Archive for the ‘Company Culture Change’ Category

Controlling Your Work Environment

Monday, May 11th, 2015

The Harvard Business Review recently described a fascinating study on how the control you have over your workspace affects your satisfaction with your job. Listen to these stats:

98% of highly satisfied workers say their work environment allows them to concentrate. Only 15% of dissatisfied workers say it does.

96% of highly satisfied workers say they have a place for informal conversations with their colleagues. Only 35% of dissatisfied workers say that.

95% of highly satisfied workers say they can work without being interrupted. Only 13% of dissatisfied workers say that.

See the pattern here? Highly satisfied workers are more likely to have some control over their work environment.

So, what do you do if your workplace doesn’t give you that control—which is the norm? Unless you have a job that is only customer facing, ask your manager if you can post a sign that says, “focus time” that signals others that you are not to be bothered while you knock down a project that is important. Put others on notice that you’re in “lock down” and when you’ll come available again.

Make the Choice to Engage

Monday, April 20th, 2015

As if we needed any more evidence of the problem, a study by Dale Carnegie Training shows that only 23% of non-management workers are engaged in their jobs.

69% of the disengaged employees said they would leave their current job if someone else offered just a 5% pay increase, and disengaged employees overall are more than twice as likely to leave than engaged employees for any increase in pay.

If you are in that number—and statistically, you probably are—don’t wait for someone else to wave a wand and fix your engagement. This is a do-it-yourself job.

We’ve all known people who can walk out into a breathtaking sunny day and see nothing but skin cancer in it. Or walk into a room filled with colorful butterflies and focus on the black moth. Hopefully you’ve also known plenty who can see three weeks of drizzle from the lawn’s point of view. In both cases, the person’s attitude will have taken the mere data of the weather and interpret it.

All experience passes through the prism of your attitude. Make the choice to see the good, and watch what happens to your life and the effect you have on those around you.

Dress for Success

Monday, April 13th, 2015

There was a time when a suit and tie for men, and a skirt, jacket and blouse for women was the norm for business. Then came Casual Friday. Soon it spread into the rest of the week as employers started giving “casual days” as rewards for performance. On any given day, most offices are now a crazy quilt of business and casual dress.

But decades of research have shown that “business casual” can quickly become “business casualty.”

Dress for Success author John Malloy puts people in various scenarios to see how they react to others in various types of dress. Time after time, the more casually someone was dressed, the less they are taken seriously, listened to, or even noticed at all.

Will you be respected if a client walks in and you are dressed for Casual Friday? No matter how feverishly you explain, some credibility is definitely lost.

It’s not even just a matter of outside visitors. How you present yourself matters internally as well. Along the promotional path, for example, there are certain unwritten rules. Whether you think that’s fair doesn’t matter—it’s a fact confirmed by research. If the boss is accustomed to seeing you in clothing that’s too casual, your name is much less likely to rise to the top at promotion time.

Celebrating stories of success

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

History books are one person’s opinion of what happened. Need proof? Tune in to MSNBC and FOX News reporting on the same stories on the same night, and you’ll get two wildly different interpretations of what happened that day. An event described as a soaring success on one side of the political aisle is often described as a wincing failure on the other.

The very same thing happens with organizations. Is Apple the greatest thing since the light bulb, or the ultimate force for evil? It depends on who is telling the story.

The same is true of your own company. And as a member of the team, one whose success or failure are tied tight to the company’s success or failure, you have every incentive to be a cheerleader for your company.

Do you use your company’s products? If you work for Pepsi, are you serving Coke at the neighborhood barbecue? When you talk about the work your company does, do you share stories of success or failure?

What are the positives you can share with customers? What are the success stories you can tell them, the differences your products and services have made in the lives of others? Of course there are also less flattering stories. Every company has those. But for the company to thrive, and for you to thrive along with it, you want to find and tell the positives.

This isn’t just a job for marketing. It’s everyone’s job to pass along those stories and to institutionalize them. Stories of success, told again and again, are at the heart of every great culture.

Seeing informal agreements

Monday, July 7th, 2014


While my son was in India, he called to say, “Mom, you wouldn’t believe how different it is here. There are cars six deep, all blowing their horns and driving around people who are sleeping in the street, missing them by inches, with cows running up and down the road between all of it. And there are no road signs at all, and no lines on the roads!”

That pattern of behavior describes most workplaces! They have their own traffic jams and people sleeping in the way, right? And they have their own version of cows running up and down the street. And worst of all is that last observation—no instructions, no signs, and no lines.

Imagine if you woke up this morning and the streets on the way to work were like my son described—no lines on the road, no street lights, no stop signs and no laws?

That’s what your workplace would be like if it had no agreements.

Fortunately, there’s no such workplace. Workplaces are filled with agreements, formal and informal, spoken and unspoken. Some are obvious—be on time, don’t steal, don’t divulge confidential information.

Some others are less obvious but just as serious. Don’t undermine others with passive-aggressive behavior, for example. If you don’t have an agreement to disallow those unhealthy behaviors, then you have an agreement to allow them.