Monday, December 3, 2007

New Blog

Our blog has moved to our main website at Team Absotively. Join us there to keep updated on our different activities, events, and thoughts.

Friday, October 5, 2007

If your work was GOLF how good a Golfer would you be?

By Doug Bain

Think about it! Are you a Tiger or are you just another recreational duffer at your work. To be an avid golfer you would have to have a passion to put in the work that would let you enjoy good performance on the golf course. Your level of success depends on your interest in the game, the development you need to use your tools for golf success, and the right practice and performance critical to guide you toward your high goals for success in the game. What level of success would you be having in your golf game, if you were as talented and passionate toward golf as you are toward your job success?

How well do you meet the challenges you are confronted with?

How well do you drive from the tee each day at your work?

How well do you initiate action toward a goal and lead positive results?

How well do you finish the job?

Do you strive to hit targets and to put the ball in the hole?

How is your fine art of putting gently closing the deal on one hole to be ready in a positive way to move forward to the next challenging hole?

Golf is a great game with clear objectives, expectations, and great rules of play. Nowhere are you told HOW to get the game done. The how is left up to your creative ability and desire to figure it out. Your talent in golf grows from this challenge. Are you challenged in the right way to excel at your work? It is always said in golf that one great shot brings you back to play again. The more success you have the more fun it is and the more you want to come back. How excited are you to come back to your work?

In golf you recover and cope with the mistakes that get you in trouble. You learn to recover from bad places by developing the tools and skills to get out of trouble and get to the hole with the least number of shots. How strong are your recovery skills at your work?

The average golfer could not break 100 if they play the game as the rules determine. What are the rules of play in your work? Do you understand how the rules make it possible to enjoy the game more or do the rules of play seem to get in the way of your fun? If the later is truer for you, then you either are playing a different game or you just do not want to play the game.

Greatness in golf is totally outside the possibilities except for the very talented, motivated and strong in their ability to play. No one is born with talent to be excellent in anything and some endeavors have longer learning curves than others. Are you on the right learning curve and where are you on that curve? Where do you fall on the continuum in your work? Are you on the right curve there? Do you like to play the game or are you one who is not that involved and wants to be left alone to do the same thing in the same way each day? Are you engaged like a Tiger or are you disinterested?

What are your talents that bring you your greatest chance for success? Your talents are your ability to use your clubs in golf that get the ball going down the fairway from the tee. Then what skills connect you toward the desired goal? How good are your long irons and short irons? How excited are you to complete with the desired result you set out to achieve?

Initiation, connection, completion, follow-through, over and over... What a yet undiscovered metaphor this sports world, especially a game like golf, is for us. Is it any wonder we love our sports? Wouldn’t it be great if it was as clear as it is in golf or basketball or football. The expectations are clear in sports, the results are easily measured and sports success is guided by motivated and talented athletes and motivated and talented coaches. How different this is from the average workplace?

Great athletes, great teams, great organizations, great results are no coincidence. There are no coincidences. Great golfers are not born great golfers and great performers grow step by step often from minimal beginnings.

Now think about what it might have been like for a Tiger Woods growing up to be arguably the best athletic performer the world has ever known. His sport happens to be golf that he is the best in the world at. Tiger was literally encouraged from birth in all ways including golf, mentally gifted, emotionally guided, spiritually directed, and physically aware in a safe and trusting environment by a caring mom, dad, and other family members.

Golf was something Tiger learned very early he could love, enjoy, and have success with, as referenced by the attention of many, but always including his loving parents. His parents were two of his coaches on his team, but there were many great coaches selected carefully for the talents they brought to the table by Tiger and his parents. All these coaches watched out for his back all the time and they did everything in support of an obvious talent Tiger was wanting to grow with through a means they were familiar with in the golf. Tigers talent grows through experience, learning and adjusting, and with great coaching leading to the path producing excellent results in golf with every step and on every level.

Tiger grew with little fear of failure, because he did not experience much failure other than the loving trial and error process he was going through with his loving and trusted parents and coaches. The patterns of behavior encouraged by parents gave Tiger an outlet to demonstrate his talent in golf and other areas. What was Tiger’s real talent?

Tiger was fortunate that his parents had the talents to watch his back in both the intellectual realm and in the sports realm with golf. You see Tiger’s dad was a great teacher and coach of people from his army training in the Green Beret’s. This intense training must have prepared him to understand the development needs of his son very well. He was also a great golfer and loved the game of golf and Tiger soon picked up on that energy too for his growing outlet and success and through the loving relationship with his dad. When Tiger’s dad Earl Woods died last year we all felt the loss along with Tiger.

Tiger Woods is a unique individual who with his upbringing grew to be who he is. He is a great person in his own right and he has become the most successful athlete of all time. It is way too complex to understand it all very accurately. In every walk of life there are those who become highly focused, happy at what they do, and very successful in a given area. There is a very few of these highly gifted people. We can probably listen to Tiger and understand that his world was presented to him differently form what was presented to us. Tiger has become a great professional at the top of his profession. Why did he grow his talent and what does that have to do with us and our relationships and environments?

How motivated are you to be a success in your work? What kind of nurturing have you received that helped you identify your talent and then apply your talent in an environment and experience that you love? How motivated are you to see the other people on your team to have great success? People on great teams are self-less. Do you know what a more self-less environment might look like in your workplace?

How close to self-less is your workplace? Do you feel safe and do you trust the if you make a mistake you will still be loved and valued? Are you compelled to give others the benefit of the doubt?

How often do you sense others really caring for you at work with no concern for their agenda? Think about what that might look like and feel like to you. What will it take for you to care that much as if you really wanted to be a revered professional or as if you were actually a great golfer on a great team like the PGA Team?

Yes the PGA is a team organization with rules beyond the rules of how to play golf. Tiger Woods not only is a great individual golfer, but within the organization of professional golf he is the strongest attraction bringing people to watch golf, the most recognized spokesperson for golf the world over and a leader in the world organization of golf.

Doug Bain is a business consultant and professional business and personal coach for people looking for answers that will allow them to create more happiness, satisfaction and excellent bottom-line desired results. Doug coached many sports on all levels including golf at the college before moving into his own business and executive coaching business 15 years ago. He spent time as a college teacher and he worked as a teaching professional in golf. Doug has been there with people and calls it like he has seen it. When it comes to dealing with people, business cultures and being successful on teams and in organizations most are just not well prepared.

