Employee Enagagement

Culture Clashes Kill Mergers Batch 2

Culture Clashes Kill Mergers

Culture is the set of norms, behaviors, values, beliefs, and interaction parameters shared among a group of people.

When evaluating a merger or other significant re-organization, most leaders tend to focus primarily on more tangible items like headcount, savings, systems, processes and tasks. Very little time is spent on identifying and proactively planning to overcome key barriers like people’s natural behavior, motivations and ability or willingness to change.

In a Bain survey of executives who have managed through mergers, [culture] was the No. 1 reason for a deal’s failure to achieve the promised value.

Because culture and behavior are considered “soft” skills, results- and task-oriented leaders discount or don’t know how to deal with this area of a merger. But there are very real bottom line impacts to ignoring these realities. One of the most famous examples is the failed merger of Mercedes Benz and Chrysler. In 2007, after 9 years, the companies admitted it wasn’t working and took an estimated $29 billion loss.

There are those who say the merger, which faced significant cultural differences, was doomed from the start.Chicago Tribune

You had two companies from different countries with different languages and different styles come together yet there were no synergies. said Dave Healy, analyst with Burnham Securities, referring to the then-Daimler-Benz chairman and why the merger failed.

How do you measure and use “culture” to make a merger successful?

Most people tend to look to the culture’s published values on a company’s website, or do some form of formal or informal employee survey. However, those are very subjective. They really reflect what they want to be. Or employees say what think they “should” say or maybe they have an axe to grind. They may be unsure how it is going to be used. These methods also do nothing to help you to know what to do with this information.

Culture is the glue that binds an organization together and it’s the hardest thing for competitors to copy. As a result, it can be a lasting source of competitive advantage.

Culture is more than just a unique identity, however. The best performing companies typically display a set of performance attributes that align with the company’s strategy and reinforce the right employee behaviors. Harvard Business Review

Using Behavioral Science to “Quantify” Behaviors and Your Company Culture:

What if you had a solution that, with 91% accuracy, could quantify the predominant natural behaviors of the team or company as a whole? If you are about to make significant changes to a team/organization and you find out that the main strengths of the team are Planned and Anchored, how you would go about planning and communicating change to this team would need to be completely different than if the team were Spontaneous and Creative.

Norms of behavior: ways of acting that persist because they are rewarded and the group teaches these behaviors to new people, sanctioning those who do not conform.

Pronouncements that we must change our culture either will be denied or cause levels of anxiety that trigger intense resistance to change. Therefore, you will fail if you take culture head on.

Professor Edgar Schein, Sloan Fellows Professor of Management Emeritus, MIT

Behavioral intelligence can also tell you how to motivate or reassure individuals and the team. Not everyone is motivated just by their paycheck. Understanding individual and team natural behaviors will dramatically increase your ability to successfully implement change.

It is easier to build up the strengths of a culture than to change dysfunctional elements

      • Option 1: Actively work towards the desired attributes
      • Option 2: Passively allow it to develop unmanaged, and live with all the attendant risks

Culture is the end result.

Professor John Kotter, Harvard Business School, Harvard University

Don’t go blindly into your next merger or reorganization. Unlock the power of behavioral intelligence to help you significantly increase your success and bottom line.

Managing Difficult Conversation During In the Workplace

Managing Difficult Conversation During In the Workplace

Alex leads a team of strategists and planners working to mitigate any issues that might arise as a result of policies to be introduced into a highly successful international manufacturing company.

The team is made up of great minds, thinkers, strategists, statisticians, all highly regarded in their field. The team tests every scenario to ensure that new products or services introduced meet client needs, do not compromise existing services or products and conform to any regulatory requirements worldwide.

 

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Alex is preparing to have a difficult conversation with Jay one of the top strategists whose behavior has become difficult to manage. Alex is structured, formal; not big on conflict and realizes he has allowed Jays authoritativeness, self-reliance and frankness to cause issues throughout the team and distract them during a particularly pressurized time.

