Category Archives: Business Leadership

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The 5 cornerstones of successful leadership

Successful leadership is something that every company strives for. There are dozens of courses on how to become a good leader and hundreds of online tutorials, all of them promising one thing – to make a true leader out of any person.

But how can you tell what works? And how do you define efficient leadership if every company (and team) is different?

Despite variety, there are a few attributes that make a strong leader in every company.

Ability to listen

The biggest problem with managers is that they do not listen to their employees.

Such managers can promote their approachable attitude but eventually, it will bring zero results because they simply cannot listen and understand what their people say to them.

The first cornerstone of successful leadership is to learn how to listen to your employees and extract valuable insights from their speech.

If a person comes up to you and proposes a solution to a problem, consider it instead of thanking the person and forgetting about what they said. Pay attention to what people say when they share feedback or an opinion, as this is important for employees’ comfort and motivation.

By closely listening to what people around you say, you will be able to timely identify any problems and prevent them instead of fixing.

Inspiration and influence

A good leader should inspire, and inspiration is an art.

In order for people to follow you and listen to what you say, they need to trust you and have confidence in your actions and decisions. So before claiming that “you know it all,” prove it by example.

Don’t hesitate to help others and teach them if needed. If they see that you are knowledgeable and experienced, they will soon start turning to you for help or advice.

Last but not least – believe in what you are saying. It’s not enough to learn the company’s policies by heart and then repeat them in front of the team. Instead, state your honest opinion and explain the importance of a certain project or task.

When you come from a place of passion, it’ll be easier for you to share that motivation with others.

High EQ

Leadership means working with others, and every individual has their own unique motivation, emotions, and thoughts.

To find an approach with every person on the team, a good leader should have a high level of emotional intelligence. EQ means an understanding of feelings (both own and others) and the ability to control the behavior with the help of this understanding.

So if a member of your team experiences something negative in life, a good leader will recognize that and know how to handle it on a case-by-case basis.

Leaders with high EQ can better understand the motives of others, their strong and weak sides and, as a result, better organize the workflow.

Focus on results

Every company has a strategy for development. In order to keep up to it, the company sets certain goals that help people understand what they do and why.

A result-oriented leader will have a better perspective of the situation and can stay focused on results. While some people can get easily distracted by minor issues or focus on being right at any cost, an efficient leader will always remember the final goal that the company needs to achieve, and will do their best to reach it.

Team player

In a company, you cannot succeed alone – you need a team of dedicated specialists to help you reach the goal.

An efficient leader understands that and is a good team player. And this quality is often overlooked by many managers.

It often happens that managers do not seem approachable, never work together with the team, and never ask for advice. And that’s completely wrong!

A leader is on the same team as other employees – the only difference is the amount of responsibility. But apart from that, a leader should know how to work together with others, listen to recommendations, and accept useful suggestions.

By showing employees that you are part of the team, you can boost their trust towards you and will set an example that they’d want to follow.

Summing up

Leaders experience an overwhelming amount of responsibility and pressure, and it can be hard at times to keep an eye on other things like checking on your team members or asking them for advice.

However, without that, you will not be able to build a long-lasting relationship with your team – and that means you will most probably see a high turnover rate and will struggle with achieving the set goals. Your relationship with people is the base for the company’s success, so keep that in mind and you’ll be amazed by the results.

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Recognizing Top Talent with Benchmarking and Performance Models

Recognizing your top employees allows you to improve your hiring and selection process, recognize which factors contribute to individual success, and train for those factors across your organization. However, recognizing what constitutes success can often be difficult, especially in large organizations where teams often succeed as a whole.

Identifying top performers inside your organization means establishing a system of benchmarking and performance modeling, so you can recognize what counts as success, and track who meets or exceeds those requirements.

Implement Benchmarking

Benchmarking is an easy way to establish baselines for performance. In most cases, benchmarks should be a combination of internal and external data, based on existing performance and performance standards for your industry. If you don’t have this data, you do need it. Your internal benchmark should be based on:

  • What does performance production look like in measurable output?
  • What is median performance?
  • What is minimum performance required to meet goals?
  • How does that performance compare to other similarly sized organizations in your industry?

