The Two Minute Culture Health Check

The Two Minute Culture Health Check

Is your organization poised for rapid growth? Many of us work for organizations that have excellent business prospects and strong strategic advantages. In addition, we may have great people in place who will help us reach our goals. The stars are aligned and we have the resources to move ahead. The only thing that can stop us now – is us. As long as we innovate and execute, we will win!

Is your organization and culture in shape to innovate and execute? Here is a quick diagnostic tool to help you find out. By answering these six questions, you can get a feel for how well you can innovate and execute in order to reach your near and long term goals. Here is how it works:

Rate your organization on a scale of 1-5 (1 being poor, 5 being great):

  1. In the last 12 months, our organization (company, division, department) has significantly improved productivity.
  2. In the last 12 months we have made significant improvements to our processes.
  3. In the last 12 months we have significantly improved the features of our products/services.
  4. We have a reputation for being very efficient in our organization.
  5. We have a reputation for consistency.
  6. We have a reputation for delivering superior results.

Add your scores. If the total is 10 or less, you need big help. 11-15, you are on life support. 16-20 there is hope. 21-25 is very good. 26-30 and you are in great shape.

The first three questions relate to cultural innovation (future success), and the last three to execution (current performance) capabilities. This is a simplistic diagnostic tool adapted and borrowed from a CSHRM presentation by Kurt Southam. Southam is a consultant and author with deep experience and expertise in organizational culture development. He shared his definition of culture as “what people do in the absence of supervision”, and described culture as the ‘operating system’ for an organization.

Southam made a compelling case for addressing cultural shortcomings with statistical support from mountains of data, and numerous studies. He described these four cultural attributes as impactful on business results:

  1. Self-Direction
  2. Open Dialogue and Communications
  3. Universal Accountability
  4. Influential Leadership

With these four attributes in place, Southam indicates that innovation improves more than 100%, execution by 91% and bottom line results by much more. Compelling indeed.

Culture change is not easy, and will likely be a journey over months if not years. The positive impacts of successful culture change on innovation, execution and bottom line results, though, can be tremendous. It is certainly worth two minutes to determine our starting point.

Need help assessing and impacting your culture? Please contact us.




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The Hidden Costs of Poor Talent Strategy Alignment

The Hidden Costs of Poor Talent Strategy Alignment

I recently met the chief business development officer for a highly successful consulting firm. He works for a firm with a backlog of work that would be envied by most. We shared a great deal with each other about our respective businesses including our value propositions, successes and opportunities. As often happens in these meetings, the more we became familiar with each other and with each other’s businesses, the more we thought of ideas on how to help each other and people we could introduce to each other.

Interestingly, when I asked him about the backlog of work, he mentioned that his firm had a difficult time hiring the right people. They had tried hiring professional consultants, but found they were unable to transition to the unique work of his firm. They also tried hiring individuals from their niche discipline, but very few had survived the rigorous interviewing process, which includes several behavioral interviews and at least one case study. He admitted that their inability to hire and retain more talent was keeping them from making progress on their backlog.

It may be worse than that. Even though the firm’s consulting service is in demand now, the backlog may go away for a variety of reasons – loss to a competitor who can deliver more quickly, change of spending plans by their clients, etc. In addition, the work load on the existing consulting team may lead to burnout and turnover. These costs and dangers may be hidden, though, since the firm is going full speed. Like with cost of turnover calculations, indirect costs and opportunity costs are difficult to measure, so often ignored.

An Ernst & Young survey of CEO’s revealed that 29% had lost out on revenue opportunities because of a lack of appropriate quality and quantity of talent. While this statistic is eye-opening, it is unlikely to be viewed as an outcry for major changes in talent strategy and management practices. Maybe it should.

Another recent study, this one by McKinsey, showed that companies that have a talent strategy aligned to their overall strategy experience a 20% higher return on equity (ROE). Imagine the long term benefit of growing ROE 20% each year.

