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Is Your Company Culture Affecting Your Bottom Line?

Alexandria Joy - Sunday, April 21, 2013

There is a definite link between employee satisfaction and an organisation’s bottom line. Company culture is what anchors both; it can be the hinge that makes or breaks a business in the long term.

Symptoms of a dysfunctional culture can be varied and unique. On the whole, if you’ve got signs of high staff turnover, poor performance, poor decision-making, and disengaged employees, it’s time to take responsibility and create a culture that embraces caring, sharing, learning, growth, and innovation.

Apart from poor performance, disengaged employees share powerful messages of negative work experiences with their family, friends, and colleagues. Their messages are potent and have greater impact than any positive PR message “pushed” by the organisation.

To achieve growth you need skilled people. The widening skills gap is making it difficult to find suitable staff, especially when it comes to filling senior roles.

Rise above the complexity of dilemmas facing your industry by building a UQ Culture.

If you want your employees to behave a certain way, perform at a certain level, and be the best they can be – you need to establish an environment that encourages, rewards, and nurtures those ideals.

A company’s culture is what sets the standard for how people behave, interact, and perform. It forms the “social norms” of the environment so it makes sense that leaders need to make a conscious effort in creating a culture that will not only bring out the best in its employees, but one that also becomes the company’s unique competitive edge.  

A unique company culture, a “UQ Culture”, isn’t something that can be changed overnight. A long-term plan and ongoing commitment is needed. Although there is no cookie-cutter solution to improving a dysfunctional culture, here are some ideas to get you thinking about how you can create a UQ Culture:

  • Develop a plan of what can you can remove, add, or change this year, next year or over the next 5 years to make your UQ culture your competitive edge.
  • Hire a company culture coach who can give you a realistic “outsider” perspective and expert advice about real actions you can take.
  • Understand your organisation’s mission and purpose and communicate that with your employees.
  • Look for potential employees that share the same values, mission and purpose as your organisation – not just for their skills and experience.
  • Grow the people you already have – it’s likely you’ve got some natural-born leaders that simply need the right environment to flourish.
  • Lead by example, encourage, and reward staff for sharing their ideas, knowledge, and expertise with others in the organisation.
  • Involve your staff in a continuous cultural improvement program to make them feel engaged and a part of the positive “movement”. 
  • Ask powerful questions, listen, let your workforce be heard, and open up definitive communication channels.

“Because of the current pace of change, organisations that learn fast can repeatedly outflank their so-called peers. New companies can seemingly come out of nowhere to develop and dominate new opportunities and prosper. The pace of change bestows nearly immediate rewards on the most adaptive cultures. To be adaptive as an organisation, that organisation must intentionally engage in continuous learning. Organisational learning is by no means random, but rather, a highly intentional act. Getting there is a game…and culture is the name of the game.” Daniel Mezick, The Culture Game.

A strong UQ culture shapes how employees perform and gives them a strong sense of purpose. It’s one that is powered by an inner force. It’s what makes a company or individual unique – it’s who they are and why they do what they do – it’s what gives them their unique, competitive edge.

Here at UQ Power, we’re just launched Company Culture Pulse Checks and we're doing house calls in your area. Want in? Check out more information here.


The key to your competitive edge

Alexandria Joy - Monday, April 15, 2013

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

The decision-making process is one of the most effective ways to keep your staff engaged and contribute to building a unique and powerful workforce culture.

People who believe they have played a significant part in solving a problem or developing an idea feel empowered. They feel valued and motivated to rise to any challenge.

Unfortunately, most organisations don’t encourage involvement in these processes. They recruit leaders that are experts in their field and who show signs of an ability to make hard-lined decisions quickly, under extreme pressures. Because these qualities are viewed as strengths, these leaders trust in their own ability to make decisions; they have clear views of what needs to be done and act on them autonomously.

The tendency to make decisions alone and impose views of what’s right and wrong
can adversely affect your UQ Culture

 A recent study has revealed that people who are in a position of power are more likely to view wrongdoing unambiguously and are more likely to punish transgressors.

“What a manager sees as appropriate punishment could be seen as absolutely draconian by other people,” explained Scott Wiltermuth, of USC Marshall School of Business. “Organisational culture could be destabilised, if those without power protest their managers’ decisions, undermining their authority.”

