Category Archives: #OrganizationalDevelopment

Book Review – Creating Constructive Cultures

Creating a company culture is one thing.

Identifying the right culture and making it a constructive one is another.

In their book “Creating Constructive Cultures”, authors Janet L. Szumal and Robert A. Cooke from Human Synergistics International outline what over 30 years of study have revealed in the various types of culture in the workplace.

They describe 12 “Cultural Norms” that exist in modern companies and within that dozen further define three styles that these norms fall into:

Constructive Styles – consisting of cultures of achievement, self-actualization, humanistic-encouraging and affiliative traits. These culture all contribute to improvement and development of individuals as well as the whole.

Passive/Defensive Styles – comprised of approval, conventional, dependent and avoidant cultures, these merely maintain and protect the organization and/or individual(s).

Aggressive/Defensive Styles – made up of oppositional, power, competitive and perfectionistic personas. Cultures of these characteristics make for a company that while hostile and/or forceful also finds a need to protect and maintain at it’s core.

What the authors portray is not just the explanation of each culture and style, but how these styles are met through varying global demographics.

Their studies show how different societal cultures can pervade an organization and work towards a default culture within that company. And that’s where the brillaince of the authors’ work comes to fruition.

Through a dozen case studies across the world, they show the cultural transformation from passive/defensive and/or aggressive/defensive company and demographic cultures and how each company found out their unique path to becoming a constructive culture.

Szumal and Cooke take the reader through each company’s journey of challenge, self-awareness, and barrier identification to the realization and actualization of a new improvement culture and the results in achieving a constructive model.

The book is well stocked with charts, case study notes and metrics that show the positive financial impact once the transformation was in place.

Creating Constructive Cultures is a great read and one that will make leaders think more on how to apply the right brand of culture that is productive, effective and sustainable.

(book image:; quote images: twitter @HSInternational)

Where Developing Weak Areas Can Benefit

When it comes to training and developing others, we can often avoid someone’s weak areas.

Much of this can be unintentional as leaders seek to leverage a person’s strengths or may not necessarily have the time to spend on extra training hours.

But the most challenging area might be believing that the person you’re developing may actually grow in an area where they are weakest.

Take for instance Rob, a young manager who had poor organization skills but otherwise had some key talents that complimented his team. His manager decided to place Rob in charge of coordinating all marketing materials for the bi-monthly promotions. When others on the management team questioned the decision, the manager reassured everyone that Rob would do a solid job. And while Rob did shine in his new responsibilities, he also started to show better planning and prioritizing skills.

Another example is Cleveland Cavaliers assistant coach Lindsay Gottlieb. The former Cal women’s basketball head coach was hired to the NBA and her first major presentation was to scout the Boston Celtics team for the upcoming game.

She was asked last minute by the owner and head coach to present how to match up against their opponent. Gottlieb, who was skilled at conducting film sessions at Cal, made her scouting report of the Celtics into a film session on how to break down their game. After her presentation, all present said she killed it.

While scouting at the pro level was something she had really done, her mentor knew that she could grow in this area and placed Gottlieb into an area that she could learn and grow. And it worked like a charm

These two examples show a variety of reasons why it can be beneficial to place your people into situations they may be weak or inexperienced at as key development strategies.

Instead of shying away from challenging training opportunities in favor of putting their “aces in their places,” leaders should always scout events where they can create strengths out of their people’s weaker areas. Or at the least, help someone get better in a lesser skill so that they can be more well-rounded and more confident in their abilities.

Every interaction and situation is a chance to grow and build your team. Don’t ignore an episode because you don’t believe someone won’t get better.

You have the keys to making your people shine, so open those doors that otherwise might be shut for them.

(image: pixabay)

Why Shortchanging Training Always Costs More

A number of studies in the last few years have similarly shown that companies that consistently spend across all levels to develop their people reap the following benefits:

  • Deeper and more engaged employees – employees deeply engaged due to proper training are 200%+ more productive than disengaged employees without aligned training
  • Higher productivity – sometimes up to 10% more productive
  • Better profitability – consistently 24% better profits
  • Higher employee retention – companies that have proper training see less than 40% turnover in an employee’s first year

Many companies claim to have a great company wide training program, when actually very few do. Which explains why 69% of employees are actively seeking new employment opportunities for companies that will properly train and develop them.

Companies that shortchange their training will misfire on keeping their best and most valuable resources – people. These statistics prove it.

Where companies fall short are in varying areas, depending on the culture and focus of the organization. Here are some of the myths, or excuses, of why training is shortchanged:

  • Training should be done in the course of work, so no other expenditure of resources other than the initial orientation is needed
  • Employees that figure it out themselves are the peak performers we want, so not focusing on training will create the environment for peak performers to develop and stand out
  • Senior leadership should get the bulk of the training dollars because they are the ones who can make the biggest impact
  • There is no time to train, we are busy and have to focus on the job at hand
  • What if we train them and they leave?
  • If we spend money in training, the employees will want more money
  • We can train cheaper in house, or leverage technology to do it for us
  • It takes too much time to develop people, we can’t afford to get them out of their roles

All of these just exemplify the real rationale: these organizations value something else other than training. They value the short-term opportunity cost of savings of money and time over the long-term benefits of growth, enhanced culture, and positive impact in their industry.

Businesses are made up of people. Therefore, business IS people. And in order for businesses to grow, people must grow. That’s where the truth of this quote comes from:

“You don’t build a business. You build people – and then the people build the business.” – Zig Ziglar

Training never comes back void, as long as it’s done with purpose and with an attitude to serve and grow each member of the team.

Focus on training every day. It never stops, because business never stops. Unless your people stop growing.

(image: pixabay)

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