Tag Archives: culture

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storytelling

Does Storytelling Work For You?

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Have you used storytelling in your repertoire of workplace skills? Storytelling can make a difference. What is in your stories?

Some people quickly scoff at the idea of a story. They consider stories to only be a fairy tale, an extreme embellishment of the facts, or just plain boring.

In some cases, people connect stories with the sales process, and, it might be true.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Everyone is in sales.”

What is important for your story?

Workplace Culture and Stories

Telling stories in the workplace can have a positive impact on not only performance, but organizational culture as well. People will often connect with stories. They have been hearing them and learning from them starting at a very young age.

Workplace motivation and culture are best connected with a compelling call-to-action. This is often defined as the difference between push and pull. Pull is much more powerful and a good story pulls the listener in.

Stories should draw connection points to what is in it for the listener. A story can include many characters, including yourself, but it needs to resonate in a connection for the listener.

Storytelling Captures Attention

When you capture the attention of a listener through a story told the impact will make a difference. If the story causes the listener to self-reflect and builds a connection, you likely have experiential learning.

Attention is hard to capture in today’s fast-paced World. Pause for a few moments and phone surfing begins. A commercial in the middle of the television show, more surfing. A small group discussion that isn’t resonating and more surfing.

Your story, whatever it is, needs to capture the attention of the listener. Should it be embellished and dramatic? Should it be funny? Could it be sad? The easy answer is, “Maybe.” Know your audience and feel your way through.

Everyone is in sales and some stories are unforgettable.

Tell a good one.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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exciting culture

Exciting Culture and What Makes It a Good Time

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Do you have an exciting culture? Do people show up for work, the conference call, or the staff meeting pumped up and ready to go?

There is always the, “One in every crowd.”

One who brings in the motivation, enthusiasm and passion.

There may also be the one who drags their butt around like they walked 100 miles to get there.

The desirable, of course, is the engaging passion for what is about to happen next. How is that created?

Always Up to You

When you attend the meeting, the workshop, or the convention, what makes the difference? Does the power of one change the atmosphere and outcomes?

Like many things in life, it seems that you only get out of it what you put into it.

It is true for learning. If you don’t read, study, and experience something deeper you probably aren’t going to pick up much.

It is true for the artist, the researcher, and the chef, the effort you apply will have a direct correlation to what spins out of it.

Does your contribution affect culture?

Exciting Culture

Think about this when you attend the next event that involves other people. How you show up will have a lot to do with what others will experience. Your enthusiasm, like attitude, is contagious.

The culture then, which by the way is a long-run game, depends on how the vibes are spread. Are you springing into action or dragging around like you just walked 100 miles?

You always have an opportunity to make a difference.

The question then becomes, “Will you?”

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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employee retention agony

Employee Retention Agony and Your Brand

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Are you finding good employees? Are you feeling employee retention agony? Low unemployment rate challenges are real, but is that the only difficulty?

There is a lot of chatter about employee retention rates and finding the right employees to join your team. Every organization faces this potential problem.

How do the best navigate this challenge?

Root Cause

Like solving any problem, it is important to get to the root cause. It is easy to place blame on surface problems. Sometimes we call these, the presenting problem.

Unfortunately, these symptoms are typically not at the root.

Do low unemployment numbers mean that there is a challenging labor pool? Absolutely. Are people working? Yes. Are there people not working by choice? Yes.

It is easy to look at the trend data, throw your arms up and say, “We can’t find anybody to work for us.”

In a thriving economy, great people are gravitating towards the greatest organizations.

Employee Retention Agony

I’m not suggesting that the data isn’t real. I’m not suggesting that there are not challenges. What I am suggesting is that often the struggle for talent or labor starts with the organizational culture. It is the root.

