How the Best Leaders Reduce Turnover in Key Employees

Inbound Marketing, Lead Magnet, Customer Attraction and Retention, B2B Concept

There is this common belief that every high-performing employee is looking for a different job. It’s almost as if a cloud of panic and worry has set in about the “great resignation.” It’s gotten so bad that the #1 concern of CEOs has become “hiring enough of the right people.”

While it’s undoubtedly true the quit rate for professionals is at its highest point since the U.S. Bureau of Labor started tracking the statistic in 2000, it doesn’t mean every employee is on the brink of quitting. 

In fact, if organizations put as much effort into retention as they do in recruiting they would be in a much better position. This is why the best organizations are winning the war for talent by focusing on retention over recruiting.  

The best organizations are winning the war for talent by focusing on retention over recruiting.

In a recent episode of the At the Table Podcast, Pat Lencioni said it well, “It’s never been more important to have a healthy organization and good culture because, for the shortage of people, the good ones are going to stay at the right places.” Not only is Lencioni right, but he also exposes the truth about how essential outstanding leadership is to retention.  

Great leaders put more effort into retention than they do in recruiting.

Prioritizing Retention Improves Recruiting

Recruiting talented people to join a team or organization will always be critical to long-term success. However, something phenomenal happens when leaders prioritize retention over recruiting. I refer to it as the “Retainment Cycle.” Here is how it works:

Great Culture + Engaged Employees + Optimum Results = Attracts Talent

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Are you looking for ways to prioritize retention with your employees? Here are some great places to start. 

1. Make Retention Everyone’s Responsibility 

It’s tempting to believe that retention is only a manager’s responsibility, but that wouldn’t be true. While front-line managers play the biggest role in the retention of an employee, retention is everyone’s responsibility. I shared some ideas in a recent interview here:

2. Share Common Values and Purpose

Money is easily the most popular incentivizing tool organizations use to retain and recruit employees. While pay is significant, it’s not the most important. People give their best effort when on a team that shares values and purpose. 

People give their best effort on a team that shares values and purpose. 

A consistent and systematic approach to aligning core values and communicating the deeper purpose behind the work is imperative. There is nothing worse than defining and talking about core values yet leaders are not demonstrating them. Leaders are the primary driver of core values, so they must embody them correctly. 

3. Coach and Train Like Crazy

People stay longer when they feel invested in and cared for. As Sir Richard Branson famously said, “train them well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

One way to train and care for employees is to have managers who act as a coach. A coach, by definition, trains, and instructs. In the Coaching for Excellence, I define coaching this way:

Coaching is improving the current and future performance of others to achieve higher levels of excellence.

Organizations that create a coaching culture outperform their competitors and maintain an upward trend in human capital development. 

Closing

Making retention everyone’s responsibility, sharing common values & purpose, and coaching like crazy are just a few of the critical things leaders can do to priorities retention over recruiting. Other best practices include:

  • Engagement surveys
  • Training Programs
  • Executive Communication
  • Mentorship Programs
  • Rewards and Recognitions Programs

The key is to find what works best for your organization and go all-in on executing it relentlessly every day.  

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About the Author, John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft and VP of Thought Leadership at Peoplebox. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

How to Solve Problems to Be An Effective Leader

Businessmen solving problems

How important is it that you are a problem solver? Why do some people tend to have better critical thinking skills than others? These are the types of questions you may ask yourself or even read an article about, but understandably don’t ask your boss. Because admitting you aren’t excellent at identifying solutions to complex or straightforward problems might be a yellow flag in your career.

According to research, you would be accurate because problem-solving and critical thinking is in the top 10 most vital professional skills in 2021. If that wasn’t enough, your value to a company or team often reflects the number of problems you help solve. 

The good news is that problem-solving and critical thinking skills can be developed and refined with the right mindset and work. Because they aren’t about being brilliant, they are about being logical, relentless, and consistent. 

Problem-solving isn’t about being brilliant; it’s about being logical, relentless, and consistent. 

Your willingness to be proactive in problem-solving is more important than solving one big problem. Whether this is a skill that comes easier to you or not, getting good at running towards issues instead of avoiding them is a secret to your success. 

Experts agree, “There are a lot of people who can identify the problem, but I frequently see the people who have made it to the highest levels of organizations, are the ones with those critical thinking and problem-solving skills,” says Spencer Bethmann, a director in HR & Talent Management at KPMG.

