Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines’ co-founder and Chairman Emeritus, said it best: “The business of business is people.” This belief is the basis of Southwest’s exemplary culture. Even though the company honors and values all people involved in its business - employees, customers, supplier/vendors and shareholders - the company puts its employees first. Southwest Airlines recognizes that treating its employees well creates happy customers. That equation is proven by the company’s outstanding business results, which include:
What other US airline can boast these same results?
I was fortunate to have been invited to attend Southwest Airlines' "Culture Connection" in December 2017 in Dallas, Texas. It was a half-day event that showcased the company’s methods of strengthening, reinforcing, and maintaining its strongly positive culture. I applaud Southwest Airlines for offering this twice-yearly “peek under the covers” of their culture at no cost to the attendees. In contrast, Zappos and Disney charge fees to attend similar events they host.
Here are five lessons learned from Southwest’s Culture Connection day:
Right now is a great time to reflect on the year that is passing and plan for 2018. I hope you can use this planning questionnaire either individually or with your team to reflect and look forward to a great 2018.
Because only 15% of CEOs today are satisfied with their company culture, one of your goals for 2018 should be to improve your company culture. Enjoy!
If you like this company culture aid, you might also be interested in our Happy Mondays Club, an online learning community that meets in webinar format twice monthly and provides templates, checklists, how-to instructions and reports that you can use to grow a vibrant company culture! Please visit www.happymondaysclub.com for more information!
Employees often groan when their managers ask them to create individual goals for the coming year. Some people think it’s just one more meaningless exercise to go through, like the flavor of the month, which will be forgotten in 30 days. Or perhaps it conjures negative reactions to making New Year’s resolutions – like losing 10 lbs by March 1. You’re all excited at the start, but by the end of January, you’re back to eating chocolate cake at lunch.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You can encourage team members to make personal goals at work that are fun to create, meaningful and lasting. You can start a company ritual of creating photomaps.
I remember the day my husband came home from work ecstatically happy because his boss of seven years told him “Good job!” for the first time – ever. I was happy that he received recognition in front of his co-workers. At the same time, I realized that seven years is too long to go without recognition or thanks for a job well done. My husband’s experience is all too common in the workplace, where 70% of workers report they receive no praise or appreciation1.
Thanksgiving, which is a major U.S. holiday in November, is a time to practice gratitude. Although it is mainly a family holiday, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to express appreciation to your team at work. Did you realize that each of your co-workers have particular preferences for how to give and receive gratitude? We each have a preferred language of appreciation, according to Gary Chapman and Paul White, authors of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.
Appreciation, or expressing gratitude, to employees and co-workers is vital to growing a vibrant company culture. Who doesn’t want to be thanked for doing a good job? Surprisingly, each individual on your team desires to be thanked in a preferred way or “language” of receiving appreciation. Using a non-preferred method of appreciation will not be impactful, and you’ll wonder why. Just like people have different personality types, so do they have appreciation preferences.
What are the different languages of appreciation?
Harvey Weinstein at The Weinstein Companies. Roy Price at Amazon Studios. Travis Kalanick at Uber. These executives have all lost their positions recently due to revelations of their abuse of power and sexual harassment of women. Besides the outrage about these men’s behaviors – and yes, they need to be held responsible for their abusive actions – the company cultures that tolerated them also need to be questioned. At Uber, a former attorney general’s law firm was hired to audit the culture of the organization and recommend changes. The lesson for all companies is to examine your culture to ensure it is one of accountability, where everyone is held to the same high standards.
Does your company culture tolerate Harvey Weinstein behavior – or brilliant jerks of either gender? How will you know if your people are afraid to report sexual harassment, abuses of power or leadership by intimidation? How will you act if you discover an abuse of power in your organization? Leaders of companies that aspire to be exemplars of compassionate, values-driven businesses would be wise to consider these questions.
Here are steps to make your culture Harvey Weinstein-proof:
How would you like to arrive at your computer at 8:00 in the morning and have only 5 very important emails in your inbox? This seems far-fetched in today’s world of communication overload, but there are ways to make your day less stressful and more productive by managing your Outlook inbox efficiently. This article will help you get started on the concepts and email behaviors that you and your team can adopt to improve communications in your office. At the end of this article, there are links to technical articles with step-by- step instructions on how to implement these concepts in Outlook.
Every leader thinks their organization’s culture is fine, just fine, maybe even superlative. Sometimes this perception is warranted and other times, not so much. Leaders can lose sight of their employee’s experience in the organization unless they purposely seek out worker’s opinions. In fact, recent studies show that power can inhibit empathy and change the way the brain perceives reality. Therefore, it’s easy for some leaders to become blind to signs that indicate a poor culture or even a toxic workplace.
There are several quantifiable signs that your culture and leadership style needs an overhaul. In this article, we’ll examine three common signs of a culture in trouble: high turnover, incivility, and unachieved strategic goals.
What office doesn’t have a kitchen in it? It’s inconceivable to design a modern office without a special room or corner that holds a refrigerator, microwave and coffee pot. And that is because of the universal human desire to share food in a communal setting. For millennia, human beings have gathered around food for nurturance, conversation and community. Sharing food at a common table is such a basic human need that scientists give it a fancy name: “commensality”. Commensality has been shown to bond people together and to create intimacy that can’t be achieved in any other way. The act of sharing food is so powerful that leaders should consider how to use food routines to embed and symbolize their corporate culture.
Usually when we think of building a positive company culture, we think of sharing noble ideas: values, vision, common purpose, goals, people policies and practices. These are intangible means to building a culture, appealing to team members’ hearts and mind. What about involving the physical body in symbols of a positive culture? If a leader really wants to embed a culture in team members, food is a vehicle to consider. Food ingested into the body becomes nutrition for cells, organs, bones and muscles. In addition, food is related in our experience to pleasure, nurturance, socialization and inclusion. In designing impactful routines that will bond a team and translate into symbols of the culture, food traditions are paramount.
A CEO once told me, “I don’t want my team just blowing sunshine at me all the time!” What she meant was that she wanted her leadership team to bring bad news to her early enough to do something about it. Trouble is, many executives squash bad news, either intentionally or unintentionally, by failing to encourage honest feedback or by punishing those who dare give it. The result? Poor business decisions due to narrow-minded perspectives.
Surrounding oneself with only “yes men” or “yes women” can ruin a business. The demise of Merrill Lynch during the recent great recession is an example of a CEO who fired or refused to talk to executives in the firm who disagreed with his strategy. (See this NY Times article.) Merrill was acquired by Bank of America in 2008, in a shotgun marriage that ended a century-long existence of a once-venerated brokerage firm.
Conscious Capitalism is all about the heart and soul of a business. It is a movement that is gaining momentum and excitement in the business community, and should be foremost on the minds of family business leaders. Conscious Capitalism contrasts with traditional capitalism, whose sole purpose is to maximize shareholder (or owner) wealth. In Conscious Capitalism, the purpose of business is to advance the common good and to make decisions that benefit not just the owners or shareholders, but all the stakeholders of the business: employees, customers, shareholders/owners, suppliers & vendors, society and any other constituents that are affected by the business.
If you think that talk about heart and soul of business is mushy, feel-good pablum, get this: Conscious businesses outperform the overall stock market by a ratio of more than 10:1 (Mackey, J. & Sosodia, R., 2014, p. 36). That means that Conscious Capitalism is a serious competitive advantage. It is a tough, business-minded, holistic approach to business that results in better financial performance.
From the desk of