Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

Mastering the Art of Workplace Relationships

This is a guest blog from my friend Jesse Ferrell, a very dynamic and thoughtful professional coach and speaker. I hope you find his article of value!

We have discovered 3 easy ways to build great and sustainable relationships in the workplace.  Our research has uncovered a very simple solution to common reasons people are unhappy on their jobs and ultimately quit and find other places to work.  An employee engagement company out of Salt Lake City confirmed that fully 85% of people will leave their job because of poor on-the-job relationships and lack of engagement.  They site unfriendly bosses, frustrated and passive aggressive co-workers leading to a caustic unproductive environment manifesting into a negative unfulfilled company culture.

When we work with companies in an effort to help them improve the cohesiveness of their staff and teams, plus the quality of their company culture, the most common challenge we find as mentioned above is maintaining respectful and proper communications.  Companies of all sizes often experience major communication breakdowns between management and staff, from department to department and among the staff themselves.  As communications breakdown, the professional relationships are imperative in cultivating a successful workplace culture.

MASTERING THE ART OF WORKPLACE RELATIONSHIPS IN 3 SIMPLE – NOT EASY STEPS

There are 3 simple not easy steps you can adopt in order to take your work environment from good to great.  You may help turnaround a company culture that is negative and divisive in nature to a thriving positive energetic work culture. I highlight them below:

  1. Help your team practice extreme self-knowledge through a good personality assessment like the Color Code
  2. Safe place to tell the truth – this offering will be environment clearing
  3. Diversity and inclusion innovation – use the full range of your company’s talents, backgrounds and perspectives

In almost every case where there is a communication and relationship breakdown, a silo exists.  People tend to work in silos and disregard the value of teamwork.  They forget that not one of a company’s departments is able to stand alone without the support and superior communication from other departments.  Does this sound familiar?  Is this challenge rushing through the veins of a company that you either work with or have worked for in the past?  The top three problem areas that consistently haunt most companies are:

  1. The absence of epic communication (internal and external)
  2. Relationship (understanding self and understanding others)
  3. Value misconceptions of others

Are any or all of these challenges present in your company?  Have you spent sleepless nights stuck in hours of insomnia as you rack your brain thinking about how to resolve and improve your problem areas?

There are times when a company struggles with understanding why their teams don’t communicate effectively and is in need of raising their relationship equity.  So many companies are stuck and unsure of how to foster a company culture that will allow them to retain their top talent, to ensure the fit of diverse individuals, and to realize true sustainable value for those individuals and the organization.

SIMPLE STEP 1 – EXTREME SELF KNOWLEDGE

In highlighting the first of our 3 simple – not easy steps we offer the extreme self-knowledge step. We highly recommend the enrollment of the Color Code personality assessment, as we know that bringing about clarity of one’s own character is a crucial starting point and offers the roadmap to practicing how to use extreme self-knowledge.

As the inventor of the Color Code, Dr. Taylor Harman Ph.D. says, “When you get yourself…you get others”!  This quote is true because when you learn the 4 color distinctions (Red, Blue, White, Yellow) of what motivates your behavior. Why you do what you do, you are simultaneously learning the motives of others and you will be able to speak their language during the communication process.

The best form of internal and external customer care experiences, as well as communication development, starts with self! This is the gateway to improving the communication process and offers sustainability of relationship development. The Color Code personality profile will help you and your teams understand why they do what they do. This strategy will allow for creating better and sustainable relationships, while helping your team learn to speak the language of others.  Mastering the art of relationships is well on its way during this stage.

This will put you on track for creating epic communication.  When an organization becomes aware that epic communication is missing from their environment and chooses to hold themselves accountable for discovering how to develop the basics of creating epic communication, it becomes a positive game changer.  Action must immediately follow the awareness and discovery phases.  The start of this discovery phase begins with asking prudent questions and using the best active listening skills as a precursor to initiate this process.  The other key components of epic communication are nestled in the following sections on Color Code personality assessments and innovating through diversity and inclusion.

