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    Entries in culture (74)

    Monday
    Feb112019

    From the NBA: A reminder that people build culture, not the other way around

    It's been too long since I dipped back into the 'Sports and HR' space, (probably not long enough for some readers), but over the weekend I caught an excellent piece on my new favorite NBA team, the Brooklyn Nets, by Harvey Araton at the New York Times, and knew it was time to break out a sports and HR take, as well as a re-sent on one of my other favorite themes - the intersection of talent, strategy, and culture in organizations.

    First, let me get something out of the way. I mentioned the Brooklyn Nets are now my new favorite NBA team and I feel like, for the one or two readers that care, the need to explain why I am dropping my life-long team, the New York Knicks, down on the pecking order. In short, their recent trade of Kristaps Porzingis, the franchise's best player in decades, and for the last three seasons, the only player who made the terrible Knicks worth watching, was the final straw for me, and I imagine many other frustrated Knicks fans. The Knicks are awful at playing basketball. But that can be tolerated if the players are giving their best effort, seem to care about improving, and are at some level fun and likable to watch. But when the team ownership and management is so inept, it makes any efforts the players put forth mean almost nothing, then that's when I just have no tolerance and no more patience. The clueless Knicks management created such a toxic mess that even their marquee star, Porzingis, wanted out. And I don't blame him. Ok, enough about that, and back to the Nets and culture and talent.

    In the Times piece, "Behind the Nets’ Success Is a Carefully Crafted Culture and, Finally, a Clue", Araton profiles Nets executive Sean Marks, one of the main architects behind the Nets slow climb from the depths of the league, to their current position as a contender for a playoff appearance. I won't bore you any more with the basketball reasons why the Nets are performing better, but I did want to highlight what is probably the most important line in the Times piece - an observation of Mark's skills as a leader provided by legendary NBA executive R.C. Buford, under whom Marks worked for a time when he was with the San Antonio Spurs - an organization also legendary for their 20+ years of high performance. Of Marks, Buford observed - “In every role he’s had, he’s been a culture builder".

    I like that line because it illustrates and in fact emphasizes that organizational culture, either with a sports team, or in any of our organizations, is something that exists and is informed through people, and the explicit actions they take, the behaviors they demonstrate, and the actions and behaviors, (and the kinds of people) who are not accepted, (at least not for long). Culture, such that it is, has to be a by product of people, and often, as wee seen in the Nets' case, of leadership of people like Marks. This may seem like a really obvious point to make, but I still feel like too much of what we say, think, and discuss about organizational culture makes culture something that exists somehow outside of specific decisions and actions of people. And, none of it ultimately works without adding to people like Marks with more of the kind of people that can help build culture. Some other time I will expand on how the Nets young core of talented players are doing their part to help.

    Culture can't exist without people. People buld culture. And leaders create strategies that can succeed in that context and be executed by those people.

    Let's go Nets.

    Have a great week!

    Wednesday
    Jan162019

    CHART OF THE DAY: Four out of five say that company culture needs to change

    Quick take for a waiting for the snow to come Wednesday. I wanted to share one data point from the Katzenbach Center Global Culture Survey 2018, a broad look at organizational culture and leadership.

    Here is the survey's lead chart and the one that shows that despite us telling each other that 'Culture eats strategy for breakfast' for literally 30 years, there apparently is still much that organizations and leaders need to do in the culture wars. Data first, then some FREE commentary from me after the chart:

    Some quick thoughts...

    1. The 'Culture eats' brigade would have us all think that well, culture does actually influence and drive business success to a larger degree than corporate strategy or even organizational talent. If so, then why do four our of five respondents claim that their culture needs to evolve and change in the next three to five years? While most of us probably agree that business strategy has to change, often fairly frequently, to respond to changing market conditions, it does seem kind of startling to see that 80% of people surveyed feel the same about culture. Is culture as malleable as strategy? Does it need to change as frequently as every 3 - 5 years, about the average tenure of talent at many organizations?