How to Solve Problems Like the Best Leaders

Each person is responsible for developing their problem-solving skills. If you want to improve, here are a few standard suggestions:

  1. Identify the Problem
  2. Research Possible Solutions
  3. Test the Best Solutions
  4. Modify Based on Results

Just getting in the routine of executing these steps at a higher level will make you a better critical thinker and problem solver on your own, but the best leaders on the planet go beyond this. They know the key to their leadership success isn’t being the only problem solver; they need a team full of people who embrace the responsibility of thinking critically. 

It reminds me of a powerful idea David Marquet shared with me in an interview on the Following My Lead Podcast, “great leadership is all about making decisions where the information is.”

Great leaders know the secret to a team’s success is for every team member to solve problems where the information is. 

How Do You Get Others to Embrace This Thinking?

When leaders are great problem solvers, team members begin to rely on them to solve every problem naturally. If you are in this camp, be humble and embrace the skills you have developed, but don’t settle. If you are the only person solving problems, you won’t go far as a leader.  

If you are the only person solving problems, you won’t go far as a leader.  

It’s your job to embrace problem-solving through systems and collaboration. Then to talk about the shared responsibility of every team member to problem solve, and never settle for anything less.  

Keys to Creating Proactive Problem Solvers

Great leaders use all kinds of strategies and techniques to get team members in a problem-solving mentality. Horst Schulze, the famous customer service and hotel executive, allowed employees at the Ritz Carlton a budget of up to $2,000 to solve problems and delight customers without approval when they deemed necessary.  

Since each companies budgets are different, the common threads for leaders to focus on are:

  • Culture 
  • Coaching

I defined culture in Building the Best as “the shared values and beliefs that guide thinking and behavior.” When solving problems is a core value, and it’s rewarded and recognized when team members live it out; it becomes engrained in your culture. Once this happens in a company, not only does each team know it, they hold each other accountable. If you are interested in company culture, you can register for the free webinar here.

Since not everyone has fully developed their problem-solving skills, coaching is essential to help them thrive. There are great ideas in a previous column, however, there is one particular coaching question that you should add to your repertoire when a team member presents a problem. Here it is:

“What have you done or attempted up until this point to solve it?”

This coaching question demonstrates to team members that you care about what they have attempted. You reinforce the essential nature of their critical thinking before suggesting or collaborating on a possible solution. 

There are certainly exceptions to every rule, like a genuine emergency. Outside of these situations, the better you get at asking questions to challenge people to solve a problem, the better off your team will be in the long run. 

Closing

Unfortunately, there are many professionals out there who believe they are effective problem solvers, but in reality, they are relatively average. If you are curious about yourself, answer this question, “do people know you for your problem-solving skills?”  

If you are a team leader, I want you to ask a slightly different question, “do people know your team members as proactive problem solvers?” If you don’t know the answer to either question, you are just blending in with every other professional. 

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

What the Best Leaders Refuse to Tolerate

Top view on plastic forks on violet background

The culture of tolerance is here. In every aspect of life, we are now asked to accept every person’s choices and decisions. It’s one thing to be liberal with your endurance of others; but, that same tolerance will hinder your abilities as a leader.

Take Amy a division manager, at a large manufacturing company, as an example. She was handpicked to lead a team going through extensive change. One of her team members named Ron had been at the company for over 20 years. He was passed over for the promotion Amy received. Ron took every opportunity to undermine Amy in team meetings, threw her under the bus to upper management, and challenged every decision she made. Instead of making the difficult decision to move Ron to another company’s division or terminate him, Amy tolerated his questionable choices and bad behavior.  

Amy’s success hinged upon a key leadership lesson: 

What you tolerate, you encourage. 

You and I are just like Amy. To reach our full leadership potential, we must be intolerant of people’s actions, choices, and behaviors that clearly are in the wrong. 

In my research studying some of the best leaders on the planet for Building the Best, it was evident these leaders learned early on that they couldn’t make every person happy. They first developed a set of beliefs about what drives performance and helps improve their team members as human beings. Then they refused to accept anything that threatened or contradicted those beliefs.  

Before we get off track about what leaders should tolerate, it’s important to understand exactly what the word means. Toleration is defined as allowing, permitting, or acceptance of an action, idea, object, or person which one dislikes or disagrees with. So the natural question is, “What should you tolerate, and what should you not?”

What to Embrace

There is no doubt that every leader should not only be tolerant but embrace people who are of a different gender, race, religion, or nationality. If every person’s moral code being equal wasn’t enough, having a diverse team both in makeup and in thought is a competitive advantage.   