Read the full article here.

You are the best in your field, but you still need to open up to others’ views

The lesson to be learnt from this study is to be mindful that you may be prone to making hard-lined decisions.

Building a sustainable and successful business is as much about building the best team as it is about providing the best product or service. To build the best team you need to attract and retain the best people. That means creating an attractive UQ Culture that values and engages its workforce.

You don’t have to make every decision “by committee”, just ask more, listen more, and you’ll tap into what gives your business the most powerful competitive edge – your people.

Happy Workplaces Attract The Best Employees

Alexandria Joy - Tuesday, April 02, 2013

By Christina Gerakiteys, Chief Innovation Officer 

If the benefits of teamwork, collaboration, empowerment  (expander leadership) and workplace satisfaction are well documented and well measured,  why do we find ourselves in times of stress and difficulty reverting back to micromanagement?

Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, authors of All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Beliefs and Drive Big Results, talk about the three E’s in relation to an organisation’s workforce – Engaged, Enabled and Energised; or Effort, Empowered and Effective; or Enthralled, Entrusted and Elated.

In a world that requires scientific proof (my grandmother used to ply us with chamomile tea for a stomach ache and scientists now assure us it has the carminative properties she described) these claims are based on empirical evidence gathered by researchers at Towers Watson. Towers Watson studied 25 companies and a total of 303,000 employees who showed “high-performance results”.  The findings weren’t surprising. Where soft skills were encouraged, morale boosted, recognition given, loyalty acknowledged, where employees were engaged in activities just for fun, where they felt they had a voice and a place within the organisation and felt they were valued, the employees were happy, productive and retention rates were higher.

This research is validated by Dr Suzy Green, co-founder of the Positive Psychology Institute. Dr Green says research continues to show that a positive workplace has an impact on a company’s bottom line. “When you experience more positive emotions you do feel vital and alive - you're more engaged, more interactive with people.”

Why is it then, that happy workplaces are not the norm? Depression and sick leave are on the rise. Collaboration and teamwork are on a decline. Fear for poll positioning is infiltrating many organisations.

Ubuntu is co-authored by Stephen Lundin (think Fish – Seattle) and Bob Nelson (Bestselling author). It’s a story about an old African tradition that focuses on teamwork and collaboration. What does Ubuntu look like in the workplace? Each member of the organisation is respected because each member contributes to the success of that organisation. Each member realises that their adverse actions have an adverse effect on the whole workplace community and they take responsibility for those actions. All members of the organisation contribute to solving problems because failure to do so will see the whole workplace community suffer. When Ubuntu is part of an organisation’s workplace culture, productivity increases because individual strengths are valued and weaknesses are not punished.

It’s not a new concept. Imagine how your home life would be if it replicated a poorly motivated, unenthused and debilitated workplace. Imagine the relationship with a partner if it was container managed. Imagine how you would feel going home knowing you would be criticised for all your weaknesses and your strengths and contributions were never acknowledged, let alone rewarded. The pub would be looking good!

UQ Power has developed a series of short Bite Sized Learnings™ workshops that explore and offer improvements to existing workplace culture. At one to three hours in duration, they also fit seamlessly (well almost) into your workday with minimal disruption to your workflow.

We presently experience change at a faster rate than ever before in history. Let’s face that change with a valued and respected workforce.

Is your business suffering a dissatisfaction epidemic?

Alexandria Joy - Friday, March 22, 2013

The Aussie “sickie” costs our economy around $10 billion annually. Sure, this accounts for usual bouts of dreaded bugs such as the cold and flu, but there is also an epidemic of employee dissatisfaction.

Productivity levels, staff turnover, and absenteeism are things you can look at concurrently to monitor staff motivation levels. (However a brilliant Expander Leader will also have insightful conversations with their employees and pick up on this anecdotally too!).

If your organisation experiences high rates of staff turnover, absenteeism and low productivity, chances are that you may need to turn your attention internally on your culture, rather than blaming the external shortage of quality, skilled workers as the problem.

Many business leaders put blood, sweat and resources into developing the most innovative, unique products and services in order to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Often, organisations develop a service or product that fulfils a niche gap in the market, they employ highly skilled and experienced personnel, but they struggle to get a foothold within the industry.