The mission is to connect people to the right resources and a path of least resistance for their greatest benefit and to achieve desired results. Whatever your unachieved goal is in your life it is critical to prepare for your success with people who understand your situation and can help you manage the complexity you are confronted with. My mission is to do my best to share people and information from people who can help you get to your goals and to the goals beyond.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

What's missing from many failed mergers?

What's missing from many failed mergers?

It's no secret that most mergers and acquisitions fail to create value. The Wall Street Journal's "Manager's Journal" takes a look at a common problem with mergers:

But if the past is a guide, markets will focus on assets, portfolios and business synergies and overlook a key to whether the deal is successful: people.

People issues are often the root of failed deals, our research shows. That is because they are frequently an afterthought in the frenzy of a deal. Dealmakers gather reams of financial, commercial and operational data. But they often pay scant attention to what we call human due diligence -- understanding the culture of an organization, the roles that individuals play, and the capabilities and attitudes of its people.

This is certainly the strategy of Warren Buffett, whose conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A) has grown successfully by focusing on acquisitions with strong management that wants to stay on. Berkshire avoids integration/people problems by integrating new companies as little as possible.

Given the importance of relationships in the outcome of deals, you have to wonder if some of the more contentious buyouts are doomed to fail.

For instance, Finish Line's (NASDAQ: FINL) acquisition of Genesco (NYSE: GCO): When Genesco reported a bad quarter, Finish Line suggested that it might attempt to back out of the proposed merger agreement. Now lawsuits and rhetorics are flying and shares of Finish Line are scraping five-year lows. It raises the question: If the merger does end up being completed (possibly because Finish Line has no choice), will these people be able to work together?

For a list of other deals that could find themselves struggling because of people problems, check out Private Equity Deals that have Hit Snags. If consummation isn't smooth, then integration isn't likely to be either.

People First Lessons From The Road

* My Sensei says (and I strongly agree) "People do not rise to the occasion; rather they fall to the level of their practice. The harder they practice, the less the fall when called to action"

* A Thought - Leader’s manage different processes, actions, results, and metrics, than managers. If I am still managing the same metrics, am I really leading?

* I seem to be asked a lot recently on my experience with personality, communication, behavioral, EQ, etc. assessments used in interviewing processes. In my experience, these tools are being used incorrectly and I have yet to see any long term proof that this exercise is effective.

In my experience I have yet to find a tool that will give me clear insight into a candidates core values. I believe understanding an individuals core values allows us to find a fit with corporate core values and thus place an individual into a purpose that they will want to engage and succeed in. Assessments seem to use labels that block the opportunity for the discovery of the individual’s unique definition of their sore value. What trust means to me can be different than what trust may mean to you. I have much success exploring core values using a conversation process that we have developed and have yet to find the tool that can replace this.

Also, the process used for these tools seems to be to develop a preferred results model for your position and than match candidates to this model. Again, my experience shows that this results in a group of like thinking and behaving team members. In this, this team lacks the conflict, debate, and argument that build continuous trust. As stated, I have yet to see long term success from this process.

To sum up, my experience proves that an unlabeled core value discovery will allow you to find the best cultural fit between the purpose for the candidate and the purpose of the organization. With this fit, employees want to work hard and be successful. Isn’t this the most important thing to know?

* Marcus DISCOVER not Label…award-winning author Jim Kouzes, about the publication of the fourth edition of his and co-author Barry Posner's classic book, The Leadership Challenge. Five practices of exemplary leadership have emerged from our research. When getting extraordinary things done, leaders:

• Model the Way

• Inspire a Shared Vision

• Challenge the Process

• Enable Others to Act, and

• Encourage the Heart

* Read “Leadership and Self Deception”, Arbinger Institute

* My answers to Johan’s’ questions on LinkedIn…

You are welcome. You are a wise questioner which is a quality that I respect in great leaders. As a point of reference, my great leaders are my mother for her unbreakable spirit of support (a tested theory), my college's football coach for his commitment to a lofty goal, and my Sensei for his ability to give up control in order to become more powerful. I say this, so that you can understand what I hold valuable in a leader in order to choose an answer to your great questions.

1) Do you think leaders are born or made?
2) Can you learn to be a leader?
3) You talk about installing a Leadership system consistent with a management system – what do you mean by this?

1. I have pondered this one much and do not have a strong opinion. In other words, I do not know. I am now of the belief that an individual is given many opportunities in life to lead, some choose to others do not. Knowing when to choose and not to choose is a practiced art of a great leader. Leadership is an art that requires much practice. My Sensei (and I strongly agree) "People do not rise to the occasion; they fall to the level of their practice. The harder they practice, the less the fall when called to action" Leaders choose to be called into action when a core value of theirs is compromised. I therefore believe and have experienced, that the practice of the art of leadership is that of a discovery of core values. Core values are the motivators that get people to do the things that they would not normally do.

2. I believe so, and again through the practice of understanding and honoring the human spirit in EVERY person through the discovery of core values. It has to start with discovering your own core values. Leader, first lead yourself.

3. In my experience, the most successful leadership systems are based on the collective core values of the group. A leader needs to establish the groups purpose ( core values, mission, vision if you will ), behavioral rules, and communication tenets based on each individuals chooses, and this is what they need to continually manage ( as opposed to profits, metrics, etc.). In other words in is built from the ground up not the top down. The challenge in this, and I personally experience this in my organization, is that it takes a strong manager/entrepreneur to get a organization started and eventually a strong leader/CEO to take it to the next level. I have found very few individuals who can accomplish both. The evangelical dreamer entrepreneur gets an idea started and then has to turn it over and remain consistently supportive of the strong leader to complete the task. When we engage an organization, we seek out the leaders in it, and coach a system where they consistently, throughout the life of the organization, re-discover the core values, mission, vision etc. of the different groups and enhance the strengths towards success.

