Defining Your Culture and Hiring Strategically

By Patty Crabtree

Picture in your mind a race car speeding toward that waving checkered flag as it prepares to cross the finish line. If you think of a company like a high-performance car, culture is the oil that allows everything to run smoothly to help achieve your goals.

Culture reflects what is greatest, genuine, and noble about the company. It is the key behaviors an organization expects as the team works together and with its clients and vendors.

Culture establishes the foundation of the company and defines the qualities to be successful and help achieve its mission.

Overcoming A Culture Challenge

The culture journey for Bill’s company started with identifying the key attributes that they felt exemplified how they wanted to work together. Bill communicated it to staff and shared it with his clients. He posted it on the breakroom wall as a reminder. The company even branded it in their email signature blocks.

But the challenge was their behaviors did not reflect those defined values. It was not the heart of the organization. The words chosen were what they seen other successful companies using to define their values. It just was not who they were, how they were making their decisions and how leadership was supporting staff.

This misalignment led to a high turnover rate. A turnover rate that cost not only the hard dollars and time to recruit new candidates, but the soft dollar costs of repeated onboarding and staff scrambling to cover all the work. The situation had an adverse impact on company morale. Overall, the company had stalled in its growth.

Bill and his leadership team were puzzled. They felt they had a good work environment and didn’t understand what was holding them back. They were committed to creating an environment for growth and decided to take a step back to reassess their approach.

Bill’s team went through an exercise to help them identify the genuine culture for their firm. What were the core values that would drive their business, their team? Through this effort, they uncovered their own unique style and reflected it in their values.

Then, they took it one step further. Each value was clearly defined to communicate what it meant to the organization. Definition statements were created for each value to describe its intent. These enhanced values were shared with staff and communicated on a regular basis. Leadership reinforced them in their daily interactions.

The updated values were also more deeply embedded into their recruiting process. Behavioral interview questions were developed that focused on cultural fit which helped pinpoint the best candidates.

Over time, Bill’s company’s turnover was reduced by more than 50%. The recruitment process brought the right people to the team. Bill and his leadership team were successfully enhancing their infrastructure and teamwork which drove the growth.

Nurturing the culture and creating a stronger recruiting strategy took a focused effort to produce the desired results. In the long run, it paid dividends for them. Year after year they exceeded their goals and built a well-oiled machine.

Strong Culture Creates The Power of Alignment

One of the most powerful tools is alignment. Alignment brings a shared vision with everyone moving in the same direction.

Every company has culture whether it is by accident or by design. Some may be in that early growth stage and have been chasing the business opportunities, so culture has not been formally developed. Others may have determined their values but the day to day takes over and it isn’t nurtured.

If your company is being outperformed in the marketplace, you experience high turnover in key positions, financial performance is declining, or just want to move from good to great, often these issues are a result of an unhealthy culture.

Alignment empowers your staff with the knowledge of what to do, how to do it and why it is being done. It gives an emotional stability to their work world that encourages high performance.

Be Purposeful With Your Culture

Developing that path toward alignment is one part of the process. Being purposeful with it is another aspect. Leadership must walk the walk. If this does not happen, then your culture will struggle.

Once you have defined your culture and it has been effectively communicated to staff, a critical part of the process comes into play. To walk the walk. It starts with your leadership team embodying your culture in all their actions.

Clearly define how you want to lead, what is your purpose, something that rings true to the heart of the organization. Then, live by it consistently even though the hardest decisions.

Integrate Culture With Your Hiring Strategy And Beyond

At times, hiring can feel like a shot in the dark. You meet with the candidate, assess that they have the technical skills needed, you like them. So, you hire them and then 30-90 days you realize they aren’t fitting in and thriving in your organization. The situation can be confusing because on paper everything looked good though in execution it doesn’t meet your expectations

The missing piece here is understanding that person’s values and how it fits into your organization. Developing a recruiting process that supports your culture will help make it a more effective practice and lead to a stronger team environment. Hire people who believe in and display the values important to your organization. When someone comes onboard and does not embody your values, it can slow progress, disrupt teamwork, and cause morale issues.

Adopt Behavioral Interviewing

Once the core qualifications are met, the best interview questions are behavioral based. Questions around the candidate’s approach to certain situations or experiences.

In an interview, you want the candidate to speak more than you do. You want to know about their experiences and how they approach different situations. This does not come from asking the basic “tell me about yourself” or “where do you see yourself in 5 years.” This comes from “give me an example” or “tell me about a time.”

Ask the candidate to describe the culture at their last firm. Tell me about what worked well? What could have been improved? What are the elements of a company’s culture that they feel creates an excellent work environment? Have them share a story about how culture helped resolve an issue and what was their role in that resolution? Have them share a story about how culture inhibited a project they were working on and what happened.

Another approach is to interview your ‘A’ players about the qualities they feel makes them successful or someone successful in the position. Listen to their perspective on successful outcomes and teamwork. Use this information to build the behavioral based questions.

Open-ended questions are the best way to learn about people and determine their fit into your culture. Ask questions that tie into those success qualities for the position and have candidates share stories about their execution of the values most important to your organization.

Improve Onboarding Because Hiring Doesn’t End With An Offer Letter

Culture appears in every aspect of your organization. It flows through recruiting to onboarding and long-term retention.

The opportunity to instill your culture with a new team member is through a detailed onboarding process that reinforces your culture and expectations along with training on the systems and job specific tasks.

Many times, a company will bring someone in, have them complete the necessary paperwork, give them a quick tour, show them their desk, give them a quick overview and set them loose. This approach is a lost opportunity.

Developing a mapped-out onboarding process that includes learning about the organization, its culture, the different departments, and developing relationships along with the necessary job specific training can set a great foundation for success.

It helps create connection and enhance engagement. A well thought out onboarding process connects new hires to every aspect of the organization along with developing relationships throughout the firm. Many new hires express gratitude for this investment in their success.

Here Is The Bottom Line

Culture takes regular nurturing. Commit to creating an environment where staff will thrive, clients will receive excellent service and your external partners will feel valued and you will reap the benefits. Keep steering everyone in the same direction, toward the same goals and vision course correcting when needed.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC, has a team of inter-disciplinary specialists ready to help raise the effectiveness of critical functions within the organization, such as Sales, Customer Service, Operations, and IT. From team building to implementing cybersecurity technology, LCS consultants are uniquely suited to advise small, mid-sized and global companies. We can assist with in-depth workstyle and personality assessments along with skills testing for new hire candidates at all levels within an organization. Each is a former business executive with extensive strategic and tactical skills. Our consultants are poised to provide, on short notice, highly personalized and cost-effective guidance and tools to boost the performance of a department or organization. For additional information please email danab@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2021

Patty Crabtree is a Senior Consultant at Lighthouse Consulting Services with 25 years of operations and finance leadership experience along with building a successful remote workforce. She has extensive experience in successfully leading and growing teams. She was instrumental in the development of an operations infrastructure that resulted in consistent increased profits and employee engagement. Patty has also effectively navigated the challenges of change management in the ever-changing business world.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.  To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

High-Performance Lessons Learned From The Remote Workforce Revolution

By Patty Crabtree

Startling statistic: In August, 2021, 4.3 million workers quit their jobs because they were looking for something better or they did not want to return to working back in the office again. The media have dubbed it The Great Resignation.

Why the exodus? Because the remote work environment created by the pandemic is a two-edged sword: employers can recruit employees from far afield, but your employees can seek or be lured away by employers who offer greater flexibility.

Let’s go back in time to those disruptive days of March 2020 when the pandemic pushed the work world into a new era. Some companies successfully transformed into a remote work environment almost overnight. But others reasoned this was just going to be a few weeks so they would wait and see. Then it became a few months. Soon reality set in and almost every business had to create a hybrid work environment that embraced remote workers.

Now for many, a remote workforce has become a way of life. There is no going back. Soon we’re going to have two years of this journey in our rear-view mirror. What are the lessons to be learned? Those who are embracing this change will be ahead of the game. But those who are fighting it are going to see challenges with retaining employees and recruiting the best staff for their team.

