[Office Ecology] Culture Change, from Co-Labs to Personality Tests

Happy almost-Halloween, culture keepers.  Welcome to the October edition of the CharlesBank Consulting newsletter! 

CharlesBank Consulting: Strategic People Practices for an Innovation Culture 

First, some "me" news: I’m excited to be a member of an expert panel discussion through Next Wave Hire about how to build amazing cultures on Wednesday, November 9 in Boston—even though during a prep conversation I wasn't sure if I should share a provocative opinion I have. “You should share it!” replied the moderator, the CPO at Forrester. “You’re a panel expert!” (Yes, we were talking about the phenomenon of ‘perks’ at work.)  Come join us! It’s guaranteed good conversation. I promise to share opinions.

Her next question was: Do you think company culture is different for different generations? 

What do you think? You can sign up here: http://nextwavehire.com/event/best-culture-boston-secrets

The fall finds me working night and day on diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias issues with IBIS Consulting– and mulling over some of the workplace culture moves that could change society at large.

Could Culture Change at GM Bring Us Self-Driving Cars?

The CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra, has launched some new initiatives designed to change the culture at GM:

  • “Co-labs” to address cross-functional issues
  • Twelve months of leadership transformation training for the senior team
  • Quarterly two-day off-site that Barra leads with her senior leadership team, "focused not on strategy but on their own interactions"

It's that third idea that I really like. Two days a quarter to work on collaboration? That will seem like far too much to just about everyone I know. And yet take a moment to visualize just how effective those remaining days could be with beautiful collaboration.

It's interesting how hard it is to talk about how we work together. 

Fast Company asks, with all this brilliant collaboration, could a revolutionized GM culture make the self-driving car ubiquitous?

Mary Barra is Remaking GM's Culture and the Company Itself [Fast Company]

"Mary believes that if we change the behaviors [of top managers], people who work for us will see that and emulate it," says HR chief John Quattrone. "There won’t be this dysfunction that we had before."

But Can We Just Change Behavior?

Is that how culture change works? We just change people’s behavior? How?

Say you’ve got one of those intractable cultures. Something’s not working. You’ve tried and tried to make process and environment changes, but problematic issues persist. You’ve started to wonder if maybe the problem lies with particular people. Or maybe a particular person. Maybe you, for instance. 

Leaders Can Shape Company Culture Through Their Behaviors [Harvard Business Review]

Want your employees to be engaged? Put your phone down and look them in the eye when they talk. 

Want people to be on time? Start meetings on time even if not all participants are there yet.

You get the idea. Model the way (and cheer/reward/support others who do). That's not the whole answer, but it's a start.

In Other News, Big Banks Still Not Modeling the Way on Integrity

Whether lying to investors about the value of bad mortgages or hiring prostitutes to entertain clients, recent missteps by bank employees keep proving that updated ethics manuals do not an honest culture make. So….what to do? According to recent news reports, banks have not figured it out.

It's important to note that they seem to want to target bad actors instead of change systemic policies. How are they doing this? Through things like:

  • Personality tests 
  • Trying to identify employees who are engaged in fraud (apparently the people who won't take 2-week vacations – never knew that!) 
  • Asking risk and compliance officers to evaluate “material risk-takers” such as bankers and traders as part of the annual performance evaluation
  • "Bad Banker" database

The Senate asked why all the focus on "rolling bad apples":

“Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley asked a panel of government officials who regulate Wells Fargo […why they] attributed the problem to rogue individuals rather than a pervasive culture of structural incentives installed by bank executives.”

...But got no real answer. It's easy to point fingers at individuals, but changing culture takes more work. 

Wells Fargo Scandal Reignites Debate About Big Bank Culture [Reuters]

Dudley Says Supervisors Need to Monitor Bank Culture [Wall Street Journal] 

Toolbox: Yes, Ask Them, Even If They Don't Always Tell the Whole Truth

I think quarterly engagement surveys can be really useful, even though people do sometimes lie on them (How to Know if Workers Are Engaged (Don't Ask Them) (CIO Magazine). I think, though, that they don't lie about the really important things. So what to ask? 

Make sure the questions have answers that can be acted upon. While I like the new questions for millennials such as "What could the company do to help you achieve a better work-life balance," and I've tried out a few different sets of custom questions, I'm still partial to the trusty Gallup Q12, which drives the respondent to self-reflection. 

Try taking it for yourself, right now; the answers will tell you if change is needed.

  1. Do you know what is expected of you at work?
  2. Do you have the materials and equipment to do your work right?
  3. At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  5. Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
  7. At work, do your opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
  9. Are your fellow employees committed to doing quality work?
  10. Do you have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
  12. In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?    

Consulting services include: Coaching, Retreats and Facilitation, Competency Mapping, The Right Physical Work Environment, Mission/Vision Development, Leadership Circle Profile Assessment, and more strategic people practices for an innovation culture: http://charlesbankconsulting.com

With IBIS Consulting, I also conduct diversity work, from assessments to e-learning programs, on topics such as diversity and unconscious bias.

Reach out and let me know how you are doing! And Boo!