Again, just one man's opinion based on my core values. Thank you again for the thought provoking questions. These allow me the invaluable opportunity to place thoughts to paper.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"People First" Lessons from the Road

Lessons form the road of “PEOPLE FIRST” Leadership Coaching

I seem to run into a lot of very powerful and impressive entrepreneurial executives. My observations are that these extremely talented people are fantastic managers who run into a common situation. About the time that their organizations reach 80 – 100 people (this can vary), they seem to run into a brick wall. In this, their management expertise and systems rely on their own personal touch of some type on all organizational endeavors. In reaching the 80 – 100 person mark, this becomes simply too many people to manage. This shows up as working way too many hours, incessant phone calls, and consistent scheduling conflicts. The opportunity here is for these managers to install a Leadership system on top of and consistent with their management systems that allow others to take on the accountability of the management systems. It seems consistent that these entrepreneurial managers must either evolve into a CEO leader, back away, or die trying to continue to manage. I have seen many success stories of the serial entrepreneur who knows when to turn over the organization to a CEO leader knowing that “I have seen that job, and I don’t want that job”.

I asked one of my Sensei’s – “What do you do when coaching a class where 60% of the people are engaged and 40% are not. As usual, his answer comes in a number of learned experiences:

* Concentrate on the 60% more – not fully – and let the 40% choose to want to join or remain uncomfortable.

* We owe it to those that want to move forward to move them forward and not be dragged down by a minority that does not. Simply put, build the group up not down.

* Continue to coach the disengaged on what they are doing right (even if it is just showing up), and on who they are and how who they are is important to the group.

* Never critique someone who is down.

Retired Gen. and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell sums this up the best: "Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible."

I saw Styx in concert last week -

“Someday soon we'll stop to ponder what on Earth's this spell we're under
We made the grade and still we wonder who the hell we are.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Upcoming Seminar Information & Registration form

Click below for the registration form for our upcoming Jack Lannom "Leadership Breakthrough & Beyond" seminar, hosted by Grand Canyon Univesity School of Business and College of Entrepreneurial Studies. The seminar is on September 6th, from 8:30 am - 5:30 pm. For more information, call us at (602) 354-3422. Or email us at The deadline for registration is Wednesday, August 29th at 5 pm.

Right click on the link below, and go to "Save Target As" to save the file to your computer or to print it out.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jack Lannom book signing coming to Phoenix!

Jack Lannom Book Signing!

Thursday, August 23rd 7:00 PM

Barnes & Noble Booksellers

Scottsdale Fiesta Shopping Center

10500 N. 90th Street

Scottsdale, AZ 85258


Author, business consultant, and educator, Jack Lannom will discuss his newest book

People First: Achieving Balance in an Unbalanced World.

Join us for a night filled with invaluable insights and concepts. Regardless of the topic, a presentation from Jack Lannom is a high-energy affair, filled with laughter, energy and passion. Jack has been described as having the humor and energy of Robin Williams, the motivational power of Anthony Robbins, and the wisdom and sensitivity of Stephen Covey. His ability to customize his presentations to the audience has made him a consistent favorite among his clients.

People First outlines in story format a transformational philosophy, designed to equip everyone- husbands, wives, parents, partners, teachers, students, and business leaders- with timeless secrets for building lives and passing on a legacy of truth, wisdom and excellence. These skills will make an immediate impact on businesses, homes, schools and organizations. Provides powerful, practical insights into vitally important success factors.

Jack Lannom is an internationally renowned speaker, author, and consultant who has been captivating and inspiring audiences for over 25 years. He has served as a corporate coach for several Fortune 500 companies, including Citibank, R&R Donnelly and Sons, Jefferson Pilot Communications, Caterpillar, and also Knight-Ridder Newspapers. Jack Lannom addressed a leadership conference of more than 1,000 members of the U.S. Department of Labor and received a spontaneous standing ovation at the conclusion of his presentation.

Jack's natural energy is the key to his success. He is a talented athlete who holds black belts in six different styles of Kung Fu and is a Senior Master Instructor in Walu Kung Fu. Currently, Jack holds the world record for breaking a 3,150-pound block of ice with a single blow from his hand! With Jack, you can always expect an "edge of your seat" experience.

Friday, June 29, 2007

CFO's announce the need to rise above the financials - but how?

In the following article "CFOs need to rise above the financials", Nic Paton discusses the research showing the need for CFO's to review the financial implications of their culture. Absotively's Integration assessment, "The CHI", continues to show it's value in this purpose.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Unleashing the Power of People

A powerful article written by our strategic partner, author, internationally renowned speaker, and business consultant, Jack Lannom...

Unleashing the Power of People

As a business owner how many times have you asked yourself this question? “How can I make my business more successful?” And how many nights have you lied awake in your bed pondering this question? “What am I missing to take my business to the next level?” Many entrepreneurs have sought to answer their quires by turning to the outrageous success stories in thriving organizations such as Google, Southwest Airlines, and Starbucks. You will be surprised at what they discovered which is the Number 1# Secret for Business Success. Google, Southwest, and Starbucks GET IT!

I hope you are now engaged and you are asking,” What is it that they GET? You see even though Google, Southwest, and Starbucks are in totally different industries they all have one thing in common. They have worked very hard on creating outrageously engaged, charged-up, high-performance CULTURES. They GET IT! CULTURE is KING. Culture is the lead indicator of long-term success.

Let’s take Google as an example. This 8 year old company is making $10 Billion a year in revenue and they are worth about $125 Billion. After looking at those numbers anyone will have to say, they are definitely doing something right. How did Google do it, what was their secret to success? They figured it out early in their career that you can’t be a great company without developing a great culture. And they knew that culture is all about people. So they put people first by asking every employee what would make them happy. They believed that if they were to make people happy at work they would want to come to work (which would reduce the number of mental health days), and they would be more productive. In addition, Google would attract and retain the best people.

So what did Google do specifically to create one of the best business cultures on the planet? They began to survey their employees concerning what would make them happy at work. In their surveys they learned that many people wanted to bring their dogs to work, others wanted a full-time massage therapist to help relieve their physical pain and other employees wanted to go from room to room on their skate boards and enjoy volleyball and gourmet food.

Well guess what, every day at the 1.3 million-square foot headquarters in Mountain View, California every Google employee enjoys free gourmet food, the loving companionship of their animals, a massage, free laundry and an endless host of things to make them happy. It is no wonder that Google receives 13,000 applications a week from people all over the world seeking employment with such a great company that has learned to put people first.

