Are YOU the bad apple that spoils the whole bunch?

bad appleAs the Osmond’s told us back in the 70’s One Bad Apple Doesn’t Spoil the Whole Bunch – when it comes to love but what about when it comes to organizational culture? We’re bound to have one or two bad apples in the bunch and sometimes we learn to live with them or give them the boot. But there is something to it when the rotten apple is in a management or leadership role of an organization.

One bad manager can have a huge effect on morale, productivity and ultimately a company’s bottom line especially if that person is over Human Resources, Recruitment or in some form of leadership role.

Let’s say said rotten apple is looking for potential employees to bring into their dysfunctional environment (culture) and they pretend to be a very happy-go-lucky soul with not a care in the world. Someone who believes in their organization and the fabulous culture they portray as they brainwash fantastic potential candidates in persuading them to join their “employee-friendly” culture.

High potential employee decides to jump ship from his current job in which he hates to join a team-friendly environment in which he has always longed to be a part of.  Instead of finding the bliss that was sold to him in the hiring process he instead yells a loud “HOLY S$#%! What have I gotten myself into?”

What he’s experienced is nothing new in a broken hiring process that looks for the best candidates, promises something that is contrary to the culture of the organization in hopes of finding those who will come in and make the organization a better place. But is it really up to the employee or potential employee to do so?

Our organizational culture starts at the top and trickles down from the CEO to the C-Suite. From the C-Suite to the management team and so forth and so on. If we are dysfunctional (from the top) what makes us think that this will not affect our team.

If Mom and Dad are Looney’s wouldn’t it stand to reason that the possibility of creating a little Looney Jr. is around 99% due to our behavior and family traits?

The same is true within our organizational structure. If you’re trying to get everyone to be a team player and yet you aren’t a team player yourself or you’re dysfunctional and creating fear and havoc around you, you may just need to stop and think “Is it me that stinks?”

Our dysfunction and hatred of our own jobs can most assuredly end up infesting our employees like the black plague. This can cause folks to start to resent the working environment they are currently in, make them feel afraid and that they have to walk on egg shells and even cause them to start looking to jump ship.

Perhaps it’s time for YOU as part of the leadership team to get on your meds, go to therapy, or maybe even realize that you’re not cut out for the particular role you signed up for. It could also be that you’re in burn-out mode and should consider turning in your resignation.

One of the most influential leadership books in recent years, Tribal Leadership, shows just how important culture is over nearly anything else. According to the authors, there are five stages of leadership and culture, with the 5th leading to a “no fear” environment that inspires innovation and maximum productivity:

“Tribal leaders focus their efforts on building the tribe — or more precisely, upgrading the tribal culture. If they are successful, the tribe recognizes them as the leaders, giving them top effort, cult like loyalty, and a track record of success. Divisions and companies run by Tribal Leaders set the standard of performance in their industries, from productivity and profitability to employee retention. They are talent magnets, with people so eager to work for the leader that they will take a pay cut if necessary.”

Here’s what you have in your organization when you have a healthy management team and culture:

  • Fear and stress go down as the “interpersonal friction” of working together decreases
  • People seek employment in the company and stay, taking the company a long way toward winning the war for talent
  • Organizational learning becomes effortless, with the tribe actively teaching its members the latest thinking and practices
  • People’s overall health statistics improve. Injury rates and sick days go down
  • Most exciting … is that people report feeling more alive and having more fun (they look forward to going to work)

In my opinion and from what I’ve studied, the culture of an organization is huge and is like a river that runs throughout. If you or your management team is adversely affecting morale, chances are you are also adversely affecting your company’s bottom line. You in fact, are that bad apple!

Photo Credit

When does “corporate governance” help or hurt social media strategy?

dinosaur-worldThis guest post was recently aired over at one of my favorite places Businessesgrow by my hero Mark Schaefer and used with permission cause I thought ya’ll could use a listen. Oh, and instead of having the same ole same ole at your next conference think about asking Mark to come speak!

