Forming the Culture Committee

50 years since its founding, Southwest Airlines is still flying high. Despite not being the best in terms of airline performance, the company is ranked second to last on customer complaints. For an airline that many believed would not have succeeded, the CEO credits the competitive advantage to its people. And the company is so zealous about its people that it has a Culture Committee.

The Culture Committee overseas the orientation for new employees. That’s not all of course, the Committee ensures that the right – in this case fun-loving – people get hired into the company in the first place. The belief goes that if the employees are having fun, they will have a happier time serving customers, and ultimately passengers are going to get a better flying experience. In reflecting its people-centric ethos, the company has also created multiple galleries where employees contribute pets photos or even military medals to make all feel at home.

The Culture Committee eventually morphed into the Culture Services Committee, which till today takes it role very seriously. A case in point is the handling of compliments about specific employees: they not only get highlighted to the employee’s manager, but also get highlighted to the manager’s manager. What’s fun if there are no parties? Lots in fact – career milestones with the company or even wedding anniversaries all get celebrated with pomp and fun. The company believes it ultimately pays off to invest in culture through budgeting, resources, and time. If the airline’s expansion plans are any indication, Southwest Airlines may well have a very profitable intangible asset that sustains its competitive advantage.

SourceDmagazine

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Six Ways to Make the Right Hire

Using the interview strategies outlined below may help improve your chances of making the right hire:

(1) Tour the office.  You can have a better sense of the candidates by watching how they behave when touring the office. As you’re sizing up the candidates, there are two key qualities to look out for: Is the person interested or curious in the work of the organization? Do they treat everyone they meet with respect regardless of their title?

(2) Interview over lunch.  The key part is to observe whether the candidate is considerate towards other colleagues — an essential quality of effective team players. Pay attention to behaviours such as: Do they charge into the restaurant, or let others go first; can they keep a dialogue going, or do they dominate the conversation?

(3) Ask personality questions.  Unusual questions will get candidates to open up and provide insights into what makes them tick. Do they know how they come across to others? Their answers to a question such as “What is the biggest misconception people have about you” can reveal candidates’ level of self-awareness.

(4) Discuss actual problems.  See your candidates in action by discussing an actual problem or issue you’re working on. Ask how they would tackle or break down the problem. Are they engaged in exploring the problem? Are they able to generate solutions? Walking through a short problem with the candidate will reveal how it would be like to work with this person.

(5) Get them asking questions.  Leave some time to allow candidates to ask their questions at the end of the interview. Do they ask penetrating questions about the direction of the company? Or do they want answers to questions about vacation? Or maybe they have no questions at all? The questions candidates ask will indicate their interest and whether they done any homework about the company.

(6) Seek another opinion.  As we’re often biased, it is important to get different perspectives on candidates by asking a number of potential colleagues to meet with them. After all, the person you hire is going to interact with many people in your company, so they all have an interest in ensuring the person is a someone they can work with.

SourceThe New York Times

Being the One in the Middle

Compared to employees at either end of a firm’s management spectrum, the middle managers have a relatively complicated relationship with power. They are expected to play very different roles when interacting with different groups, frequently alternating between high and low power interaction styles. This imposes a psychological burden because humans are inefficient when it comes to task switching: It is psychologically challenging to disengage from a task that requires one mindset and engage in another task that requires a very different mindset. There are however some steps that could be taken to reduce such a burden on middle managers, namely simplifying the reporting structure to reduce unnecessary upward and downward interactions, not micromanaging the middle managers, and putting in place a more egalitarian organizational structure.

SourceHavard Business Review

Strategy Improvement Quest

The quest to building strategic skills can be challenging without understanding the process of deriving strategy.

It is difficult to think strategically without the time to reflect on the issues and to ponder options. Once you have time set aside to think about strategy, get a solid understanding of the industry-wide trends and business drivers. Begin exploring and synthesizing the internal trends in day-to-day work, paying attention to the issues and obstacles raised repeatedly in the firm. Seek out and connect with industry peers to learn about their observations of the marketplace, sharing your findings across your network.

By becoming more curious, and looking at information from different perspectives, you will begin to see different possibilities, approaches, and potential outcomes that give rise to strategic options.

Pull together the options through a structure that helps stakeholders understand the core message. Walk the audience through the entire process of identifying issues, developing what is often counter-intuitive insights, and then clearly framing the strategic choices for deliberation.

SourceHavard Business Review

 

 

 

High-trust companies treat staff like responsible adults

High-trust companies typically hold people accountable without micromanaging them. With a high-trust environment in place, employees are more motivated to perform better.

Using trust as a foundation, management should seek to improves how employees treat one another and themselves. Companies in promoting trust share their mission objectives clearly and regularly with employees to reduce confusion about where they are headed and why. Once employees have been trained and given a clearly defined job scope, allow them to execute projects in their own way. At the individual level, investing in the whole person and not only the technical skills has a powerful effect on staff engagement. Assessing personal growth at regular appraisals should include discussions about work-life integration, family, and recreation.

Being trusted to figure things out can be a big motivator. When companies trust employees to choose which projects they work on best, people focus their energies on what they care about most. And when given the autonomy, it also promotes innovation, because different people try different approaches. Newer, younger or less experienced employees become the company’s innovators, because they’re less constrained by what works.

SourceHavard Business Review

 

Make Time for Innerviews

It requires as little as five minutes of your managerial time but it is five minutes that could change how you lead and motivate your team. Ideally invest the time to conduct a regular innerview – a catchup session to ask at least one member of your team about their personal lives, goals, challenges, and more importantly how you can help them sort out the work issues. An interview is what you do when you’re hiring someone; and an innerview is what you do when you’re interested in building their success and keeping them.

SourceLeadToday

Is being engaged the same as being productive?

According to HBR, it is not. And the reason for this is because engagement is an ambiguous term. Engagement could mean job satisfaction, employee’s emotional investment in the company’s cause, willingness to invest extra effort, or advocating to others that the company is a great place to work. Despite the positive responses that employees give to engagement surveys, it can bear no direct relationship to the number of hours an employee spends on the job. In fact, some employees can be highly engaged yet working short hours. The opposite is also true: employees who are less engaged but work longer hours. Company initiatives that focus solely on engagement or performance without understanding the employee archetypes could have unintended negative consequences.

SourceHavard Business Review