Manage By Outcome, Not Hours

Before the pandemic, more and more companies were already starting to develop remote work environments and were allowing certain employees to work from home on a regular basis. They saw the benefits and increased performance. Then the pandemic pushed us into fully embracing this flexibility out of a need versus a want. This also moved us into a new understanding of how to create a high-performance work force.

Managing for high performance is hard. There is an old business joke about a man who asked a CEO, “How many people work at your company?”

“About half,” replies the CEO.

The humor illustrated how much unproductive time employees typically spend at an office. The management challenge is to maximize productivity for the hours the employees work. Or is it?

Here is the real question: do you measure hours versus outcomes? If you define the outcomes for a position, do you care, aside from labor laws, when they work and how they work? Granted there are a few positions that may not have this level of flexibility, but many jobs do. As long as they’re getting the outcomes accomplished in a timely basis, an employer has the opportunity to leverage the higher productivity a hybrid work force can deliver.

During the pandemic, the work environment evolved and employees have experienced the opportunity of a better balance based on more flexibility. The challenge now is to embrace this remote work revolution that had been gaining speed well before the pandemic and was accelerated by the work-from-home mandates.

Naturally, many employers want their employees back in the office. These employers miss the good old days of easier access and camaraderie.

But do you really want to fight progress? One reason so many companies are embracing the hybrid revolution is the advantages of attracting the best talent. There are no longer geographic restrictions on where you can draw the best talent from to join your team.

Not Every Company Was This Fortunate

At the end of 2019, one mortgage company decided to eliminate its home office and go 100% virtual. The company already had some remote staff, but it developed a game plan to close down the office to get everybody working from home. The company came up with the systems, purchased the hardware to allow everyone to work from home, and created a plan to ensure its culture stayed strong. Events like five-minute morning stretch breaks leading the team through some simple exercises to keep the body moving. Virtual meetings would start with a quick round robin of how everyone’s week was going before they would jump into the business part of the agenda. The company was creative and did multiple team building exercises like virtual scavenger hunts and escape rooms.

Did it pay off? When the world went into lockdown, its business exploded. By being ahead of the curve the company was ready to take advantage of the real estate boom. Were they just lucky? As the famous scientist Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”

The Great Opportunity

Managing a hybrid or fully remote workforce takes a different focus. I use the word intentional here. A more intentional focus on the nuances of a diverse work environment is important to continue a healthy, successful workforce. Over time, this intentional focus will become second nature but in the beginning it is an intentional effort.

Wise employers are not hanging on to the comfort zone of the old structure they had pre-pandemic. The path of wisdom is to choose a structure that will stay ahead of the curve.

Were employees really producing to the level they could, or are they producing better in a remote environment away from the distractions of an office? Many studies indicate remote workers actually have a greater productivity than those in the office. There’s less water cooler talk, less hanging out in the hallways, and more focus on getting the work done and moving on to the next action item.

Many companies have successful track records with remote work. When a company I worked with created a remote work environment back in 2006, we achieved more and more productivity from our remote staff. From reduced distractions to better systems, staff performed higher each year.

Commuting to and from work can be a huge productivity drain and a distraction to one’s day. Think about all those who were walking into the office frustrated, unwinding with a cup of coffee and venting about the person who cut them off. Instead of the driving hassles, remote staff can take a short walk from the kitchen to the home office. They can feel more energized at the start of the day, have a better focus and achieve more success. They also experience a better life-work balance which brings more engagement.

Developing strong systems not only helps monitor productivity but also communicates expectations to staff. Workflow tracking systems ensure that effective assignments are happening and timelines are being met. People know exactly what’s expected of them, and your leaders are able to monitor employee progress helping it along the way.
Higher productivity leads to greater profitability.

Other Tools Are Key

Have you also built recognition into those systems so that it’s visible? People can share their successes with others through their day-to-day interactions without even having to share it. It’s there in front of you displayed in the system. Who is leading the charge? Just check the system. It is a great motivator to keep things on track or even ahead of schedule along with celebrating success.

Team building is critical in any type of work environment, and that is especially true with a distributed workforce. So, how do you encourage connection among your groups? One option is to consider is to have an element of team building built into your team meeting agendas. Set aside a few minutes in the beginning to have everybody share what’s going on or their successes for the week, or even something minor and personal such as what is their favorite vacation spot, or what dish do they like to bring to a potluck? Get creative with the team building questions.

Now Is The Time To Hire Differently

There are some other important questions to consider.

Have you included a work-style assessment as part of your hiring process? Do you have a tool to help you understand somebody’s personality and how that fits in with the team? Do you have a library of interview questions available to help understand how somebody will thrive in your hybrid work environment?

Once you find that right candidate, does your onboarding process create a connection along with a specific job training for a new hire? Are there team building events included in your onboarding process? Have you formalized the onboarding into a schedule of events, meetings, and trainings that guides that new employee through the process and ensures they make those connections that are so critical across the organization?

Here is the bottom line: Developing a successful and lasting hybrid workforce takes some effort. From enhancing your culture to implementing better systems, this intentional focus will bring positive results and keep you as an employer of choice.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2021

Patty Crabtree is a Senior Consultant at Lighthouse Consulting Services with 25 years of operations and finance leadership experience. Her phone number is 310-453-6556, ext. 410 and her email is pattyc@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.  To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you are open to a conversation about how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help your team, including pricing and the science behind the tests, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Do you have a Sales Plan?

By Patrick McClure

It’s common in the winter time to hear company executives complain about the holiday season. I can just hear them now:

“OMG, we only have two weeks in December, and the rest of the month is a waste of time. No one will be at their desks, and we won’t be able to sell anything!”

“Everyone has visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads, and all they’re thinking about is what presents to buy for their loved ones. How in the world can we get them to focus on MC900439256[1]business?”

“I wish Thanksgiving and Christmas never existed! Arggghhhhh!”

Granted, for most companies December is a short month. Except for retailers, December is severely impacted by the holiday season and by vacations. However, December is an ideal time to put the finishing touches on your sales plan for the new year, so take advantage of this month to create a stellar plan for success in the new year.

Creating Your Sales Plan

The first step in creating your sales plan for the new year is to review your performance in the past year. For some tips on how to do this, you can read the 7 Step Sales Diagnosis Plan from our blog. If you’ve completed that review, you’ll have a solid grasp of the following essential elements:

  1. Sales Objectives and your performance results for the last year
  2. Highlights & Lowlights for the year
  3. SWOT Analysis updated
  4. Top 3 Problem areas to Fix
  5. Top 3 Opportunities for Growth

If your review of the last year is complete, you’re already ahead of the game. Now your attention can shift to goals and objectives for the new year, and how to make them a reality. Here’s a recommended process to get this done:

1. Write down your Objectives for the new year.

Casey Stengel said it best when he told his teams:

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

Without a defined specific and written objective, you are flying blind. You can’t hit a target if it is not defined, so get your targets written down.

Your key sales objectives will support the overall business plan for the new year, and will define the “big picture” objectives for your team. Some examples might be:

“To grow our market share from 10% to 20%”
“To increase total revenue by 30% by the end of the new year.”
“To launch our new system into the marketplace and to generate $1 MM in revenue”
“To reduce selling expenses by ________________”

2. Strategic Positioning

Given the defined sales objectives for the next year, you will now consider the best positioning your company needs to give yourself the best possibility of success. Think about questions like these:

♦  Identifying where the best market opportunity resides (which of the market segments offer the most potential given your differentiators).
♦  Which sales method to use?
♦  How should your sales organization be structured for maximum effectiveness?
♦  Who are your top competitors and how can they be eclipsed, neutralized or controlled?
♦  Who are the key partners and alliances?

3. Territory/Market Analysis

Given your objectives and your strategic positioning, deepen the analysis to define or refine your intended selling geographies or industries. This analysis would reveal:bizpeople on chessbd

♦  Size of territory, Industry specialization, key locations
♦  Installed Base Customers & Location
♦  # of Prospects, their industry, and their location

4. Unique Value Proposition

This will be a quick review for most companies because it will simply validate the selling propositions that have been effectively used in the past year. However, if results from the last year were dismal, now is the time to really re-examine your unique selling propositions. You need to absolutely define with clarity and precision the following:

♦  Features, Benefits, and Value of your products/services.
♦  What exactly is unique about your company and what you deliver to the marketplace?
♦  Why should people do business with you, versus everyone else?
♦  What’s so special about our company?