Research shows leaders who embrace new ideas, and different ways of thinking stay ahead in today’s rapidly changing business world. It’s simply impossible to achieve this without having different kinds of people from different backgrounds and with different perspectives. 

What Not to Tolerate

While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, there is a right and wrong in many situations.  

Too often leaders tolerate things that aren’t right in fear of backlash or judgment.  

While this seems like a sound strategy on the surface, it contradicts what the best leaders do. Great leaders aren’t afraid to stand up for what is right and for what they believe in. If you are looking for some ideas for where to draw the line with employees, here are some of my favorites:

Team Members Who Are Only In It For The Paycheck

Getting paid for the work a professional does is an essential part of any job. But being connected to the deeper purpose behind the work that is done is essential. The best leaders don’t tolerate employees who are only there to collect the paycheck. Check out this story from an exceptional woman and leader and why she doesn’t tolerate “paycheck collectors.”

Team Members Who Don’t Want to Get Better

“Everything rises and falls on leadership.” You’re probably familiar with this John Maxwell quote. It simply means if you don’t have a growth mindset and aren’t growing as a leader, you limit the potential of your team.  

The same should be expected of every member of a team. Each person is responsible for their own growth and development. The moment a person believes they are a finished product, it doesn’t just hurt them, it hurts the team too. One of the best ways to determine is for leaders is to introduce learning opportunities to team members and see how they engage and respond. 

Team Members Who Hurt The Culture

I define culture in the Ultimate Leadership Academy as, “The shared beliefs and values that guide thinking and behavior.” If a team member is sabotaging these shared beliefs and values, and it’s hurting the culture of your team, it’s time to move on.  

Many managers know when someone is hurting their culture but choose to tolerate it because they are a top performer. This is a scarcity mindset instead of an abundance mindset. There are so many talented people in the workforce; don’t fall for the myth that someone can’t be replaced. In fact, a compelling argument can be made that there is addition by subtraction. Are there exceptions to this rule? Yes; but only in short-term decision making.   

Closing

Team members who are only in it for the paycheck, don’t want to get better, or who hurt your culture just begins to scratch the surface of what you shouldn’t tolerate.  

Like many things in life, people deserve second chances, so your intolerance should be wrapped up in communication, candor, and care. But if the choices, actions, and behaviors don’t change, it’s time to make a change.

Sign Up for the Ultimate Leadership Academy. Leadership is a journey and not a destination. To help you lead your best, we just opened the Ultimate Leadership Academy, A virtual leadership development program that actually works. By joining today get a complimentary ticket to the live virtual workshop on October 6-7th. Get Access.

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping improve the performance of struggling managers. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of  Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

How Leaders Create a Thriving Culture While Working Remote

Corporate culture and discipline illustrated by office subjects in strict order

Culture has always mattered. It impacts performance, engagement, retention, and employee satisfaction. However, culture has never been more critical than it is right now. 

The idea of “culture” has been misused and misrepresented, so let’s level set on what “culture” really means. “Culture” comes from the Latin word “colere,” meaning “to cultivate.” I define company culture in Building the Best as, “The shared beliefs and values that guide thinking and behavior.” 

A leader’s job is to ensure their culture promotes effective thinking and positive behavior regardless of the circumstances. 

John Eades

Right now, a vast majority of companies and teams are working remotely. The list of companies who have made announcements of a fully remote workforce for the rest of the year is long and includes huge tech giants like Zillow, Apple, Google, Dropbox, and Twitter.  

With culture being the shared values and beliefs that guide thinking and behavior, staying remote makes the continued alignment even more challenging. Here are just a few of the reasons why:

  • Distance between team members
  • Limited opportunities for effective communication
  • Distracting priorities
  • Conflicting attention

Like most challenges, the payoff of success is great. If you want to build and develop a thriving culture while leading a remote team, lean into these four strategies:

Safety First

Before anyone can perform at their best while working remotely, they first need to feel safe and protected. Since Covid-19 puts a wrench right into physical safety that previously existed, we are going to focus on safety in two critical areas: 

  1. Job Security
  2. Psychological Safety 

First, while no job is 100% secure, it’s tough to create a thriving culture if people are worried about their job. At best, you can define the reality of the current economic impact on the business to provide transparency and candor. Second, employees need to feel psychologically safe enough to share ideas and feelings without fear of any repercussions.

Unity Even While Physically Apart

Feeling like you’re part of something bigger than yourself feeds productivity and innovation. The hardest part of remote work is the natural siloes, loneliness, and general separation it creates. While Zoom and other technologies help the cause, it’s not the same as sitting shoulder to shoulder with someone and rolling up your sleeves together. 