What is the health of your culture? How engaged are your employees? The empirical data concerning workforce engagement is really terrible. The Gallup Group distributes a semi-annual Employee Engagement Index report; this is what their statistics state.

· 26% of employees are actively engaged in their jobs (loyal and productive)

· 55% are not-engaged (just putting in their time)

· 19% are actively disengaged (unhappy and spreading discontent)

According to Jim Collins author of the best selling book, Good to Great, you need to get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus and the right people in the right place on the bus. The Gallup Management Journal is telling us that there are about 74% of employees in many companies that need to GET OFF THE BUS!

The question for every business owner is how many people in your organization are fully engaged and they are actively engaging your customers? And if they are not engaged how do I create an engaged culture like Google, Southwest, and Starbucks.

There is good news for you entrepreneurs who are looking for help. There is a company in south Florida that specializes in providing organizational leaders with the latest, breakthrough business tools, to create outrageously engaged, charged-up, high-performance cultures. The name of the company is Lannom Inc. a Fort Lauderdale based corporation. They have been in business for 30 years and Jack Lannom is the CEO and founder. They have twenty people in their company; two of the twenty are psychologist. Five of them are professors at leading universities. Jack is an adjunct professor of leadership at Trinity International University.

Lannom Inc. has helped contribute to the success of many of the top corporate giants in America. The following is a partial list of companies that have hired them to transform their cultures: AT&T, Citibank, Caterpillar, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, UPS, Lexus, Sensormatic, Nortel Northern Telecom, San Diego Chargers, Knight Ridder Newspapers, The Miami Herald, Blockbuster, The Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Hospital and Ritz Carlton. H. Wayne Huizinga, the founder of Blockbuster Entertainment Corporation was so impressed with Jack Lannom’s talents, that he hired Jack to fly with him and his top business associates on his private jet to London. It was a nine hour flight and Jack taught his secrets for five of those hours to one of the most successful billionaires in the world. From the success of that flight Jack had his team begin working with Mr. Huizinga’s companies.

Jack Lannom is quite a success story. He has authored fifteen books and his latest book People First has won a national award. He is currently touring the nation lecturing at Barnes and Nobel stores on the People First philosophy. He will address 8,000 people in Moscow, Russia on September the 28th on his book People First. In addition, to his accomplishments, Jack wrote and hosted the first and longest running TV program on PBS on the MIND. His 13 hour series ran in the prime time spots for 11 consecutive years, teaching millions of people in the US and Mexico on how to tap their untapped mental potential. In 1998 Newsweek cited Jack for his work in America on the human mind.

In his spare time he trains the Marines at camp Lejune in Jacksonville, N.C. to prepare our soldiers for hand-to-hand combat in Iraqi. Jack is a master in the art of Walu Kung-Fu. He has black belts in 5 different styles of Kung-Fu and he has been practicing Kung-Fu for over 42 years.

Lannom Inc. has been working in southwest Florida for the past two years transforming many of your neighbors companies. See if you recognize any of these companies. J.L. Wallace, Inc., Royal Corinthian Homes, Riverside Bank, Cornerstone Kitchens, Northwestern Mutual, GCM Contracting Solutions, Inc. , Community Engineering Services, Inc. , Global Solutions Electronics Company, Gulf Coast Materials, Glory Homes Custom Builders, Ritz Carlton, Vitarich Labs and Teen Challenge.

John Moran, President of Gulf Coast, Riverside Bank passionately states, “Jack Lannom and People First are right on target with where Leadership needs to go…now. Leading with a people before profits mentality will lead to greater profits through an outstanding culture of trust by valuing the people that produce the profit. At Riverside Bank, we were delighted to have Jack and his team come in and teach us how to lead in a People First way and it is beginning to pay big dividends for our employees, customers and our shareholders.”

If you would like more information on how to create an outrageously engaged, charged-up, high-performance culture, to increase your profits, tap the potential of your people, attract and retain the best people and make the competition irrelevant then call Lannom Inc. at 954-445-2271 or . If you would like to hear one of Jacks’ $15,000 an hour presentations for free then mark your calendar for September 25, 2007 he will be speaking for the BIA at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point at 6:30pm-8:00pm

As a closing note listen to what Jack Canfield author of the New York Times Best-Sellers Chicken Soup for the Soul says about Jack Lannom’s awarding winning book People First. “If you are a leader, manager, coach, and parent, please read this book. People First contains priceless wisdom that will change your life.”

Absotively write-up in Arizona Republic

“Fight Like a Girl promotes self-defense”
The Arizona Republic
22 June, 2007: D2

Fighting like a girl may be considered a weakness.

Phoenix business owner Cory Kahabka thinks it is the best thing a woman can do.

Kahabka, president and co-owner of Absotively, which helps merging companies integrate, is a fourth-degree black belt in karate and teaches martial arts on weekends.

For the past two years, he also has been teaching Fight Like a Girl, a rape escape class that is based on the inherent strengths and reactions of women.

"We teach them to use their strength, and their strongest muscles are in their legs," he said. "So we teach them to lie on their back and use their legs in self-defense situations."

Kahabka said that when he was first introduced to Fight Like a Girl by Phoenix resident Brad Parker, who developed the class, Kahabka thought it was counterintuitive to tell women to lie on their backs because that is the position a rapist would want them to be in.

"But a woman's legs are her biggest weapon, and they are aimed right at the attacker," he said.

Kahabka said that if an attacker sees that a woman is going to put up a fight, he is more likely to back off.

Kahabka, one of several instructors of the class in the Valley and around the country, also teaches it sometimes as part of the women's driving safety course at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving.

He counts 2006 Miss Arizona Hilary Griffith, a rape survivor, as one of his students.

Griffith was at an event where Kahabka demonstrated the technique and later enrolled in his 2 1/2-hour class.

"Women walk out after the class so empowered it isn't funny," he said. "It's incredible."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Is your company board breaking you?

What does your company board of directors actually do for your company? Boards are there to add value to your company. They are there to help guide the company through decisions and to help add value to the shareholders. However, many boards take "sitting on the board" to heart and sit on the board.