If you don’t have an aligned talent strategy, you’re not alone. In addition, it is unlikely that lacking one will be viewed as a threat to your organization. However, designing and implementing an aligned talent strategy is an opportunity for most organizations. I believe those who take advantage of the opportunity will be the clear winners in the ongoing war for talent.


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Time for Talent Management 2.0

Time for Talent Management 2.0

Last week I had the opportunity to give a presentation to the DisruptHR event in Cleveland. My presentation was titled Embracing Your Inner CEO, and was focused on helping HR professionals become more strategic. If you have attended a DisruptHR event, then you know it is a unique venue. Each presenter has five minutes (no more, no less) and twenty slides to make their presentation. We had over two-hundred, fifty attendees. It was fun and exhilarating – but I wondered if I could convince anyone about the importance of talent strategy in that short amount of time.

Fortunately, the crowd was in a generous mood and treated me well. I was pleasantly surprised that many people have since requested copies of the slides and asked to hear more about the comprehensive talent management model I described. Turns out that many HR professionals are already thinking strategically and are interested in tools and models that will help them deliver better people results.

One of the key points from the 2016 Bersin by Deloitte Talent Predictions research report is that “it feels as though everything in the world of talent is changing – from the way we recruit and attract people, as well as how we manage and reward them, to the way we learn, and how we curate and manage our entire work-life experience.” That report discusses ten key predictions, and mentions numerous systems, apps and service providers that offer solutions to help with various parts of the talent management spectrum.

The talent management model we have developed is less about technology and more about strategy. We believe a talent strategy is critical for supporting and executing corporate strategy, even though many organizations operate without a talent strategy. While the breadth and depth of people challenges can seem daunting, our model provides an easy-to-understand, yet comprehensive, framework for developing a strategy. To request a complimentary copy of our model, click here.

This is an area of opportunity for HR to contribute on a strategic level, and earn a ‘seat at the table’. Developing and executing a talent strategy is, in my opinion, an essential starting point.


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HR, Heal Thyself

HR, Heal Thyself

More evidence of the rise in corporate stature of the HR function. Bersin by Deloitte recently published the Predictions for 2016 report, subtitled A Bold New World of Talent, Learning, Leadership and HR Technology Ahead. As with previous years reports, this one includes ten key predictions ranging from the arrival of digital HR, renewed focus on global leadership development, and the acceleration of people analytics and diversity and inclusion as strategic pieces of business strategy.

The breadth of topics covered in the report indicates the growing complexity of the HR function and why people management is a strategic topic. The final prediction is all about the elevation of the HR function, entitled The HR Profession Leaps Forward as a New Breed of HR Leaders Enter the Stage. Here are some relevant excerpts from that section:

PREDICTION For the first time in almost a decade, HR teams will be celebrated publicly and we will stop reading articles about “the end of HR.”

One thing has clearly come through—everywhere I go, people are openly reinventing and listening to new ideas about what HR is. I could tell you dozens of stories about innovation, breakthrough thinking, reorganization of HR teams, and bold new CHROs.

For the first time in nearly five years, I see significant movement and understanding of these changes in almost every company with which I talk. So I believe 2016 will be a year of transformation and very positive changes in all areas of HR and L&D.

Even more important than this is the emergence of more young, innovative, creative people into our profession. The function of HR has become “sexy” and “important” to business; it appears in the press almost every week; I am now talking with business school leaders who want to add strategic HR and talent topics to their curricula. I think 2016 will bring a new breed of innovative young HR and L&D leaders to the forefront—and you likely have many of them right in your own midst.    

KEY POINT Companies are investing heavily in innovation and analytics, younger HR leaders are starting to take over, organizations are sharing their creative solutions more openly, and the alignment of HR with business is improving dramatically.

Will 2016 be the year HR moves to the strategic forefront? Perhaps it already has. It seems like organizations have turned the corner in terms of recognition of the strategic importance of people. That puts the HR function squarely in the strategic conversation.


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