    2. I still maintain that the 'Culture eats' folks ignore the importance of strategy and the need for culture and strategy to be more connected and aligned. The culture survey states this plainly - "But for the influence of culture to translate into real business results, culture, strategy and operations must be aligned." And again, I'd add to this the importance to have people, the right people with both the right skills and attitudes to be aligned with both culture and strategy.

    3. Like many other workplace challenges, there is a difference of opinion and viewpoints about organizations culture between leadership and the rank and file employees. According to the Katzenbach survey, 63% of leaders feel their company culture is consistent with how people actually act in the organization, while only 41% of employees agree to that statement. Leaders at all levels need to really dig in to better understand how the organization's culture really manifests, shapes, and influences how work gets done in the organization. Culture is not what leaders talk about, it's what they do, what they reward, what they punish, and if/how the employees in the organization follow or don't follow these cues.

    I feel like we have been talking about organizational culture for ages, and I suspect the conversation will not end any time soon. Good for the workplace blogger types I guess!

    Have a great day!

    Thursday
    Dec202018

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 351 - Creating a Culture of Ownership at Anheuser-Busch

    HR Happy Hour 351 - Creating a Culture of Ownership at Anheuser-Busch

    Hosts: Steve Boese, Trish McFarlane

    Guest: Ago De Gasperis, VP, People, North America, Anheuser-Busch

    Sponsored by Virgin Pulse - www.virginpulse.com

    Listen HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve and Trish were joined by guest Ago De Gasperis, VP, People North America for Anheuser-Busch who shared how the legendary brewer continues to innovate and develop its culture of "ownership" - where employees are supported and empowered to feel like true owners of the company, and not just dispensable resources whose opinions and ideas don't matter. Ago shared how Anheuser-Busch tries to bring this idea of ownership to life by instilling the idea in leaders and employees and how ownership is embedded in everytihng they do. From creating and shaping a Diversity and Inclusion agenda, to supporting a wide range of employee resource groups, to fostering a culture of innovation - the idea of employee led programs and employee ownership informs just about everything they do. 

    Additionally, Ago shared some of the details and thinking that goes into A-B's efforts to recruit, develop, and support the next generation of company leaders and how in particular the People function looks to recruit from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, on your favorite podcast app, or by using the widget player below:

    This was a really fun show, thanks to Ago for joining us and a big 'Cheers!' to the team at Anheuser-Busch.

    Remember to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Google Podcasts or your favorite podcast app - just search for 'HR Happy Hour'.

    Friday
    Aug102018

    n = 1

    1. Beloved footwear brand Crocs is in a bit of trouble. Might want to stock up on some just in case. I did the same move when I learned that Twinkies were being discontinued a few years back.

    2. There was some really interesting coverage on what auto manufacturer GM is doing to try and better control employee healthcare costs and improve outcomes. It is clear that all of the traditional strategies they have been trying up until now have not moved the needle.

    3. One of the biggest stories in college sports was recently broke by a reporter that ESPN laid off earlier in the year. Tough to get 'scooped' by someone you decided was not essential to your business.

    4. From Academia - 'Compensation and Incentives in the Workplace' by Edward P. Lazear. "A sample of some of the most applicable papers are discussed with the goal of demonstrating that compensation, incentives, and productivity are inseparably linked."

    5. Still more from the market for truck drivers from Fortune. Between automation influences, labor force demographic changes, and increasing regulatory pressures, hiring truck drivers has never been harder.

    6. Infographic (are they still a thing?) 'Debunking 8 Myths about AI in the Workplace'

    7. The English Premier League season kicks off this weekend. If you need a team to support, I recommend Liverpool. This is our year for sure.

    8. Trish McFarlane and I did a great HR Happy Hour Show earlier this week with guest Erica Volini from Deloitte on the 2018 Deloitte Human Capital Trends Report. You can listen to the replay HERE or on your favorite podcast app.

