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5 Themes at Best Places to Work

Watching short videos at Nashville Business Journal’s Best Places to Work event was inspiring. An employee at each nominated company talked about what made the organization a great place to work.

We picked up at least five clear themes employees cited over and over. Here’s a quick look:

Empowerment
Employees at great places to work feel their managers believe in them and empowered to do their jobs and stretch. At Kraft CPAs, “They support me in a way that helps me be my best both professionally and personally,” senior manager Cindy Anderson said. Cash Forshee, senior vp at Medalogix, said the company creates a place where employees can “be bold and experiment and work with other who share the same passion.”

Culture
Great places to work create workplace cultures that recognize success and work-life balance. Employees at the Calvert Group can bring their dogs to work. Jeans are standard daily dress at Resource Communications Group. LPS Integration allows people to work from home. Kraft CPAs allows employees to set their own hours. Winning companies embrace transparency and understand that all work and no play is not a winning formula.

Fun
That great places to work create time to play is an understatement. A company-sponsored or even hosted happy hour is common but alcohol is not always involved. Laser tag (Rockhouse Partners), bowling (Baker Donelson), zoo trips (Benchmark Realty), darts and Dance Revolution (Trinysis), river rafting and CEO-hosted cookout (Medalogix), pro baseball game outings (Robins & Morton, to Cardinals games in St. Louis), skeet shooting (Red Pepper) zipline (Infoworks) and dodgeball (LBMC) are on the long list.

Food
The way to employees’ hearts may well be by way of their stomachs. MANY of the Best Places to Work nominees provide free or at-cost food: InQuicker (free breakfast and lunch everyday to their employees); Revive Health (hot chicken on Fridays); Concept Technology (catered breakfast twice each week); potlucks (Benchmark Realty); LBMC (ice cream socials) and Permobil (cafe serves at-cost breakfast and lunch).

Community
People want to be proud of the role their company plays in the community and they are. Deloitte, TVA’s Economic Development division and Zeitlin & Company realtors were notable examples. In answering the inquiry, Stephanie Brooks, a Zeitlin real estate agent, told the Business Journal that she valued the company’s “leadership, integrity and most of all community involvement.”

Clearly, many Middle Tennessee companies know what it takes to build an engaged workforce, and organizations everywhere can learn from them. Not every method will fit every company but examples of engagement in action can elevate the conversation beyond mere theory.

The Callibrain blog will explore these themes and some of the companies honored in the months to come (see full list from the NBJ) but we leave you with this: The Lampo Group has a “director of all things fun.”

Do you?

15 Quotes to Make Change Management More Manageable

Change breeds uncertainty. Humans, as habitual creatures, want certainty.

We rarely get it, but the yearning for certainty is hard-wired. In the workplace, change management (or even change instigation) is doubly difficult.

Chip and Dan Heath, in their bestseller, ” Switch,” offer a three-part framework to make changing behavior more simple for managers and less scary for employees. Take a look at Callibrain’s video review of Switch by the Heath Brothers.

The three parts – Direct the Rider (a person’s rational side), 2) Motivate the Elephant (a person’s emotional side), and 3) Shape the Path (the situation, or environment, a person is in) – combine for  real-world impact that the authors share.  “Switch” is an inspirational guide and inspired us to investigate what other leaders have said about change.

Here are 15 of our favorites:

1. To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.
–Winston Churchill

 

2. In times of rapid change, experience could be your worst enemy.
–J. Paul Getty

 

Switch change management
If making organization change were as easy as flipping a switch, we wouldn’t need books and guides to help us.

3. If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
–Wayne Dyer

 

4. If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.
–Peter Drucker

 

5. You must welcome change as the rule but not as your ruler.
–Denis Waitley

 

6. If you want to change the culture, you will have to start by changing the organization.
–Mary Douglas

 

7. There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.
–Machiavelli

 

8. The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.
–Rupert Murdoch

 

9. Change before you have to.
–Jack Welch

 

10. He who rejects change is the architect of decay.
–Harold Wilson

 

11. I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.
–Georg C. Lichtenberg

 

12. Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.
–Robert Kennedy

 

13. If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
–Maya Angelou

 

14. You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
–Mahatma Gandhi

 

15. The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.
–Alan Watts

If change were as easy as flipping a light switch, we’d have far fewer songs, poems, works of art and books about how painful it can be. Or quotes.

Which is your favorite? What would you add to our list?

 

Video Review for Switch by Chip and Dan Heath

Employee engagement with http://callibrain.com

This is video review for the book Switch by Chip and Dan Heath produced by Callibrain, employee engagement software.

For a limited time, sign up for a free trial of Callibrain, employee engagement software, at http://callibrain.com.

3 Essential Actions: Listen, Inspire and Model

Organizations of all kinds can learn from how Hampton Inns built an engaged culture internally and took it externally, unleashing “Hamptonality” across a global brand with 60,000 team members and more than 1,900 properties.

Not surprisingly, communication has been a key component of Hampton Inns’ notable journey – communication with employees as well as hotel guests. The brand clearly understands communication is a two-way process.

Listening, the half that too often fights for attention, has helped Hampton Inns (owned by Hilton Worldwide) distinguish itself in a competitive hospitality marketplace.

“We are constantly innovating, constantly listening to owners, employees, guests and operators,” Gina says.

“We innovate through listening,” she says.