How do we get our boards to be an active and integral part of your company? ASK THEM! They're the only ones that can tell you how you can get them to perform at their peak performance and help guide your company.

As CEO, help your board realize their intrinsic value to the organization. Let them tell you why they are there. Let them tell you what they value and what value they bring.

The hard part in this process is to get them to tell you the truth. It's very easy to get the passive-aggressive answers from people. "Everything is great here, things couldn't be better." We recommend using an anonymous assessment to get to the truth within your board. I'm not talking about an "Employee Engagement" assessment. They measure engagement and engagement only.

The best thing to assess is the actual culture of the board. The only way to do this is to use a true Cultural Assessment. A true cultural assessment measures the levels of leadership, communication, relationships, change management, general climate, etc.

Luckily for the whole world (and especially you), we happen to have a very powerful Cultural Assessment tool at our disposal. It can be customized for your organization as a whole, or specifically for your board. As I said, let them tell you how they'll perform for you!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The New Buzz Word, "Employee Engagement"

Every place I go, people are asking about employee engagement. "Do you have employee engagement in your company?" and "How do I get employee engagement?" They're looking for it like people will soon be looking for the new I-Phone on EBAY.

So, how do you get employee engagement? Wait, first of all, what IS employee engagement? Wikipedia defines it as: "Employee engagement is a concept that is generally viewed as managing discretionary effort, that is, when employees have choices, they will act in a way that furthers their organization's interests. An engaged employee is a person who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about, his or her work." Simply put; do people WANT to do what you're having them do and at what level are they willing to work on it?

So, back to how you get it. Simple, don't force it, foster it. If you run around the hallways of your company with pom-poms yelling and screaming "Let's go team!", nobody is going to take you seriously. Obviously, enthusiasm on your part is an important ingredient in the process, but it has to be sincere. On the other hand, if you spend the first 2 hours of every work day playing Solitaire online against some 13 year old kid in Pakistan, people will notice. Good leaders don't ask other people to do things they wouldn't be willing to do themselves.

In one of our processes, "Cultural Jump Start" we define your company in terms of Code of Conduct, Core Values, Mission, and Vision statement. We start with defining each individual's own set of Core Values. Some execs say, "Why is this important? It's my company." It's important because these Core Values are built into and related to the company Core Values during the process. This way, people see the relationship between themselves and the company. They're not just a number, they actually helped define your company. They see themselves as an integral part of the organization. Their Core Values may not be identical to the organization, but they'll be able to see the similarities better than ever before.

I wish I could clone the manager in this article. He is naturally able to assess the level of employee engagement and assigns tasks accordingly. What better way to foster engagement but by letting it come to you?


Thursday, May 31, 2007

What causes an employee to engage?

  • An employee that has found a strong correlation with their personal commitments in life and that of the organizations
  • An employee that has found acceptance of their communication style within the organization
  • An employee that has found a correlation with their personal behavioral style and that of the organization
  • An employee that trusts that these correlations and commitments will continue to be upheld by the organization

Employee engagement is not a one-time or sometime event. Engagement is a continuous benchmarking, measurement, and management effort. It is not hard and can simply be added to already existing operational and quality benchmarks, measurements, and management functions.

The "Actively Disengaged" vs. “Not-Engaged” Employee: Which is better (worse)?

Actively disengaged employees aren’t just disconnected from the integration plan; they are committed to its failure. Understand in this that, in their determination, they have found an honorable reason to actively sabotage the integration and are therefore quite motivated to do so. What they are doing is right to them. Actively disengaged employees create their own culture and subsequent cultural alliances in order to get the job done. Actively disengaged employees learn to fool incorrect benchmarks and measurements and will even convince current customers and vendors to assist in their sabotage. You are surprised that actively disengaged employees do NOT resign. They do not, due to the importance of their cause within your organization.

The Gallup Organization estimates that there are 22 million actively disengaged employees that cost the American economy up to $350 billion per year in lost productivity, including absence, illness and other problems that result when workers are unhappy at work.

For the same reasons employees become engaged, they can become not-engaged. This happens when an employee has not been given the chance to choose to engage. We see this often in integrations where a lot of resources are spent getting upper management defined and measured and then the remaining employee base is simply told the integration plan. For true engagement to occur, every employee must be given the choice to accept and contribute to the integration plan. This is one of the reasons that a comprehensive cultural assessment is necessary and where individual assessment efforts fail. Incorrect benchmarks and/or measurements will show positive growth towards the integration plan due to not-engaged employees’ passive-aggressive and outright false reports. Not-engaged employees are ripe for raiding by headhunters, and you are surprised when they resign.

“There is only one way to get anybody to do anything... That is by making the other person want to do it.”
--Dale Carnegie

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Cohesiveness vs. Groupthink, who's keeping score?

I read this interesting blog post on the Vital Integrities blog. It talked about the benefits of cohesiveness in a team environment and the "dangers" of groupthink. The benefits of a team environment (cohesiveness) they list are things such as greater individual performance, better morale, greater job satisfaction, etc.
Now, "groupthink" is the big, bad wolf in the equation. I remember from my psychology classes from years ago that groupthink was responsible for basically every bad decision our government has ever made. The V.I. blog lists the Bay of Pigs invasion and the lack of warning on Pearl Harbor as examples.
So, what to do about the big "G" word? It's simple: create a space for your team where questions, comments, and concerns can and ARE voiced freely without fear or repercussion. I would be willing to bet lots of your money that many of these things supposedly caused by the "G" word were because of militaristic thinking. "I'm the lowest rank in here, I can't question my superiors". The United States would still belong to the United Kingdom if this was the case.
I didn't mean to get all historical on everyone. I am pointing out the fact that the "dangers" of groupthink only go so far in my opinion. Create a space where your people are free to raise questions and objections and you won't have to worry about the "G" word or your company's version of the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Read the Vital Integrities blog here...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Work-Life Balance, What's That?

"Balance" is one of those words that a lot of people throw around. Most of them don't know what it means, nor do they have much in their life. Work-life balance is one of the biggest keys in any professional's life. How much work is too much? How much isn't enough? We've all heard about people who work so much that they never see their family, don't have time for friends, and don't really seem to enjoy much of anything. Will it be worth it in the long run?