While there is no magic pill, nothing creates unity like achievement or working through a conflict. All the virtual coffee breaks or virtual happy hours in the world put together won’t help a team come together like a team coming together to achieve a common goal or overcoming a struggle.  (Pro Tip…Use a tool like Peoplebox to define OKR’s and measure them with a remote team)

Your job as a leader is to create clear short-term team goals and make every team member aware of their role in helping achieve that objective.  

John Eades

Positive Beliefs and Reinforced Values

Beliefs drive your actions, and actions drive results. If your team’s beliefs are optimistic and positive, good things will continue to happen. Positivity is inspired from the top-down, and it’s contagious. One of my favorite ways to do this with a remote team is to make a video like this:

Once you have the positive beliefs reinforced on a day in and day out basis, remind yourself and the team often about your shared values (the fundamental beliefs you hold to be true). If you haven’t reminded your remote team of your values, set up a culture meeting next week to reinforce them. If you don’t have your shared values defined, that meeting is a great time to do so. 

Elevate the Energy

Energy keeps your team going and impacts the intensity and speed at which people perform. High energy yields high performance.  

Since you have probably already been on three or more video calls today, you have seen your people’s body language and facial expressions. Were they excited and ready to attack the problems they are responsible for solving or were they lethargic?

Leaders set the team’s energy and are responsible for elevating energy when it drops. 

John Eades

Use strategies like a Maximizing mantra or a reward the team would care about to help elevate the energy.  

Closing

Building and strengthening culture is part of your job as a leader. Since remote work is here and here to stay, it’s time to get serious by evaluating the safety, unity, positivity, and energy that exists today. 

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Download the Leading Remote Teams Toolkit for free Here.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company making virtual training easy and effective. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of  Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success and host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

7 Sure Signs You’re on the Way to Being a Bad Leader

I couldn’t believe he didn’t know it. Everything was right in front of him. However, instead of seeing it and verbalizing it to me, it was one excuse after another. First, it was his team’s fault, then it was the lack of resources provided by the company, and finally, it was the industry as a whole to blame.

He simply refused to use the word, “I.”

I wish this scenario was the exception to the rule, but unfortunately, it isn’t. Many managers are on their way to being lousy leaders, and they lack the self-awareness to admit their weaknesses and shortcomings.

If you truly care about your development as a leader, be honest with yourself as you go through these 7 signs that you’re on your way to poor leadership:

1. You don’t love your people

I spent some time last week with one of the best managers I have ever met, and when I asked him his secret to being a great manager, his answer surprised me, “All I do is love my people.” Before call human resources, I define love in Building the Best as, “to contribute to someone’s long-term success and well being.”

In today’s Millennial and Gen Z workforce, is love important? Of course, it is. People want their leader to play an active part in their long-term success and well-being, and that’s never going to change. I have come to realize if you don’t spend the majority of your day thinking about how you can elevate others, you aren’t going to be a successful leader in 2020.

This doesn’t mean being soft; it means inspiring, empowering, serving, and holding others accountable in order to help someone else become the best version they can be. Remember the Jack Welch quote, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

2. You aren’t clear, concise, and positive in your communication.

Most leaders think they are great communicators. However, when you ask their people to playback what they just heard or what they believe was said, most people can’t do it. This week on the Follow My Lead Podcast, Fr. Matthew Kauth said it well, “Everything leaders do is communication.”

This means the words you use both in written and verbal form have to clear and concise. Communication doesn’t end with words though. Your body language has to be positive and uplifting as well.

3. You don’t think culture matters that much.

Culture is the shared values and beliefs that guide thinking and behavior. As the great Peter Drucker said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

You have heard this but ignore it. Whether you like it or not, your team has a culture. It’s being shaped and molded daily in a positive or negative direction. It’s time you take culture seriously. You set the culture and your people prove it.

If you’re ready, focus on these four elements if you want to improve your team culture: safety, unity, positivity, energy.

4. You view men and women differently in the workplace.

Much of our gender bias in the workplace was planted in us by prior generations, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay. The latest research shows only 22 percent of executive leadership positions in the U.S. are held by women, which is below the world average. Gender bias is a business issue, not a women’s issue.

Whether you are a man or a woman, allowing any preconceived beliefs or stereotypes to get in the way of looking at results and holding people accountable is a huge problem.

5. You never ask your people for feedback.

Our research of more than 35,000 leaders has shown the number one thing leaders do poorly is asking their people for feedback about how they are doing. Too many leaders assume they are doing a good job. People want to feel like they are being heard and asking for feedback is not only a great way to do this, but it also helps the leader improve their self-awareness.