Gina is both VP of Owner Services and Hilton Worldwide and VP of Culture and Internal Communications at Hampton. She spoke this week in Nashville at Engagement University, a three-day training organized by the Enterprise Engagement Alliance.

Hampton executives make time to listen regularly to employees, managers and guests. They sit down with guests at round tables and ask, “What do you like? What annoys you? What do you wish we did differently?”

Out of those discussions came power cubes for guests’ electronics, higher quality, brand-name toiletries, healthier breakfast choices and the industry’s first curved shower bar (to make physical contact with the shower curtain less likely).

Similar tweaks come from chats with team members and hotel owners, including costs of living adjustments in pricey markets such as New York City.

With Hamptonality, Gina’s team has built a brand recognized as an engagement leader. The success is even more extraordinary because very few of the 60,000 team members are employees of Hampton or Hilton – all but one of the hotels is an independently owned and operated franchise.

“The question becomes ‘How to engage team members who don’t work for you?’” Gina says. “It is all about influence and inspiration.”

The organization studied what differentiated high-performing managers from mediocre ones and found nine “game-changing” behaviors. Managers who held staff “huddles,” whether daily weekly or monthly had staff higher engagement and 14 percent higher revenue per room.

So, a recent gathering of Hampton Inn general managers was not called a convention but “The Ultimate GM Huddle.”

Model behavior; don’t preach it, Gina says.

“It is not about preaching and teaching the message. It is about bringing it to life,” she says.

“It is not about the big incentive and bonuses. It is about the little day-to-day interactions and making people feel good when they come to work.”

Listen. Inspire. Model. If Hampton Inn can transform a workforce of 60,000 that doesn’t even work for it, what could you do?

Creating a Workplace Culture that Attracts and Keeps Talent

What does it take to create a workplace where people want to do their best – and stick around to keep doing it?

Intention. Five Nashville entrepreneurs who run companies known for their innovative, pro-employee and positive cultures have built organizations considered employers of destination because they set out to do it.

The companies – ISTS, LetterLogic, cj Advertising, Emma and Bernard Health – were the focus of a panel discussion Friday sponsored by Bytes of Knowledge, or b:ok. Their leaders define “culture” a bit differently but agree that culture makes their company more successful.

The five – Becky Sharpe, Sherry Stewart Deutschmann, Arnie Malham, Clint Smith and Alex Tolbert, respectively – run their companies with a clear sense of purpose and reinforce their culture deliberately. Transparency and recognition were two of the biggest themes that emerged, which delights our team at Callibrain.

We believe organizations and those who work for them perform best in a culture that is open and transparent, where people know why they do what they do, why it is important and how they fit into the bigger picture.

So seeing examples of companies in our own backyard that take workplace culture seriously was inspirational. “Seriously,” however, does not mean somber.

cj Advertising is a full-service advertising and marketing agency for personal injury lawyers and law firms. That is all it does. And every day someone “ROCKS.” Shouted by all, the daily event helps keep things lively.

Arnie described culture as “anything we can do to help person do job better and be engaged…and make the time they spend at work as good or the best part of their whole day.”

Emma taps into team members’ creativity, holding talent shows, sponsoring themed space redecorating and ditching its employee handbook for the Emma “Style Guide.”

Culture, Clint said, “is how we act on our values everyday.”

Putting employees first is the key to LetterLogic’s success, Sherry says. Even ahead of clients – which is something that the company tells its clients and prospects. And new, big clients often cite LetterLogic’s culture as the most compelling differentiator.

Transparency is part of the culture at all five companies. cj Advertising keeps a book, literally, of every comment – good, bad and ugly – made about the company and opens it to the world. LetterLogic and ISTS, which administers corporate scholarship programs and handles about 1 million applications a year, share discussions of profitability with employees. At Bernard Health, which provides health insurance advice to individuals, families and companies, salaries are an open book – which allows employees to see where they can get as their skills grow, Alex says.

The company is built on candor. “We are going to be pretty blunt with each other and establish a time and environment where those conversations happen naturally, not randomly,” he says. “It allows more freedom.”

Joe Calloway, business consultant and author of Be the Best at What Matters Most, moderated the panel, “Developing a Corporate Culture to Attract and Retain the Best Employees.”

Some other insights from panel members:

From Sherry: “Culture is like a character of a person, how you behave when everyone is watching you.”

From Alex: “Culture is all the things that a business allows and doesn’t allow.”

From Becky: “Culture is what happens when the going gets tough and the real culture reveals itself. That is why you practice how to behave in bad times.”

From Clint: “We are not laid back about culture,” he said. “People, especially millennials, want to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

Separately, Callibrain is attending Engagement University at Gaylord Opryland, organized by the Enterprise Engagement Alliance, through Tuesday. 

What Is Your Inbox Costing You?

What if, when you awoke to start another busy day, you walked into your kitchen to make coffee and found paper mail stacked a foot high across all the countertops?

Would the scene inspire you? Nurture your best problem-solving skills? Unleash wild creativity?

Probably not.  Continue reading What Is Your Inbox Costing You?

Replace Silo Mentality with Systems Thinking

On visits home to rural Illinois, Phil S. Ensor would pass field after field, grain silo after grain silo, as he pondered the challenges of the modern workplace.

Though we cannot know his exact thoughts, we can imagine. Whether concrete or steel, silos appear impenetrable. Continue reading Replace Silo Mentality with Systems Thinking