I recently had a comment from a reader scoffing at the idea of enabling employees through a “social enterprise” strategy because it ignores the best practices of corporate governance. In other words, the legal department should keep a tight reign on corporate communications.

First let me give you my historical relationship with corporate governance:

1) I have worked with large corporations for 30 years and truly recognize the legitimate place of governance.

2) I am a fan of lawyers. Anybody who has a job to keep me out of jail is cool with me.

3) I recognize many examples where strict rules of engagement with the public are necessary, especially in a regulated environment.

Having said that, many times when executives use an excuse of “corporate governance policies” to reject a social media plan for their company, they are really saying — “I want to hide behind a policy and hope this whole thing blows over.”

Hiding behind company policies to justify inaction is a tried-and-true strategy. I’ve seen it with HR policies, quality policies, and environmental policies. Using communication policies and social media as an excuse for inaction is just the next in line for people who make a living keeping their head in the sand.

Hiding behind policies is an excuse to not change

There is a fine line between true governance and hiding behind anachronistic policies because of a fear of change, which is usually the true nature of the resistance.

I grew up in a world where there was one company “spokesperson” and you could get fired for stepping over that line. I am not dismissing the need for governance when it comes to the SEC, IRS, and when there is a reporter at the door from 60 Minutes.

However, let’s look at an example I wrote about recently, where a salesperson from a huge company attracted $47 mm in new business completely through using social networking tools. One of the reasons he won this business is because his competitors were restrained from using these same tools due to “governance.” In this case, is governance helping, or is it so far behind the times that the company is at a competitive disadvantage?

In my experience, more often than not, companies are hiding behind policies written in the 1970s without considering the current competitive environment.

“Our employees are idiots”

In one of my classes, a student from a regulated industry said he could not even have a LinkedIn profile because of his wealth management company’s communication policy.

“Do they let you attend community networking events?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

“Do the lawyers give you a scrip?,” I said.

“No, of course not,” he chuckled.

“Then what’s the difference? If you are not allowed to network online you are being asked to compete with a 1980s toolkit. The real issue is that they are afraid of change and they don’t trust their employees. Your company social media policy is ‘our employees are idiots’.”

He laughed and agreed with my point.

In many companies the real obstacle to success on the social web isn’t a lack of direction or budget or resources. It is a fear of change.


Illustration courtesy of Flickr CC and Diane Turner

About the Author:

markMark Schaefer is an acclaimed college educator, author, speaker and consultant who has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and the CBS NEWS. You can read his blog, hire him, get him to speak at your next conference or corporate training HERE. Follow him on Twitter @markwschaefer.

Connecting with Online Influencers takes Bawls!

Fueled-By-BawlsEveryone’s talking about “Building your Online Community” and influence all over creation. I’ve talked about it myself. But does anyone ever tell you the HOW TO’s? How does that work if you are naturally shy? Good of you to ask!

It actually is great if you’re a little on the shy side because though networking online or off may be similar, you can sort of hide behind the computer and talk to folks through the keyboard as opposed to a little face-to-face action (unless you’re Skying or hanging out on Google+).

In fact, I prefer it. I always feel so uncomfortable networking IRL (in real life) because I tend to be a little on the timid side when first meeting and blow that outta the water after we’ve conversed awhile. I know, you find that hard to believe but it’s the gosh dang truth. However, both networking IRL and online are needed to build your community, further your business and get the word out or to help others do the same. It takes interacting with others and it makes the world go round as apposed to playing jacks in a corner somewhere by yourself.

When working your way through the online world and connecting with others it’s a good rule of thumb to follow others and especially influencers in your space who have been plowing ground and making headway. And sometimes following those influencers, connecting with them on Facebook and across different social platforms can be a little intimidating to say the least. Sometimes it takes bawls of steel to hit the “friend button” on Facebook for fear of rejection or whatever.

Here’s how I developed my strategy.