Laszlo Bock, former Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google and current CEO of Humu, has often been cited for helping his former company’s simple yet unique method of conducting peer reviews. Rather than just management providing feedback for lower-level employees, Google’s management also gets feedback from junior employees on things they “should do more of and one thing they could do differently.”

If this tactic works for one of the most successful companies in the world, it should work for you, too. Soliciting feedback from your employees is a way to build trust and improve your leadership skills. Consider sending emails to your team once per quarter asking what you’re doing well and how you can improve to better help them meet their potential.

6. You don’t have a mentor or coach.

This business world is harsh. To go to work every day (no matter what role you are in) without a mentor or coach is like going into a gunfight with a knife. It’s just a terrible idea.

While the best mentor/mentee relationships happen organically, proactively seeking advice and guidance from professionals who have come before you is never a bad idea.

This could mean finding someone inside your organization whom you look up to or seeking a professional coach from the outside. Find someone to help you on your journey and then over time, pass it on and help others behind you.

7. You hoard talent for your benefit.

The purpose of leadership, as Tom Peters says, “isn’t to create more followers, it’s to create more leaders.” If you come into work every day thinking about how much you can squeeze out of your team for your benefit, you are doing something wrong.

I am the first to admit that losing valuable team members is hard. It’s especially difficult when they developed their skills and cared as much as you do. There will be moments when you feel like it can’t go on without them or even anger that they are leaving. Then you will remember that your job is to elevate them. It’s your responsibility to help provide others with the opportunity to grow, develop, and be successful. At that moment, any anger, worry, or doubt will vanish and you will be happy for them.

If you are guilty of some of these signs, I don’t want to beat you up. Quite the opposite is true. Leadership is a journey, not a destination. Use my favorite Latin saying, “Nunc coepi,” which means “now I begin.”

What’s Your Leadership Style? Join over 40k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out your current leadership style for free.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn professionals into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the author the upcoming book Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Successand host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

The Top-Rated CEO of 2019 Shares a Perfect Formula for Leadership Success

Everybody loves a good top 100 list. It could be the best cities to live in, the top restaurants, or in this case, the highest-rated CEOs in America. I love Glassdoor’s annual list of the Top CEOs because it’s based on how employees of major corporations feel about their culture and their most senior leader. 

This year the highest-rated CEO was VMware CEO, Pat Gelsinger. While some might be surprised by how a man, who was previously ranked 78 on the list, could jump all the way to number one, it didn’t surprise the employees at VMware who gave him a 99 percent approval rating.  He is so committed to the company and his employees he got a VMware tattoo on his forearm and showed it off during his keynote in 2018.

Here’s what Gelsinger said when asked about the award: “Fostering an innovative company culture is paramount to us at VMware, especially now as we enter our next phase of growth. Ours is one of those rare work environments where our people understand they have an opportunity to transform the impossible into the essential.”

You could summarize his sentiments into this: culture is not only of the utmost importance; it starts at the top, but it’s proven by its people. 

If you want to emulate Gelsinger and transform the impossible into the essential in the next year, here are a few tips:

Be true to yourself and rely on core values.

At the center of every great culture are established core values. A core value is a fundamental truth a person or organization holds to be true. A lot of organizations have defined five, one-word core values and put them on a website or wall, but values don’t guide its people or the organization in the least.

“It’s clear to me that our collective success in 2018 was as much a result of remaining true to ourselves and our values as it was of our business strategy and customer focus,” Gelsinger said in a recent blog post on LinkedIn. “We succeed because of our values, not in spite of them.”

Don’t take shortcuts. Define your core values and ensure you remain true to them. The best way to do so is to hire and fire based on your values and put them at the center of what you reward, recognize and talk about them on an ongoing basis. 

Prioritize what’s truly important.

Gelsinger runs a publically traded company with over 20,000 employees. Needless to say, he has plenty to do and not a lot of time to do it. Instead of allowing one of his professional priority to run his life, he sets an example for his team at VMware. 

He wrote, “Wisdom is learning the lessons you thought you already knew. That day [I missed my grandchild’s birth], I made a pledge to myself to keep relentlessly vigilant about prioritizing what’s truly important to me. Don’t get me wrong; I put everything I have into my work at VMware. But I also believe we can all do our best when we bring our whole selves to work.”