This survey points out the fact that having a good work-life balance in the workplace can positively impact ethical behavior in the workplace. Any time someone is in balance, when they feel that their work is appreciated, and they generally "like" what they're doing, they will tend to perform ethically. Even the most ethically astute person may be more apt to "bend the rules" a bit if put into a position where they're out of balance, not feeling appreciated, or when they're stressed out or unhappy.

As managers and leaders, it is incumbent upon you to ensure that there exists a proper work-life balance at your workplace. Employees, if bought in, will understand that there are going to be times when extra hours will be required. They also need to understand that their extra efforts are appreciated and rewarded. Rewards can be as simple as a heart-felt, "Thank you for all your hard work and coming in on Sunday. You really made a difference in the project!", movie tickets, gift certificates, or give them an afternoon off just because. It's not rocket science and you'd be amazed how long a little bit of appreciation can go...

Survey: Work-Life Balance Can Have Impact on Ethical Workplace Behavior

When it comes to encouraging ethical behavior at work, a healthy work-life balance can make a big difference, according to the “2007 Deloitte & Touche USA LLP Ethics & Workplace” survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Deloitte & Touche USA.

Additionally, managers’ and supervisors’ behavior can foster ethical behavior in the workplace, as well as positive reinforcement thereof.

Sharon L. Allen, Deloitte & Touche USA chairman of the board, said the survey’s findings reflect the overarching importance of balancing work and life.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Change Management 101 for Dummies...

Managing change is difficult for most organizations because they miss one key, single fact. The people in your organizations have to want to change! The only way to do this is to be open and honest with your people regarding what is happening and more importantly, what is expected of them. They then have the choice of being on board for the change or not. The "You'll do it and like it!" School of Management that some of our old bossess have attended will hopefully be closing its doors soon when people realize that "Managing ain't telling, son. It's selling"

The following is an article I found that talks to the point that management and employees view change differently. "Start by eliminating the obstacles in employees' minds that cause anxiety; then you can clear the path to change." People love to make stuff up when they're not given enough information. And usually what they're making up is a lot worse than the truth...

Change Management
"How do you manage change?" It is a frequently mentioned challenge I hear when conducting my workshops. And in a recent survey by workplace consultants BlessingWhite, nearly half of the 900 executives surveyed think that leading teams through organizational change is very, or even extremely, challenging. But I think the underlying question actually is, "How do you get employees to accept change?"Most organizational change initiatives fail because senior management ignores the obvious: managers and employees view change differently.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

When Integration works; Essential elements to the 100 day Integration Plan

Ok, now that we have amused ourselves (and hopefully you) poking fun at what is wrong with integration plans, it is time for us to put up or shut up. Our experience proves that the inclusion of the following processes in the development of your integration plan ensures success:

Code of Conduct (Theirs, not yours!)

Through a true assessment of employees needs, we determine the behavioral guidelines that employees will engage in rather than the ones we think we want. Engaging employees in this process ensures their acceptance to personal accountability to the integration plan. These behavioral guidelines (I.E. Code of Conduct) are defined in such a way that they can be accurately measured and therefore managed. The measurement/management process continues during and after the integration phase.

Communications Strategy (Theirs, not yours!)

Through a true assessment of employees’ personalities, we determine the communication styles and guidelines that employees will engage in rather than the ones we think they will engage in. Engaging employees in this process ensures their acceptance and personal accountability to the communication process within the integration plan. These communication guidelines (I.E. Communication Strategy) are defined is such a way that they can be accurately measured. Therefore, managed change can be implemented during and after the integration phase.

A focused Vision and Mission (Theirs, not yours!)

Through a true assessment of employees’ values, we determine the individual purposes for employees to fully engage in the implementation plan. We brand the plan based on what they truly value rather than on what we think they should value. Engaging employees based on their individual purposes ensures their continued acceptance and personal accountability to the vision and mission of the plan. The vision and mission are defined is such a way that they can be accurately measured. Therefore managed change can be implemented during and after the integration phase. It takes more than a just a couple of posters on the wall.

Meeting Strategy (Theirs, not yours!)

Through a true assessment of employee’s preferred leadership and management styles, we determine a meeting strategy that will ensure continued accountability for employees to fully engage in the implementation plan. Engaging employees based on their preferred meeting strategy ensures that reporting becomes much more than what happened and why it did or did not work. The meeting strategy defined is such a way that reporting includes what will happen next based on current data and individual commitments that will ensure success.
Hiring Systems (Including outside vendors and training initiatives)

The initiatives described above are used to build the hiring system that ensures we attract and engage the right employees and out side services rather than the most talented. Previously, blog posts explain the need and provide numerous examples of the importance of this. The hiring system ensures that the workforce remains fully engaged in the integration plan; the right employees and resources are retained.

Performance Reviews (Including outside vendors and training initiatives)

The initiatives described above are used to build the performance review system that ensures we retain the right employees and outside resources rather than the most talented. Previously, blog posts explain the need and provide numerous examples of the importance of this. The performance review system ensures that the workforce remains fully engaged in the integration plan as the wrong employees and resources are given the choice to leave the project. Further, it eliminates ever being held hostage to an individual resource that you supposedly can’t do without.

When Integration goes bad; A 100 day Integration Plan

OK, so we will have a lot of fun here exaggerating what can go wrong during the typical 100 day integration plan. This is for informational and entertainment purposes only so please do not try these at home. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Day 1 – Read the following after checking how a typical 100 day integration plan is built:

Designing a typical Integration Plan

Determine your desired outcomes: What are you hoping to achieve within each integration area? What does successful integration look like?

Reverse engineer the activities and timeline benchmarks: What activities need to be accomplished to get you from where you are to where you want to be?

Determine the authority and responsibility people for each benchmark: Who has primary responsibility for making sure each activity is accomplished?

Determine the team for each responsible person: Who else will be working on that activity?

Set start dates and benchmark check dates: When does work on that activity need to start, and—if it’s not an ongoing requirement—by what date does it need to be completed?

Day 1 - Conduct one hour meetings with each department to determine their needs.

Result – “The Bobs” collect large amounts of data including team members saying what they hoped you wanted to hear, passive aggressive answers to the tough questions, and answers that get you to believe they are engaged and not shopping their resume. The true data is uncovered at the “What’s up Integration blog” and numerous “myspace” posts.