If you want to be the best, you need the best team beside you. To attract and retain the best team, you need to create a business that is the best place to work. 

The success of any type of business doesn’t solely hinge on its offerings; it relies heavily on the drive of its people.

So you’ve identified your people lack motivation and drive for the business – how do you address that?

There isn’t a generic cut and dry answer that will fulfil your unique circumstances and challenges. You need to truly understand what drives your people and what you can do to bring out the best in them. Check out this info graphic to get some hints about what really motivates people. You can also download and share a copy here.

To give you some inspiration for areas to explore within your organisation, here are some ideas about what an engaged workforce looks like… 

Happy employees:

  • enjoy autonomy and responsibility
  • are not only motivated by receiving their pay each week or how much they earn each year
  • understand the significance of their work and how it contributes to the origination’s mission
  • be the best they can be and work towards achieving business goals through innovation and execution
  • are more productive and more motivated to contribute ideas or perform duties outside of the scope of their role (without feeling obliged)
  • don’t waste time complaining, bitching, or creating drama within the workplace
  • communicate with their peers and leaders more (in a positive way)
  • trust their leaders and the organisation (and feel trusted by their leaders)
  • feel empowered to take responsibility within their job
  • feel like they are listened to, heard and valued.

If you want your business to be the best in the industry then you need to start with building an environment that will attract and retain the best people. Improving and building an empire is never about focussing on its offerings. The strength of your people will have the biggest impact on how customers experience your organisation and brand.

For the months of April and May only, UQ Power will be doing "House Calls" to check the pulse of company cultures across the east coast of Australia. If you are interested in improving your workplace culture and would like to retain staff, grow new talent and boost your bottom line then this could be the kick start you need. Find out more here. http://www.uqpower.com.au/workplace-culture-pulse-checks 

Increase your profitability and productivity by powering up your UQ culture

Alexandria Joy - Wednesday, February 27, 2013
The profitability of any business hangs on a number of hooks, but a big one is productivity. The truth about your organisation is that you could double productivity without having to increase your team.  The level of your organisation’s efficiency is a direct reflection of your company culture. 

What’s your company culture like? 
Do you have a high staff turnover or do you struggle to get your current employees to work at the pace you want?  
Maybe your staff productivity fluctuates – do you actively manage that or do you let it happen? 
What would you accomplish if you could get twice as much from your people?

Human productivity can be affected by a number of things including available resources, tools, systems and leadership. A lack of some or all of these things will affect your company culture and deteriorate motivation, and commitment to the organisation.  

What type of leader creates a UQ culture? 
A great book by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, discusses how great leaders extract at least two times more capability from their people than poor leaders. 

So what makes a great leader? 
Container managers are excellent at doing what has to be done. The only deal with the facts and don’t let their emotions or other people’s emotions get in the way of making a decision. They are great at developing procedures, implementing plans, and no-one can do the job as good as they can. However, their tendency to hold onto decision-making and undertake jobs that could be delegated is not conducive to a UQ culture full of motivated, inspired, and engaged staff. 

An Expander Leader on the other hand deals with the facts, but also considers how it impacts people. They listen to their employs, realize their strengths, tap into their potential, and include them in the growth of business. 

Keep the people you have, just get more juice out of them
Most people in your organization have untapped potential. Take time out with your employees to understand their strengths and what tasks, skills, challenges or opportunities make their hearts light up. Just knowing that you care about how they feel and what they want will go a long way in creating a supportive UQ culture.

As the saying goes “two heads are better than one”. Using the unique, individual strength of each and every employee will help you to tap into their potential, but also the potential for your business. Who doesn’t want the best of the best bunch of people to make their business number one in the industry?  

All capability and potential can be harnessed and developed with the right kind of culture and leveraging of people’s strengths.

UQ Cultures focus on “U” before anything else. 
Expander leaders value inclusiveness and participation, so every person around the table can look at everyone else and truly say, “I see U.” 

True participative management is when managers and leaders hand over the decision-making process, and let their employees govern themselves.

I’m about to release my next book all about UQ Power - you can pre-order a copy here. 
(Illustrations by Paul Hampson)

Think money is the only answer. Wrong!