For a long time, I thought my team should be working as hard if not harder than me. I would even silently judge them for leaving early or coming in late. Now I understand each person gets energy from different places and their priorities in life don’t have to be the exact same as me. Gelsinger is right, we need everyone on the team to put everything they have into work while they are working. But once they leave work or they turn to a different priority in their life, they need to be present and be where their feet are.  

As a leader, you set an example for your people. Work relentlessly and with maximum effort but don’t forget about your family, health, and faith as well. The better you are at prioritizing what’s important, the better your people will be.

What’s Your Leadership Style? Join over 40k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out your current leadership style for free.

Ultimate Leadership Academy Do you lead a team and want to elevate the way you lead? Apply to join the Ultimate Leadership Academy. A virtual leadership development program which includes the EO 360° Assessment and Report, 4 Live Instructor-Led Training Webinars and One-On-One Coaching. Learn more here.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn professionals into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the author the upcoming book Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Successand host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

3 Secrets Chick-fil-A Leaders Know About Culture That You Should Too

Whether you love them or completely disagree with them, you can’t deny Chick-fil-A’s meteoric rise to the top. Just look at your newsfeed. People cannot stop talking about their impeccable customer service or the fact they make more per store than any other fast food restaurant and they are closed on Sunday.

I’ve fallen victim myself and am obsessed with studying the organization to glean leadership lessons companies of all sizes can learn from. Recently, I went on a tour of their headquarters (Chick-fil-A calls it the Support Center) and my expectations were exceeded more than they have been in any of their restaurants. Here’s what I learned:

No ordinary Corporate Support Center

Six years ago, Chairman and CEO Dan Cathy had a vision of giving Backstage Tours with the goal of delivering an authentic storytelling experience inspired by the history, culture, and values of the company. 

Within the first 30 minutes of the tour, our group was escorted to an area where the Executive management team gathers for their weekly meeting. Instead of just a peek through the door, we were invited in to hear from Cathy himself to learn what the management team was focused on (scaling company culture) and why the company started the Backstage Tour. Before we left, Tim Tassopoulos, their COO stood up and addressed us, “Without you, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do, so thank you.” Then the management team proceeded to give us a round of applause. What other company would do something like this?  

Practices worth applying in your own business

1. Collaborative Work Spaces

Chick-fil-A has spent millions of dollars renovating to create more open workspaces that foster collaboration between teams and departments. Only 25% of the company’s employees have assigned seating and everyone is encouraged to utilize the entire campus.

Mike Hazelton, the SVP of Supply Chain Operations told me, “The work that happens at the Chick-fil-A Support Center is innovative and collaborative, and we wanted the office environment to reflect and foster that thinking.”

Chick-fil-A surveys the staff after each renovation and the results have been positive with engagement, collaboration and productivity increasing each year.

It might not be feasible to renovate your workspace, but you can find ways for more collaboration between employees. If you’re remote, set up dedicated time on your team’s calendar with a Zoom conference to collaborate and use the collective experience to solve problems.

2. It’s Not Just the Customer Experience

You’re most likely familiar with Chick-fil-A’s world-class customer service at their restaurants, but did you know they use that same level of service with their employees?

“We take great care in creating and providing an enjoyable experience for guests, operators, restaurant team members, and staff. When planning our new office space, we mapped out a “day in the life” for a Chick-fil-A employee as part of our utilization survey,” said Hazelton.

This approach is perfectly in line with another success entrepreneur Richard Branson approach said, “take care of your employees and they will take care of your business. It’s simple as that.” Turn your attention to not only to how customers experience your products and services, but also give attention to your employees’ experience each day.

Become an experience company for both your employees and your customers. Be radical about mapping out these experiences because it’s one of the few things that impossible for the competition to replicate.

3. Employee Perks that Matter

Many organizations provide perks for their employees to increase retention and employee engagement. Chick-fil-A takes this to a new level. They provide lunch every day to all of their corporate employees at no cost. Providing lunch is just part of their culture of care and generosity, they also provide on-site child care in a state-of-the-art facility. The cost? Only $10/day.

While I understand this doesn’t fit in the budget for most companies, skip the free beer on tap and focus on the perks all employees care about. Things like employee development, wellness programs, leadership development, flexible work schedules, and additional vacation days. Highlight these perks to attract new talent and retain the great talent you already have. 

Chick-fil-A’ proved to me culture is not only of the utmost importance; it starts at the top, but it’s proven by its people.  

What Level is Your Company Culture? Join over 5k leaders who have discovered what level of company culture exists your organization. Is it toxic, deficient, common, advanced, or elite? Find out here for free.