5. Sales Forecast

This will be a detailed analysis, generally broken into quarters or monthly, of the following:

♦  Total Sales Revenue
♦  Total # of New Accounts
♦  Total Revenue for New Accounts
♦  Revenue for existing accounts
♦  Profitability
♦  Any other targets?

bizpeople in huddleYour CRM system or Sales Forecast system will be loaded on a month-to-month basis with these factors. Depending on your industry, and any seasonality, you can simply target equally month-to-month or vary the targets based upon time of year.

It’s always a good idea to get the salespeople to actively contribute to this forecast, and to make sure they are absolutely in agreement with the targets. They must be committed to achieving these targets and there must be a realistic expectation that the targets can be achieved and exceeded.

6. Detailed Sales Pipeline Analysis

This is the most important element of your Sales Plan for the new year. This is the detail on exactly how you intend to achieve your goals. Take the sales objectives, analyze your pipeline and ratios, and come up with specific sales activities that are needed to accomplish your annual selling goals. These may include (but are not limited to) the following:

♦  What is your Lead Tracking System (Excel, Paper-based, automated SFA?)
♦  Total Named Prospects to Develop
♦  Total # of Opportunities in your Territory
♦  Total # of Qualified Opportunities in your assigned Industry
♦  # of Referrals from Installed Base Customers
♦  # or Leads required to feed the Sales Pipeline
♦  Where are the leads coming from? (Lead Sources report)
♦  Estimated # of Prospecting Phone Calls by rep by month
♦  Estimated # of F2F Calls needed by rep by month
♦  # of Sales Presentations needed by rep and by month

Your pipeline analysis should include Lead Sources. You should know precisely the origination point for every sale you’ve made in the past year. This will be critical information in planning where you would most productively spend your time in the remainder of the year.

When this analysis is complete, you will now know exactly the selling activities that are needed in order to achieve your targets. For instance, if your sales reps typically enjoy a 20 % close ratio for every sales presentation delivered, they will need to deliver 5 presentations to achieve one sale. All the standard selling ratios should be captured in an Excel spreadsheet and handed out to the reps. You will almost always discover that the sales team is NOT doing enough prospecting for new business!

7. Sales Process

This is a fast review of your normal sales process, fine tuning for the coming year. If it was successful in the previous year, don’t change much! If it was NOT successful, you will need man looking at mapsto change it! Along the way, you need to identify “Best Practice” sales methodologies and identify weaknesses in the process (where are sales lost?)

In addition, you might want to review your initial business development process, particularly how opportunities are qualified to begin with.

♦  Where are sales being lost? At what point in your sales process do you fail?
♦  What’s the plan to eliminate the losses?
♦  How can the process be made more efficient and effective?

8. Key Success Factors (KSFs)

This is the most important sections of the sales plan for the manager and executive because it lists the top three KSFs that, if achieved, will guarantee achievement of the plan. One of my managers used to refer to these as the “critical few” which makes allowance for the absolute importance of them.

The KSFs are developed after considering all the foregoing sections for the sales plan. Based on an analysis of the preceding sections, ask the following:

♦  What must we do to ensure success?
♦  What does top management need to do to support us?
♦  What does our company need to help us with?

9. Resource Needs

Now that your plan is complete, it’s time to spell out the resources you need to achieve success. This may include people, support, materials, logistics, management, coaching, training and so on. If you are missing a key skill or resource, this is where you would list it.

Since you’ve developed a careful and concise analysis, you will be prepared to review with management and to request critical resources and support from other departments, such as Marketing, Human Resources, IT and Customer Support. Everyone in the company should be “in the loop” with your sales plan and they should fully support it. After all, everyone sells!

10. Sales Operations Assessment

Patrick is offering complimentary 30 minutes over the phone to identify likely root causes of sales productivity issues with at least three actionable ideas.  You will discover critical problem areas, recognize underlying causes of these issues, learn at least three new ideas to implement and begin a plan of action.  To learn more, email patrick@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2021

Patrick McClure, Sr. Sales & Customer Service Consultant of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC, is a speaker, trainer, consultant, and author who enjoys working with individuals and corporations to help them achieve maximum performance. He has dedicated his practice to helping others become more successful.  Over the past 30 years, Patrick has trained customer service teams, salespeople and managers to drive breakthrough sales results using innovative and practical techniques. He has a knack for reducing the most complex problems to utter simplicity, and showing his audience exactly how to start winning. During his corporate career, Pat sold over $250 MM worth of products and services at corporate giants such as IBM, Hitachi Data Systems, EDS, Digital Equipment and mid size companies. He is a black-belt master at selling complex business solutions to C-Level executives.  As the author of 3 books on selling, Patrick passionately and patiently serves up his wisdom to readers, clients, and audiences. He caters to both small and large firms seeking to help companies to serve and close more business.  To contact Patrick, please email him at patrick@lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.  To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

The Promise and The Pitfall Of 360-Degree Surveys

By Dana Borowka, MA

Famed management author Ken Blanchard says feedback is the breakfast of champions. Psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers said listening, not imitation, is the sincerest form of flattery. Super successful CEOs like Bill Gates say we all need feedback because that is how we improve.

The natural desire to improve the performance of leaders through feedback gave rise to the popularity beginning in the 1990s of 360-degree feedback surveys. The objective of using these surveys is to create high-performing organizations by tapping into the collective feedback of many colleagues rather than just a top-down approach.

That is the promise.

But there is a danger. The amount and level of training of those providing 360-degree feedback can impact the level of accuracy of the feedback. Without guidance from a trained professional, bias may distort the value of the feedback.

And that is the pitfall. But there is a way to avoid this feedback peril.

“Naturally to some degree people are resistant to feedback,” says Tom Drucker, MA, who helps Lighthouse Consulting clients debrief 360-degree survey results. “We all have defenses against feedback, so the feedback needs to be mediated by someone who is trained to do this.”

Drucker received his master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from UCLA while working with and being mentored by famed psychologists Viktor Frankl and Abraham Maslow. He went on to pursue his PhD at UCLA’s business school where he studied change management, operations research, anthropology, linguistics, and behavioral science. His unpublished dissertation focused on how leadership styles affected the success of long-term organizational change.

That varied background comes in handy when he debriefs leaders on their 360-degree survey results.

“My job has always been to talk to each person and debrief their results with them,” says Drucker. “I’m a trained clinical psychologist. I had a practice for a number of years before going into the business world.”

Also called multi-rater surveys, a 360-degree feedback is a process through which feedback is gathered from an employee’s supervisors, subordinates, and colleagues, as well as a self-evaluation by the employee themselves. The 360-degree survey can be contrasted with downward feedback from the boss or upward feedback delivered to managers by subordinates.

In Drucker’s view, the worst-case scenario is to just grab some 360-degree survey tool from the Internet and let the recipients interpret the feedback from the various people on their own. Just because a survey is cheap and easy does not make it the best approach.

Drucker says when successfully implemented, 360-degree feedback can be a game-changer for a business. These surveys can initiate positive changes and provide more accurate performance reviews leading to accelerated professional growth.

“When I review the results with those being assessed, I have very authentic conversations with people about their strengths,” says Drucker. “Then we talk about what is getting in their way. This leads to helpful conversations about what they should start doing, stop doing and continue doing. This is a transformative conversation for many leaders.”

This is similar to what Lighthouse Consulting Services has found to be true when we work with companies who want to improve hiring and talent development through in-depth work style and personality assessment. You can learn how your people and candidates are wired in order to hire the best and understand how to proactively manage individuals.

But to get full benefit, you need to be debriefed on the assessments by trained professionals. We assist clients by providing the leading in-depth work style and personality assessment and then utilizing our insights and assessment knowledge to best interpret the results.

Before using 360-degree surveys, some people want to know the origins of the approach. It all began around 1930 when military psychologist Johann Baptist Rieffert developed a methodology to select officer candidates for the German army. The jump to the business world occurred in the 1950s when the Esso Research and Engineering Company gathered information on employees, which arguably is the first recorded business use of the technique.

