What leaders can learn from Wells Fargo, Uber, and Weinstein

Corporate culture is in the news due to the likes of Wells Fargo, Uber, and the Harvey Weinstein Company. CEOs, through their own behavior, set the values and the standards of an organization. It generally matters very little what the CEO says in speeches or what values are posted in the lobby. What really matters is how the CEO acts, and how senior managers act.

Here’s a rule of thumb: If you want to understand the values of an organization, look at what it takes to get promoted.

Corporate culture is real. It has a powerful affect on people. You need to be concerned about how your corporate culture informs your employees’ behavior. A strong culture can be a source of competitive advantage. A weak culture usually causes problems.

What are you doing to build and reinforce a strong, positive culture in your business?

Copyright 2017 Bob Legge
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Bob Legge has an unmatched ability to help clients achieve competitive advantage, leaving competitors in their dust. He has worked with companies across industries and geographies to align critical elements, dominate their markets, and achieve dramatic results, such as 600% revenue increase in three years. Personally, he enjoys sailing where both his strategic abilities and tactical skills help him see interesting places while having a fabulous time with friends and family.
Contact him at: bob.legge@leggecompany.com.

Do Your Company Values Do Anything For You?

I’ve seen a lot of companies with fairly generic values posted in conference rooms and other work spaces. You know, values such as “Fairness,” “Teamwork,” and “Honesty.” While those are certainly good values, they don’t really add value, and they are so commonplace that they should be the price of admission – anyone who doesn’t share those values should be escorted to the door.

Instead, you should be thinking of two kinds of values that differentiate your business from the competition, identify the key challenges of the business, and provide employees with clear behaviors. In short, values that will help attract and retain customers and further your business success.

The first is Core Values. These are the fundamental beliefs that guide the business. They play an important role in determining what the company does, what it invests in, and how it seizes opportunities. For example, here are Apple’s first two core values:

  • We believe that we’re on the face of the Earth to make great products, and
  • We believe in the simple, not the complex.

You get the idea.

The second kind of value is Operating Values. These are the values that guide and inform employee behavior at work especially around customers. Examples are these:

  • Wegmans cashiers ask, “Did you find everything you were looking for?”
  • Vanguard customer service people end every call with, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

Operating values determine whether people walk fast, stay late, get excited about challenges, and practice continuous improvement on a daily basis. They also determine the opposite of those behaviors.

The benefit of replacing generic values with specific core values and operating values should be apparent. They focus and engage people on the right tasks and behaviors.

What kind of values do you have? Do they need to be changed?

Copyright 2017 Bob Legge
___________________________
Bob Legge has an unmatched ability to help clients achieve competitive advantage, leaving competitors in their dust. He has worked with companies across industries and geographies to align critical elements, dominate their markets, and achieve dramatic results, such as 600% revenue increase in three years. Personally, he enjoys sailing where both his strategic abilities and tactical skills help him see interesting places while having a fabulous time with friends and family.
Contact him at: bob.legge@leggecompany.com.

When to Stop Investing in Poor Performers

Investing in people to develop and become better performers is important — as long as you are getting a good return on the investment.  But too often I see organizations spending money and management time and attention on weak performers, and not investing much at all in the high performers where a good return is practically guaranteed.  Yes, you want to make sure that you’ve given individuals a good chance to turn-around weak performance, but you need to set a reasonable time period during which they must show measurable improvement in accountability.  After that, if they haven’t shown sufficient improvement, you need to find someone else.

How much are you investing in weak performers vs high performers?
Are you satisfied with the return?

Copyright 2017  Bob Legge

___________________________

Bob Legge has an unmatched ability to help clients achieve competitive advantage, leaving competitors in their dust.  He has worked with companies across industries and geographies to align critical elements, dominate their markets, and achieve dramatic results, such as 600% revenue increase in three years.  Personally, he enjoys sailing where both his strategic abilities and tactical skills help him see interesting places while having a fabulous time with friends and family. .

Contact him at:   bob.legge@leggecompany.com.

How’s the Climate in Your Organization?

Back before culture surveys, attitude surveys, and engagement surveys, we used to have climate surveys, which were a way to measure the “climate” in an organization.  I find it to be a useful term and different from the others.  Culture is about values and behaviors, attitudes are in peoples’ heads, and engagement is about involvement, but climate is about energy — how much energy is available and used in an organization.

Organizations require constant energy to maintain a high level of performance.  The source of new energy is ideas and information; without them, entropy, or disorder, increases.  That is similar to the second law of thermodynamics — without new ideas and information, the energy available to do work will decrease or stay the same.