Day 2 - No matter what the interview data says or does not say; implement whatever version of the Implementation Plan that those in charge know to be the best. Announce this at the “Quantum Leap” Integration kickoff meetings at “Insert Resort Here”, Las Vegas, NV. Send three leaders to outside training and hire a consultant that specializes in your industry.

Result – Executive team is convinced that all are on-board and engaged 100%. All have a great time in Vegas and the employee alliance process begins. Some of these alliances are effective others are focused on sabotaging what they now call “Quantum Heap”.

Day 30 - Review results, “We are on track with our activity and result goals, hooray!” OK, let’s do it again next month.

Result – The data measures that show you will not make the 90 day goal are either missed or ignored. The employees being trained are being recruited due to their newly attained skills, and headhunters are now calling your best employees.

Day 60 – “Missed it by that much…” Although it is clear that we have missed our benchmarks, we have good reasons why and it is not our fault. Have a tough talk with those other people who are at fault. We just need to continue doing what we have been doing, and try harder over the next 30 days.

Result – The data showing that we are cruising off course at a high rate of speed is either ignored or missed. Meetings are now fear based sessions where the ineffective details are argued over, and over, and over again. 30% of the employees are now disengaged or just along for the ride. What could have been a truly “right person” for this integration has left and two highly skilled (“wrong people”) are hired. Did anyone hear from our consultant lately?

Day 90 - “Just a bit outside...” Actually, it is way outside.

Result - Fire someone important and the consultant. Replace the two additional resources that left and pay extra to retain the wrong resources that are sticking around to milk the budget for all that it is worth.

Day 99 - How did we get here?

Result - So we missed our 90 day goal, no problem. Does anyone really care? 85% of these fail anyway. Ok, so let’s gather everyone who is still on board and announce our new re-integration initiative. How about “Quantum Leap II”?

Result – Those boarding planes to Vegas have branded it “Here we go Again on Our Own”.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

100 Day Integration Plan Success Story

We recently worked with a mid-sized company that had been forced into a merger roughly a year ago. The investors thought it "made sense" to have the 2 companies operating under the same umbrella and literally jammed them under the same roof. Profits were down, turn-over and tensions were high. The investors were ready to take what money they could get out of the deal before things fell apart any further.
The new CEO of the company came to us and asked for our help on behalf of his company and of the investors. We met with the investors and laid out our plan.

Step 1. Assess

We did an Integration assessment of the organization. We broke the assessment down by management, workers, and by which company they had come from before the merger.

Step 2. Evaluate the Data

We evaluated the data and looked for the similarities and differences in the responses. What we found was shocking. There had been no attempt by management to integrate any of the processes on either side together. Operationally the two companies couldn't have been different. Accounting, decision making, management, communication were all diametrically opposed to one another.

Step 3. Make a plan

We sat down with the CEO and came up with our 100 day integration plan. The first step was to get buy-in from the employees that the integration process was going to be worth it. Once we achieved this, we would go ahead with our step-by-step plan to get this company up and running again.

Step 4. Put it into action

We set up a company-wide meeting and the CEO laid all of his cards on the table. He told his people that the investors were getting ready to throw the company on the chopping block and asked for their support in getting their collective necks out of the noose. Within the first week, 10% of the staff had handed in their 2-week notices. Once we had gotten the non-committed people out of the equation we began integrating all of their processes together step-by-step, constantly checking in with the people to make sure we weren't going too fast and that they were still bought in to the process.
Over the next 2 months, the company lost another 5% of its employees. However, changes had already begun to take place within the organization. Profits were rising, morale was up, people were working together.

Step 5. Re-assess

The last step was to reassess the organization. Our final assessment showed that the organization had come together as one. Their business processes, and more importantly their people, had finally been integrated together. We did a presentation with the CEO for the investors on all that we had done, and what the organization had accomplished in the 100 days. After very little deliberation, the investors decided to let the company continue on its path and kept it off of the chopping block. This company today has become one of the leaders in its industry.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What Is The Value of Values?

A lot is written about values; recently in “The Secret” and “Good to Great” and not so recently in “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and “The Bible”. So why is this important to the financial statement?

How is it that professional sports attract 50, 100, and 150 thousands of fans week in and week out? Simply put, it is the power of shared values. When we relate what we value with that of something larger than ourselves, we will do some pretty extraordinary things. Most of the time, we do this without even a conscious thought.

Professional sports provide great examples of marketing towards these values, and continually measure it against the bottom line. Business’s market their values to consumers and continually measure this marketing against the bottom line. So why it is so hard to comprehend that corporate values can be marketed to our employees and continually measured to the bottom line? It can, it is easy, and because few pay much attention to it, it quickly distinguishes a great company from a good one quickly.

The following presents yet another recent survey evidencing the disconnect that exists in employee personal values and corporate values. How powerful will a company be with employees that are as raving of fans as Pittsburgh Steelers, Penn State Nittany Lions, or Minnesota Vikings fans?

Survey: Employer’s, Employees’ Core Values Sometimes Don’t Coincide

One-third of employees say their employer’s core values do not always line up with theirs, according to a survey of 615 Americans by CO2 Partners, a Minnesota leadership development firm.

The telephone survey was conducted March 7 to 11 by International Communications Research.

Gary Cohen, CO2 Partners president, said this situation has the potential to lead to employees experiencing an internal ethical conflict, which in turn, might be a factor in the high disengagement levels at many workplaces.

“Management often seems to expect employees to ignore their personal values in favor of the ones posted on the wall,” he said.

In regard to the question, “Which of the following best describes your attitude toward your own core values and how you earn a living?” the responses are as follows:

  • You know what your core values are and they are consistent with your employer’s: 44 percent
  • You know what your core values are, but they are not always consistent with your employer’s: 30 percent
  • You are not certain what your core values are, but you never feel uncomfortable working for your employer: 11 percent
  • You don’t feel core values have much to do with the work you do: 10 percent

Monday, April 16, 2007

Top Talent loss after a Merger & Acquisition

This article makes a great point. It points out that the purpose of the pre-acquisition phase should be to establish a "good fit" between the two organizations. How many times does this actually happen or is it successful. The key is to make the process repetitive so that it continues on past the time when the ink dries on the legal documents and the checks with lots of zeros on them...

