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Corporate Culture

Leadership Isn't a Role—It's a Series of Behaviors

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Leadership Isn't a Role—It's a Series of Behaviors

Today’s blog comes from executive coach and leadership consultant Julie Diamond, the founder of Diamond Leadership. With over 30 years of experience in the field of human and organizational change, Julie is the author of Power: A User’s Guide, and a co-founder of the Power² Leaderlab, a leadership program for women leaders. At Fama, we’ve discussed how power operates in the workplace, and how abuses of power undermine business success. In today’s post, Julie adds another dimension to this discussion, emphasizing that your success comes down to the day-to-day behaviors of your organization’s leadership.

We know there is a deep connection between culture and organizational outcomes. When culture is done right, it unleashes tremendous energy, harnessing a diverse set of talents towards shared organizational goals. But a culture that is hostile and dysfunctional cripples the organization’s capacity and drives away talent.

While each and every employee plays a role in creating an organization’s culture, it’s the leadership that has the power to make or break the workplace culture. Why? Because “leaders bring the weather.” The things leaders say and do signal to the entire organization what behaviors are permitted, and their impact on employees is so great that the behavior of company leaders is often mimicked throughout an organization.

While the above are flagrant and scandalous examples of leadership gone awry, organizational culture can also be eroded by subtle, seemingly insignificant behaviors, off-the-cuff comments, and even nonverbal behaviors. Leaders don’t have to yell, scream, or engage in unethical behavior to undermine culture. In fact, most of what constitutes culture is tacit and subtle. It comes down to two questions: how does it feel, and how do people relate to each other?

These may seem like soft and fuzzy questions, but how things feel on a day to day basis is critical to people’s ability to do good work and, therefore, to the organization’s ability to meet its goals. As an executive coach, I’m often asked by my clients how they can create cultures of engagement, inclusion, and high performance. The answer? Learn how to effectively use your power.

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The reason we still don’t understand culture risk

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The reason we still don’t understand culture risk

Cultural and reputational risks are becoming more and more common for enterprises today. As companies across business sectors find themselves suffering reputational damage over some form of toxic behavior or unethical business decision, a growing number of executives are starting to see culture as a direct contributor to the bottom line. While the increasing awareness around these issues is encouraging from a social standpoint, many executives are still unsure how to tangibly improve their company culture. According to Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends Report, 82% of executives say that culture is a potential competitive advantage, yet only 12% believe they’re driving the “right culture.”

How is it possible that only 12% believe they’re driving the right culture? In part, it’s because the processes that executives and board members have in place aren’t giving them the signals they need. Despite the fact that information is essential to understanding and managing culture risk, especially in a digitized and media-driven business environment, 65% of CEOs and 62% of board members today say they lack a process for identifying signals of potential culture risk. This leaves companies prone to a range of negative consequences ranging from consumer backlash to a spike in turnover.

How can there be such a lack of process for identifying signals of potential culture risk?

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The Millions You're Spending on Marketing Could Be for Nothing. Here's Why

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The Millions You're Spending on Marketing Could Be for Nothing. Here's Why

Socially responsible marketing is on the rise. If the recent consumer controversy over Gillette’s ad on masculinity wasn’t enough, everyone in the business world is also talking about the new marketing trend. In the last 12 months alone, Deloitte, McKinsey, and the World Economic Forum in Davos have all noted that more and more consumers are looking to businesses to take stances on important social issues. The numbers are talking as well: 66% of consumers will pay more for products from companies committed to positive social impact. With millennials, this number is even higher. 73% will pay more for sustainable products, and 81% expect companies to take a public stance on social issues.

That means that there is an enormous opportunity at hand. Brands that can properly connect their brand with relevant social causes have grown their audience and revenue by as much as 200%. However, you can spend millions on marketing in hopes of winning favor with the public without realizing that it takes as little as one person to erode the goodwill you’ve built. While socially conscious marketing is helpful and even necessary today, a single revelation of toxic employee behavior can render all of those marketing efforts fruitless. Yes, the numbers say that socially conscious marketing pays dividends—but take a closer look and you’ll see the costs of toxic behavior are even greater.