From there, the idea of 360-degree feedback gained momentum, and by the ‘90s most human resources and organizational development professionals discovered the concept. Today, studies suggest that over one-third of U.S. companies use some type of multi-source, multi-rater feedback like a 360-degree survey.

“A 360-degree survey has two parts,” says Drucker. “The first part is analytical, and examines how frequently certain behaviors occur, like leaders asking subordinates ‘how can I do my job better to support you?’”

The meat of this section of the 360-degree is getting statistically valid data on observable behaviors and the impact those behaviors have on their boss and others.

“The second part are open-ended questions, such as ‘what are the strengths of the leader?’ and ‘what are you afraid to tell the leader?’” says Drucker. “We spend a fair amount of time debriefing answers to those types of questions.”

Drucker says it is important that the feedback is anonymous.

“This is a way to see yourself as others see you, as the poet said,” notes Drucker. “Sometimes the feedback can be empowering. Other times it can be unsettling. As a clinician, I’m able to help people process the feedback even on Zoom calls.”
Without help in the debriefing, the part of the brain that produces threat responses might get triggered and derail the value of the feedback process.

“We’re all human beings, and we all have this almond-shaped gland in the brain called the amygdala, which triggers fear and can cut off any kind of logical, creative thinking,” says Drucker about the natural fight, flight or freeze response that triggers our bodies feeling anxious and afraid.

Drucker, who became a neuroscientist about 20 years ago, says the amygdala is what helped our ancestors survive in a hostile world. There are natural biochemical reactions we can thank for our being on the planet today.

“Feedback can be very upsetting which triggers a fear response in the brain,” says Drucker. “I have had clients become depressed because the information was so uniformly negative. However, 95% of all written feedback reflects the observer’s respect for the leader. Their words are intended to inspire positive change.”

Without someone to help process the information, it can be overwhelming. But it does not have to be.

Drucker began consulting after spending 15 years as a senior executive in Human Resources at Xerox Corporation. His experience at Xerox provided him with a global business perspective and refined his personal skills in leadership and management. He has developed unique methods for coaching successful leaders as they grow their organizations. He is also very proud to apply these same business tools to nonprofit organizations and community institutions like schools, hospitals, and law enforcement agencies.

Drucker says the 360-degree survey and professional feedback is not just for the Fortune 500 but can help organizations of all sizes.

“When professionally conducted and interpreted, the results can be significant,” says Drucker. “Without a trained professional, the value of their results is severely diminished.”  If you are open to a conversation about a 360-degree survey process or how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help your team, including pricing and the science behind the tests, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2021

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your business”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style & personality assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division. Dana has over 30 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Tom Drucker, MA is a Senior Lighthouse Consultant and works with leaders to achieve business success by leveraging the strengths of their people and overcoming the very human yet often unseen obstacles that get their way. Tom has well over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies, mid caps and start ups.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.

For more information, please visit our website, www.lighthouseconsulting.com to sign up for our Open Line webinars and monthly Keeping On Track publication.  If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

How Safety Management Systems Can Help Any Size Company

By Chip Duffie

In the words of the famous psychologist Karl Jung, “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” So, what are you doing to manage environmental, health and safety (EHS) at your company?

Most company leaders generally recognize the need to do it right. But the costs seem endless, the regulations are complicated, the processes feel disruptive, and the value seems intangible. Motivation can, unfortunately, become centered around simply “staying out of trouble.”

Good News And Reality

Let’s start with some good news. EHS programs are making a difference. Worker deaths in America are down-on average, from about 38 worker deaths a day in 1970 to 15 a day in 2019. Worker injuries and illnesses are down-from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to 2.8 per 100 in 2019.

More good news. Multiple studies, including several sanctioned by the National Safety Council, have confirmed that every $1 invested in injury prevention and safety programs return between $2 to $6.

Of course, for most companies, EHS program success is fragile, and every company has unique risk factors that are constantly evolving. There is always the risk of injuries, penalties, increased insurance premiums, and even bad press that can drive costs into your business.

The reality for every business: Managing EHS programs is a constant challenge for business leaders. Not just to stay in compliance, but to manage risk and protect the employees, all while trying to demonstrate a return on investment for the program. The fact is that companies of all size struggle to balance regulatory concerns with maximizing productivity and revenue generation.

EHS Excellence Is Not Just For The Big Companies

Perhaps surprisingly to some, implementing a safety or environmental management system (a SMS or EMS) is not reserved just for big companies. For small to mid-size businesses without robust EHS support teams, trying to manage EHS programs can be intimidating and frustrating. While no one wants to operate out of compliance or put their employees at risk, many companies feel overwhelmed and do not believe they have the aptitude or resources to follow best practices.

At the core of this motivation is the idea that EHS programs are an “add-on” or something that must be layered on top of operations. This perception often leads to compliance and safety programs being considered a impediment to progress. However, the safest and most heavily regulated brands in the world use management systems to integrate EHS requirements into operations, setting programs up designed to actually increase productivity.

11 Key Factors For Success

I believe any size company can incorporate compliant practices into their daily operations. Here are 11 key factors to a successful implementation:

1. Leadership Engagement. The single most important factor to a successful SMS/EMS and long-term cultural improvement is the engagement and support of executive leadership. If it’s important to the boss, it will be important to the staff. It’s really that simple.
2. Get Documentation In Order. Archive old policies and ensure new policies are clearly communicated to all employees. Also, make sure the policy is customized to fit your business. A generic policy may check a box, but likely does not actually help your program, especially in an emergency. A systematic review of your program documentation will clarify roles, responsibilities and risks.
3. Set an Action Cadence. Get on a repeatable, sustainable schedule of inspections, training, meetings and safety huddles that your employees understand and will come to expect. You have to be disciplined and consistent, but it will rapidly become second nature to everyone.
4. Leadership Committee Meetings.  A management system does not run itself. Executive involvement in meaningful, routine committee meetings is critical. A Management Committee sets goals, approves policies, solves problems, develops a communication plan and addresses escalated issues.
5. Identify Key Performance Metrics. The safest and most compliant brands track many key metrics related to their programs, and a company needs to set goals and targets for these metrics. Also, encourage your team to come up with additional site-specific metrics to be measured and tracked.
6. Employee Training. Make sure all employees know how do their job right. Of course, you have to meet OSHA and EPA minimum standards, but a management system does not settle for the minimum. Job specific training and apprenticeship programs are the best way to reduce injuries and ensure compliance.
7. Accountability and Recognition. A SMS or EMS is a team effort, and no one is above the requirements. There must be consequences for repeated failures and there should be a way to recognize outstanding contributions.
8. Employee Engagement. The operations staff know the actual risks of their job, so ask for their involvement and feedback and involve them in crafting solutions. A management system does not simply hand down high level policy, it is built from the ground up and gives the employees input in the process. It also allows them to take a positive messages home to their families every day.
9. Assess Risk by Job Type. A management system looks at every job and identifies the risk of noncompliance and the hazards facing employees. This is again more than checking a box, it is making sure every employee knows how to do the job right. A robust job type risk review will also give you confidence that you know how to onboard work-ready employees.
10. Leverage Leading and Lagging Indicators. Move beyond only relying on metrics that track the past, which are only looking in the rear-view mirror. Track leading metrics like training and behavior-based observations to ensure you can avoid problems before they happen.
11. Standardize Practices and PPE Across Multiple Sites. Many companies struggle with standardization, especially when it comes to job training and buying personal protective equipment (PPE) for multiple operations. Take the time and effort to get everyone on board with the management system and drive consistency across all your operations.

Top 10 Most Frequently Cited OSHA Standards Violated

The following were the top 10 most frequently cited standards violated by Federal OSHA in fiscal year 2020.

1. Fall protection in construction
2. Hazard communications
3. Respiratory protection
4. Scaffolding in construction
5. Ladders in construction
6. Control of hazardous energy
7. Powered industrial trucks
8. Fall protection training requirements
9. Eye and face protection
10. Machinery and machine guarding

To search the top violations of an industry with a specific NAICS code, see https://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/citedstandard.html
To search and view the industry profile for violations of any specific OSHA standard, see https://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/industryprofile.html

A management system is not a short-term play, it is an investment in your brand and your people that will pay dividends for years to come and define the way you do business.