If you can draw a line in the figurative sand to indicate where performance should be, you can measure how and when people meet those expectations.

Performance Models

Performance models take a deeper look at what people are doing, why, and how. This allows you to judge performance and talent based on more than simple production. Why? Production can be misleading as a measure of desired output. For example, if your team lead is producing a great deal, he’s probably not doing his job.

Similarly, if a communications head is turning around a lot of copy, he’s probably not doing his job. In both cases, the actual job for the individual isn’t about technical production, it’s about helping others to do their jobs.

Performance models allow you to identify other factors that contribute to organizational performance in that role, including soft skills like communication or self-motivation. This allows you to track who’s simply doing their job and who’s actively contributing to future success by exceeding it.

A good performance model requires having benchmarks or performance standards in place. Afterwards, you can communicate expectations, establish tools and training for individuals to meet those expectations, and set up processes to monitor how people meet or do not meet those standards.

Performance models include profiles of expected or quality performance, rank everyone against expected performance, and make it very easy to see who excels and how. For example, if two people are excelling in the same role for completely different reasons, you can collect that data and see how it impacts the individual and their ability to perform.

Identifying top performers allows you to look at the traits, behaviors, and qualities that allow them to succeed. You can then utilize that data in recruitment and selection processes, when training and working on development, and when promoting individuals into new roles, because you already know what success looks like in that role.

It also allows you to better identify who is a top performer in your organization, so you can reward, promote, and continue development for those individuals.

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4 Tips on Getting Actionable Employee Feedback

This is a guest post from Ashley Wilson. Ashley is a digital nomad and freelance writer from San Diego, California. When she is not busy baking cupcakes, Ashley loves writing about business, digital marketing, and finance. Connect with Ashley via Twitter @ashleygwilson.

Most businesses understand the value of getting customer feedback, but many are missing out on a much more valuable source of actionable intelligence: their own employees. While customer feedback is important, it often says more about your employees than about your business.

Your employees may treat your customers well in spite of how they themselves feel treated as employees. If you are not careful, however, you can quickly lose the very employees that may inspire great customer loyalty. Conversely, if your customers aren’t happy, it’s a fairly safe bet that your employees aren’t happy either.

In some cases, if you want better customer satisfaction you actually need to improve employee satisfaction.

Getting actionable feedback from employees, however, is not quite as simple as getting it from your customers. While your customers may not hesitate to give an honest review even if it is negative, your employees may not be so eager.

Your customers have little, if anything, to lose from their criticism of your business, but your employees are in a much more tenuous position. Here are 4 tips for getting actionable – and honest – feedback from your employees.

1. Offer Both Anonymous and Face-to-Face Opportunities

Both anonymous and face-to-face feedback have their drawbacks. Overall, feedback given anonymously may or may not be as trustworthy as feedback given face-to-face. Honest feedback is much harder to get, however, when employers know where it is coming from. Anonymous feedback also makes it much easier to vent in a fit of pique or even maliciously slander someone because there is little threat of repercussion.

One way to encourage honest face-to-face feedback is to make performance reviews a two-way street. By choosing to receive an employee evaluation at the same time as giving one, you are more likely to get honest feedback from an employee who is also looking for the same thing.

2. Make Sure Feedback is Solicited from All Employees

As telecommuting and remote work become more common, it is also common for businesses to forget about their remote employees in company matters.

Your remote employees will actually be affected by corporate culture just as much as your on-site employees, but they often have even less of a voice than your on-site employees. Not only is it important to solicit feedback from your remote employees, it is also important to take extra measures to try and help your remote employees feel like they are a real part of the team.

With remote employees, you have to be especially careful and aware of the preferred communication style. This means you should offer feedback in the time of day and using the tools (email, phone, video call etc.) the remote employee will be receptive to. As in any other case, paying attention to your tone and body language as well as making sure you listen, answer and clarify any questions and comments is of utmost importance.

3. Make Feedback Protocols Clear – and Adhere to Them

If employees believe they can be fired or even punished for giving negative feedback, they are unlikely to give it. While everyone loves hearing all the things they are doing right, the truth is what you are doing wrong will be most detrimental to your business. That is actually the feedback you need the most.

