Category Archives: Values
Does your company go chasing rabbits every now and then?
Chasing rabbits is when any thought or action disrupts what is relevant and takes people off tangent of the current course.
For example, an email can cause a ripple effect through a department when people jump to conclusions or immediately respond to the “urgency” of the subject or discussion, causing people minutes to hours of disrupted work.
When a company chases a rabbit without intent, such as the above example, it can create unintended consequences in stopping the flow of work. But if done intentionally, it has far more damaging effects.
I was involved in the leadership team of an organization that met weekly. The chief executive would strategically take a conversation off course by throwing out a thought that the rest of the team would pounce on and discuss quite fervently. We soon discovered that when certain issues were brought up that could shed light on some of their improprieties, they would throw us off and down a rabbit trail in hopes that we’d get distracted. It worked for a time but when it finally caught up to them, we had gone far off our mission and realized the wasted time and resources that were affected by their behavior.
It’s easy to go down a rabbit trail – knee-jerk responses, emotional ploys, fear, anger, bringing others in that bog down the disruption, and playing off assumptions and urgencies that don’t exist.
In order to prevent your team from going down the rabbit trail, ensure your team:
- Knows what is mission critical
- Communicates consistent priorities and never shuffles them
- Keeps the vision clear and prominent
- Pauses to consider the tyranny of the urgent versus the need of the important
- Stops to think before following on feelings
A team that has enough people that is grounded in the main tenets of their culture will protect themselves from both intentional and unintentional rabbit trails that come their way.
I usually run into two types of organizations.
Vision driven organizations who look to gain influence.
Fear driven companies who try not to lose influence.
Fear driven and vision driven organizations have diametrically distinct cultures that create starkly different results.
Fear driven companies usually have two styles of leadership.
This first is the motivation by fear style. This is where leadership uses punitive measures to grow business, achieve performance, or exert their individual influence over varying individuals across the company. This type of culture may lead to short term results. However over the long haul, as disengagement and turnover manifest, productivity and trust start to erode which show the toxic nature of this type of leadership. It can also be called fear-driven. The Chicago-based water faucet company that installed swipe cards on their bathrooms to limit restroom breaks tried to instill fear of increasing productivity by limiting bathroom breaks embodies this type of culture.
The other type of fear driven company is the one that is held back by fear. This is the type of company that is afraid to get out of their comfort zone, fearful to spend money, or nervous about taking risks. On a smaller scale these are individuals who are afraid they can’t afford the negative online review or to spend a few dollars to invest in their fledgling business. In the larger organizations, these are leadership teams that are afraid to embrace shifting industries, or blossoming technologies. Companies with this culture miss opportunity, and are held back from stretching themselves and their people to see what they can truly achieve. Blockbuster Video is a good example of a fear-driven company that was held back by this cultural mindset.
Visionary organizations are much different in their view of themselves. Yes, the best visionary organizations have a view towards the future, and even have a wider view of the market and world landscape they sense is developing. But they also see their very own culture in a visionary way. By and large these organizations see their people as vital to their success, valued individuals with a voice, and as persons on which they can trust and depend on. Fear driven companies do not possess nor have the capacity in their current state to be visionary both externally and internally.
Small companies such as Mainstay Technologies and Cornerstone have a deep culture of vision for their industry coupled with a vision for their people. This vision drives their standing in their industries and separate themselves form their competitors. Mainstay’s vision of positively impacting every life they touch and Cornerstone’s pursuit of people who are well-rounded, self confident, and creative personify what vision driven organizations do. They define a culture of long-lasting excellence and success, no matter how large or small they may be.
Don’t let fear drive your organization. Replace it with a vision so large that there is no room for fear.
A recent workplace training study over the last year resulted in an astonishing fact:
Between 79-80% or workplaces spent less than $1000 in training on their employees
That’s a staggering amount and even more when you break it down further:
- Given a median hourly rate of $22, this equates to 45 hours of training
- 45 hours is just barley the first week of work for a full-time employee
- This is an annual figure, meaning onboarded staff from prior years barely get 1 hour of training and development a week
- Weekly, the average employee gets less than $20 of training spent on them to develop skills or increase productivity
It’s no wonder that lack of adequate training, development of skills, and creation of new challenges are a consistent metric that appears in most every survey of why employees leave.
Leaders and organizations can do better than this. So as to get our mental acuity focused into the realm of increasing training competency, here is a checklist of items you’ll want to consider in making your training programs effective to better develop your staff and organization.
- Onboarding with Clear Expectations.
- Onboarding with a Mentor, Big Sister/Brother
- Mini-boot camp (or training camp) training (any title will do)
- Yearly skills calibration
- Micro-learning accessibility
- Tailor training methods to meet employees needs, not company’s (or the trainer’s)
- Thread Culture, Values, Vision through every fabric of training (yes, the finance team too!!)
- Subject ALL staff, from hourly to C-level – to the exact same training modules and sessions
- Mix up remote digital training with in-person small groups
- Find each person’s needs and match to a training plan
- Train every day (athletes and orchestras do it!)
- Make training a bigger budget line item – it does ensure a solid ROI if done right
- Leadership must by in
- Training must be a culture, not a counter-culture
- Always work to improve content, engagement, and relevancy
- Ask trainees for feedback personally, not through a survey
- If you do ask for feedback through a survey (because some of you will), leave open ended comment boxes so employees aren’t penned into a few irrelevant answers that don’t allow them honest feedback
- Infuse fun and creativity
- Encourage training credit in extra-curricular training that augments and dovetails into the work (thru Lynda.com, local colleges, online sessions, etc)
- Reinforce continually to keep skills sharp throughout their career
- Have a monthly training focus throughout the entire organization to rally around a core value (customer service, safety, communication, integrity, etc)
- Combine learning styles for maximum impact and reach
- Include your hourly staff in teaching to build there skills and grow future teachers, trainers, subject matter experts, leaders
- Don’t make it boring – mix it up with breaks, change seat locations, content structure to avoid boredom and increase retention
These are just a few of the many ways great companies get proper training done. It’s easy – if you’re willing to make it happen. And it reaps benefits – if you execute it correctly.
If you have other methods of training that you’d like to include, please list them below!!