Showing posts with label organizational development. Show all posts
Showing posts with label organizational development. Show all posts

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Heart of an Entrepreneur

 By Dr. Susan Sasiadek (March 13, 2015)

While working on my MBA it was clear to me that the number one goal for all companies was to turn a profit.  I remember learning early on that owning a business is much like the game of Monopoly; as long as you have money, you re in the game. Once you are out of money, the game is over. So why then wouldn’t the focus of owning a business be centered on profits?  For many companies this is exactly where the focus is. However, there has been a dynamic shift in the thinking as to why entrepreneurs set out to create a business and how to maintain a successful organization.

One of the beliefs that lies within the hearts of many entrepreneurs is to do what you have a passion for and the profits will follow. A similar concept I have often shared with young college students; do what you love and the money will come.  Although this sounds easy enough, many times people and organizations lose their focus of what it is they set out to achieve.  As the world is constantly changing so do companies and the people that work for them. How can one start a business they are passionate about, ensure it will be successful and keep the heart of an entrepreneur?

I believe there are four key ingredients that are needed in order to maintain one’s passion and create a recipe for success. 
  • Create a mission that drives not only your company, but the employees that are invested in working for you.  
  •   When you start a business always have a purpose. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to have the business product/service with the end result to the client as the goal, not the profit (Cited by Paul Mitchell, Case, n.d.)
  • Incorporate a value system that is focuses on employees, giving back to the community and on your customers (Cited by Danny Meyer, Case, n.d.). Philanthropy needs to be part of your organizational culture.
  •  Embrace rejections and failures as they leave an imprint on you of valuable lessons from which your business will grow (Cited by Paul Mitchell, Case, n.d.).
The greatest asset for any organization are the employees that work diligently to drive the mission, embrace the values and focus on each customer. In order to create an organizational culture in which the employees are driven to perform at this level, it is imperative to have leaders within the organization that create the dynamics of the culture in which, employees not only want to come to work each day, but look forward to coming to work. An environment in which the passion of the founder is passed on to all levels within the organization. Danny Meyer, the CEO and founder of Shake Shack once shared that the “best way to be greedy is to focus on your employee’s first, then your community and third, on your customers (Case, n.d.).

Taking the time to identify your organization’s focus, purpose and mission, will not only help to create the organizational  culture in which the values and passion come alive; it will also help to ensure a servant style of leadership that focuses on the people first and profits second.

Case, Jean . (n.d.) . Two years to build a billion-dollar brand – with meaning. Forbes under 30 Summit .  Retrieved on March 13, 2015, from

Monday, March 23, 2015

Leadership and Moral Reasoning Set the Standards for Others

Moral reasoning is as important today as it was in the past. It could be argued that with the growth in society and the increase in the size of structures that moral reasoning is even more important today. Business and civic leaders that have obtained and support moral reasoning are at a higher level of development than others. It is these highly developed people that should be leading organizations to new levels of performance. A paper in the Journal Business Ethics: A European Review helps highlights how moral reasoning impacts intra-firm networks and the values others maintain (Kulkari & Sobodh, 2014).

Human development and moral reasoning move together hand-in-hand. People who are less developed have a harder time thinking beyond what is of benefit to themselves. The authors have used 6 stages or moral reasoning where the stages 1-4 are primarily concerned with fear, self-interest, and following the rules for personal gain. Only in stages 5 and 6 can one claim moral leadership that thinks beyond oneself and into the greater purpose of action.

Law helps us define what societal expectations are and provide guidelines for citizens to follow. Organizations are bound to follow these laws in employment practices, pollution, operations, etc.. to ensure that their practices do not damage society.  Most business leaders follow these rules based upon self-interest and the fear of punishment. This is necessary to keep everyone in good order and society moving forward.

Beyond self-interest are higher stages of development where moral-reasoning includes doing the right thing in difficult situations. Moral leaders have freed themselves from the constraints of fear to a place where they seek to exceed the standards of law. They understand a greater purpose of keeping society free from unfair actions and immoral decisions that infringe on others.

For example, at the lower levels of human development a CEO may put in place the minimum legal requirements to curb pollution while seeking to skirt as many rules as possible. In the mid levels of development the same CEO may wish to follow the rules strictly and proclaim their business is "Green" as a marketing tool. A highly developed CEO would seek to ensure their business is not damaging the environment based upon moral values while not ignoring the benefits that come from being a good corporate citizen.