Chip Duffie is a senior Lighthouse consultant who specializes in environmental, health and safety (EHS). An environmental lawyer by trade, Chip spent his early career as assistant general counsel and chief compliance officer for Safety-Kleen, and then as SVP, compliance and sustainability for Clean Harbors. His primary job as CCO was leading an in-house team of EHS professionals responsible for the safety and compliance of North American operations. A frequent speaker on EHS, legal and risk management issues, Chip has a passion for delivering simple, affordable technology to help businesses maximize operations while staying in balance with the environment and protecting their employees. To contact Chip, call him at 469-999-2500 or email him at chip@lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, x403, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com, or visit our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style and personality assessments for new hires and staff development. Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching, and offer a variety of workshops on team building, interpersonal communication, and stress management. To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code, Cracking the Business Code, and Cracking the High-Performance Team Code, please go to: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Protecting The Workplace

By Howard F. Fisher, Esq.

What is keeping you up at night as you consider returning to the office?

Employers and employees are navigating a rapidly changing landscape of workplace safety concerns from policies touching on vaccine or mask requirements; potential of political or civil unrest; employee and guest vaccination status; remote or hybrid work, scenarios; and a full return to an in-person workplace environment that will look and feel very different than it was prior to the pandemic.

Further adding to the concerns is the unfortunate situation where employees may have experienced economic difficulties, increased domestic tension or other impacts that will increase the risk or opportunity for workplace violence to occur.

Employers Have a Duty To Provide a Safe Workplace

Employers must maintain “a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm …”, according to OSHA/MOSHA requirements.

Failing to prevent workplace violence is expensive. The human cost of workplace violent acts is immeasurable. The financial impact can cripple a business. Medical bills covering physical and psychological support for victims and witnesses, liability expenses, negligence lawsuits and physical site damage can be extensive.

As employees return to work, there has never been a better time to review physical security as well as workplace violence prevention policies.

Understanding the gaps in your organization’s physical and technical security is a critical first step in prevention-focused security risk management. Workplace violence prevention programs cannot and should not only protect employees as they face these situations, but also prevent a perpetrator from committing violent acts in their own or their victim’s workplace and includes but is not limited to physical violence, threats or threatening behavior communicated through verbal, written, electronic or physical means.

Physical And Technical Security Assessment

Employers should consider an independent assessment of security gaps for their facilities. Assessments may include one or several facility types to allow for a holistic assessment of overall gaps. Facility types may include multi-tenant Class-A office buildings, corporate headquarters or integrated complexes, mixed-use properties, retail and shopping centers, event halls, embassies, data centers and critical infrastructure sites.

The strategic scope of the assessment should cover factors such as risk, threat and vulnerability profile; geography and local environment; criticality of operations; sensitivity of information used, stored or generated; size of facility and number of personnel; regulatory mandates; and internal risk criteria.

The tactical scope of the assessment should focus on factors such as perimeter alarm systems; access control systems; closed-circuit television coverage; intrusion detection systems; fire and life safety systems; emergency plans; mail and package delivery; and backup power availability and adequacy.

Work-Place Violence Prevention Policy Assessment

As an employer, you have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to respond and intervene when the reported actions of an individual or group threaten your workplace. The goal of a workplace violence prevention program is to enhance employee safety and identify opportunities for early intervention to assist employees who may be in crisis.

When some people think of workplace violence prevention programs, they imagine acts of violence and punitive zero tolerance policies. But a properly developed and effectively implemented program prioritizes prevention and creates an environment of trust, respect and courtesy, so when issues arise anywhere (including in the home) employees feel comfortable bringing them forward.

Employers should examine existing policies in critical areas such as onboarding, employment screening, privacy, compliance and issue resolution and escalation. assess their current programs with the goal of creating a security roadmap that:

• Gains a baseline understanding of the strengths and weaknesses in current policy.
• Advances the company’s ability to prevent, mitigate and respond to incidents.
• Incorporates threat assessment into your plan.
• Factors in best practices in emergency preparedness planning.
• Views the company’s security risk management program holistically.

Assessments will identify gaps and opportunities for improvements and provide guidance on execution. The analysis should include key functions and departments such as Security, HR, Operations, Legal, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and line management.

Closing the Gaps In Workplace Security Has Long-Term Benefits

Employers today are tackling a spectrum of issues ranging from post-incident internal investigations and messaging to employee populations deeply concerned about their own safety, to formal workplace violence prevention program development and – very importantly – the broader framework and integrity of each company’s respective physical and technical security protocols and practices. For your files, here are some resources:

Additional Resource Links

Jensen Hughes Service Offerings
+ Workplace Violence Prevention
+ Security Assessments
+ Active Assailant Awareness and Response Training

Jensen Hughes Publications
+ Workplace Violence Prevention in the Automotive Industry
+ Creating a HR Services Workplace Violence Prevention Program
+ Improving Security while Workplaces are Empty

External Resources
+ US. Department of Labor: OSHA Workplace Violence page
+ Federal Bureau of Investigation: Active Shooter Resources page

Taking an all-in approach to workplace violence prevention is vital to protecting people, property, performance, and reputation. Aligning security and safety with strategic business issues such as production and profitability brings broad business benefits that include increased workplace security, higher employee morale, greater cross-functional collaboration and information sharing, and uninterrupted business operations.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2021 Jensen Hughes and Lighthouse Consulting Services.

Howard F. Fisher, Esq. a senior vice president with Jensen Hughes, advises on security risk consulting. He works with senior executives and their legal counsel who want to better manage security risk and emergency management. Jensen Hughes, a leading safety, security, and resiliency professional services firm, is a joint venture partner with Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC. Howard has held executive positions at several large professional services firms and corporations where he was entrusted with rapidly increasing responsibility for the strategic, operational, and financial performance of multiple teams.

Don’t read the horrible headlines about other businesses and think it will never happen to you. Hopefully you may never need their services, but isn’t an ounce of prevention worth looking into?

To learn more, click here: https://www.jensenhughes.com/services/security-risk-consulting

If you are open to a conversation about how to better manage security risk and emergency management, please contact howard.fisher@jensenhughes.com or 312.560.0336.

We strongly recommend you sign up with Howard to receive a 24-hour hotline number to call in an emergency. If a security or violence problem hit your business, who would you turn to? Sadly, workplace violence is becoming more commonplace. Obviously, this is not something you want to do at the last minute. When something happens that is not the time to scramble for help. Having the 24-hour hotline number to call can give you a measure of peace of mind.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style and personality assessments for new hires and staff development. Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops on team building, interpersonal communication, and stress management.

To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code, Cracking the Business Code, and Cracking the High-Performance Team Code, please go to: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

 

Checklist To Create A Hybrid Work Environment Culture

By Patty Crabtree

“I just want everyone back at the office and let’s just get back to normal,” many a business leader has said.

But let’s face facts: the old ways of business will never really happen again. That train has left the station, that ship has sailed.

During the pandemic businesses have been exposed to the possibilities of remote work. Many workers found it to be liberating as they were no longer tied to that commute or the rigid nine-to-five schedule. Now that we have seen what is possible, how can we capitalize on it and develop that world class service?

Here is a surprising statistic: If given the choice between a $30,000 raise or permanently working from home, employees at some of the biggest companies said they would choose the latter. LinkedIn News, citing a survey by professional network Blind, reports 64% of respondents would forgo the extra cash for the remote work benefits. About 67% of Google respondents preferred permanent work-from-home, as well as 64% of Amazon, 62% of Microsoft, 69% of Apple, 76% of Salesforce and 47% of JPMorgan Chase employees.

“I’m not surprised at all,” said Chelsea Jay-Wiltse, a career coach at Intelligent.com. “The pandemic provided an opportunity for many professionals to reset and rediscover their priorities. Most professionals found working from home provided a better work/life balance, more time with family and friends, and decreased stress levels. Utilizing technology to its fullest extent is the way of the future.”

She offers this prediction: “More employers will need to offer flexible scheduling and remote work options to remain competitive when it comes to attracting talented professionals.”

