Dubai the last 4 years, and they’ve got an amazing 86% repeat / referral ratio. How do they get such incredible customer satisfaction, and what do they do to earn such accolades?

A Culture of Positive Change

It starts with living their values. At Biz Group, they have incorporated the company’s core values into everything they do. Their values reflect a belief that when people come first, business success will follow. Breaking from stoic business traditions, Biz Group works in a way that’s vibrant, whimsical and inspirational.

Their values speak to the importance they place on people:

  • Act with “Biz” Energy
  • Genuinely care about delivering results
  • Combining strengths
  • Supporting people’s personal growth
  • Tell what you need to hear
  • Believe anything is possible

With a culture that places such importance on the humanity of business, Biz Group takes a bold approach to Learning & Development. In a sense, they reverse-engineer from desired business outcomes. They believe that a company’s key focus should be to hire the right talent and support those employees to reach their goals and full potential. That means smart hires and a dedication to good training.

A people-focused business still needs to meet its objectives. Biz Group believes that L&D should have a measurable impact on business success and profitability. To that end, they’re very deliberate in how training is designed, making sure that learning can be directly linked to measurable business benefits. L&D should be seen as an investment with a measurable ROI.

CEO – Leading with Integrity

Biz Group CEO Hazel Jackson has her “Expectations from CEO” statement posted outside of her office. It’s a concise list of what her team can expect from her in her role as CEO. It’s also a powerful statement on accountability, and sets a tone throughout the organization that transparency and clarity help the company succeed.

The first bullet is “hold relevant ‘management team’ members accountable for the delivery of their expectations”. It’s her job to make sure her team delivers. It’s also her job to make sure everyone in the organization is clear on their own responsibilities and goals. Another one of her CEO expectations is to “deliver … billable hours to help maintain CEO salary as cost neutral to the business”. I love that Hazel is ultimately clear that even she is focused on the bottom line, and what it takes to make the company successful.

People Success Leads to Business Success

Biz Group inspired me. I think back on the huge erasable wall titled “Believe in Your Dreams.” Below the title, there are notes written by employees about their dreams. Their dreams range from “go on a safari in Africa” to “have kids” and “have my own company”.  And right next to the wall of dreams is the wall of “Then Make it Happen” – covered with photos of employees living their dreams.

Bizzers are reminded every day that they provide real value to the company. Together, they’ve created an environment where transparency is the norm – everyone knows what their roles are, how the work they do makes a difference to the bottom line, and how they can support each other to achieve even greater success. Biz Group is a model for how organizations can be profitable, thriving, and a great place to work.

If you have a great example of how your company or team is living out your values, please connect with me at Kirsti@Options4Growth.net.