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The ultimate goal of mastering the art of workplace relationships lead to high-performing teams while creating a movement whereby your team gains the insight of how to co-create a winning culture. We know that implementing these concepts will raise the level of relationship equity and  leadership growth opportunity.  This is simple, but not easy as it will take discipline and dedication to learning your motives of why you do what you do through your four color distinctions.

 

SIMPLE STEP 2 – SAFE PLACE TO TELL THE TRUTH

You may be amazed by how many companies don’t realize that many of their environments are not encouraging a safe place to tell the truth because of the fear of judgment, shame or blame and feeling like they don’t fit in.  The best way to create a major shift in this area is by taking a top down approach.

 

Insure that senior management fosters a safe place to tell the truth with their direct reports.  Insist that those same direct reports create the exact same environment within the staffs that report to them.  Establish monthly check ups from the neck up where you share the best discoveries within the company as a result of exercising the “safe place to tell the truth” campaign.

Be willing to be vulnerable enough to share the breakdowns and problem areas that are not working.  Lastly, be willing to ask for help from colleagues, mentors, board of directors, bosses and co-workers. This final piece is the part that is not easy for most, because so many people do not like asking for help.  However, this is where the best growth happens when you offer faithful well-intentioned help from a diverse community within the workplace.

SIMPLE STEP 3 – INNOVATE THROUGH DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION

Setting a strategy to innovate through diversity may be the most exciting piece to the equation of mastering the art of workplace relationships!  Choose to hire and maintain top talent and give them the room to grow.  You may ask yourself what is the best way to attract and retain our top talent to insure the fit of diverse individuals in your company?  The answer is simple, innovate through including those diverse individuals.  Capitalize on the strength of their differences!  Help them embrace the first two steps mentioned earlier, which are to promote the effort of practicing extreme self-knowledge and offer your diverse workforce a safe place to tell the truth.

The Salt Lake City based employee engagement company conducted expansive research gathering meaningful statistics and have proven that 70% of college graduates leave their first job within two years of starting it because they don’t feel the job is a goof fit for them.  85% of people fired last year were fired because of relationship problems at work.  Approximately 65% – 85% of mergers and acquisitions fail to deliver the desired results for which the companies come together, largely because of company culture clashes that cause top talent to exit the organization or lose focus and energy.

Being able to attract and retain top talent brings bottom line benefits to any workplace.  Giving these staggering challenges related to workplace culture, the best question is, how do we foster a company culture that will allow us to retain our best talent?  We want to ensure the best fit of diverse individuals and to fully realize real sustainable value for our companies.

The answer lies in our ability to use innovation through diversity and inclusion by understanding and valuing differences in a way that allows each person to contribute his or her best within the organization.  Choosing to master the art of workplace relationships through these 3 simple, not easy steps will bring sustainable value for individuals and companies!

What will you choose today in terms of developing a solid plan for mastering the art of relationships in your company?

** From John: If you enjoyed this blog I strongly encourage you to take a look at Jesse’s website, he is a true professional and always does a superb job for his clients. Here is a link to his site:  http://www.jesstalk.com/


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

How to be a Trusted Advisor

If it’s important for you to position yourself as a “Trusted Advisor” to your clients, then you’ll want to take a few minutes and watch this brief video that describes the formula for source credibility from Charles H. Green and his co-authors David H. Maister, Robert M. Galford and Andrea P. Howe. It is an elegant formula that superbly illustrates the four elements needed to truly be a trusted advisor.

Click HERE to takes John’s very brief survey

Five Fundamentals of Business Success

I just taught a series of business success seminars to about 300 entrepreneurs in Amsterdam and wanted to send a super special “Thank You” video to my hosts and the attendees on what I felt were a few of the MOST important things to focus on in order to run a highly successful organization. Once I finished the video I thought the information was so powerful that I decided to post it here on my blog for all of my followers to benefit from. I truly hope you find this video of great value and I challenge you to take at least one or two key ideas and begin implementing them right away.