Alex realizes that he has avoided talking to Jay whose behavior is now creating problems; he doesn’t want to have this difficult conversation but is aware that the team are talking about Jay and not talking to him concerning the impact his behavior is having on them. Jay is one of Alex most gifted strategists; his ability to make quick yet informed decisions makes him very valuable to the team.

A side issue that concerns Alex is realizing the team is dismissing input from Jay for no reason other than frustration about his ongoing behavior.

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The issue came to a head when one of Alex key team members offers their resignation citing Jay as the cause, adding that Jay was taking charge of every aspect of their work; was dismissive of input and responding harshly to attempts to challenge not only his input but also his communication style.

Alex prepares for the meeting with Jay; making sure that the meeting format is well set out in his head. He knows the outcome he wants; he doesn’t want to lose Jay nor any other staff member. But he also does not like conflict and tends to close down and retreat when people are blunt.

From the outset Jay appears defensive; Alex begins by acknowledging that there will be differences in how each person communicates and sees things. Differing perspectives is what makes the team great. He goes on to acknowledge successes, not just Jays but the team as a whole. Alex explains to Jay the impact of his current behavior, making sure to frame it in the behavior he, Alex, has observed and not in the he said, she said’.

Immediately Alex can see the confusion on Jays face. He asks Jay for his response to which Jay replies he had no idea his communication style was affecting and impacting his colleagues or Alex in this way.?He states that causing issues such as this was never his intention. He further states that he had indeed become frustrated and harsh in some of his responses simply because he viewed the current project they were working on so important and didn’t feel the others realized the implications to the business of getting their findings wrong, but his responses were never intended to be personal only ever about work.

Jay began to realize the implications of what Alex was saying; he could now see why the work atmosphere had become so negative towards him; why his suggestions and even concerns were being rejected.

Seeing Jay response, Alex immediately moves the conversation onto finding a structured solution.

The reality of the situation is that Jay, Alex and the team were operating from their natural zone, and they did not have the awareness to adapt. Alex realized that the solution lay in getting the whole team to complete the Communication DNA Discovery Process. Alex had completed this himself as part of a DNA Behavior International conference he attended. Alex realized that if Jay and the team completed this process and share the outcomes, they would have an insight into their communication and behavioral inherent styles. Alex puts this suggestion to Jay who quickly agrees.

The team complete the Communication DNA Discovery Process and along with Alex share the outcomes with each other.

  1. No long stories, keep to the point
  2. Keep meeting agenda short and focused
  3. Prioritize objectives around their goals
  4. Start with the big picture, not too much detail on one part of it
  5. Lay out the options so a decision can be made
  6. Provide bullet points
  7. Clearly outline risk/reward from best and worst case scenario
  8. Ask for their thoughts on recommendations
  9. Ask how involved they want you in the planning process
  10. Recognize them with referrals to other influencers

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With this knowledge, Alex and the team would have discovered that Jay communication style was not intended to be personal. Any harshness stemmed from his frustration to keep the work on track. The team members realized as they shared that Jay would not have taken offense had they pointed out his harshness and asked him to identify the source of it. Jay would have realized from reactions that his behavior was causing his colleagues to pull away from him, reject his input and he should have asked why.

Avoiding difficult conversations at work can grow to become a major barrier and obstacle to excellent performance. In this case, if everyone understood communication and behavioral styles it would not have escalated so far. However, insight into inherent communication and behavioral styles quickly put this team back on track.

 

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Guide to Workplace Structure and Collaboration

What does true collaboration look like?

From a 2008 Guide to Assessing Teamwork and Collaboration published by the Galileo Educational Network,

Collaboration is a structured, recursive process where two or more people work together toward a common goal-typically an intellectual endeavor that is creative in nature?by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus.

Much of what we need to do in order to make an organization function requires us to work with other people. Traditionally, it takes time to learn how to interact with each person’s style, how to agree on the steps to take, roles and responsibilities, and individuals’ deadlines for a common goal. Managers incorporate various degrees of structure by defining roles and responsibilities, processes, project management, and methods of communication to complete the tasks to accomplish the goal.