What’s Your Leadership Style? Join over 40k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out your current leadership style for free.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the author the upcoming book Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Successand host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

5 Levels of Company Culture and How to Impact Yours Positively

We have all heard the famous quote from Peter Drucker, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” While there have been compelling arguments on both sides of the equation, there is no doubt company culture is important.

Unfortunately, most people don’t understand what culture means. LearnLoft defines culture as the shared values and beliefs that guide thinking and behavior. Turns out your organization has a culture and it’s being shaped and molded every single day whether you like it or now.

In order to get a pulse on employee engagement and culture, most company leaders leverage a yearly employee engagement survey. This isn’t enough. Measuring culture is the least important part of the company culture journey. The most important part is impacting it.

It’s Not Your Job to Measure Culture, It’s Your Job to Impact It.

In my Hacking HR talk, I discuss the 5 Levels of Culture from our research, the building blocks that make up the culture and a specific way impact it in a positive way.

What LearnLoft has found from our research is distinct differences in the characteristics of some organizational cultures vs. others. Here are 5 levels of company culture including characteristics and takeaways to help your organization.

Level 1: Toxic

No one wants to work in a Toxic culture. That’s evident because only a small percentage of organizations last when they have a Toxic culture. The organizations that do last typically have a revolutionary idea or technology.

You would be able to identify if your organization has a Toxic culture if there is a “churn and burn” mentality with employees or there is no sense of connection with team members. Tocix cultures make up 11.8 percent of companies researched.

The takeaway: If you are currently working in a Toxic culture with no sign of change in executive leadership, now is the time to start looking elsewhere for employment.

Level 2: Deficient

Deficient is better than a Toxic, but by no means is it a great place to work. An easy way to identify a Deficient culture is by observing a workplace. You can tell a drastic difference between an executive leader and a non-executive. They have separate office spaces, conference rooms, printers, lunchrooms, and parking spaces.

While most would say this is normal because of the traditional workspaces of the 90’s what it does is build physical or invisible walls between team members and their ability to connect. Causing a lack of innovation, creativity, and teamwork. Deficient cultures make up 49 percent of teams studied.

The takeaway: Working in a Deficient culture will take a major toll on your professional and personal happiness. Try and introduce culture building things like pot-luck lunches, or open innovation meetings. These are the first steps to see if executive leadership will get behind new ways of employee connection.

Level 3: Common

Common culture is the second most popular culture making up 23 percent or companies studied. I like to think of these cultures as those where the “few carry the weight of many.” A few top performers are “all-in” and carry the organization about as far as it possibly can go.

Common cultures typically share additional characteristics such as low to medium turnover and struggle to integrate different generations within the workplace.

The takeaway: The best way to get out of a Common culture is to begin changing the attitude and language that team members are used to using. Try reducing workplace gossip and calling team members out who bring a negative attitude to work.

Level 4: Advanced

Advanced is a big step up from Common because you get into cultures wherein people seek out opportunities to be a part of what is going on. There is always a direct connection between the work being done and the purpose of what the organization does in the world.

Executive leaders proactively work to shape and mold the culture daily. It’s weaved in all areas of the business from hiring, to employee development, to constant communication. Advanced cultures make up 11 percent of teams studied.

The takeaway:  Run surveys or host open roundtables across the organization to identify things executive leadership can do to further improve the workplace environment.

Level 5: Elite

Elite cultures are the best of the best. These are highly connected work environments from the C-Suite to the lowest level employees. In Elite cultures, words and phrases are powerful and are used all the time to the point where they become habits. (For example, at any Chick-fil-A restaurant you hear their employees say “my pleasure”)

A few additional characteristics include: teams see a future working together; other organizations look to mimic or copy its culture, and they consistently exceed growth targets. Elite cultures make up about 5 percent of organizations studied.

The takeaway: Staying at the top will be the challenge. As turnover in founders or executive leaders begins to happen continuing to stay connected to the organization’s purpose and core values will be a challenge. But if anyone can do it, your organization certainly can.

Here is the best part, every organization or team has the ability and capacity to be an elite culture. Just know changing cultures takes a lot of time, energy and effort but in the end, it will be well worth it.

Free Company Culture Assessment Discover what culture level exists within your organization for free.

About the AuthorJohn Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the author the upcoming book Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Successand host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on instagram @johngeades.

5 Great Signs Your Team Respects You As a Leader

Few things are more valuable than a loyal employee. It’s not just because replacing a skilled worker could cost your business double that individual’s annual salary. You lose that person’s knowledge, productivity, and experience with your product or service and even their leadership qualities.