It is important for employees to understand exactly how any feedback will be handled and perhaps most importantly, what protections they can expect for giving it. It is also important to respond appropriately to negative feedback and let your employees know they have been heard and you are taking their feedback seriously.

Chances are good you will have to deliver negative feedback to your employees, so this is a good opportunity to set an example of how to receive and handle negative feedback maturely and professionally.

Basically, oftentimes higher levels of job satisfaction, better job performance, trust and motivation depend on the emotional intelligence of both parties. It all starts with you.

4. Handle Explosive Revelations With Care – But Do Handle Them

The Bill Cosby scandal may be one of the most important lessons for businesses. The more widely respected, loved and revered an individual is, the more difficult it may be to believe anything negative about them. Your most efficient manager may actually turn out to also be embezzling thousands of dollars in company funds.

Any time there is a major scandal of any kind, it invariably turns out someone knew what was going on and in many cases tried to tell someone. The problem was that no one listened or believed them.

Yes, employees may always err on the side of believing they are overworked, underpaid and not treated fairly. That does not automatically mean they are wrong, however. Just because an employee makes an accusation does not automatically mean it is true, but it also doesn’t mean it’s untrue just because it is unbelievable.

It is very important to investigate any and all allegations that may come to light by whatever means they are delivered.

It Flows Both Ways

Almost all businesses, employers, managers and employers will have to deliver negative feedback to their employees at some time, and the truth is, employees generally expect it. In order to have a truly healthy business dynamic, however, it is important for honest evaluation to flow both ways.

Receiving negative feedback is hard and it is easy for business owners, supervisors and managers to simply close themselves off to receiving it. Those that do, however, may do so at their own peril.

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Your HR manager should have these 5 competencies for success

HR managers are more than just hiring and firing – they are critical business leaders that should help to shape and drive your company’s future. Which also means that HR managers should have more than just a qualification – your HR manager should also have the competencies for success.

The top HR manager competencies

The remit of an HR manager is never-ending – from attracting talent and resolving grievances, to creating a culture and developing your next leaders. Being successful at all of their tasks requires more than just good organizational skills (although that helps). To be truly successful, your HR manager should have the following competencies:

1. Communication and interpersonal skills

At the heart of any HR manager’s role is communication. They need to work with people from across the business, regardless of seniority, culture, gender, age, or any other characteristics. You HR manager should demonstrate outstanding interpersonal and communication skills – where they can influence the board just as easy as they can mediate employee conflict.

2. Leadership

HR managers need to not only lead their own team but lead the business as a whole. Leadership skills are crucial for building relationships, coaching and developing employees, and guiding the company through organizational challenges and change. Crucially, employees must be able to respect your HR manager as a leader, while still feeling confident enough to confide in them their problems.

3. Strategic thinking

Your HR manager should be able to complement and enhance the company’s strategic direction in everything they do. Accordingly, they need to understand how the organization works and how to develop a competitive advantage through people and their performance – developing complementary hiring, development, and retention strategies.

4. Critical thinking

It’s also important for an HR manager to be able to think critically. No day in HR is every the same – different problems, situations, challenges, and people arise daily. Critical thinking enables your HR manager to balance complex situations and find a solution that combines processes, logic, and out-of-the-box thinking.

5. HR champion

Perhaps most important of all, your HR manager should constantly champion the discipline of HR and its importance for driving the business forward. They need to convince the board of the importance of employee engagement, win over finance for their training budget, inject company culture into everyone, and make your company a place of performance, reward, and fun.

How to screen for HR competencies

Knowing these competencies is one thing, identifying them in potential HR candidates is another. When beginning your next HR manager recruitment campaign, be sure to:


HR managers don’t wear capes – but they really should. A role that involves everything, everyone, and responsibility for the company’s success requires much more than just an HR qualification – it requires skills, competencies, and a personality that can handle it well.

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5 Ways to Build Success Profiles

Success profiles can help your organization to improve hiring, leadership development, and role planning, giving you the tools to strategize who and why you hire and develop. However, the value of these success profiles often lies in their validity, relevance, and ability to adapt to the future, which means that the process of building success profiles is just as important as actually using them.

While your organization can take many approaches to building success profiles, your best option is to use several techniques to complete a well-rounded job profile. In most cases, you can get started by working with an assessment center, tailoring their results to your specific needs, and moving on from there.