There are various and differing opinions about how much structure strikes the right balance between helping to accomplish the goal efficiently and becoming a road block to productivity and creativity.

If not enough structure is in place, the team may be perceived as ineffective. Deliverables may not meet the expectations of the “customer” and/or leader(s) in terms of scope, quality, timeline, and/or budget. Often, in this low structure scenario, miscommunications occur.

Conversely, if there is too much structure, the team may be perceived as ineffective as well. In this scenario, it might be a time sink to go through all the process steps and the instructions may be so voluminous, people get lost and have trouble following the structure in place. In fact, too many meetings may take place that are focused more on the structure than on the goal, leaving a lull in initiatives moving forward. People may feel very restricted and disengaged and ultimately, Creativity is squashed.

For true collaboration within an organization or team, the structure and culture has to support two-way communication (creative conflict) built upon trust.

How much structure should you have in your organization?

Identifying the level of structure need in your organization depends on exploring a couple of key questions:

1) How big is your organization?

If you are a small company with just few people working together, less structure may be preferable. A company with fewer people requires each person to understand more of the bigger picture. They typically have to do many of the tasks themselves and there may be fewer interactions needed with other people.

If you are a growing or larger sized company, the more people you have, the more structure you may need in order to be effective. People may be added in order to handle higher volume. More people typically means that each person handles a smaller part of the bigger picture. People become specialized in their roles with specific tasks. The more interactions and hand-offs it takes to complete, the more guidelines and processes you may need to help everyone understand how to work together effectively.

2) What culture do you want to foster?

If you want to foster innovation and creativity, then you may want to have less detailed structure and more general high-level guidelines. Focus more on the goal you are trying to achieve, the communication channels needed to keep everyone in the loop, and fostering communication. Allow the team to figure out how to get to the end goal.

If your organization needs to foster nimbleness and an ability to react to changing customer demands, you also want to have less detailed structure and more high-level guidelines. Fewer restrictions allow employees to develop problem-solving skills in addressing customer issues quickly and foster engagement.

If your product has to be delivered precisely and there is no room for variability, then you will need more detailed structure and processes with step-by-step instructions.

If your organization is struggling with delivering and meeting expectations, then you will also need more detailed structure to help people stay on track. The detailed structure will hold people accountable for next steps /tasks and due dates, along with providing a more detailed analysis of the location of the breakdowns in the process and communications.

3) What are the natural behaviors of the people on the team?

If you have a team full of naturally take charge, spontaneous, and creative people, you will need at least a little structure to help keep them focused and productive. However, you don’t want to squash their natural strengths in problem solving, finding new or better solutions, and reacting instinctively to a dynamic business environment with too much structure.

If you have a team that is naturally very cooperative, planned, and anchored, they will need more structure to take advantage of their natural strengths of being able to follow instructions, ensure tasks are completed and results are delivered. These types of people are great at getting things done when the working environment is well-defined and there is less ambiguity.

Ideally the team would consist of a mix of traits that can provide for the proper balance of strengths to provide the best results.

How you add structure, and the culture you encourage, is important to fostering collaboration and creativity while still having enough structure to reduce miscommunication and issues and to ensure the outcome meets expectations.

Do you have the right level of structure in your organization? Use this Guide to aid in evaluating your team.

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Using Personality to Communicate with Different Persona’s

Is your business gathering data to build a persona model of its ideal clients based on demographic data? There is an increasing trend towards businesses creating persona model client categories based on insights into the known income and spending patterns of people along with their job positions, ages, education, home suburb and other public information. These firms often say that they are adopting a behavioral approach to their sales and marketing activities. Although, in reality, they are only capturing surface behavioral information.

Building a persona model of the client is still a very rational “left-brain” approach to sales and marketing. What is missing is knowing what the client really needs and how they wish to be related to at an emotional level. We advocate that businesses should incorporate a “right brain” approach to know how to communicate with clients?based on their personality style. Let us address this key point to show you the future of marketing and sales in the New Behavioral Economy.