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Why Mergers & Acquisitions Have Become HR's Worst Nightmare

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Why Mergers & Acquisitions Have Become HR's Worst Nightmare

Mergers and acquisitions are at an all-time high. In the last five years, the total financial value of mergers has increased by 250 percent and there are no signs that things will slow down in the coming year. While this is good news for dealmakers, it puts HR teams in a precarious situation. As an HR leader, you are more likely to deal with an acquisition than ever before. Additionally, you’re also up against the fact that 20 percent of dealmakers cite cultural alignment as the root cause of failed mergers. This means that even though mergers and acquisitions (M&As) are decided largely on financial projections, your department carries a disproportionate amount of responsibility for its ultimate success or failure.

The good news is that a collective 34 percent of dealmakers now consider effective integration and sound due diligence as the most important factors in achieving a successful M&A. But even though study after study shows that success in mergers and acquisitions hinges on people, culture too often gets lost in the shuffle. As an HR leader, what can you do to make a case for an effective cultural audit and steer your company towards success?

In this blog, we’ll break down why culture has historically been an afterthought in M&As, why that can no longer be the case, and how online screening can help ensure cultural fit with the speed and specificity executives rely on at each stage of a merger or acquisition.

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Google Walkout: Why It’s Up to Tech to Innovate Culture

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Google Walkout: Why It’s Up to Tech to Innovate Culture

The walkout against sexual harassment at Google last Friday turned heads. Following an investigation by the New York Times revealing that Android co-founder Andy Rubin was paid a $90 million exit package after being credibly accused of sexual misconduct, employees walked out across Google’s global offices. The world watched as over 20,000 Googlers demanded better reporting, greater transparency, and the end of forced arbitration around sexual harassment. Their actions carried such weight in the broader conversation that some have called this a “new kind of activism.”

Sexual misconduct has been previously exposed at large and powerful Silicon Valley firms, so what made this event so unprecedented? As a company, Google represents the pinnacle of corporate culture, offering everything from gourmet cafeterias to free time for side projects. So when more than 20 percent of Google’s workforce walked out in protest, they exposed a glaring gap in the company’s culture and shed light on its consequences. While backlash to harassment has often come in the form of lost revenue or negative press, the Google walkouts showed that employers who fail to engage cultural issues don’t just risk customer attrition or litigation. They risk losing large swaths of top talent, even if they’re Google…

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Employee Turnover: The Ripple Effect

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Employee Turnover: The Ripple Effect

Every time an employee leaves a company, voluntarily or involuntarily, it has larger implications than just the loss of one person. An article on the HR blog of Zane Benefits details the real cost of losing an employee and the best practices of worker retention. It’s no secret that “frequent voluntary turnover has a negative impact on employee morale, productivity, and company revenue”; studies have found that in many cases losing an employee can cost double their annual salary, due to recruiting expenses, time lost, and training.

As such, businesses should consider the “real” cost of losing an employee. According to Deloitte study, these implications can include the full cost of hiring a new employee, lost productivity, lost engagement by coworkers, and a blow to morale and company culture. More companies need a system of tracking these markers, so they could gain metrics of seeing just how financially impactful it is to spend time recruiting, hiring, and training people. The losses are often staggering, making employee retention a critical part of a successful business. This goes beyond the “human element” and has real financial impact and reverberations can be felt for years around a company.

Zane Benefits also outlines best practices for employee retention, including a benchmark for a retention rate, creating a “high-feedback environment” for workers, and the conduction of thorough exit interviews for employees at every level. The true cost and impact of employee turnover is too often intangible, and lessons aren’t gleaned where they could be. Tracking more of these costs and keeping better track of employee satisfaction and corporate morale can do a lot to mitigate these costs and prevent turnover in the first place.

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