Using Performance Management Data

Performance management will always give you a clear idea of who is succeeding, although it may not always tell you why. Here, you should look at who is performing well in their job and in what aspects of their job. You may find that some individuals excel in certain aspects of a role while others do so in other ways. Collecting this information is relatively simple, but it will give you great insight into the skills, personality, and behaviors necessary to hiring or developing a fully rounded person for the role.

Conducting Work Interviews

No one is quite as aware of what is needed in a role as those already in the role or those working immediately around it. Here, you should question how well individuals perform in their role, how they go about performing their role, what is needed for future and upcoming changes, and what they could do better. Doing so will give you a good understanding of not just what people like to see in the role but also what they aren’t seeing.

Using Industry Standards as a Baseline

Industry standards, which can be sourced through assessment centers and recruitment centers, are often a valuable insight for hiring and development. For example, you can look at how others are hiring, look at which skills and behaviors are considered standard, and then tweak those results to meet your own needs. While this will never give you a truly personalized success profile for your organization, you may find details and skills or competencies that you would have missed if building the success profile on your own.

Taking a Holistic Approach to Success

Success in a role is often about much more than simple hard skills. Other considerations include emotional intelligence, competencies such as communication and adaptability, and ability to adjust to new roles, skills, and tasks. For example, many individuals are brought into a leadership pipeline despite not having the necessary adaptability to switch from technical work to leadership work. Looking at every aspect of competencies does require having a competency framework in place, but it will pay off in the long-term, because your success profiles will reflect not just what is needed to complete a job, but also what is needed to excel in the job, what is needed to adapt to a new role, and so on.

Review Your Biggest Risk Cases

Many success profile standards such as the one developed by SigmaSuccessions recommend that you base success profiles on high risk cases. Which employees would make the largest impact if they were to leave tomorrow? What makes them so special? If you can identify key employees, you can identify the traits, behaviors, and competencies that make them so key.

Success profiles are valuable in leadership, succession, and in recruitment but it is important to validate your results.

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How to Gauge Your HR Department’s Performance Quarterly

Investing in your workplace often means investing in HR so they have the resources to hire, train, and develop individuals to help the organization. Once you’ve made those investments, how do you ensure HR stays on track? How do you review HR’s performance?

While there are numerous ways to track the efficacy and efficiency of HR, quarterly reviews are one of the best methods you can choose. Unlike year-end performance review, quarterly reviews allow you to set goals based on the period, make changes to keep teams on track with total goals, and view how short-term changes have been implemented.

Set Quarterly Goals

It’s important to understand what you’re measuring before attempting to do so. If your HR teams are focusing on solving a specific goal, they likely won’t perform well in general metrics. For example, if your organization is suffering a talent retention crisis, you want HR to focus on that. Understanding quarterly goals will allow you to set baselines for what you measure, so you can better gauge if your teams are meeting those goals.

Measuring HR Outcomes

Measuring how well HR is performing involves measuring outcomes. This typically means setting KPIs around employee satisfaction, churn rate, absenteeism, and so on. You can typically measure these using metrics such as Employee Net Promoter Score, employee satisfaction (especially if you have an index), churn rate or attrition or average length of service, and employee productivity. These should be directly linked to existing and stated goals as well as to performance as a whole.

Reviewing HR Service

Is your HR team delivering quality service? How effective are onboarding programs? Are employees being developed and trained at a sufficient quality and scale? What is a sufficient quality and scale? How do employees feel about the service they receive? How do employees rate performance management? You can review metrics such as return on investment, failure rate of new hires, promotion rate (including into higher levels of technical skill), performance of new hires, employee net promoter score, and satisfaction regarding performance benefits.

Efficiency and Effectiveness

How effectively is your HR performing? Measuring efficiency often involves using external benchmarks, comparing results to that of an assessment center, or otherwise using existing baselines to determine what is good or desirable and why. Here, you want to look at return on investment, cost per hire, time to fill vacancies, and validation for processes. You can ask questions like “What channels are we recruiting through and why?”, “What are we paying per hire”, “how much do we pay in training costs”, “how effective is training”, and so on.

What About Compliance?