There are several trends:

  1. Government agencies meet with desperate CEO’s to discuss the labor shortage. Government agencies ask CEO’s because they assume they know. CEO’s ask themselves because they assume their workforce doesn’t know, or they ask fearful employees who give answers that they assume the CEO wants to hear. Often the conclusion is that there is a tough labor pool.
  2. Some organizations attempt to change, to become more attractive by making some improvements. They will install new lights, buy a few new desks and chairs for the office, paint the walls, and upgrade the break room. This is changing the environment, not the culture.
  3. Human resource teams attend or host job fairs to recruit. Good and helpful idea, still not addressing the root.

As a result, nothing really changes.

Certainly, there is not one stand-alone reason for the tough labor pool or retention challenges.

Unfortunately, one of the last things many organization leaders consider is the culture and reputation of their business. This probably has more to do with their challenges than what they realize or are willing to admit.

A coat of paint, freshened up facilities, governmental awareness, and job fairs all matter, yet they do little to nothing to help improve the culture or world-of-mouth. (Yes, it is more the word, social media reaches farther.)

The unknowing, asking the unsure, is a surefire way to have a discussion. Results are questionable.

In a tough labor market, the best employees are going to work at the best organizations.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace culture denial

Workplace Culture Denial Will Cost You

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Do you have a great workplace culture? Are you the CEO, a front line employee, or somewhere in the middle? Is your assessment honest or are you in workplace culture denial?

Blind spots can be devastating. When we fail to see or to accept things that are happening right in front of us, the outcomes won’t be favorable.

There is a lot of talk from CEO’s in small businesses about the challenges they face with hiring, employee retention, and finding the best talent.

The trendy answer is connected to blame. Many blame it on low unemployment numbers. Mathematically there is some justification for this, it looks good, and if you lift the covers for a peak at the data it seems to justify it.

Is that all of the problem?

Have a Meeting

I see media reports of government agencies holding roundtable discussions, events, and panel talks. They play the blame game and keep asking CEO’s what they need.

Soon the conversation will shift to culture. Proud CEO’s boast about everything from installing televisions and a pool table in the lunch room, to putting in skylights, or having a nature trail behind their building.

Do these things matter? Certainly, they matter and can be valuable. Yet, these material things on their own are not a culture change.

Culture Rich Means People

Some of the most culture rich organizations I encounter don’t have any of those things. Yet, they seem to get a lot of great resumes, have good choices for hiring, and are growing their business.

Here is the thing. In a very general sense, the best people don’t want to work for an organization they want to work with an organization. It is not inclusive of everyone, but largely this is about the mindset and culture.

CEO’s who believe the path to productivity, efficiency, and revenue are accomplished with robotic contributions, need to invest in that equipment. It is not a bad idea. It just isn’t a people oriented idea.

Workplace Culture Denial

People aren’t tools and tools aren’t people.

Technology is amazing. It certainly is our future.

Invest, invest, and invest! Then invest some more.

Yet you can’t expect to treat people like robots. You’ll find some who will work like that, but others will go to an organization where they feel valued and not like a tool to get the job done.

You can’t be in denial about culture.

The culture is what you make it. Largely it is connected to the highest leadership roles, yet people in the middle or front line can make positive contributions even if there is some denial in the C-Suite.

Install your skylights, brighten the work area, and build a nature trail. It really doesn’t matter if the feeling of the people stays the same.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace culture leverage

Workplace Culture Leverage Means More

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Mankind discovered the advantage of the lever in the stone age. Sir Isaac Newton receives credit for framing the concepts associated with gravity. Does workplace culture leverage matter?

When asked about culture, many businesses will tell a story about their environment. They’ll mention their recent remodeling efforts, break rooms, or nature path that is around the back of the building.

These things all add value and may be important, yet they are really about shaping the environment which may have little or nothing to do with building a better culture.

Culture Contributions

Your culture includes contributions from many different angles. It is somewhat about the physical environment, yet it is also about people, communication, and symbols.