Alexandria Joy - Monday, January 28, 2013
Many employers and managers ask us how else they can motivate and empower their people when money is tight. Research shows that people are motivated by more than just financial remuneration for their work.
Check out the info graphic below to find out what REALLY motivates people. (you can also download and share a copy here).
Please comment below and let us know what you do to motivate your people.

A leader is who you are, not just your job title

Alexandria Joy - Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Most managers just want to build their career and get promoted, but a leader wants to change the world. That's why leaders have followers, not employees." Wes Hopper

I love this quote. It sums up my sentiments on Expander Leaders and Container Managers perfectly. Being a truly inspiring Expander Leader is about being who you are.

Whether you're an assistant or you're already in a management role, you can still be an effective leader. 

Who are you?

Do people naturally gravitate towards you? Do inspire others to grow and reach their full potential? Do you instigate change and innovation and set a positive example? Or perhaps you have some of the traits of a Container Manager who focuses on developing a clear work plan and making sure that everyone is keeping the production line moving?

Being a leader is not just about being able to coordinate, budget, delegate, dictate and achieve the right level of outputs. It's not about your job title nor is it solely about what you do. Again, it's about who you are and how you push the boundaries of the status quo to grow yourself personally and professionally, inspire others to do the same, and make a positive contribution to the world.

Do your actions reflect who you are as a leader? Here are some clues:

  • Do you wait for someone to ask you to express your ideas or do you step up, speak up and start to roll the ball?
  • Do you accept the status quo and go with the flow or do you start conversations about possibilities and involving everyone in pursuing opportunities?
  • Do you resign yourself when told that something can't be done or do you bring in the right people to explore how it could be done?
  • Do you wonder why someone hasn't taken action on a big idea or do you take the lead to get it going?
  • Do you schedule, dictate and tick off lists (adding items to lists that you've already completed just so you can tick them off) or do you ask questions and inspire creative thought?
  • Do you get too embarrassed to share your outrageous idea or do you create a culture of innovation and big thinkers by demonstrating your eagerness to create, grow and innovate?
  • Do you play-out the stereotypical persona of the subordinate or have you appointed yourself as a leader and are already motivating others to go out and change the world regardless of your title?
Remember, "Companies appoint managers, but leaders appoint themselves." Wes Hopper

How fertile are your leaders?

Alexandria Joy - Saturday, January 12, 2013

Excuse me? Doesn’t that go against the Privacy Act and the rules of EEO?
Hold onto your regulatory socks for a minute and hear us out. 

Our view at UQ Power is that fertility when it relates to leadership, is critical. Of all the organisations we’ve partnered and consulted with, the ones who have the best leadership pipeline are those who have great leaders, expander leaders at all levels of their organisation.

Let us clarify - what we mean by fertile leaders are ones that are highly reproductive – the ones that seem to continually birth and produce other, new leaders.

Expander leaders understand the importance of not only demonstrating leadership but also coaching others, coming up the ranks, to live and lead well. We’ve seen it numerous times, when we work with great leaders in organisations we see their apprentices go on themselves to excel in leadership. Expander leaders reproduce – they grow new leaders.

Yet many of the executives we work with, upon first contact, don’t emphasise this aspect of their role as a leader. Sure they all nod and smile if we ask them if leadership development is important, but when we ask them about their quadruple bottom line and where their time, energy and money is going, it seems they are not paying an awful lot of attention to whether the people in their company’s formal leadership positions are actual fertile and creating rich soil for other leaders to be born into. 

Often they are amazing at producing revenue, happy customers and results but when we ask them about their leadership pipeline expansion plans they stare blankly or mumble something about a couple of people they’ve got their eye on to either promote or hire into management positions. This approach may have worked in the year 2005 but it won't see you out to 2020. Time to get serious about your organisations future. 

Here’s five questions you might want to stop and consider:

  1. Are your leaders Expander Leaders? (more on Expander Leadership soon in our new UQ book due out in Feb/March 2013) 

  2. Does your company have a leadership pipeline expansion plan? 

  3. Do your identified future leaders have actual demonstrated Expander Leadership competence? (Sure they may not yet have the title or experience but have they shown a propensity to lead others and encourage others to grow as leaders?)