Compliance is one of the most important aspects of HR and it is one you should not ignore. Here, you want to look at policies and practices, how well employees are trained on those policies and practices, how well employees understand them, and how well HR meets equality and diversity obligations. Key metrics such as what percentage of employees who have taken training, diversity of employees, gender pay gap, diversity initiatives, and so on can be extremely useful.

Measuring HR performance can be difficult if you haven’t set goals or priorities, simply because you won’t know what to measure. In most cases, your HR teams should aim to offer a balance in recruitment, people development and training, leadership development, and managing policies, practices, and performance.

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How to Set Employee Communication Goals

Employee communication is one of the backbones of an organization. Individual ability to share information, create buy-in for ideas, analyze data, give and take criticism, benefit from mentorship, and work together in an effective and productive manner all depend on communication.

Unfortunately, most people aren’t great at it. Everyone from people in janitorial jobs to the CEO can struggle with communication, which can impact your business and its output a great deal.

Setting goals to improve communication is a valuable thing for most organizations. Be sure to review how to do so, what’s reasonable, and how you will achieve those goals. Most organizations can use the following process to set reasonable and achievable communication goals.

Analyze Your Existing Employee Communication

It’s impossible to set goals for improvement without a deep understanding of where you are now and why. This means analyzing how individuals communicate, how well they do it, and what’s impeding better communication. You can typically achieve this with a multi-part assessment starting with a baseline of where communication should be. Most employee assessment organizations can provide data to this extent.

Self-Assessment – Distribute questionnaires asking individuals to rate their own communication and that of others. Questions should ask why, where, and how communication goes right or wrong and give space for individuals to offer input on how to improve.

Leadership Assessment – Have managers give input on how well their teams communicate, what’s impeding them, and why.

Review Results – No matter how teams are rating themselves, you can typically analyze actual communication by spending a small amount of time in the team or by asking questions relating to problem-solving, conflict-of-opinion, and so on.

Review Training & Development Possibilities

A good needs assessment will determine where employees are good at communication and where you have gaps. For example, many organizations struggle with emotional intelligence, which allows individuals to communicate with others in an empathetic manner.

Communication problems can stem from a range of issues, many of which you can solve using training or development:

  • Teams are using different tooling and cannot easily communicate with each other
  • Individual lack emotional intelligence and don’t take others into account
  • Hierarchy gets in the way of good communication
  • Poor workplace culture prevents quality communication
  • Some individuals don’t fit into the team culture

There are many potential obstacles to good communication, but this short list of examples shows they can stem from HR issues that require improvement, organizational structure issues, and from individual failings which can be trained and improved.

Recognizing where your issues are coming from (you will typically have several) allows you to target solutions and work to improve them.

Consider Your Employees

Most organizations will employ a wide range of individuals with different communication styles and levels of emotional intelligence. Make room for this in any communication goals you set, so that individuals who naturally struggle with communicating in one-on-one or in group settings will still have opportunities to excel.

Set Goals

Once you’re aware of your issues, your possible fixes, and how your individual employees communicate, you can plan solutions. This will, in turn, allow you to set actual communication goals based on data. Here, you can set goals such as “improve communication by 20% within 3 months of taking EQ training.”

You might also set goals such as “Improve by X% after successfully restructuring team hierarchy.” Here, you are tying goals to achievable actions which would enable that increase, making those goals much more tangible and realistic.

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Common HR Mistakes: What to Look out for at Your Company

People make up the heart of any organization, and HR is responsible for facilitating those people. HR professionals connect employees, select quality candidates, manage working conditions, and ensure everyone has the tools and training to perform to their best potential. In an ideal situation, HR functions to bring good people in, while working to improve and facilitate individuals already in the organization.

Unfortunately, any HR team is only human. Mistakes happen, and without the benefit of a separate team to manage quality, they can go unnoticed. At the same time, HR mistakes can be critical for company success, and should be tackled and fixed as quickly as possible. These common HR mistakes will give you a better idea of what to look for inside your own organization, so you can work to improve.

Ineffective Hiring Practices

Hiring, including the process of recruitment, interviewing, and assessment, is one of HRs many roles, but it is one that is often done incorrectly. HR departments often rely solely on interviews to gauge employees and their suitability for roles, which can result in hiring individuals who are good at selling themselves rather than the best candidates.