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

The Three Archetypes of Business Culture

shutterstock_75020941Recently a colleague sent me a copy of The HOW Report: A Global, Empirical Analysis of How Governance, Culture, and Leadership Impact Performance,” by the LRN Corporation. As I read through the report I was delighted to see that their findings business culture were highly correlated with similar research I’ve been doing for the last 10 years, and also dismayed to see that so few companies were embracing these critical ideas.

Although I still do a fair amount of Fortune 500 work, for the last five years or so I have focused intensely on bringing the best ideas, tools and strategies to small and medium-size businesses in an effort to help them build and sustain success. What I have learned in working with literally thousands of businesses around the world is that: Culture = Cash. Organizations that can find, grow and keep top talent and then engage that talent to go out and take fantastic care of their customers will be the winners in the future. Here’s how they stated it in the report…

“CEOs increasingly are coming to believe that the traditional ingredients of success, such as a supportive board of directors, a strong executive team, clearly articulated corporate strategies, thoughtful resource allocations, differentiated product or service portfolios, elaborate control processes, and highly refined incentive structures, are no longer sufficient.

Of particular importance is the role of trust, company purpose, and core values as they harmonize with leadership and governance systems to help define unique corporate cultures.

In short, culture as a conscious, deliberate, long-term strategy can be the key to sustainable differentiation and success for companies in the 21st century. Companies and leaders who pioneer and forge ahead on a genuine journey of governance, culture, and leadership are the ones who will be around in the 22nd century.”

This research report postulates that an organization builds the foundation for sustainable success on a system of governance, culture, and leadership based on a clear set of fundamental values, fostering trust both inside and outside the organization, and embracing and pursuing a corporate mission that is rooted in a higher, enduring purpose, not simply here-and-now success.

The researchers labeled the management style of companies that met the above criteria as high in “Self-Governance.” These were businesses where the employees were proactive, with high levels of both personal and mutual accountability and were engaged and satisfied…exactly what I have been focused on when working with my clients. However the number of companies that actually met these criteria in this research study were shockingly low, which unfortunately mirrors what I see in the marketplace all too often.

Directly from the report…
Sample size = 36,280 employees / 18 countries

Blind Obedience = 43% of respondents

Organizations characterized by command and control, top-down leadership, and coercion. Blind Obedience organizations rely on rules and policing, are transactional, and focus on short-term objectives — there is little focus on building enduring relationships in the workplace, the marketplace, or society.

Informed Acquiescence = 54% of respondents

Organizations that reflect 20th century good management practices like hierarchy, structure, and control processes. Employees follow the rules, policies, and procedures established by what they believe to be a skilled management team. Managers rely on performance-based rewards and punishments to motivate people. Long-term goals are important but often give way to considerations of short-term success.

Self-Governance = only 3% of respondents

Organizations that are primarily values-based. The organization’s purpose and values inform decision making and guide all employee and company behavior. In short, people act on the basis of a set of core principles and values that inspires everyone to align around a company’s mission, purpose, and definition of significance. Employees at all levels strive to be leaders, and the company is focused on its long-term legacy and endurance.

On the other hand, highly engaged employees deliver…

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There were four major findings from the study that rose to the top:

1. Self-Governance is rare across the world. Only 3% of the 36,280 employees in this study observe high levels of self-governing behavior within their organizations — the extremely low rate of Self-Governance is consistent across every demographic category, including country, industry, economic environment, language, and ethnic culture.

2. Self-governing organizations in all 18 countries in this study outperform other types of organizations across every important performance outcome, including: higher levels of innovation, employee loyalty, and customer satisfaction; lower levels of misconduct; and superior overall financial performance.

3. There is a marked disconnect between the C-suite and the employees they lead. On average, the C-suite is three times — and in some countries up to eight times — more likely to observe their organizations as self-governing, more inspiring, and less coercive as compared to the overall employee population.