Position doesn't necessarily determine morality of the person. A person could be in a position of authority and still stuck at lower levels of development. For example, a CEO may create predatory practices and justify that position as a benefit to stakeholders, a DA could raise their arrest numbers but violate more rights in an effort to "clean up" a city, or a politician could take a bribe and vote on a new project saying it is the best interest of everyone.  Authority and moral development are not tightly associated and often contradict each other.

The journal article highlights the importance of ensuring that those with solid moral reasoning rise to the top of the societal structure. Moral reasoning of the leader impacts the moral value systems of everyone else.  Their behavior and decisions prompt others to act in similar manners creating intra-firm transfers of moral expectations. Those expectations become embedded into the culture of the company (or organization) and become a method of approaching future problems.

Moral reasoning is one part of the assessment of leadership qualities. Those with higher levels of moral reasoning are also more developed as people. They create expectations on those around them who are likely to mirror their behavior and perception. Encouraging high quality people with leadership potential to make their way to the top of organizations helps to ensure that the right expectations of moral reasoning and ethical performance are standardized.

Kulkari, S. & Subodh, R. (2014). Intra-firm transfer of best practices in moral reasoning: a conceptual framework. Business Ethics: A European Review, 23 (1).

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Are Rude and Aggressive Managers Destroying Your Business?

We have become accustomed to the hard nosed manager that guides employees on the really important aspects of business. The problem is, such managers, even though well intentioned, lower satisfaction in the workplace and are counterintuitive to development. A study of 200 full-time adults found that positive relationships superseded mentoring even though both contributed to organizational commitment and job satisfaction (Madlock & Kennedy-Lightsey, 2010).

The image of the strong and tough manager that gives it to their employees straight is something that should be left in the manufacturing plants of yesteryear. The same can be said of the sarcastic and aggressive personality we often associate with upward mobile career oriented people. Their ability to develop greater commitment and satisfaction among employees is likely as them having a sunny disposition.

Researchers found that mentoring behaviors and positive verbal communication created higher levels of communication satisfaction, organizational commitment and job satisfaction. The opposite occurred when the managers were seen as verbally aggressive. Rude and aggressive managers may just be destroying your organization.

In a nutshell people didn’t like working with aggressive managers and often shun interacting with and listening to their needs. Companies that fill their ranks with gruff management personalities may find their turnover rates, absenteeism, industrial unrest, and commitment at rock bottom (Hargie, Tourish, & Wilson, N., 2002). The end result can be expected, as employees opt for better environments.

The next time your organization seeks to select a new manager consider the personality as an important predictor of results. Doing so may just help your organization foster the motivation and commitment needed to master the complex environments it navigates in. Seek those personalities that can hold people accountable, mentor them to the next level, and still maintain positive communication.

Hargie, O., Tourish, D., & Wilson, N. (2002). Communication audits and the effects of
increased information: A follow-up study. Journal of Business Communication, 39,

Madlock, P. & Kennedy-Lightsey, C. (2010). The effects of supervisors’ verbal aggressive and mentoring on their subordinates. Journal of Business Communication, 47 (1)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Persuasion and Manipulation Among Managers

Persuasion and manipulation are two workplace activities that follow many of the same paths yet have different means of achieving their ends. Some managers will engage in persuasion while others will lean towards manipulation. Those who are engaged in persuasion are more likely to gain the respect of their employees while those who are more manipulative often receive immediate gratification but loose out on long-term effectiveness. Companies should recognize and remove manipulators to ensure a positive work environment.

Persuasion is an attempt to show certain facts in a positive light without hiding or leaving out crucial information. It is generally a positive experience. Ultimately the listener can make a free choice on the issue as all the important information is presented to them. The influencer seeks to create a prevailing logic that both parties can agree with that leads from agreement to performance. Manipulation attempts to leave out particular facts and distort their meaning in an effort to change the perception of events.

When trust and persuasion are high the managers words are highly palatable to the listener. The managers experience and knowledge of the situation can help the employee make a better decisions as to their next course of action. When trust is low, and manipulation is high, the immediate gain takes precedence over long-term solutions. Employees could become resistant to the managers wishes and find ways of thwarting their influence.

The risk manipulators face is that someday they may become discovered. A simple discovery of manipulated facts leads to resentment, destruction of trust, and an active attempt to undermine the manager. Employees often respond to manipulators by avoidance and attempting to hold the perpetrator accountable (Bryand & Sias, 2011). The violation of a persons integrity leads to further conflict.

Workplace do not function well off of manipulative tactics as organizational culture will come to reflect that inherent lack of trust and respect. Organizations that do not seek to gain employee trust through open and honest dialogue will ultimately find themselves lacking in performance, embroiled in workplace conflict, involved in legal suits, and suffering from chronic staff turnover. 