Knowing the persona of the client may at best tell you “what” they want. The persona models assume that everyone in each category is the same based on their demographics. For instance, retail companies gather this data to know what type of clothes or vacations certain people (ie persona’s) want. Certainly, this approach has merits for a basic and perhaps even necessary level of client segmentation. There is no point selling a product or service to a person who is not even capable of paying for it. For instance, retail companies gather this data to know what type of clothes or vacations certain people (ie persona’s) want. An insurance or bank may gather this information to offer certain types of insurance or investment products to their prospects and clients. However, is this persona model approach achieving the optimal result of providing each client with customized life-long experiences?

Gallup Organization research in 2009 shows that those firms who are able to emotionally engage their clients will increase revenues by 23% a year over those who do not. A personal model approach will help client segmentation but will not boost emotional engagement. Emotional engagement can only be boosted by the business adopting strategies which help the employees demonstrate that they understand the core of who their clients are. This is why we recommend a personality based approach which involves the client completing a short online questionnaire that has been independently validated. Such an approach will help the firm and its employees serve each client on their unique terms. Further, if the right technology platforms are used the data will be scalable across the whole business on a continuous basis.

Therefore, we recommend:

The New Behavioral Economy Formula of: Persona Model (What to sell) + Personality (How to relate and sell).

Introducing personality discovery to the sales process in a scalable way will have a significant impact on sales. Even if your firm only increased its sales by 1% in year 1, the bottom line return will be huge. But, there is no reason why you cannot increase sales by 10% or more a year.

A personality based approach to marketing and sales assumes that each client is wired differently. Meaning that regardless of their assets, income, living conditions, education or age they will have a pre-disposition to make certain types of choices, have certain purchasing biases, and communication needs. Put another way, 2 people within the same persona model will have different emotional triggers and communication styles based on how they are wired. They will want to be related to differently. Typically, there are 4 broad quadrants where 92% of people have a dominant personality style. Although, given each person is unique they will have secondary factors, and more specific sub-factors.

Lets take a simple example of an insurance life protection policy offered to 2 people in the same persona model. Some people will need to know how the policy being offered achieves their goals, others their lifestyle, others security for their family and others the details of how it impacts their retirement plan. At a broad level, the policy has the same objective however how each person needs to hear the offering to buy it is different.

The same example can be used in gaining insight into how an insurance firm will distribute a new insurance protection policy to its field force. The advisors and agents in the field who meet a minimum sales quota are not the same personality. So, to be successful in sales they need a customized approach for being related to by the home office (or their general agent) and being educated about the product. Then, a customized approach needs to be developed for how each advisor or agent builds relationships and sells the product to their different clients.

In summary, building a persona model of your firm’s prospects and clients is a positive first step in segmentation. However, given it is rational in nature, such an approach will not build sustainable client engagement. That can only come from understanding the personality of all your employees and clients.

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What Talents are Lost to Your Business by Pigeonholing People?

Pigeonholing is any process that attempts to classify disparate entities into a small number of categories (usually, mutually exclusive ones).? The term usually carries connotations of criticism, implying that the classification scheme referred to inadequately reflects the entities being sorted, or that it is based on stereotypes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigeonholing

There may be a tendency to think that some behavioral styles are inherently more suited for certain types of careers, roles and making certain types of life or business decisions than others; however that is not the case.? To make this assumption pigeon holes the individual.

For instance, we often associate people trained as Engineers or Accountants as being a certain style of person. Usually, the association is that they are highly structured, planned, detailed and suffer from

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How to Close the 40/60% Relationship Gap in Engagement and Sales

Social media, in all its forms, is an important tool for businesses. When used appropriately, it enables interaction and engagement between service providers and their customers. An undeniable example for the power of social media in todays world is all the concepts, products, applications, services, etc. that have grown exponentially in reach through Facebook interactions and presence. The important thing to note is that these arent even business services that affect peoples bottom lines or their wallets. The common component in catching on to the social media fire is the connection sharers feel to the message portrayed. Regardless of what has been long in practice, no one wants to be sold to and everyone can now see the signs to look out for, avoid, and ultimately, dismiss. To close the relationship gap in engagement and sales, organizations have to focus on the engagement and the sales will follow. Furthermore, those organizations that have included both a communication and behavioral ingredient to their social media marketing are likely to be ahead of the marketing game.

