Make Culture Your Competitive Advantage


This week’s topic is one near and dear to my heart. I absolutely believe that healthy organizations can create a healthy world. When you work for a company that has a healthy culture as opposed to a “dysfunctional culture” the results outside of  the workplace can be tremendous. Happier families, increased volunteerism and sense of community, continuous learning, less stress, more active adults, less disease, stronger family relationships, less divorce. The list goes on and on.

Unfortunately by some estimates, as many as 95% of today’s workplaces exhibit some form of dysfunctional or “toxic” symptoms. “A toxic organization is like a dysfunctional family. It shows two specific characteristics: first, a history of poor performance and poor decision-making; and second, very  high levels of dissatisfaction and stress that go beyond normal workload issues” – Robert Bacal, noted author and management consultant

What’s my point? Well…it’s not rocket science. If you are looking for ways to gain a competitive edge over 95%of your competition – focus on creating a stellar work culture! Changing culture involves a commitment of focus, time and energy. It has to start from the top-down, bottom-up, horizontally and vertically! There are many strategic steps to consider to make a shift in “how you do business”. However, I have included a few innovative, simple ideas that you can implement right away to get started:

1. Send out press releases about employee or team achievements to your local newspaper.

2. Hire a “Health Advocate” for your business that offers stretching classes, lunchtime walking classes, ergonomic analysis, stress analysis, etc.

3. Develop a “wish list” of all the projects that are at the bottom of the priority pile but will hopefully be completed someday. Allow employees who have an interest in growing and developing new skills take advantage of trying something outside of their comfort zone.

4. Give employees time to volunteer and encourage employees to get involved in the community and report back on the results/impacts.

5. Begin an Emerging Leader program and invite high potential employees to attend the program where they will learn new leadership skills for the future, be mentored by SME’s, and have the opportunity to collaborate on team improvement projects for
the business.

6. Start lunch and learn programs where each department introduces what they do, how they do it and who it impacts in the company.

7. Take a quick survey of your staff and ask them what 3 words they would use to describe your company culture. Then ask them to provide 3 words they would use  to describe a very healthy culture. Finally, ask them 1 thing you could do to improve
your culture.

8. Share more information than you are right now.

What are you willing to do differently this year, next year, or in the next 3 years to make culture YOUR competitive edge? Whatever it is… get started!  Enlist the support of employees who are eager to champion change, and stay on path even when
obstacles pop up, the naysayers grow louder, and your faith begins to waver. It  is toughest when you are closest to a break through. Keep in mind – greatness was never achieved without hard work and dedication.

Quote of the Week
“At times it is necessary to go over the top. How else can we get to the other side?” – Kobi Yamada

Are You Engaged or Disengaged? Take This Survey

Office lifeWhether you are a company of 2 or 2000, we’ve all worked with someone who has literally “checked out”. Maybe it was an employee, coworker, manager or even YOU. The problem is that disengagement is like a virus that spreads quickly. It has immediate negative repercussions on productivity, communication, collaboration, innovation, morale, customer service, you name it!

Not surprising, it’s also costing your company BIG TIME. The Gallup organization estimates that over $300 billion a year is lost due to disengaged workers. Think of all the POSITIVE CHANGES to be made with that money!

Take a few minutes to complete our quiz designed to measure your engagement levels or if you share this with your employees and discuss the results. Don’t forget to read our suggestions for addressing disengagement.