4. Trust, shared values, and a deep understanding of and commitment to a purpose-inspired mission are the three fundamental enablers of the self-governing behaviors that produce competitive advantage and superior business performance.

 

So why is this important to your organization? Here is what I’ve been jumping up and down about for years in trying to help organizations understand that there is a ton of money on the table around creating a winning culture…

“Statistically, our research shows that employees who experience a high trust environment are 22 times more likely to be willing to take risks that could benefit the company. Employees functioning in an organization of high trust are 8 times more likely to report higher levels of innovation relative to their competition. And finally, employees functioning in a culture of high trust, risk-taking, and innovation are 6 times more likely to report elevated levels of financial performance compared to the competition.”

For more than a decade I have been deploying my “Organizational Effectiveness Audit,” a 28-question survey I use to assess the health of an organization and here is what I can tell you with 100% confidence:

Most businesses, as reflected in HOW Report, have a massive opportunity to improve the culture of their organization and thereby significantly impact their financial success.

 

Here is a quick checklist of what I have developed as the key elements of winning culture, take a minute to score your organization on a scale of 1 to 10 – with 10 being “this describes our company perfectly.”

 

Elements of a Winning Culture

1. People enjoy the work they do and the people they work with.

2. People take pride in the work they do and the company they work for.

3. There are high levels of engagement, connection, camaraderie and a community of caring.

4. There is a culture of fairness, respect, trust, inclusiveness and teamwork.

5. The leaders live the values and communicate a clear vision and strategy for growth.

6. Lots of open, honest, robust and transparent communication across the entire organization.

7. The company invests back in employees; there is a commitment to learning & development.

8. There is a bias for action, employees have an ownership mentality and strive to give their personal best.

9. There is high accountability and a strong focus on delivering the desired results.

10. There is ample recognition and rewards and mediocrity is not tolerated.

 

** It would be my advice that anyplace you score a 7 or below would be an area to focus on for improvement, any score below a five should be considered an area of concern, and where you score a 3 or below should be considered an emergency.

 

If you were not particularly happy with scores you just got on my winning culture audit, let me recommend a few superb books that are the best I have ever read on how to build a great culture.

The Orange Revolution: How One Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization

All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results

The Great Workplace: How to Build It, How to Keep It, and Why It Matters

Here is a link to where you can download the HOW Report:  http://pages.lrn.com/how-report

Although it is about 50 pages long it does have some truly interesting and important findings and is definitely worth taking a few minutes to read. Also, if you know of any organization that might need some assistance in improving their culture please do not hesitate to send them my name and contact information, this is an area that my firm is strongly focused on and we are dedicated to helping businesses of every size become great places to work with highly engaged employees that deliver strong financial returns.

I hope you found this information helpful, I wish you every possible happiness and success.

 

Take good care – John

*** If you want more specifics on exactly how to build a great company culture, I have created a very concise and focused ebook that will give you all of my best ideas, tools and advice. It is only $2.99 on Amazon and I promise it will be VERY helpful.  Click HERE to take a look

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The Most Important Thing In Business

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I was talking to a good friend of mine, Bob Fetterman, who is the manager of the performing arts center at our local college, when he turned me and said, “In one word, what is the most important thing in business?”

I thought about it for just a few seconds and then confidently answer, “Talent.” Bob looked back at me and said, “It’s the same in the theater.”

The truth of the matter is it’s the same in just about every organization. If you’ve done a truly good job of finding highly talented people you have built the foundation for a sustainably successful organization. Because no matter what’s wrong in your business; if you have great people they can figure out a way to fix it. On the other side of the coin, no matter what’s wrong in your business, if you have bad people they will make it worse.

In the class I teach on strategy at Wharton I tell my students that we are entering an era where there is very little opportunity to create sustainable competitive advantage. Your competitor can copy your products, they can put a location right across the street, they can spend ten times what you do on marketing, they can drop their price, they can offer free shipping, they can do lots of different things to try to win in the marketplace, but if you have superior talent, your people will figure out how to win against the competition. To me, two of the only sustainable competitive advantages left to most businesses are:

The quality of the people that you can get, grow and keep on your team

 

The relationships they create with your customers

 

Which means that talent acquisition, talent development and talent retention should be a major strategic imperative in your business. In addition, you will need to create a winning culture of highly engaged, satisfied and loyal employees who are fanatical about delivering only the highest quality products and services and having only superior customer relationships and will tolerate nothing less.