    9. Speaking of the HR Happy Hour Show, our new version of the show for the Amazon Alexa platform just crossed the 50 episode mark. To listen to the show just add the HR Happy Hour Skill to your Echo device's Daily Flash Briefing.

    10. It's one month until the HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas. Check out the agenda and register here. Use my code STEVE300 for $300 off your HR Tech Conference pass.

    Have a great weekend!

    Wednesday
    Aug082018

    Culture, Experience, Dedication (and a little summer basketball)

    Warning - This post seems to be about basketball. It is not entirely about basketball. Maybe 87%.

    Basketball is largely a year-round sport these days, but during the period from the end of the NBA's official Summer League in Las Vegas, (absolutely the most fun trip I make every year), and the beginning of training camp for the new season, usually there is not much happening in the sport. For hoops junkies like me, the eight or ten weeks or so with no real basketball to watch can be a little bit of a bummer.

    But four years or so some enterprising entrepreneurs decided to try to fill that hole in the basketball calendar with a new concept - a $1M dollar, (since increased to $2M) winner-take-all single elimination tournament called, simply, The Basketball Tournament (TBT)  The teams that comprise the field in TBT are made up of some combination of former college players not good enough for the NBA, professionals playing in one of the numerous pro leagues in Europe, Asia, the the Middle East, and a smattering of retired players looking for one more run with some good competition, (and a chance to grab a share of $2M).

    TBT has kind of caught on among hard-core basketball fans, and for a couple of weeks in July, (supported by coverage on the ESPN networks), TBT becomes almost the most interesting story in the basketball world. Assuming, of course, we are not waiting for LeBron to pick a new team.

    But the real story of the four years of TBT has been the story of the team named Overseas Elite, the still undefeated and now four-time winner of TBT, and winners (remember this is a winner-take-all event), of $7M over their run, a prize shared by players and coaches. Overseas Elite, a team made up of players who have almost no NBA experience at all, most of whom were not even decent NBA prospects, and who now play professionally in places like Dubai and Morocco, has delivered a stunning 25-game win streak, (again, this is a single elimination competition), across four tournaments, while defeating many teams that on paper, had much more talent than they possess.

    Here's the part of the post where we shift from a sports story to an HR/Talent story.

    So to what can we attribute Overseas Elite's string of remarkable success?

    Three things that have resonated with Overseas Elite and can be applied to building teams in just about any endeavor?

    Culture- When Overseas Elite, then the 3-time TBT champion, had to fill two open roster slots for the 2018 tournament, they didn't just seek out the best of most talented players they could find. “We don’t pick just any guys,” team leader DJ Kennedy said. “We pick guys who fit our team as far as high character and not being selfish and guys who can really mesh together.” 

    Experience - With most of the roster consisting of relatively older players with years of experience at the pro level from playing around the world, Overseas Elite always played with poise, didn't panic when things were going against them in a game, and over four years and 25 wins under pressure, have found ways to win every time. Knowing what to do in almost any situation only comes from hard-earned experience, and often this experience can make the difference against a more talented team. Our lesson? Don't underestimate or undervalue experience on your own teams in your organizations. Having been there before is a kind of skill you just can't teach.

    Dedication- Amazingly, in the world of TBT and professional basketball, six of Overseas Elite's 10-man roster have been with the team for all four tournaments and have won four championships. Sure, these six guys have stuck with the team because of all the success, (and prize money), but have the success and prize money been a by product of the core of the team remaining intact over the four year run? Probably some of both I guess. While it is hard to know for sure what the real value of this kind of 'core team' consistency is, it has to have at least some value. If you trust the process on the recruiting and hiring side, and you have a decent strategic plan, then letting the team stay together to figure things out can lead to more sustained success over time.

    Ok, so this post was mostly about basketball. Apologies. But I love the story. I hope that Overseas Elite can keep it going next summer. I for sure will be watching.

    Have a great day!