However, the message we keep hearing at Lighthouse Consulting is businesses want to return to normal, all the peas back in the pod. We are not a fan of this word normal. This word gets thrown around every time something pushes us outside our comfort zone as people crave the known and are afraid of the unknown.

Normal is such a disempowering word. It takes away from the opportunity and encourages things to go to back the same. But a return to normal is just an illusion as our world has changed. With all the opportunities that have occurred, why would someone want to go back to the way things were when there is a possibility of something better?

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Déjà vu is the feeling you have experience something before. For me, I faced this dilemma many years ago as my company faced a staffing crisis. As a small company, our solution was to start building a remote workforce. Through trial and error, we developed a high performing and successful workforce that cultivated a high retention rate of both clients and staff. Our culture of innovation thrived, and collaboration was strong. As profitability increased year over year, we had proof this concept worked.

As more people are vaccinated and the infection rate is decreasing, the talk is about moving back into the office toward that normal. Many leaders are inferring they will demand everyone return to the office while employees are wanting options. Some want to be able to work remotely a few days a week. Others want to work remotely full time.

Managing A Hybrid Workforce Takes Focus

So, how do you balance this desire for a hybrid-work-environment so it supports everyone’s desires?

Managing a hybrid or fully remote workforce takes a different focus. One word I like to use here is intentional. A more intentional focus on the nuances of a diverse work environment is important to continue a healthy, successful workforce.

Here are some aspects to consider as you plan for continuing a hybrid or remote workforce:

  • Culture. How has your culture evolved during this time and how does it need to further evolve to support a hybrid or remote workforce? Do your current core values fit this new environment? Is a fine tuning needed?
  • Communication. Have you established a formal communication plan to ensure all messaging is heard by staff? This would include the types of events that can occur throughout the month, who should be included in the communication and what method the communication is expressed.
  • Strategy. How have your leaders ensured a focus on both short-term and long-term strategy? What is the long-term vision and plan for the company while embracing a hybrid or fully remote work environment?
  • Management. What training has been provided to managers to ensure they effectively supervise the hybrid or remote workers and maintain a high level of productivity and staff retention?
  • Customer Service. How has customer service evolved? Has this been an intentional practice or in the moment solution?
  • Collaboration. How have you encouraged collaboration in a hybrid or fully remote environment? What tools have been put in place to ensure collaboration continues to thrive?
  • Team Building. What hybrid team building activities have been established? Are they scheduled on a regular basis?
  • Training. How has ongoing training evolved to support a hybrid or remote workforce?
  • Flexibility. Is that nine-to-five work environment really the only effective way for your staff to be successful? Is there an opportunity to provide flexible schedules that support company needs along with a healthy work-life balance for your employees?
  • Meetings. What tools have been put in place to facilitate effective meeting and encourage a healthy dialogue?
  • Recognition/Engagement. How has your recognition program evolved to be inclusive of both office and remote workers? What is your engagement plan?
  • Interviewing. What practices have been put in place to support effective remote hiring?
  • Onboarding. Do you have an effective plan to onboard new hires both in the office and remote workers? Does you plan include team building and culture activities?

“The pandemic lockdown only accelerated the work-from-home trend,” says Dennis Consorte, a small business consultant at digital.com. “In a digital age, commuting is a waste of time for many professions. If you work in retail or construction, then sure, you need to show up to do the work. If facetime is important to company culture, then businesses should consider rotating schedules where staff visits home base once a week. The key is in measuring the value that people provide, rather than the hours they work.”

Consorte says this mindset eliminates concerns over employees who work fewer hours than their peers, because it’s the value they produce that matters, regardless of how long it takes. “Work-from-home rewards workers with hundreds of more hours of personal time each year, making for a better work-life balance, and happier employees produce better results,” he adds.

Developing a successful and lasting hybrid workforce takes building a new muscle. A muscle of enhanced communication, unique team building approaches, leaders driving the conversation and showing the way with a new focus and creating an offering that is attractive to existing and potential employees along with ensuring your customers continue to feel valued.

This is like any new strategic initiative. Being strategic takes planning, focus, communication and accountability to implement and thrive.

If you are open to a conversation about any of these aspects of creating a hybrid work environment culture, please call or email and we will set up a time to talk.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2021

Patty Crabtree is a Senior Consultant at Lighthouse Consulting Services with 25 years of operations and finance leadership experience. Her phone number is 310-453-6556, ext. 410 and her email is pattyc@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.

If you are open to a conversation about how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help your team, including pricing and the science behind the tests, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

For more information, please visit our website, www.lighthouseconsulting.com to sign up for our Open Line webinars and monthly Keeping On Track publication or to order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”. If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Improving Your Odds For A Successful Manufacturing Workflow Strategy

By David Shaffer

When it comes to succeeding with manufacturing workflow, we are drowning in data but starved for wisdom.

That thought was first put forth by futurist John Naisbitt 40 years ago in his classic book Megatrends. Naisbitt the futurist was indeed a prophet.

His prophecy is true because today even with the ever-expanding use of technology, there is an overabundance of data. The challenge is to disseminate that data into information that can be acted upon to achieve the organization’s mission.

The overall mission and foundation of business today, as it was 40 years ago and undoubtedly will be true 40 years hence, is to maximize customer service. Today this is also referred to as the customer experience.

Great business thinkers like the late Peter Drucker said that without customers, there is no business. Giving the customers what they want, when they want it and how they want it is an ongoing challenge. Simply put, keeping the customer satisfied requires improved manufacturing workflow.

Because improving your manufacturing workflow is about keeping the customer satisfied, the best manufacturers are obsessed with it. These organization’s want to make themselves as easy as possible to work with from a supply chain, distribution and services standpoint. The good news is applications including Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) have greatly improved manufacturing workflow.

However, almost daily you can read or hear of information systems like ERP not fulfilling manufacturing workflow expectations established at the time of acquisition. In fact, despite the most diligent efforts in defining requirements, evaluating options and selecting systems, the probability of higher-than-expected investments and system implementation issues are extremely high.

If it sounds like the odds are stacked against you, there are ways to improve your odds. ERP needs to be seen as an investment, rather than an expense, and therefore you must find ways to maximize the return on investment (ROI).

How To Improve ROI

Improving your manufacturing workplace is a bet, a gamble, a wager. Author Damon Runyon once said: “The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.”

No business plans to lose its bet on ERP. It is fair to assume that all participants in the implementation of technology are focused upon improved manufacturing workflow results for their individual and collective departments. The aggregate of these improved results should be focused on, and result in, improved results for the company as a whole.

Specifically, a concise definition of measuring improved results as a positive gain in the implementation of technology. If there is nothing to gain then there is obviously no reason to change.

If you want the biggest gain, bet on quality. To all organizations, quality is what is expected. To that end, in the absence of standard operating procedures, the result is variation in process and by definition; variation is the enemy of quality. By determining the least wasteful method of performing a task, quality is improved, cost is reduced and on-time delivery is the final result. By performing a task the same way each time assures consistency and eliminates variation.

As workflows are identified and the standard operating procedures are put in place, the success of these procedures will be directly determined by how effective an organization is at answering the following questions:

• What are the required inputs?
• How were you trained?
• What do you do?
• How do you know your output is good?
• What feedback do you receive?
• Who are your customers?
• What keeps you from doing error-free work?
• What can be done to make your job easier?
• What would you change as the manager?

It is hopefully fair to assume that all employees want to do a good job and would rather do an activity right the first time and not be faced with rework or quality issues. Standard operating procedures, as information or product, are passed from one group to another allowing for consistency in both input and output, resulting in improved quality and happy customers. That is a winning parlay.

Those Pesky Competitors

For a significant number of businesses however, changes are dictated externally by competition, customers, and vendors and for publicly traded companies, possibly the shareholders. This external pressure, when coupled with potentially internal conflicting goals tends to increase anxiety levels and can further contribute to poor system selection and/or utilization. How often is it heard that if we don’t change we will lose? The Internet and e-commerce are recent examples of technology forcing many businesses to react.