There are six key sources of energy in organizations:

  1. Competitive strategy.  The firm’s competitive strategy and the plan to achieve it should be energizing.
  2. Leadership. The direction, connection, and communication required to move the organization forward.
  3. Alignment.  The degree to which the organization performs as a whole.
  4. Management at every level.  Effective management techniques to improve strategy execution by generating and focusing the energy people bring.
  5. Job and Work Satisfaction.  The satisfaction and elation of making progress and achieving individual and organizational objectives.
  6. New people.  Who bring with them fresh perspectives and new ideas.

How’s the climate in your organization?  Does your climate need to change?  Could it use a boost?  What are you doing to actively improve the energy and drive within your organization?

© Copyright 2017  Bob Legge

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Bob Legge provides organizations with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals.  I work with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, small and mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.  Contact him at  bob.legge@leggecompany.com

Observations From Southeast Asia

I’ve been immersed in different cultures for the past couple weeks in Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Yangon, Myanmar.  Some observations germane to leaders:

  • These cultures are distinctly different, and based on values and beliefs that inform both large group and individual behaviors.  If you want to change the culture in your organization, you have to work on the values and beliefs and ingrain them.  There are proven approaches and tools to do it successfully.
  • As little as seven years ago, Myanmar (Burma) had one of the lowest Internet penetrations of any country.  They skipped cable and went right to cell phones and now have one of the highest percent of the population using the Internet of any country. Want to connect with your employees in real time? Rethink your communication strategy.
  • Side note:  Despite the above, and the lifting of U.S. sanctions in October, Myanmar has enormous challenges with multiple sites of armed conflict – they have 136 ethnic groups speaking over 300 languages.
  • In every culture, the safest way to travel is to go with the flow.  Drive like the locals, etc.  Good advice for anyone wanting to fit in with a corporate culture.
  • There are very few signs in English, especially in Bangkok and Yangon.  The exception:  Large signs at a construction site and treacherous mountain road that read, “Safety First,” in areas where the population cannot read English.  Communication anyone?

Finally, a study of elephants in the 2014 book, Elephant Company, notes that which elephant is the natural leader of the herd has nothing to do with dominance, and everything to do with cooperation.  Elephants are exceptionally intelligent animals.

© Copyright 2016  Bob Legge

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Bob Legge provides organizations with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals.  I work with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, small and mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.  Contact him at  bob.legge@leggecompany.com

 

Turning Culture Into Competitive Advantage

Oops!  In last Monday’s email, I wrote that a 1000-foot runway (implementation plan) would be insufficient for a beautiful jet (corporate strategy) that requires a runway of 10,000 feet.  At least that is what I meant to write.  The typo was reported to me numerous times: First by a perceptive reader in Estonia, then another in Hong Kong, and then an onslaught of readers from the U.S. and Canada.  Thanks for keeping me on my toes.

Turning Culture into Competitive Advantage

Sooner or later theories need to become practical actions that drive results — one of the hallmarks of my consulting work.

Last week I read an excellent article about how one law firm is using culture as a competitive advantage, and most importantly, the specific actions that make it work.

If corporate culture has always seemed to be a fuzzy notion to you, and you want to understand how culture can be used to drive measurable results, read Ed Hourihan’s excellent article from the New York Law Journal about how Bond Schoeneck & King PLLC,  is doing just that.  It should trigger some good ideas for you.

Here’s the link:  http://bit.ly/2e2wSDd

When Culture and Strategy Conflict

This one is simple:  If strategy and culture go head-to-head, bet on the culture.

Here’s why:  Too many leaders, especially those who are out to change a company’s strategy, think that putting together values statements, a vision, and a strategic plan with projects, timelines and accountabilities, will successfully alter the success of a business that needs to change.  What they come to find out is that even the smartest strategy will fail if it cannot be implemented, and you cannot successfully implement a strategy if it goes against the culture in any significant way.

Kodak was a prime example.  For decades their core business was film.  All the key investments, all the new products, all the marketing, everything was focused on the film business.  So when new leaders, even those from successful businesses elsewhere were brought in with new strategies to turn around Kodak, they hit a brick wall called the Kodak culture which was all about the ingrained film-based culture.

In smaller companies, the culture is normally a reflection of the founder.  If the company needs to change to succeed, it’s often the case that either the founder needs to champion culture change, or be replaced.

Having been a key part of turnarounds at dozens of companies including Fortune 500, Inc 5000 and market leaders in numerous industries, I can attest to the fact that success requires attention to the culture.

© Copyright 2016  Bob Legge

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Bob Legge provides organizations with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals.  I work with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, small and mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.  Contact him at  bob.legge@leggecompany.com