Progression: The Key to Sustained Culture

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One of the biggest challenges I hear from top performing cultures is how to keep their talent. In fact, some have speculated that the old adage, “People don’t quit companies, they quit their managers” is no longer true.

Top companies know that the key to keeping people is a strong progression plan, but they don’t know how to execute on it.

Russ Laraway figured out a great approach to progression while at Google. He discovered that a past/present/future conversation that is based on individuals (rather than positions and titles) is key.

  1. The Past

    This is the conversation to be like Barbara Walters and figure out what they have loved in the past. It’s about connecting the dots in their story.

  2. The Present

    The interviewer listens for the skills being developed and ask about what the person sees in their future (from the present view).

  3. The Future

    Now they co-create a plan together to help that person achieve those goals (both personally and professionally). The interesting part about the plan is that it’s not just about developing their skills, it’s also about developing their network (because that’s how you really get things done). I would also advise building their communication skills.

NOTE: As with any culture hack, it has to be co-created, and you have to keep experimenting. There is no “right way.”

The Culture Q&A Podcast

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A very different episode, completely guided by your questions!

Culture Q&A with Robbe Richman

The hack for great customer service

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I was visiting with Stewart Emery, author of Success Built to Last (and many other books). We were standing over his La Marzocco GS/3 espresso machine. He was telling the easiest hack to make great coffee – “Start with really great coffee.”

Yes, there’s a lot more to it that that, but what a head start you have with great coffee. He shared with me how the same thing applies to business:

“If you want to deliver great customer service, start with great customers.”

He said we have more choice that we think – Whom we choose to serve and market. It’s far easier when we choose great customers whom we enjoy serving and being around. Then customer service becomes easy (or at the very least, desirable!)

 

To increase results, decrease control

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culture-warby-parkerThe glasses retailer Warby Parker has found that letting coders pick the projects they want to work on is getting them better results and better engagement. Once again, opt-in leads the way.

How to be “referable.”

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It’s the golden chalice of marketing – when you don’t have to even market your products and services. Your customers do it for you.

The early history of Zappos is based on this. At a time way before social media, the company decided to spend money not on marketing, but on a remarkable experience so that people spread the word.

So what makes a person or an organization referable? You may be surprised how simple it is.

The technique comes from Dan Sullivan‘s book, The Gap. He says referable means the best people say the best things about you. And here’s how you do it:

  • Show up on time
  • Do what you say
  • Finish what you start
  • Say please and thank you

Yup. That’s it.

You can have the fanciest branding and marketing, or the most well developed core values, but without this, it’s all wasted.

Is Culture Overrated?

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Fast company is saying culture is overrated. As with many articles, it begs the question I ask my audiences…

What is culture?

I’m sure many people are confused by this, considering Webster’s dictionary recently said it’s the most looked up word in the English language.

The article directly relates culture work to employee happiness. If that’s your definition of optimal workplace culture, then yes, culture is not only overrated, it’s dangerous. It’s like being parents who think they have total responsibility for their kids being happy, when it reality it’s their responsibility to develop people who can make it in the world.

Strong cultures are not about happiness, they are about engagement. And strong cultures are simply in alignment. That means what they believe, say and do are all consistent and evident. They hire for it, fire for it, and reward by it.