Incorporating multiple steps into the hiring process, including complete and detailed job profiles, ideal candidate profiles based on internal competency and job profiles, appropriate and measurable interview processes, and a system or framework with which to compare candidates.

It’s also important to integrate cultural elements into hiring. Here, you could invite prospective candidates to work for a day in the office, invite them out to an event, or otherwise engage with them inside the actual work environment. Of course, hiring for culture fit isn’t always the best option, as you also want to challenge existing culture and grow or improve.

Onboarding and Job Classification

Onboarding and job classification issues are extremely common in many organizations, especially as roles and their relevance change over time. If your job classification and job role frameworks are not up to date, hires won’t be properly integrated and may be given a confusing jumble of non-relevant tasks.

Streamlining onboarding and job classification means creating clear job descriptions, classifying jobs appropriately, creating a strong employee handbook, and then creating an onboarding process. Here, the best way to do so is to use coaching or mentoring techniques, where new hires are handed into existing teams and mentored by seniors in their role or in their squad or team.

Management and Leadership Training Issues

Many organizations implement some form of leadership and training, either with the intent of promoting someone in a technical role into leadership, or to improve the skills of a management hire. Poorly trained managers can cost your organization a great deal in terms of productivity, money, and even legal issues, as even asking the wrong questions can break the law.

Management and leadership should be trained in emotional intelligence, should be able to manage individuals and their time with empathy and consideration, and should be working with the goal of helping others to be productive, rather than doing work themselves. If training doesn’t tackle these steps, especially in terms of emotional intelligence and making the switch from technical work to management work, managers simply won’t do a good job and could be hurting the organization.

Poor Performance Management

Performance management is often at the top of everyone’s minds, but it’s difficult to implement and handle in a good way. Many organizations utilize unstructured salary increases, individual performance bonuses, and even punishment based disciplinary actions that do nothing for employee motivation or morale.

Here, reviewing practices to create structured reasons for increases and benefits, non-salary benefits, and team-based performance bonuses based on performance, with individual performance bonuses based on competency or personal improvement, can greatly improve motivation across teams.

HR mistakes impact the entire organization, which is why it’s important to review and fix them. In some cases, “mistakes” are nothing more than poor or outdated practices, which leave a great deal of room to improve. In either case, streamlining HR will result in improvements across your business, and you will see changes in performance, culture, and motivation.

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It’s Not Too Late: How to Turn Around a Poor Company Culture

Peter Drucker is famous for the quote “Strategy eats culture for breakfast” but most organizations don’t realize just how true the adage is… until they have to. That’s how Satya Nadella arguably turned Microsoft’s flagging profits around. His decisions to steer Microsoft products were largely based on a massive cultural shift, and resulted in 27% year-over-year growth and stock tripling in value between his step-in as CEO and September 2018.

Nadella stepped into a culture based around strict hierarchy, bitter competition, and one-upmanship. In just a few years, his efforts succeeded in creating a culture of sharing, open communication, innovation, and emphasizing soft skills, which is now reflected in Microsoft’s products, internal and external policies, and work-floor culture.

But while that shift in company culture and many others are clear indicators that company culture does indeed eat strategy for breakfast, how do you turn yours around? With so much of company culture outside of control, how do you take a poor culture and develop something powerful?

Understand Your Current Culture

It’s important to understand your current company culture, where it comes from, and what’s influencing it. Company culture is a living thing. It changes with the people who come and go, it changes with technology, and it adapts to meet new things. If your culture is a certain way, it is because something is contributing to that. Identifying those aspects will help you to modify those aspects to create a culture you do what. Key areas contributing to company culture include your office and environment, leadership, and general employee attitude and morale.

Identify Your Goal Culture

Company culture should align with organizational strategy and goals. This often means identifying which elements of culture, especially behavior, align with achieving goals. Your behavioral framework, competency framework, or another form of soft-skill analysis will help you to create these goals, because you will better-understand how different aspects of company culture are actually contributing to goals.

How does that work? Examine your organization’s goals.