Years ago I had lunch with a gentleman who built his business from one acre on the edge of a dairy farm, to a multibillion-dollar enterprise and I asked him what he felt the most important thing in running a successful business, he didn’t hesitate, he looked at me and said, “John, you can kid yourself about a lot of things in business but at the end of the day it’s always people, people, people.”

 

If you have 5 seconds I would deeply appreciate your vote as a top small business influencer…


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

How to Attract Top Talent to Your Company

 

It has long been one of my core themes:

The success of your business is directly tied to the quality of the talent you can get, grow and keep on your team.

Think about this carefully, it’s a simple but extremely important business idea. If you agree with me, then you should be approaching talent acquisition, talent developemtn and talent retention as a key strategic objective in your company. Here is a video that outlines the six most important things that top talent looks for in the company where they work. I hope you find this helpful and that you share with your network – thanks so much – John


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

Incredible Resource for You

QVLKREMarshall-GoldsmithI am sure that you have noticed that I do not put out a blog every day. That is not because I am lazy – or too busy – it is because I want you to know that when I post something it will be good…really, really good… and worth a minute of your time to take a look.  Today is no exception, it actually proves the rule, as today I am sharing with you an incredible FREE resource that can have a dramatic positive impact on your business and career.

My good friend Marshall Goldsmith  is a recipient of the extremely prestigious Thinkers 50 Award for the top 50 management thinkers in the world. As part of the award he has been asked to post a series of videos with some of his best ideas. All of the recipients of the award have also done the same and this site has all of them for FREE. It is like the TED talks of management – the best business thinkers in the world sharing their best ideas. Here is a link – enjoy!!!!

Click HERE to go to the video page

PS — I was nominated for this award last year, if you’d like to keep me on their radar you can send them a note HERE — thanks!!!


 

Ten Business Success Ideas

John in Toronto_edited-1As I sit here in the lobby of the Marriott in downtown Vancouver, I am reflecting on some of the highlights of the past few weeks which have taken me to assignments in Charlotte, Baltimore, Vegas, Toronto, Barbados and now to Vancouver. The clients have ranged from Bank of America to small business owners, to a workshop for 1,000+ CPAs and a speech to 8,000+ of the top financial planners in the world. Also, with so much time on planes I have read 20+ books on various business topics. Here are some big business success ideas I have picked up  (or re-confirmed) along the way…

 

1. Accountability and disciplined execution are the MOST pressing issues in almost all of the companies I have been working for in the last 6 months. This is a HUGE issue and can negatively or positively impact a company’s success in significant ($$$$$$) ways!

2. Lack of clear, specific and well-understood communications is a CLOSE second!

3. The majority of businesses are NOT doing a good enough job of truly listening to their EMPLOYEES and CUSTOMERS. Whoever owns the Voice of the Customer (VOC) owns the marketplace — and if you run a business your employees are actually your customer – and then they go out and serve the final customer – so you have to own the Voice of the Employee (VOE).

4. McDonalds spends more time and money training their employees than the average “high-tech” business. Think about that – and then think about how much you truly invest in high-quality training for your people.

5. See the reading infographic below – it should blow your mind and motivate you to increase your reading. Especially the very last stat… 7 x 1 x 7 = International Expert. Hey, it worked for me!!!!

6. If you have a problem with accountability at lower levels in your organization, then it is the responsibility of the middle managers to hold their people accountable. If they will not, then the senior managers need to hold the middle managers 100% accountable – if they cannot then the CEO must hold the senior managers fully accountable. In other words – creating a culture of accountability ALL starts with the tone and example that the CEO sets. This seems very straight-forward and simple – but it is typically the root of the problem.