  1. Follow the experts – I researched who the influencers were in my space. I studied where were they writing, who were they connected with, how were they connecting, what were they talking about? If there are folks doing it right, figure out what they’re doing that’s working. Now, apply that to your strategy – and I don’t necessarily mean copy them. But you can learn from them, follow some of the same folks they follow and who follow them and go from there to find your own voice.
  2. Find one platform, do that well! – I started with Twitter. I read every book I could find on Twitter, figured out the ins and outs and then began to start practicing what I learned. I searched hashtags and sat in on Twitter chats and watched what was going on. Then I connected with those folks who were “experts” for lack of a better word, and followed them, following their followers etc, etc. I started reading their blogs, commenting on them, showing my face in their world while sharing my own blog and my area of expertise.
  3. Cross-pollinate – I love the word cross-pollinate because to me that represents the best way to take your connections on one platform over to another platform. I began with my connections on Twitter that I was following, engaging with and learning from and finding them on Linked In and sending a short intro like “I’m bringing this on over from Twitter and would love to link up!” And most of them accepted my request.  I built my Linked In with several these same folks from Twitter. Then I started doing the same with Facebook. All of these platforms have their own feel and what I found was Facebook was very laid back where Linked In was more business chatter. I started learning about their kids, families, what they loved doing through Facebook and it created a great way to connect on a more personal basis. Twitter was a land all it’s own but very short, sweet and to the point and definitely serves a purpose. (NOTE: if you don’t want to mix personal and professional you don’t have to, but it can be a great way to dive deeper into these relationships you’re trying to build).

I will say I had some major kahuna’s to connect with the folks I’ve connected with – but I’ve always had those (not literally). But you never know until you try and reach out and touch someone, right?

What happens when you do this? You become part of some really amazing communities. You have the chance to perhaps even be considered a thought leader yourself and have the opportunity to advance your business, find a new career and help others do the same.

So grow some bawls, reach and connect with others. Learn from them and give back by liking their posts, commenting on their blogs, and simply engaging with them. There are some fantastic folks out there just waiting to show you the ropes!

Photo Credit: BevNet

Social Media Bait and Switch – Banning Social Media in the Workplace

Small_Biz_HR_Bait_Switch-235x300Unfortunately there is a lot of bait and switch that happens in the recruiting space. I’ve written about it before. One of the most common things happening today is with companies wanting to use social media to find top talent, but then having a social media policy that blocks all usage.

A few months ago I was in a client’s office working and tried to access their Facebook page to see how we could better leverage it for recruiting. I couldn’t.  When I asked my client about it, he explained that “corporate” blocked all social media websites except LinkedIn. When I asked who ran their social media pages he told me that it was an outside company and that no person inside the organization could change or add anything.

He then explained how the executives didn’t think social media was adding any value. I wonder why?

I have chatted with countless HR professionals who want to incorporate social media into their recruiting strategy and when I ask them about internal social policies, they are on lock down. One HR professional was even the driving force behind her companies strict social media policy. She and I went around and around for two hours on why social recruiting without actually being social was a bad idea. I finally got her to understand my point when I told her that by recruiting them socially but then not allowing them to be social once on board is basically saying that once they are an employee of yours, you can no longer trust them. People who find jobs socially, want to continue to be social.

So before looking at adding social recruiting to your mix, think about your internal employees and what they are allowed to do on social media and only do that much. Do not give candidates the impression that social is a part of your game if it really isn’t.

And here is some bonus info. Once you get the social policy cleaned up, work on your careers website first. I was going to write an entire post on this but see Jessica already did it here. She is also conducting a webinar soon that I’m sure will provide amazing info.

Be open to internal social media usage, work on your careers website AND THEN you are ready to actually start recruiting socially. Skip steps and your strategy will fail.

This post originally aired over at Acacia HR Solutions

About the Author: 

sabrinaSabrina Baker, PHR is a Human Resource Consultant and Social Recruiter in Chicago. Through her business, Acacia HR Solutions, she acts as an Human Resource Business Partner to companies who either do not have full time HR support or who need to compliment the experience of their current HR staff. She is a member of the Illinois State Council of SHRM board and serves as the annual conference chair. She is also a member of the SHRM press team for the SHRM annual conference.