When the CEO says, “Let’s have a meeting outside of the office and be sure to BYOD (bring your own device) we’ll be accessing things during the meeting.” A segment, if not all of those receiving the invitation will get excited. They get excited because it is new, different, trendy, and gives them bragging rights about the greatness of the organization where they work.

This is leverage.

Workplace Culture Leverage

Each time organization leadership promotes or engages in emotion building activities or events, it stimulates culture. Culture is about people. Leverage is about moving something in a direction with more ease.

Organization culture is much easier to build when there is a compelling reason to participate. Pushing cultural values or creating fear is a short run game with little or no future leverage.

Avoid the mistake of assuming that culture is more about objects or material things than it is about people. Culture is created through our experiences and emotions. Passion, motivation, and the interest to build community all happen as a result.

Building something is always about more than the money that is involved.

Leverage everything that connects people.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace observations

Workplace Observations And Poor Behavior

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What does your culture illustrate? Is there a focus on poor behavior, attitudes, or role models? Workplace observations often drive human behavior and group focus.

What is going on?

It is a popular question. Depending on the tone and circumstances it can mean a polite greeting, an excited motivational gesture, or it could mean someone is angry or disappointed.

What is the focal point of what happens in your workplace?

Poor Behavior Recognized

Are people waiting for someone to get summonsed to the boss’s office or the human resources department?

Could it be that someone is watching for one employee to give another employee a piece of their mind? Is someone looking to see who arrives to work late and then draws attention to the circumstance?

What happens in your workplace next is largely determined by what the culture decides to focus on.

Workplace Observations

When the focus is not about high performance and metric driven outcomes, people tend to watch for the drama.

Poor performance, bad attitudes, and operating outside of the management described boundaries attracts attention. One problem is that it also takes away from the desired focus.

Perhaps it is more important to focus on good behaviors. Send attention to the things are happening correctly, the behavior that should be replicated, and the role models who are leading with this spirit.

While culture may be inclusive of the rules of the game, the true culture will largely depend on the focal points of the group.

Knowing a good habit and practicing it are two different things.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace navigation

Workplace Navigation And Leadership Responsibility

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Workplace navigation is everyone’s responsibility. If you are identifying as a leader, or have the goal of being a better leader, it is even more important.

Many people quickly view the challenge of leadership as getting people to follow. Certainly, that is one idea. Yet, it is not the most important idea.

The most important idea may be the consideration of how you will navigate the environment, the culture, and set the example for everyone else. Then the following part develops more naturally. It isn’t forced.

Leadership Responsibility

Leadership is not as much about a position as it is about your behavior. Your position gives you a certain amount of authority. However, it is your behavior, even when no one appears to be watching, that gives you respect.

All eyes are on you when you are in a formal leadership role. Your boss, your peers, and even your direct reports. That isn’t everyone though, there may still be other employees, customers, and vendors who observe your behavior and style.

In today’s world and social climate, your authority often matters less. In addition to the observed behaviors it is about the relationships that you build.

The, “do it or die,” philosophy died long ago. Sure, there may still be pockets of that style of leadership. There may even be scenarios where that style is working. Yet, in the mainstream best practices approach, it is non-existent.

Workplace Navigation

Careful navigation is required. If you are in what may be labeled, middle management, you have important work.

You have to be able to bridge the gap between the front line and the C-Suite. Likely you won’t agree with everything. Likely you’ll face challenges, problems, and push back from both sides.

Winning is not about defeating the opponent, winning is about your careful and appropriate navigation. Being a bit diplomatic is a responsible and respectful approach.

Being a great leader is being a great navigator.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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Workplace Energy, What Are You Bringing?

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We have choices about everything. What are you bringing to work today? Are you bringing workplace energy or merely just trying to lay low and get through the day?

Many organization leaders blame the individuals. They believe motivation is intrinsic, you either have it, or you don’t. When it comes to workplace energy, they just leave it up to the employees to decide.

Energy of Culture

It may be true that at some level our motivation is intrinsic and it may also be true that each individual has responsibility for what they’ll bring. Does organization leadership have a bigger role?