One of the ways businesses have tried to deal with change and the expected pressures is through strategic planning. When done correctly, and shared appropriately throughout the organization, the strategic plan becomes a roadmap and a source of reference throughout the year. By establishing a Target Operating Model (TOM) that reflects the strategic plan, the selection of the appropriate ERP can be measured against its alignment with the TOM along with value derived.

Procedures And Policies Are Linked To ROI

It is assumed that the procedures and policies associated with a new system will be integrated as part of the implementation process. Vendors of technology and software will do their best to provide the appropriate operational training however are not generally in the business of assuring that the organizational infrastructure can absorb the change. That is left to the management and implementation team.

Recognizing that a new system carries risk as well as rewards, the management team is functioning under its’ own level of pressure and may not be the best in soothing the concerns, issues and change being felt by the employees. The good intentions associated with the new system may indeed be counterproductive without the corresponding balancing of the attitudes, goals, objectives and concerns of the people that comprise the organization.

Implementing The Strategy

Regardless of the status of the current information technology, that is utilizing an existing system or entering into the selection process of a new one, it is essential that the TOM and value to be derived are clearly defined. That is, just how will we as an organization measure the ERP value and, equally important, how will our customers measure us to decide if we are in fact successful in implementing our strategy. In addition to this measurement is the strategic plan. It must be reflective of where we want the business to be and how we will measure our success.

Finally, the integration of technology and infrastructure are essential to maintaining the balance of maximizing customer service. We must place equal emphasis on understanding and implementing positive attitude as we are in implementing technology.

Defining and achieving improved results is critical to the on-going success of most businesses. To invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in technology and systems without recognizing that tools are only as good as the operator is a formula for disappointment. It has been said that the majority.

Monitor And Communicate Progress

Many organizations struggle with the implementation of key initiatives; accountability is frequently a major stumbling block. By assigning Project Managers and the consistent use of project chartering, project plans can be well defined, resourced and monitored. The aggregate results of the charters collectively address the implementation of defined key initiatives. It is customary that on a weekly basis, each Project Manager reports the status of their charter so that combined project plans are managed by a single source. That is, for quality and consistency the overall progress of the initiatives is maintained in a central repository accessible to the entire management & leadership team.

There are many ways to distill strategic planning into execution. Chartering is a great way to focus on execution while creating accountability & buy-in throughout the process.

If you are open to a conversation about improving manufacturing workflow or how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help your team, including pricing and the science behind the tests, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2021

David Shaffer, Senior Consultant with Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC, is recognized for his ability to effectively integrate all aspects of business including financial management, information systems, infrastructure, sales management, sales strategies and operations. David assists companies from executive strategic planning through operational and business process improvement opportunities to the selection and integration of management information systems solutions. His range of company support includes start up through Fortune 500.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress and time management, leadership training as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division. To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code, Cracking the Business Code, and Cracking the High-Performance Team Code, please go to: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

How to Increase Revenues With Market Research

By Henry DeVries

“As a venture capitalist, I get pitched dozens of times every year, and almost every pitch contains ‘market research’ lies,” says Guy Kawasaki, a Silicon-Valley based author, entrepreneur, and evangelist. “I am often accused of ridiculing market research and focus groups. Guilty as charged.”

Kawasaki says useful market research can help you decide what needs attention, how to select the appropriate issues, and what strategies would address the most pain points where you have the most to gain.

“My mission is to empower entrepreneurs,” says Kawasaki. “For them I advocate real-world market research, a technique practiced by Honda, Walmart, Dupont, and other successful companies that entails sending employees at every level to observe how their products or services are actually used by customers.”

Proven market research involves listening. Chris Stiehl, an independent research consultant who calls himself “The Listening Coach,” has built a career on helping companies really listen to their prospective customers, guests and clients.

“Your prospects are talking, but are you really listening?” asks Stiehl, a human-factors-engineer by training who has worked for the Cadillac division of General Motors, Cisco System, Pacific Gas & Electric, Cisco Systems, and even the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Stiehl and I met when we both taught market research at the University of California San Diego, and then went on to co-author a bestselling book on market research titled Pain Killer Marketing: How To Turn Customer Pain Into Market Gain.

“At Cadillac, we spent about $20,000 on a Voice of the Customer project that saved the company $3 million per year going forward,” says Stiehl, who notes that a lack of listening is not just a North American problem. “We have conducted listening research in India, China, Brazil, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Switzerland, as well as Canada and the United States.”

During the journey, Stiehl and I have identified several myths that are holding companies back.

The Eight Great Myths Of Market Research

Myth # 1: Focus Groups Are The Best Way To Listen. I say down with focus groups, and I have been a focus group facilitator. Focus groups rank as the number one waste of marketing research dollars.

Myth #2: Marketing Research Is Prohibitively Expensive For Most Companies. Many people think marketing research projects cost $25,000 to $50,000, but that is not true. Typically, a small to medium sized company may invest $6,000 to $12,000 in a solid market research study. If the prospect is harder to reach, such as doctors, the price goes up. As Barack Obama said on Twitter in 2013: “If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs in the 21st century.”

Myth #3: You Cannot Know The Mind Of Customers And Clients. The reality is just the opposite. You must ask and then really listen. If you want to know what customers and clients think, go have conversations with them.

Myth #4: You Need To Survey Hundreds Or Thousands To Really Know. What you really need to do is talk, not survey. A dozen one-on-one interviews will generate as many customer pain points as seven focus groups. The problem with low-cost online surveys is that results are skewed. Surveys have their place, but they must be formulated by listening to interviewees first.

Myth #5: You Have To See People Face-To-Face. In this time of pandemic, the last think you or the interviewee want is to be face to face. Reach out and touch people by phone or by Zoom. Also, these one-on-one interviews by phone or Zoom can be conducted with people in different time zones, something difficult to achieve with focus groups.

Myth #6: Interviews Cannot Go Deep. Actually, interviews allow you to probe. The depth of information obtained for each topic is actually greater in one-on-ones as well, since the moderator or facilitator does not feel the pressure to cover every topic.

Myth #7: The Key Is To find Out How The Customer Or Client Will Gain From Your Product Or Service. Actually, you want to find the pain. Pain beats gain every time. Psychologists and sociologists have repeatedly found that consumers are more motivated to avoid pain than to seek pleasure.

Myth #8: Market Research Is Above Company Politics. Sadly, this is not the case. When it comes to market research you need to skip the politicking. How does a company decide which pain points to address? In most cases, the decisions are political, based upon who claims the loudest.

During conversations with a prospect the goal should be to monopolize the listening. A good rule of thumb is to listen 80 percent of the time and talk 20 percent.

These are the three proven steps for success Stiehl and I have used when it comes to listening carefully and responding appropriately:

Identify the issue. What is on their mind? What is their goal, what assets do they have in place, and what are their roadblocks? Ask questions to find out and listen carefully.

Listen for the prospect’s mindset. This is not about good and bad people; actually, this is about how they view the world at this point in time. Are they a thinker, a doer, a struggler, or an achiever? How do they view similar products or services. Again, ask questions and listen carefully.

Respond in a way that meets what that person wants and needs. To respond appropriately requires matching your language to the mindset of the prospect. Say the appropriate words that the thinker, doer, struggler, or achiever needs to hear. Great market research can help you target the correct messages in your marketing customer service.

Active listening is the skill needed to execute this type of questioning. Active listening involves participating with the customer in the interview. When you have heard them, you must summarize what you have heard to make sure you have heard correctly.

As Tom Peters described in his book Thriving On Chaos, “Listening to customers must become everybody’s business. With most competitors moving ever faster, the race will go to those who listen (and respond) most intently.”

Pain Into Gain Market Research Riddle

Your target prospects experience their own unique frustrations and pains. As the old adage states, “People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.” Truly identifying your prospect’s predicament tells them that you understand and empathize with them.

How will prospects hire you unless they trust you?
How, in turn, will they trust ideas they have not heard?
How, in turn, will they hear without someone to speak?
How, in turn, will you speak unless you have a solution?
How, in turn, will you have a solution unless you understand their pain?
How will you understand their pain unless you listen carefully?
How will you prove you listened unless you respond appropriately?