SURVEY: Am I Engaged or Disengaged? (Y = Yes, N= No, DK = Don’t Know)
1. My manager cares about me as a person
2. My coworkers take into account my opinion
3. I have clear expectations of what I should be doing at work
4. I understand the purpose of my role and how it supports the organization
5. I readily volunteer to take on new challenges or projects
6. My manager and I openly communicate about issues of importance to me
7. My manager is interested in my personal development and career goals
8. I have the opportunity to use my strengths in the work I do on a daily basis
9. My manager doesn’t play favorites
10. I have the support and resources I need to do my job to the best of my ability
11. Everyone pulls their own weight on my team
12. Performance issues are dealt with quickly and effectively
13. Building relationships and collaborating with others in the company is encouraged
14. I know what I am being evaluated on
15. I receive the training, coaching and mentoring needed to do my job successfully
16. I have a clear understanding of what success in my role looks like
17. I feel a sense of pride in my organization and the products/services we provide
18. I talk positively about my job to friends and family
19. I have a sense of ownership and accountability over my work
20. I steer clear of gossip and negative talk of others on my team

15 – 20 Yes ~ You are Very Engaged
10 – 14 Yes ~ You are Mostly Engaged
1 – 9 Yes ~ You are Not Very Engaged

How did you do? I suspect that over half of you might currently be experiencing  some level of disengagement in your work. Here are some suggestions that might help you and your team increase their engagement levels.

Top 5 Suggestions for Addressing Disengagement

  1. Ask for a challenging project to work on that you would find interesting. Preferably something that would stretch your abilities and it is not directly tied to your role. If you are leading a team, be sure to ask them what they would find challenging and interesting and discuss how to incorporate into their role.
  2. Reassess your workload and how much time is required to each task. Are you completely overburdened due to being short staffed? Consider what 1-2 low priority items you could talk to your manager about delegating or letting go of. If you are the leader of a team, you can help your employee prioritize correctly by regularly meeting to discuss priority alignment.
  3. Have a heart to heart discussion with your manager on where you are right now and more importantly what you need that you are currently not getting from your work. Research has shown that unmet and unspoken expectations are large contributors to employee disengagement. However, once those expectations are spoken ~ even if they cannot be met, engagement levels go up. If you are the leader, create a safe space with employees to discuss their expectations about their work. Assessment tools such as the Workplace Expectations Profile can help you with this discussion which is a tool we use with our client teams.
  4. Ask for more accountability in your work. Are their decisions you think you could make that are currently being made by your manager? Talk with your manager about what this might look like if some decisions were delegated to you? If you are the leader, consider your delegation skills and get some coaching if you need help learning to rely more on your team. This not only build their skills but their confidence and loyalty as well.
  5. Revisit your career path. When is the last time you considered doing something new? Are their opportunities to job shadow in your organization? Discuss these options with your manager. As the leader, be sure to have regular conversations about employee career opportunities including increasing job responsibilities, career progression ideas, certifications, etc.

I hope that this survey and ideas for addressing engagement levels is something that you discuss with your manager or with your team. Having a strong company requires strong team relationships and open communication. If it doesn’t exist then over time you’re left with disengaged employees who are most likely just picking up a paycheck or actively looking for another job. Not a great strategy for growth.

Expect great things! Tara Powers

8 Steps to Accomplishing Anything in Your Business and Life

For the past two weeks, I have put together a video series that walks you through 8 steps that you can use to accomplish anything in your life and business. We’ve been getting tremendous feedback ~ thank you! In case you missed some of these juicy business tips, I’ve compiled them here in order to watch while you sip a martini or glass of vino and dream about your goals and vision for this year. You can do it. We can help!

Step #1:
Step #2:
Step #3:
Step #4:
Step #5:
Step #6:
Step 7 & 8:

We are heading into the FINAL WEEK for registration for the

We have healers, yoga instructors, business coaches, music teachers, food truck owners and saying YES to making it really happen in their business this year! You can still join us on January 25th in Boulder CO. You’ll plan your plan, define the marketing methods that work easily for you,  team up with your support partner AND you’ll define 10 ways to recognize yourself this year.

We’ve had GREAT response to this offer, so we decided to extend it.
Bring a friend for only $99. Here is the special link to register you and a friend for the workshop only:

If you want to register you and a friend for the VIP session use this link to register:

Thanks to so many of you who signed up this week. We are going to chart your course for more money, more freedom and more success this year!

Tara Powers
Tara Means Business