  • What values or behaviors would help teams to achieve those goals?
  • Are those values already represented in company culture? If not, why not? If so, why?
  • Do employees receive clear examples of desired behaviors and culture from leadership?
  • What conditions are required to introduce desired behavior? What conditions are required to change undesired behavior?

Creating Conditions for Change

An individual must consciously choose to change their behavior in order to do so to any effect. You can ask them to do so, but until someone makes the choice to change how they act, they will continue their old behavior patterns. Introducing conditions for change, alongside information on why that change is important, and how to go about that change, is the best way to begin a shift in company culture.

For example, Satya Nadella began his shift in company culture by handing out mandatory reading homework in the form of the book, “Nonviolent Communication.” Depending on your organizational goals, you could offer workshops on communication, hard skills courses, leadership or innovation coaching, training in emotional intelligence, and so on.

The important aspect is that new ideas must be introduced from the top down. No one on a work floor will model behavior if leadership isn’t following suit. Similarly, individuals must understand the reason for change and have the opportunity to do so. It’s not enough to tell someone to start collaborating as a team to create more innovation if you’re still rewarding individual performance. If you wanted to introduce stronger team collaboration, you would want to introduce performance rewards for a team as a whole, rather than for individuals inside the team.

Similarly, if you want to change how people communicate inside an office, a quick communication course might help but major physical change will as well. Creating a positive rewards or Kudos system, changing office layouts to make discussion easier, and creating mandatory round-table discussions once-per-week would help to foster that.

Changing company culture is often about recognizing a need, determining what’s important, and creating an opportunity for that change. Eventually, most people will respond to those conditions for change, especially when prompted by changes in processes and structure. In some cases, people will continue to resist, and should be given special attention or eventually removed from the culture if they do not fit.

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How to Reclassify Senior Roles Without Losing Top Talent

As your organization grows, technology changes, and products evolve, roles will naturally change as well. Reclassifying roles becomes necessary when either a litany of small changes or several larger ones have made parts or all of a role defunct, the role is misclassified and could be better moved to another department, or the role is otherwise not performing to its possible potential.

While this step is often necessary and valuable for organizations, it must be done carefully to avoid talent loss, especially in the case of senior and executive roles. Faced with change, many seniors will choose to leave rather than “be humiliated” by not knowing their job, which is a problem HR staff can easily prevent.

Involving Individuals in Role Reclassification

Any job reclassification requires a certain amount of role assessment and analysis, comparison with profiles, comparison with work being completed, and a final review. Senior employees involved in restructure can very easily contribute at any stage of this, contributing what they think their role should be doing, how tasks have changed, how much free time they have, and where they think their role would best-contribute to the organization. While not every person will offer valuable input here, involving people in change puts them in control, so that they feel as though they are steering change rather than being pushed along with it.

Communicating Reasons for Change

Role reclassification often stems from very specific reasons, which do not typically relate to individual performance. Communicating these reasons as well as the benefits of the change will be crucial in creating buy-in and acceptance of reclassification.

These reasons often relate to:

  • Changes in technology/tooling (software/code expertise requirement changes)
  • Changes in product
  • Changes in company direction
  • Changes in services
  • Restructuring teams or departments
  • Recognition of overlap in certain roles

For example, a person in an executive role may have previously managed a large team of 40 people. A company restructure relating to changing technology automating half of the work led to downsizing. The executive now manages 20 people with half the workload but hasn’t been assigned anything else. At the same time, they could add a great deal of value to new employees as a coach. Reclassifying the role to create one where half of the role’s responsibilities include coaching would cover the gap. Communicating this and how it would benefit the organization and the individual would help them to see it as an opportunity, rather than simply tacking on more responsibilities.

Offering Opportunities for Growth

One of the largest barriers to restructure is the simple concept that people are afraid of change. At the same time, many people are looking out for their futures, trying to grow, improve, and build their career, even from senior roles. Recognizing this and offering room for personal development and career advancement is important for talent retention.

This is more-so the truth when individuals are faced with a decrease in importance, pay-grade, or perks. Many people are more likely to leave than face a downgrade in their role, which means you have to manage their responsibilities or work to move them into a different role (if they are performing enough to warrant the shift).

Reclassifying roles can be difficult without losing anyone, but you can take steps to offer opportunities, clear communication, and involve affected individuals to prevent talent loss.

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