Discerning between those who are persuasive and those who are manipulators can be difficult. According to Robin Dreeke, the head of behavioral analysis at the FBI, trust becomes a central issue in developing positive relationships and manipulators have a hard time creating long-term trust (Nahai, 2013). Manipulators are focused on their own needs and often leave others with buyers remorse through unfulfilled promises and self-seeking behavior. 

Manipulators have an inherent disrespect for the integrity of other people and don't see much point in telling the truth. Manipulators exhibit higher levels of Machiavellianism and lower levels of agreeableness that correspond to personality disorders (Wischniewski & Dipl-Psycho, 2013). They will use whatever means work and seek to punish those who do not agree with their methods leading to a retaliatory environment.

All employment sectors are open to the power of manipulators. Whether you are in business, non-profit work, law enforcement, political positions or any other type of employment manipulators can and do exist. Organizations would do well to screen those who manipulate for self-seeking gain in order to reduce potential risks and raise the trust factor among employees and stakeholders.

The higher the position and the more authority the position has the greater the destructive power of manipulation. People unwittingly give unconditional support to certain societal members based upon positional or institutional status. Those less likely to be manipulated are the ones who can question the decision-making processes regardless of the position of the manipulator. Questioning creates critical thinking beyond simple assumptions.

Manipulators are not only dangerous in their personal relationships but also the organizations where they work. In the business world we have idealized people in movies and popular media who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals without regard to the impact on others. Calm,cool, and collect is immortalized. The ends do not justify the means as manipulators eventually ruin previously positive work environments and do incalculable damage to the organizations where they are employed. Creating cultures where manipulation is thwarted and persuasion is appreciated not only shows a level of respect for employees and co-workers but also leads to stronger corporate cultures.

Bryand, E. & Sias, P. (2011). Sensemaking and relational consequences of peer co-worker deception. Communication Monographs, 78 (1).

Nahai, N. (Sept 21, 2013). Trust, Persuasion, and Manipulation. Psychology Today. Retrieve from 

Wischniewski, J. & Dipl-Psych, B. (2013). Personality disorder respond to norm violations? Impact of personality factors on economic decision-making. Journal of Personality Disorders, 27 (4).

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Benefits of Active Listening for Employee Relations

It is difficult for manages to understand their workplace and how to improve performance if they are not actively listening to their employees. This means listening to their conversations, paying attention when employees are talking, and trying to find improvements in the workplace that creates congruence between employee desires and firm performance. Managers that listen are better able to coach and counsel their employees to higher levels of functioning.

Listening is a skill that takes considerable time to develop but can be learned with practice. Active listening is in presence form where the manager listens without interrupting the employee. They may ask probing questions but ultimately want the employee to express themselves fully because this adds to the managers knowledge of both the employee and the organization.

Those managers who fail to actively listen often find that employees no longer bring their issues to them nor are they enthusiastic about speaking up about operational problems increasing the chances of large problems down the road. If employees are prompted negatively to their managers they will not be open to issues, problems, ideas, or improvements; the organization ultimately loses.

Consider organizational cultures where there is a huge divide between managers and employees. These cultures develop due to the inherent separation that occurs between employee and manager communication. Using active listening and paying attention to employee needs can lessen this divide and help in developing an inclusive culture.

Once a poor culture begins to develop an in and out-group among managers and employees it is very difficult to counter that new development. Managers will need to engage workers, change their course of action, and open up communication lines. Organizations that foster a manager-employee divide or power-distance relationships will eventually find themselves falling behind their competitors.

 Open communication is also very egalitarian. Open communication helps to ensure that company employees, whether they be managers or not, are considered important to the entire organization. Companies that foster egalitarian environments may also find that employee loyalty rises as employees feel valued and respected.

Managers have a responsibility to coach and counsel to improve the overall performance of their employees. Without actively listening it will be difficult for managers to effectively coach and counsel their employees. They will not be able to understand the employees needs or make important contributions to their understanding.

Active listening isn't particularly hard but does require a level of engagement with employees. Paying attention to the employee, thinking about what they are saying, and asking questions about any areas the manager doesn't understand helps in fully understanding the situation. Once the employee's actual position is known the manager is then able to give appropriate direction and advice to employees.