When you have conversations with prospects, here are ten starter market research questions you might work into the conversation:

1. Can you describe for me the “ideal” experience with a ____________ (your product or service). How do most compare to this ideal?
2. Can you describe for me a recent time that the experience was less than ideal?
3. What are the three most important aspects of doing business with a___________?
4. If I said a __________ was a good value, what would that mean to you?
5. In what ways does dealing with a _________ cost you besides money (time, hassle, effort, etc.)?
6. What is the biggest pain about working with a _________?
7. Would you recommend a _________ to a friend or colleague? Why, or why not?
8. How does working with a _________ help you save money?
9. What does a _________ do really well?
10. If you had the opportunity to work with a ________ again, would you? Why, or why not?

The magic phrase during in-depth listening sessions is this: “Tell me more.”

The Bottom Line

Finally, all of the internal and external data is combined to direct improvement to the places that can have the maximum impact on the customer relationship—in other words, where you achieve the “biggest bang for the buck.” (Note: This process is often called the House of Quality; see the May-June 1988 edition of the Harvard Business Review).

Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC offers custom market research specializing in understanding customer wants, needs and requirements. We have designed and implemented one-on-one in-depth research studies, surveys and quantitative studies across a similar range of internal (employees) and external (customers) audiences. And sometimes we even conduct focus groups.

These market research services can be parlayed with the other offerings from Lighthouse Consulting Business Practices Division such as talent development, in-depth work style and personality assessments, team building, sales & customer service training & workshops, presentation skills, cyber security, manufacturing workflow, IT strategies, ERP selection and CFO/COO best practices and planning. If you are open to a conversation about this, we are ready to listen to what you have to say.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2021

Henry DeVries is a market research consultant with Lighthouse Consulting Services Business Consulting Division as well as an author and educator. He is the author of 14 books on marketing and writes a weekly marketing column for forbes.com. Henry has a 30-year successful track record of market research projects including business forecasting, in-depth interviews, focus group facilitation and surveys for clients such as Marriott Corporation, San Diego Padres, Foresters, The Fieldstone Company, and the University of California San Diego. Previously he was director of research and president of an Ad Age 500 advertising agency where he doubled billings from $5 million to $10 million in five years. He also served as the chief marketing officer (assistant dean) and marketing faculty member for the University of California San Diego continuing education program, where he helped raise annual non-state (private) revenues from $22 million to $45 million in seven years. On a personal note, he almost won $13,000 on the TV game show Jeopardy!, but did manage to snag $13,000 on Family Feud.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style and personality assessments for new hires and staff development. Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops on team building, interpersonal communication, stress and time management, leadership training as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division. To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

 

Time To Leverage Your Staff For Higher Productivity

By Doug Clute

In his business classic Good to Great, Jim Collins said: “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” Famously Collins says you need to have the right people in the right seats on your bus.

In business, profits and shareholder returns can be linked to productivity growth, which can be directly linked to having great people. Productivity measures output per unit of input, such as labor, capital or any other resource – and is typically calculated for the economy as a whole, as a ratio of gross domestic product (GDP) to hours worked. Labor productivity may be further broken down by sector to examine trends in labor growth, wage levels and technological improvement.

A staffing plan makes sure you have the right people in the right spots at the right time.

A Staffing Plan Fit For A King

Have you ever tasted Original Hawaiian Sweet Bread?

The bakery that created this treat was founded in the 1950s in Hilo, Hawaii and later became known as King’s Hawaiian. In 1977 the company expanded and built its first mainland bakery in Torrance, California. Its vision was to become the biggest Hawaiian food company in the world.

To support their continued growth, in 2010 their strategy included building a new production facility. To better serve the East Coast they started construction on a third bakery facility in Oakwood, Georgia. This was a project that was estimated to take at least one year to complete. Initial staffing of the new facility would require hiring over one hundred new employees.

Well before construction began, a staffing plan was developed and implemented. The plan included headcount, timing, skills needed, and training required for each position.

Success was dependent on a lot of hard work by great people. Internal partnerships between operations and human resources, as well as relationships with local agencies and recruiting partners were key to its success.

The plant opened on schedule and within budget. Since then, the plant has been expanded several times and each time a staffing plan was one of the keys to success.

Staffing Linked To Productivity

Productivity is a measure of the efficiency of a company’s production process, This is calculated by measuring the number of units produced relative to employee labor hours or by measuring a company’s net sales relative to employee labor hours.

Most successful organizations have a strong understanding of their strategic direction. Mission and vision statements communicate who they are, what they do, and where they are going. Operational plans and budgets that lay out the organization’s periodic goals, objectives, and projects that are in support of the mission and vision.

But will they achieve the mission and vision without the right people? Even with a clear mission and vision, without the talent required to support this direction, organizations are unlikely to reach their full potential. Management journals contain many studies that have found that companies incorporating a staffing plan into their business are more likely to increase performance.

For many organizations – especially one that is growing quickly – the focus is often on things like improving or expanding products and services; increasing revenue; and acquiring new customers. These are the lifeblood of a successful growing business. However, if the workforce needed to support this growth is more of an afterthought, it can slow that growth and even jeopardize servicing existing customers.

The Six Steps Of Staff Planning

There are six steps included in the staff planning process: establishing goals, identifying influencers, surveying the current state, envisioning needs, conducting a gap analysis, and developing and executing a plan. Let’s examine each step:

One: Establishing Goals. This step should largely be completed through the operational planning process mentioned above. Having an accurate understanding of the periodic goals, objectives and projects the organization anticipates completing in the planning cycle is the foundation of successful staff planning.

Two: Identifying Influencers. What factors might influence the staffing plan? Influencers can be external or internal. They can be positive or negative. An influencer is anything that might affect the plan but is largely uncontrollable by the organization. This step can be completed with a brainstorming session to identify factors that need to be considered. What is the status of the local labor market? Are there any technology changes that will impact productivity? Are local competitors growing or laying off staff? Are there any facility constraints such as office space limitations?

Three: Surveying the Current State. What is the state of the organization’s current staff? What expertise does each staff member have? Are there employees who are likely to leave for personal reasons or retirement? What employees are likely to be promoted into different roles? Are there poor performers who may need to improve or be replaced? While this step includes a listing of headcount, the main objective is to create an inventory of skill sets, competencies, and availability of the current staff.

Four: Envisioning Future Needs. To reach the organizational goals and complete the projects identified in step one, what skills, competencies, and staffing will be required? It is best to complete this step with the mindset of building the staff from scratch. This will help identify requirements without being overly influenced by the current state. Will the goals and projects require new competencies? Will additional staff be needed? Will staffing need to change during the year? Would using contractors or outside expertise be a good fit to meet short term needs?

Five: Conducting a Gap Analysis. What is missing between the current state and projected needs to accomplish the organization’s goals? Is additional training needed? What would be the timing of any new training? Do you need to add staff? In what positions, when will they be needed, how long will it take to recruit and onboard? Are current staff in the correct roles, or would reassignment make better use of their skills.

Six: Developing and Implementing the Plan. With the insight and information developed through this process the organization can now build a plan to successfully support their goals and projects. Planning for needed training, recruitment of staff additions and backfilling departures, use of outside expertise, etc. This plan will include actions as well as timing. The ultimate impact the plan has on the organization is dependent on an effective implementation and follow up. Committing to periodic updates and review will keep the plan on pace.

Let The Process Flow

This overview references six separate steps in the process. In concept the process follows the logical thought flow. However, in practice steps may overlap. The staff planning process can include as few or as many individuals as needed. Staffing plans can be created in any format that is comfortable to the organization. What is important is that the plan includes the relevant information in a format that is easy to understand and actionable.

Here is a thought to guide the plan. In the words of Lawrence Bossidy of General Electric: “I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.”

The right staffing plan improves the odds of succeeding on the bets you make on your people.

If you are open to a conversation about staffing planning and how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

Doug Clute is a Senior Human Capital LCS Consultant with over 30 years of insight and expertise as a human capital management executive within four different industries on an international scale.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style and personality assessments for new hires and staff development. Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops on team building, interpersonal communication, stress and time management, leadership training as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division. To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code, Cracking the Business Code, and Cracking the High-Performance Team Code, please go to: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.