The good news is that as a leader, you have the greatest influence in motivating your employees to stay. When you take active steps to grow as a leader and transform your business for the better, you can instill greater loyalty among your employees so that you can get even better results.

How can you tell you’re on the right track as a leader? One of the best ways is to look at the behaviors of your staff. The following are key signs that your leadership traits are having the desired impact on your team:

1. They go above and beyond.

Your leadership and example will directly influence how much effort an employee puts into their job. When managers make the work meaningful, employees who have bought in will often do more than what their job description entails. They view the company’s success as their own and strive to improve the workplace.

The Harvard Business Review describes these as “citizenship behaviors,” noting that “when employees are willing to go beyond their formal roles by helping out coworkers, volunteering to take on special assignments, introducing new ideas and work practices, attending non-mandatory meetings, putting in extra hours to complete important projects, and so forth, their companies are more efficient and effective.”

2. They’re coachable and constantly getting better.

The best employees aren’t perfect — but they are coachable and on a mission to get better. They are willing to take accountability for their actions, but perhaps more importantly, they also view you as a valuable resource for gaining insights on how they can improve. One of my favorite leadership quotes of all time comes from Harvey Firestone:

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”

When you’ve established yourself as a dynamic leader, employees won’t grudgingly listen to your suggestions and then half-heartedly implement them because “you’re the boss.” They won’t offer excuses or tune out when you have difficult conversations.

Instead, they will be enthusiastic about your new ideas and be willing to implement them based on the feedback they receive. This creates a culture of continual growth that will benefit everyone involved.

3. They build and support team culture.

Employees who have fully bought into your company culture don’t just perform better — they also become brand advocates. In a sense, this allows them to become recruiters as they share positive work experiences with other potential hires who would be a good culture fit.

Of course, culture starts at the top. As Mark Moses, CEO of CEO Coaching International, has noted, leaders must first ask themselves, “‘Where are you going?’… a question that calls for clarity, painstaking communication and dedication to aligning your company culture to your vision … An environment that will attract the kind of talent needed to pursue and execute on the vision is also critical.”

Establishing quality culture from the get-go will help attract the “right fit” to your company in the first place.

4. They are willing to say no.

Having an employee say “no” to you may not seem like it fits under the idea of “following without question,” but it’s a key indicator that you’ve developed trust with your staff. Employees who respect you won’t just automatically agree with your ideas — they will give them thoughtful consideration.

If they have a good reason to disagree, they will present their argument in a respectful manner. This is because they trust you to honestly listen to their ideas and concerns so you can work together to make the best decision for the company. This collaboration will prove far more valuable for your long-term success than automatic compliance.

5. They’re in it for the long haul.

Your best employees likely aren’t going to go unnoticed by other businesses. Other offers will come their way, many of which may entail a promotion, higher pay or a more convenient office location.

Building a strong foundation of leadership won’t necessarily cause all of your employees to reject these offers. But you may be surprised at how often a top performer will be willing to delay gratification because they have become committed to your brand and the purpose of their work.

The impact — not the money — becomes the greater reward.

When employees buy into your culture and leadership, they won’t jump ship at the first offer they receive. At the very least, you’ll have the opportunity to present a counteroffer rather than be caught off-guard by a two-weeks’ notice slip.

For your business to succeed, few things will prove more valuable than building a loyal team. When you practice great leadership, you ensure buy-in from your entire team. 

Ultimate Leadership Academy Do you lead others but your company doesn’t offer a leadership development academy? Don’t worry, join LearnLoft’s Ultimate Leadership Academy designed specifically to shorten the time it takes for you to be an effective leader. This special virtual program includes the EO 360° Assessment and report, virtual instructor-led training and a learning library. Learn more here.

What’s Your Leadership Style? Join over 40k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out your current leadership style for free.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the author the upcoming book Building the Best: The Proven Leadership Framework to Elevate Others to Successand host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on instagram @johngeades.

Why Measuring Employee Engagement is Pointless (Unless You Do This Too) [VIDEO]

Organizations spend so much time (and money) measuring employee engagement. The challenge is, they then do little to nothing to truly IMPACT engagement after the survey.

Want to make a difference today? By focusing on your core values, you can make the biggest impact. Core values are the fundamental beliefs your organization knows to be true.

This short video takes less than two minutes to watch and will give you tips for creating meaningful core values that leave a lasting impact on your employee engagement.

 

How does your company culture measure up? There are 5 levels of company culture. Is yours elite or toxic? Find out with our free culture survey and get your results immediately.

What’s Your Leadership Style? Join over 35k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out what leadership style you are for free.