Showing posts with label Office Culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Office Culture. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Seattle's Pike Place Market is a Mantra Must


In spring 2001 I remember hearing about Fish in my Operations Management class. It had some interesting and relatable concepts around transforming what should be repetitive low energy work into a top performing team... oh and using the fisherman from Seattle's Pike Place Market was a great visual.

MTV filmed The Real World Seattle a few years prior with many shots of fishmongers chanting to each other throwing fish in the air. Not since Tom Cruise had liquor bottles flying through the air in the movie Cocktail had I seen anything like that.



I've recommended this book to dozens of people over the years. It's a quick read and admittedly it was sitting on my to read list for a longer than I'd like. I remember purchasing it at the Virgin Megastore in Orlando. Made for a great poolside read while interning at Disney, especially since Disney organically has several of the book's concept's present with how cast members interact with each other and with guests.

The book was written in 2000, before Millennials entered the workplace in volume. Much of the book's content is evergreen and a precursor towards much of the office culture and productivity content often written about today.

Fish! A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results

Amazon.com Review: Here's another management parable that draws its lesson from an unlikely source--this time it's the fun-loving fishmongers at Seattle's Pike Place Market. In Fish! the heroine, Mary Jane Ramirez, recently widowed and mother of two, is asked to engineer a turnaround of her company's troubled operations department, a group that authors Stephen Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen describe as a "toxic energy dump." Most reasonable heads would cut their losses and move on. Why bother with this bunch of losers? But the authors don't make it so easy for Mary Jane. Instead, she's left to sort out this mess with the help of head fishmonger Lonnie. Based on a bestselling corporate education video, Fish! aims to help employees find their way to a fun and happy workplace. While some may find the story line and prescriptions--such as "Choose Your Attitude," "Make Their Day," and "Be Present"--downright corny, others will find a good dose of worthwhile motivational management techniques.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hour 41, Getting Ahead or Staying Afloat

On CIO.com this article was recently featured, Why your employees are overworked, burnt out and unmotivated. You see business articles like this all the time, sometimes legit, to often clickbait.

Given the topic I took the bait and got ready for an anti-Millennial article, except it wasn't there. In fact, "millennial" isn't even used in the article once.

What gives? In a nutshell, over 3,000 workers were surveyed in the U.S. and Canada by Staples Business Advantage that blows open some well held thoughts on office culture and productivity.


  • Study found that 91 percent of employees say they work more than 40 hours a week. However, they are not spending that time getting ahead on work -- they're using it to catch up and stay afloat.
  • Even though telecommuting is on the rise, the best work is done in the office

Or is it?

  • While 66% say the say the office the most productive place to work, there's a catch.
  • 40 percent of employees feel burnt out, citing workload, time pressures, manager pressure and job security as the top four reasons for burnout.
  • 65 percent said that workplace stress impacts them on a personal basis
  • 15 percent said they have taken a leave of absence as a direct result of workplace stress

Can Flexibility be Expanded, but Distractors Reigned In?
  • 63% say they feel they could avoid burnout with more flexible schedules
  • Critical productivity distractors include: email overload, multiple meetings, social networks, texting, instant messaging and even employee training, and employees are more strapped for time than ever.
Translation, the time your employee wastes looking down at his/her phone is likely dust compared to the time he/she spends hitting reply all, or sitting in a meeting to give a status to the email he/she just replied to about the project he/she hasn't been able to see through because of other distractors. 


91 percent of employees say they work more than 40 hours a week. However, they are not spending that time getting ahead on work -- they're using it to catch up and stay afloat.