7. From the book: Difference – by Bernadette Jiwa. “The truth is people do not fall in love with ideas at all. They fall in love with the ways those ideas, products, services and places make them feel.” This is a really important branding axiom.

8. The reason that most people do not get a ton of high-quality referrals is simply this: They are NOT remarkable. They do not truly add enough value for their customer to want to “remark” about them to others. So the first step in getting referrals is towering competencies (ideas, products, services, experiences, information, suggestions, and innovations) that are exceedingly valuable to your customers.

9. The quality of your life is determined in large part by the quality of the questions you ask… to others and to yourself! Great leaders are expert at asking just the right question at just the right time – to their people and to themselves.

10. Culture = Cash. The number ONE factor in highly engaged, satisfied and loyal CUSTOMERS… is highly engaged, satisfied and loyal EMPLOYEES. Insanely successful companies all share this practice: Higher top talent, engage them through a winning culture, guide them with a sharply focused and well-communicated vision, values and strategy for growth – then empower them to go out and WOW the customer. That is about as Awesomely Simple as I can make it!

I hope you will share this post with your network – thanks – John

READING Facts!!!


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

Three Keys to a Winning Culture

Happy Business Team 3During the past year a great deal of my time has been spent teaching organizations around the world how to improve their culture, as many organizations (both large and small) are now realizing that Culture =Cash! They have finally accepted that if getting, growing and keeping top talent is a strategic objective (and it should be!!!), then having a superior culture is one of the main ways to attract that top talent. So to me, there are two sides to the culture coin… what employees look for, which is a Winning Culture, a place that’s fun to work at, with a family atmosphere, where they are treated fairly , have the freedom to do their without micro management and an organization that has created a culture of catching people doing things right!  However, there is also the other side of the culture coin that the employer looks for, which is highly engaged employees who have an Ownership Mentality…that is they show dedication, passion, creativity, pro-activity, a sense of urgency and high levels of both personal and mutual accountability .

These are all important factors, and there are several more key factors to creating a winning culture , but a few years ago I was talking to a good friend of mine who is a leading psychologist and he pointed out that a great deal of what I was talking about was exactly the same things that everyone looks for in the most important relationships in their lives … and when you think about it, your relationship to your job and the people there is absolutely one of the most important relationships in your life .  According to my friend, here are the three factors that everyone looks for in the key relationships in their life :

 

Safety: employees need to feel physically safe at their job, that they’re not going to get hurt by machinery or that it’s safe to walk out to the parking lot late in the evening.  They also need to feel emotionally safe, that no one is going to yell at them, embarrass them and their job will not be simply yanked out from underneath their feet with no reason.  Lastly, they need to feel psychologically safe, that they can express their opinion, share their ideas or disagree with a superior … without the fear of retribution, bullying or embarrassment.

 

Belongingness: people want to feel that they are part of the team, part of the group, part of the tribe.  They want to know that the people at work like them, like having them around and feel they are an important part of the organization. No one wants to feel like an outcast or that no one cares about them.

 

Appreciation: employees want to know that they are appreciated not only for the work they do, but also who they are as an individual, what they contribute to the team, and the ideas and diversity that they bring to the organization.

 

Safety            Belongingness          Appreciation

 

It is my strong belief that if you flood your organization with safety, belongingness and appreciation that you will build a framework for creating a truly a winning culture.  And, as with many of the other factors, these three are mostly what I call atmosphere issues…they cost no extra money to implement – it is simply the way you treat your people, the way you engage them, and the respect you show all of your employees that make them feel safe, that they belong and that they are genuinely appreciated.

So my question to you is: What can you do TODAY to create more safety, belongingness and appreciation across your entire organization?  

*** If you want more specifics on exactly how to build a great company culture, I have created a very concise and focused ebook that will give you all of my best ideas, tools and advice. It is only $2.99 on Amazon and I promise it will be VERY helpful.  Click HERE to take a look

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