REWIND: Ever feel like you’re living in the movie Groundhog Day?

groundhog dayIf I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

I’m not sure if that is true or not but it definitely gets one thinking.

I thought of the movie “Groundhog Day” (and since Groundhog Day is about to be upon us) with Bill Murray (who happens to be a native of Chicago and a true Bears fan). This is one of my very favorite movies. It is so far-fetched and funny that I seriously laugh out loud every time I watch it. I am embarrassed to say, I’ve seen it more than 7 or 8 times (I own the DVD).

I think I can relate to it in many aspects because in my lifetime (that short span of 48 years), I have often felt that drudgery of doing the same thing – over and over and over again. You wake up, have your coffee, read a little, check your emails, get in the shower, get dressed, go to work, drive home, fix dinner, deal with the kid, deal with the husband, clean up, get the kid ready for bed and then go to bed yourself all to wake up the next day and do the same thing over and over again. It becomes a rut in which we often find ourselves.

Perception is key. How we view what we are experiencing is key to our well-being and how we will cope.

Looking back at the movie, He wakes up every day and it’s Groundhog Day. A day in which he hates. He is forced to face the same people saying the same things in this little town that he hates. He is quite miserable but watch what begins to happen as his heart starts softening up and he realized he can never get beyond this dilemma until he accepts it and changes some things in his life, especially his outlook and response to what is happening in and around him.

I encourage you to watch the movie, which by the way, was filmed just 20 minutes north of where I live in the suburbs of Chicago in a little town called Woodstock, IL. I love going there and seeing the little town which totally takes me back to the scenes in the movie. It puts a smile on my face.

A couple years ago, I was there shopping with my friend Lorrie during the Christmas holidays. We drove past the home they used as The Inn where Bill Murray stayed. Here is the picture I took.

What can we learn from all this?

Accepting what we cannot change, going with the flow, and saying to ourselvesHow can I come out of this or through this alive and with a greater appreciation for those things that once brought stress, anger and depression and be the better for it all.”

Happy Groundhog Day! I hope that rascal figures it out cause this winter sucks!

3 Things your organization needs to be successful in 2014

successful-office-the-officeWith the rise of social networks and the power of the internet, employees are smarter and more advanced than ever. It would be wise for companies to tap into this trend, instead of trying to stifle it.

I think it’s important for companies to recognize that times are changing, and those that are slow to adapt will be left behind. And by adapt, I truly mean opening up the gates, and letting the employees have a voice. A voice in what direction the company goes, a voice in some of the decisions being made, and a voice in how the company operates.

I see so many companies get this wrong. They still think that a top-down, close-minded approach will still work, but I really think those days are over.

Here are 3 things I think every office needs to succeed.

(1) Stay Relaxed

No one likes a high stress environment. Stay relaxed, and be calm. Your work will suffer if you are under too much pressure.

Make sure to encourage employees to take frequent breaks throughout the day to keep them relaxed. Be sure to encourage different types of team building initiatives that will make the atmosphere more lax and allow for better collaboration.

(2) Stay Focused

It’s important not to get too caught up with things like deadlines and what competitors are doing. Stay focused on your mission, and execute. Block out all other distractions.

If you stay focused, your chances of success are much higher. Make sure that all employees understand the company vision, and are all working towards it.

(3) Listen To Your Employees and your Customers

Don’t ever rely on your gut instincts, because honestly, you’ll most probably be wrong. Instead, use data like your analytics tools, and talk to your employees and customers to ask them what they want to see. Use surveys, or make it a habit to reach out to them at least once a month.

This will help validate your mission, and make sure you and your team are working on the right things.

There are probably a lot more things that you can think of to have a successful organization, but in my opinion, these are the 3 most important ones. It really just comes down to having sharp focus, a plan, and executing against that plan as best as possible using your team’s full potential.

What do you think? Any other tips you’d like to share?

About the Author:

jacob_shriarJacob Shriar is the Growth Manager at Officevibe, the Number One Enterprise platform that helps make your office a more engaged, healthy and productive place. When Jacob is not reinventing the world over a glass of scotch, he likes to find new skills to learn.