Top Talent loss after a Merger & Acquisition

Mergers and Acquisitions present a company with the ultimate change. There can be few business events that have the potential to create chaos, lose key people (Top Talent) and adversely affect morale than a merger and acquisition.

The process can be viewed as pre acquisition and post acquisition. Pre acquisition establishes a good business fit. Post acquisition comprises of making it all work. This includes developing a common strategy for the new organisation, consolidating duplicated services such as HR, finance and legal, consolidating corporate policies and procedures and deciding who will govern the new business...


Monday, April 9, 2007

Culture Clash of the Titans

A $3.3 billion transaction is now in jeopardy because of a "culture clash" between the two sides. "It's a happy marriage until you get to the altar," Conover said of mergers involving big banks. If we look at a merger as a marriage of two companies, what are companies (and their priests (attorneys, private equity, etc.)) doing wrong? When two people meet, they spend time together, get to know each other, and "test the waters". When two companies merge together, does the same thing happen? Meetings are set up, teams of people take a look at the financials, but do most companies today spend any time looking to see if the people in the two organizations are a good fit together? After all, what is a company but a group of people brought together under one umbrella, working together to achieve the same vision?

U.S. Trust CEO to step down amid culture clash with BofA

San Francisco Business Times - April 4, 2007

Bank of America's merger-integration style apparently isn't sitting well with U.S. Trust's CEO, who will step down this summer.

Peter Scaturro's imminent departure, first reported in a front-page story in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal, doesn't bode well for U.S. Trust's outlook after it's sold by Charles Schwab (NASDAQ: SCHW) to the Charlotte, N.C., bank.

BofA is purchasing the company for $3.3 billion in a transaction that's expected to close later this year.


Awareness does not equal action with performance

Almost 80% of CEO's in this survey say that "financial indicators alone do not adequately capture their company’s strengths and weaknesses." However, even though they are aware of these indicators, many are only now starting to measure and manage these areas. Hopefully, this means that companies are finally getting on the right path and are starting to realize that people are an asset!

New Deloitte survey: Companies still in the dark about their overall health
Board members and executives are more aware of the value of non-financial performance measures, yet their ability to monitor these remains inadequate
Published: 4/3/07
Contact: Madonna Jarrett
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
Director, Global Public Relations & CEO Comms
+1 212 492 3738

New York, April 3, 2007: Many board members and senior executives are still in the dark about the overall health of their organizations because they lack high-quality non-financial information. According to the second edition of the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu survey, “In the Dark II: What many boards and executives still don’t know about the health of their businesses,” developed in conjunction with the Economist Intelligence Unit and released today, 78 percent of the CEOs surveyed say that financial indicators alone do not adequately capture their company’s strengths and weaknesses. Those surveyed admit they need information on non-financial performance indicators, but their ability to monitor these remains inadequate.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

90% of Global Executives "Get Culture"; Bain & Company study

"9 of 10 believe that corporate culture is as important as strategy for business success."

Following is a link to a Bain & Company's Management Tools & Trends 2007 study results.

"...softer management issues, such as corporate culture, environmental protection and knowledge management, have now moved to the forefront of executive thinking."

83% of more than 1200 international executives are committing to a significant shift in focus to corporate culture building strategies to increase performance and bottom line profits.

Executives are taking a hard look at soft issues, according to global management study by Bain & Company
Bain & Company press release 03/27/07

Executives are taking a hard look at soft issues,
according to global management study by Bain & Company
Bain survey of more than 1,200 international executives shows significant shift in focus to corporate culture, environmental protection and knowledge management

New York, NY - March 28, 2007 - Results of Bain & Company's Management Tools & Trends 2007 study find that softer management issues, such as corporate culture, environmental protection and knowledge management, have now moved to the forefront of executive thinking. According to a survey of more than 1,200 international executives by the global business management consulting firm...


Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Finally, a company that understands integration!

Finally, a company that does it right. Props to Luxottica for understanding the need to "avoid culture clashes and hold on to key talent". These companies understood that a "culture clash" between the two merger companies, would be counter-productive for everyone involved on both sides. By demonstrating a "culture of inclusiveness", Robin Wilson (Senior Director of H.R. at Luxottica), was able to get beyond the "us and them" mentality that usually causes mergers and acquisitions to self-destruct from the inside-out.

Luxottica Group: Optimas Award Winner for Managing Change

In acquiring a major rival, the eyeglass retailer takes pains in reaching out to its new employees to avoid culture clashes and hold on to key talent.
By Ed Frauenheim

our-hour van trips across Ohio smoothed the way for a merger of two of the country’s largest eyeglass chains...


Thursday, March 29, 2007

A fish rots from the head down. Sometimes problems start at the top.

I read this great article on the Chief Learning Officer website. It states the obvious that sometimes, the problems in an organization, lie at the top. We've all known executives that have the, "I got this far, I can't get any better" mindset. Yes, they may have gotten their organization to where it is. Yes, they may have taken it from their garage to a publicly traded company. However, with this sort of mindset, are they really going to be able to take their company to the "next level"?

If the CEO/owner can't accept feedback, and doesn't think that he/she can get any better, where else will this show up in the organization? Often times we've seen this sort of mindset narrow the vision of entire organizations to the point that they get left behind by the market or in their industry. True leaders are flexible, accept feedback, and KNOW they're good. But they also KNOW they can get better!

So what can companies do about this? By participating in a company-wide assessment process, these sorts of issues will be brought into the light. Imagine the power in having an outside consultant come into your company, administer an anonymous, company-wide assessment, then sit down with the CEO/owner of the company and tell them they're the problem...

Leadership Deficiencies: Problems Often Start at Top

March 28, 2007 – Kellye Whitney, Senior Editor

No leader wants to admit he or she is responsible for cultural or organizational problems, but often that’s exactly the case — organizations frequently reflect the character of the individual at the top.

A CEO or other leader might even have blind spots that inhibit performance, but with executive coaching, 360-degree feedback and other development tools, blind spots and learned behaviors can be relearned for the individual’s (and organization’s) benefit…