Office Layout:

"You might also want to reconsider the layout of your office -- 56 percent said that loud coworkers kept them from being productive and 47 percent said they got distracted by people coming to talk to them. Combine that with other distractors like email overload, multiple meetings, social networks, texting, instant messaging and even employee training, and employees are more strapped for time than ever."
The Good News: employee desire to establish a sense of purpose


"Nearly half of respondents also said they would be more inspired at work if they had a sense of purpose. Recognizing employees doesn't have to be expensive. Simply calling out an individual's excellent work at a staff meeting or via an office-wide email can be effective," says Ringel.
My Take:

  • Something is missing from the article, the term "millennials"
  • For every one company that is cutting edge with productivity and office culture there are ten stuck living in the later half of the Industrial Revolution
  • We're kicking the can too much as workers. All this access to communication and collaboration is great, but too often it can slow things down with process, updates, and audit trails that are unread. 
  • Each company is different, each department has different needs.
  • Open offices, strong technology, and ways to informally collaborate are critical to success, but require boundaries. These boundaries include the need for uninterrupted time, and private rooms of various sizes (for meetings, or some conf calls) to balance all that open office space. 
  • Nothin is perfect, people are very adaptable. Recognize and reward success is a great way to help employees avoid burnout and instead rally for an inner sense of purpose.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Forbes 10 Unmistakable Signs Of A Bad Place To Work

The recruiting department is often an ignored touchpoint towards shaping a person's opinion of a brand. How companies treat their prospective employees is often a glimpse into its culture. Some recruiters take the time to connect and build relationships for future openings, while other companies struggle to send a 1st touch within 2 weeks of pasting a "text version" of your resume. **

** if you're reading this and have purchasing decision on whether to renew an applicant tracking system that prompts applicants to paste a text version of their resume, we need to talk. ASAP. 

Saw this Forbes article by Liz Ryan (@humanworkplace) pop up on Facebook. Liz is the Founder and CEO of Human Workplace pop up on Facebook. The comments were brutal with much of it focusing around trolling towards millennials. The funny part, Liz isn't a millennial.

via Forbes: http://www3.forbes.com/leadership/ten-unmistakable-signs-of-a-bad-place-to-work/
 >> (yes, it's 11 pages of clickbait, but worth it)

Article Top 10 Signs:

  1. No-Moonlighting Policy
  2. No Reference Policy
  3. Progressive Discipline
  4. Payroll Deductions
  5. Dictated Hours
  6. Managers Control Internal Transfers
  7. Formal Performance Management
  8. No Casual Time
  9. Pay Grades Make the Man (or Woman)
  10. Interview Process
My Take:
  • These are indicators of potential red flags, not absolutes that require all 10 be present
  • Some of this can be directed towards influence of millennials entering the workforce and moving up the ladder. You're welcome
  • Any company that requires 2-3 references about you, but is unwilling to provide 2-3 references about their company might not be a place you want to work. 
  • For a manager to be selfish enough to sabotage your career growth via a veto power to block an internal transfer is either a signal of a weak manager that lacks confidence, or a company that is not serious about retaining you throughout you career. This is typically found in large companies. 
  • Pay Grades, I somewhat disagree on this one. While the salary ranges within a pay grade can vary greatly, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars, the idea of setting expectations for where you are within your current role / pay grade can be helpful. Further this is beneficial for the company budgeting head count, and for the employee to understand as you grow within the company what other roles might be worth exploring and, including if they are a lateral (same pay grade) or a growth opportunity (higher pay grade). 
I've long thought HR and recruiting are one of the most important groups within a modern company. It's a crucial representative of your brand, and company values. There's going to be lots of applicants. Only so many can be hired at this time. It's important to not burn bridges or create a negative view of the brand. That applicant that spent real time customizing a cover letter and tweaking a unique resume, only to never hear back, could be the perfect fit for a different role a fews years from now, only to not be interested. Worse, that same person could hold decision making authority for who wins an RFP or if a vendor's contract continues. 

The big takeaway, if you want average talent, the old industrial age formula of management works great. If you want great talent, innovative talent, then the same principles the marketing department uses around customer journey, needs to be applied to current employee journey, and applicant journey. 

Fortunately there are many companies that see the benefit here.