Developing appropriate relationships with subordinates helps in the creation of an organization constantly changing through information sharing. Active listening is about encouraging a more inclusive and innovative environment so that ideas move between the functional layers of a company and to the right people. It also reduces employee issues as employees and company begin to similarities of perspective. The information gained by active listening will not only build stronger workplace relationships but also improve upon operational functioning. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Three Tips for Developing Innovative Companies

Innovation is what makes the world grow and develop. In companies innovation can be worth a mountain of gold as a single innovative idea could turn a company ready to go bankrupt into a star performer. Just look at Apple and the development of innovative products that helped transform the company into a cash cow. To improve innovation in your company consider three different human capital areas of focus. 

There are a few good reasons why a company should develop innovation that includes stagnation through lack of new products and processes. Most companies will eventually move into a period of stagnation unless innovation is given appropriate weight. Companies must change the way they operate if they want to continue to grow. 

Innovation has many different factors that range from culture to compensation. However, it is sometimes beneficial to think of broad areas of improvement thereby leaving the details to the uniqueness of each company. At a minimum innovative implementation should consider teamwork, management, and employees as foundational aspects.

Teamwork: Ideas develop in a body of knowledge through social learning. Science requires the free exchange of ideas that allow new ideas and concepts to come to the forefront. In companies, teamwork allows people to share multiple vantage points and perspectives to come up with new and unique solutions. 

Having well balanced teams with different skill sets and diversity of people all focused on the same goal is important. Develop your teams wisely and ensure all members are working on the same problem. Let people free flow ideas and discuss them in an egalitarian manner until a final solution is found. 

Management: Managers are one of the most important factors in the success of a company. Hiring managers who are more interested in domination than performance is going to have serious consequences for innovative development. Few employees will bring forward ideas if they have been chastised in the past. 

The manager determines the types of interactions between those who can innovate and those who have the power to implement. Encouraging employees to come forward with new and well thought out ideas is beneficial. The manager should help inspire employees to develop and become more innovative. 

Employee: Innovative employees are a slightly different breed than many other types of employees. They are creative, risk takers, entrepreneurs, internally driven, theorists and thinkers. They take pleasure in finding new ways to think about ideas and concepts. 

Hiring employees that are constantly learning and giving unique responses to interview questions is important for innovation. Make sure that such employees are placed in positions where these skills are enhanced and toned for practical use is helpful. Like accounting, recruitment is a garbage-in and garbage-out approach where poor employees create poor companies. 

Innovation is a messy process and can be difficult to implement in an organization that is stuck in rigid methodologies and approaches. Rejuvenation requires the ability to find new ways of doing things that have a financial and cultural benefits on the organization. Creating higher levels of development requires thinking about the human capital of an organization and how it is used.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Using “Life Satisfaction” to Retain Skilled Military Officers and Employees

Most of us want to feel fulfilled in our personal and work lives while contributing to society. Whether one is trying to retain people in the workplace or in the military keeping the best and brightest engaged is important for organizational success. Proyer, et. al. (2012) examined Swiss Career Officers work and life satisfaction along with their orientation to happiness, and its relation to career success. The results can be applied to both civilian and military organizations. 

Most of us want to feel as though we have a solid purpose for making our way into the office every day. It is difficult to stay motivated or feel satisfied if work is something more akin to money alone versus the greater benefits it can provide. Thinking beyond one’s tasks to something more important can make a significant difference in how we feel about our jobs. 

The same concept applies to both military officers and civilian workers. Most people don’t join the military for pay alone but may consider a military career for other concepts such as greater good, national security, or “making the world a better place”. Each may find their own motivations but it is the connection to something bigger that makes the difference in our minds. 

Those who experience more creative flow at work also report greater work satisfaction, positive moods, and innovation (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990).  People who feel good about their jobs, lose conception of time in their work functions, and contribute to a greater good seem to be more innovative and happy. This creative flow helps in retention of bright minds but also in the overall productive development of the organization.

The study helped bring forward the idea that those who identify with what they are doing, have high autonomy to be creative, and have high interest in their functions also seem to be happier and engaged in life. An engaged life seems to encourage life satisfaction while finding meaning with work tasks improves upon work satisfaction. 

Military retention is important for bright officers and capitalizing on their training, strength and skills. The same concept applies to civilian workplaces where knowledge, skills and abilities should be retained in order to avoid loss of future capabilities. Helping officers and employees find a connection to the greater meaning of their work and use a variety of skills with their work tasks not only helps the organization grow but also helps the officers and employees feel satisfied.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: HarperCollins.

Proyer, R. et. al. (2012). Assessing the “good life” in military context: how does life and work-satisfaction relate to orientations to happiness and career-success among Swiss professional officers? Social Indicators Research, 106 (3).