  4. Do you typically promote into management roles the person with the greatest technical skill or the most seniority? 

  5. How can you add to the mix and lend more weight to whether this prospect has demonstrated the ability to lead well and produce other leaders, be it formally or informally?

Take the time to check in on your leaders’ fertility. Your organisations future success depends on it. 

How to ACTUALLY empower people

Alexandria Joy - Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Empower. It has become quite the buzz word over the past five years. We know what it means, but do you REALLY know how to empower someone? Can you put true words together to describe how your employees are empowered? 
You may have read some of my previous articles about Expander and Container leaders. An Expander leader inspires, motivates and brings out the best in the people around her. A Container manages a team through regulation, procedures and clear guidelines. 

People who work with or around an Expander leader reach their full potential and continue to raise the bar. They are empowered. They are successful and breed more success. 

Many leaders like to think their employees are empowered, but in reality they are not. Even though it may be written into company values or attempts are made to empower staff, some employees aren’t empowered to do much at all. 
Have you been in a store and asked to exchange an item or get a refund, only to be left waiting as the attendant calls her manager for permission? Do you have to gain approval from the equivalent of a football team before you can release information, spend the budget or make a decision? That’s not empowerment. 

You have to give power to empower.

As an Expander leader, you can empower your staff and the people around you by making it easier for them to achieve your business goals and mission. You may have to remove some barriers for them.  You may have to give them better tools and resources.  You may just have to empower them with the authority to carry out tasks and make decisions – on their own.  

Systemise and Delegate
It was only a couple of weeks ago that I wrote about the importance of systemising and delegating.  In this context, you may need to tweak a system so it is more flexible to allow your staff to carry out tasks, make decisions, and solve problems autonomously. You may need to develop a new system from scratch, so you can hand over the controls to your staff and trust that they are empowered with knowledge, resources and confidence to carry out their job in a way that meets your business mission and purpose. 

Being an Expander leader who can systemise and delegate can confidently step away from their role or business for a break, and let their (empowered) staff carry on with creating wealth and fulfilling the organisation’s purpose.  
What’s in it for you? 

Well, your team, your department, your organisation or your business will be more likely to reach or exceed its goals. You will fulfil your company’s mission and purpose. And who doesn’t want to be able to let go of ALL the tasks and ALL the responsibilities to reduce stress and gain more time to do things you love to do?  

At UQ Power, we’ve recently launched a new range of programs that tap into a company’s uniqueness quotient (UQ). Find out how you can build a positive, empowered work culture for your business. 

Are you turning a blind eye on your workers?

Alexandria Joy - Wednesday, January 02, 2013

How often have you heard an executive or CEO tout "our people are our greatest asset"? 

A dozen or more I wager.

And yet how many employees have you heard say "management just don't care about me. I'm just a number. I get no respect"?

Dozens? Hundreds?

How is that possible? How can it be that two sides of the same coin can have such different viewpoints, and more importantly, what can be done to bridge the gap?

Truth be told, in many of the modern workplaces we've consulted with and coached the managers of, there is really not a whole lot for the workers to get enthused about much less fulfilled, satisfied or excited. 

Many employees are correct when they complain that management don't listen to them, don't mentor, stretch or challenge them. Instead they feel like children, always being told what to do, provided with a list of demands and rules and being expected to work longer and longer hours without relative remuneration. 

In fact, many good workers find themselves punished with more work which they sustain although overwhelmed year in and year out until the company eventually gives a promotion to a new generation of starters over the top of them.

As a result employees are left gutted, feeling used and worthless. This is the aftermath of the rapid expansion of business during the industrial revolution. This era of seeing people and using them of widgets is now over. No longer can you turn a blind eye and treat your people as a means to an end. 

In order to attract and retain key staff, companies now must be more participative and encourage the development of Expander Leaders (more about Expander Leaders in our new book soon to be released). Participative, democratic, expander culture are what is required and despite the ability to succeed in the past while turning a blind eye to this, in future those companies that ignore either will suffer greatly.

How can you create a culture that attracts and retains great people? What changes do you need to make to shift from the industrial age thinking to Expander Leader thinking?

It's time. 

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