Research shows that only 15% of online users completely read all their emails (Juniper Communications Research). How can an organization find and engage those 15% and perhaps more importantly, how will the organization be able to engage the other 85%. Although its not surprising that most of todays world is too fast-paced for lengthy communications through social media or any other medium, individuals still have natural preferences and information needs. Once an organization has tapped into what these needs are, the possible engagements are countless. For example, individuals that make decisions based on facts and thorough research will not be swept away to buying in to an abstract idea or proposal. To truly engage those with such a preference, honesty in specific facts, details, and data is the key to crafting a trust-building engagement.

Understanding how to engage customers so that they buy, stay, and refer, is probably one of the most important marketing behaviors to tap into. The importance of true customer engagements also reflects in the role organizations place their customers in when focusing on engagements leading to sales rather than sales leading to engagements. When customers are engaged, they play the role of supporters of your organization rather than just customers and this in turn leads to long-term loyalty, perhaps even regardless of service or price. But, how does an organization maximize their customer engagement through marketing platforms such as websites, taglines, and all marketing messaging? If the business is unaware of what kind of prospects are out there and interested, it is difficult to decide whether to add more graphics, more modern touches, more words, more stories, or more of a social media presence. By doing one of these, the organizations marketing might alienate a large group of others as in todays fast-paced world, all business have to compete to catch consumers limited attention span. The best way to engage various types of communication preferences is to follow a matrix type of message deployment on your websites or other communications. Since more goal-focused people tend to want things short and to the point, the most important information should go in the top left of your website or publication with graphics to the side and more detailed, elaborate information below. The idea is to take advantage of the patience that people preferring certain types of communication have and allowing them to scroll or move down further to get their information.

Initial questions to be addressed are:
1.Are you on the same page as your customers when having conversations? Research shows that sales and service teams will naturally engage only 40% of customers.
2.What are you doing to close the “Relationship Gap” with the other 60%?
3.How are you utilizing communication channels to gather information on the preferences of prospect pool?

A major advantage to interacting in the vast online market would be to have an objective and simple system to quickly understand how individuals like to hear and/or see information. Therefore, a useful starting point to engaging customers is having your employees, prospects, and customers complete the Communication DNA (CDNA) Discovery Process.

The CDNA Discovery Process uncovers natural preferences for how an individual wishes to be communicated with by others. This is powerful information for executives, marketingand sales teams,as well as others, to know in building personal and business relationships based on greater trust and knowing what is important to the customer.. The results of CDNA also offer an accurate report to integrate into the organizations marketing strategy.

The CDNA Discovery Process helps businesses and organizations increase engagement of their diverse customer base at all levels using technology platforms that are seamlessly integrated to all relevant processes across the business.

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It provides a hub of human behavior solutions powered by Communication DNA Discovery which are implemented by businesses using the DNA Relationship System for increasing customer and employee engagement across the business on an enterprise level. CDNA also simplifies the marketing process by categorizing prospects into four main communication style: lifestyle, goal-setter, stability, and information. If you find most of your prospects are information style and your organizations messages have not been providing enough key facts and details, then this could answer the discrepancy in interest attained from your marketing. Conversely, if you are providing a lot of details and maintaining a logical, scientific approach to creating interested customers but your customers are more big picture thinkers, you efforts are ill-placed.

Once you have the customers behavioral, decision-making, and communication style information at your fingertips, you can start to use it in your inbound marketing strategy and send your sales teams strongly engaged, well informed, and highly qualified leads. Research by eConsultancy shows that personalized online experiences produce a 19% increase in sales. At DNA Behavior, weve seen similar increases with an average of 23% uplift in revenue. Continuing into the marketing arena,this communication system will provide significant insight into the message format required to segment communication into the behavioral and communication style of existing and potential customers.

Closing the 60% Relationship Gap in customer engagement and marketing messages becomes a real possibility with the use of CDNA and will add an instinctive differentiator to your current business model.