Chances are good that leadership does play a role. Leaders drive culture. Culture has a direct impact on the performance, attitudes, and even the environment that employees walk into each day.

What do you do?

Workplace Energy

Are you bringing more to your workplace? Are you striving hard, working smart, and staying engaged?

Do you seek to create a bigger impact, be responsible and accountable, and help to stimulate a positive climate?

Some people will try to lay low. Stay out of other more assertive workers way, and watch the clock.

Others will insist that their performance and contribution is industrialized and systematic.

They have set the expectation, lubed the wheels and gears, and have made sure things are efficient. As a result, they can merely arrive and monitor. Anything outside of the established parameters and they’ll take action. Otherwise, it is just roll along and collect the paycheck.

It is a decision you make.

Workplace energy is contagious. Low energy and low output is as contagious as the opposite.

High energy contribution takes more guts. Be the role model you know you should be.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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work environment

Work Environment Can Sometimes Be An Illusion

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What is the work environment where you work? Does the environment match the culture or is the environment only a symbol disguising what is really going on? Is the environment only an illusion?

Low unemployment rates make hiring practices more challenging. Depending on your sector, you may have decided that getting people on board can be tough. Keeping them on board is often equally challenging.

When the economy is strong and the unemployment rates are low, people are often able to work at the best organizations. In other words, if your organization is not shiny, glamorous, and exciting, it makes getting and keeping talent tougher.

Environment and Culture

People often confuse the work environment with workplace culture. They tend to go hand-in-hand, yet they are not the same thing.

Work environment has more to do with the physical facility. Is it modern, trendy, and inviting? Does it encourage motivation? Is it reflective of the values and beliefs shared within the organization culture?

Certainly, much of this depends on the type of organization. Heavy industrial is going to be different from healthcare and the financial sector is different from retail commerce or academia.

Mike Rowe starred in a hit TV series known as Dirty Jobs. A show that often highlighted tough, sometimes disgusting work assignments that most people would not choose to do.

One of Mike’s more popular quotes, “Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs.” connects with the difference between environment and culture.

The most successful workplace cultures today do an excellent job of connecting values and beliefs with the work environment.

Work Environment

Building an environment is materialistic. It may involve capital, sometimes lots of it. Perhaps it connects with the location or history of the physical site. It is represented in the buildings, the furniture and fixtures, and other amenities.

One of the best ways to move towards an organization culture that you desire is to have an environment that supports it. It is always easier to flow with the environment instead of against it.

On the other hand, building the environment and assuming you’ve done the work required for culture is only an illusion.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace presence

Workplace Presence Is Required To Get Started

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Does everyone show up for the meeting? Are some people occupying seats but their intellectual presence is questionable? Workplace presence is where it all begins.

It seems there is always some question if the right people are at the meeting. Sometimes there are too many, other times too few. Meeting effectiveness is critical. Your presence may make a difference.

Right Approach

The authoritarian approach seldom works in today’s society. Commanding performance is much less effective when compared with inspiring performance.

The seats are often occupied, but are the people present?

When the truth is known, much of what happens in the workplace depends on leadership and culture. When leaders are really present, things will happen. If they are not, much less will happen.

This doesn’t always mean the formal boss. This means people who are leading. Leading the meetings, setting the course, and navigating the tough spots. Presence is required.

Workplace Presence

Presence helps you actualize the vision which typically happens when you create compelling opportunities.

Taking initiative is important. Taking the right initiative is even more important. Workplace leaders help steer and navigate everything that happens, or everything that doesn’t.

Goals and objectives are accomplished by tactics. Tactics are how strategy is executed.

What is happening at your meetings? Are the right people attending the right meetings? Are the meetings effective or are they unproductive and energy zapping?

If you’re in the meeting then you have a responsibility to lead. If you called the meeting, that responsibility is even greater.

Make sure you do more than just show up.

Arrive.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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