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Archive for the ‘Organizational Change’ Category

My first blog post illustrated the importance of daring to change in order to avoid organizational inertia. In that first post I highlighted a retailer I had grown up with in the UK: Woolworth’s. Once a household name, Woolworth’s failed to reinvent itself until it was too late. In this blog post I wanted to share 5 ways high performance companies rethink and reinvent their strategies before revenues from their current strategies start to decline.

  1. They invest in new capabilities: High performance organizations start developing new capabilities, before they lose their competitive advantage from their current ones. Apple is a great example of this.
  2. They focus on talent acquisition and retention: In this economy many companies have become complacent and lazy assuming that their employees can’t go anywhere. While this may be true for your mediocre employees, talent always has options and sooner or later may be gone. High performance companies continually focus on retaining and developing surplus talent that can help drive the business forward in the long-term.
  3. They continually scan the market: High performers don’t rest on their laurels, continually scanning the environment for new ideas in order to identify untapped consumer needs and improve their economic outlook.  Like Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers says, (shameless plug for husband’s hometown team), you are either getting better or you are getting worse, you never stay the same.
  4. They Innovate: High performance companies are risk takers who are not afraid of change. Successful managers recognize that the real risk is in not innovating, becoming stagnant and collapsing.  These businesses have an internal environment that fosters creative thinking, and executives in these companies recognize that new progressive ideas can come from anywhere in the organization not just the C-suite.  As a result employees are empowered by knowing that they have a role to play in shaping the company’s future success.
  5. They are agile: Today’s high performing businesses have agile organizational structures in order to be able to adapt fast to the increasingly unpredictable ever-changing business environment and take advantage of sudden market opportunities.

What do you think? Feel free to add to my list of characteristics of high performance companies in the comments section below. 

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In my last post I gave an overview of a revolutionary work environment concept called the Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) pioneered by consulting group Culture RX. Today I wanted to finish my 2-part ROWE mini series by summing up the organizational benefits of ROWE:

  1. Leaders are forced to clearly define expectations: So often in the workplace employees are unclear about their manager’s expectations. ROWE requires competent, strong leaders who can clearly communicate their expectations to their employees.
  2. Improved communication: ROWE resulted in employees at the Best Buy headquarters learning to communicate more effectively, working together in new ways, in order to plan around one another’s schedules.
  3. Greater cross training: Employees working in organizations where ROWE is in place, are more willing and able to learn additional skills, in order to fill in for coworkers when needed.
  4. Greater engagement and productivity: With ROWE employees are more engaged, less distracted and more productive.
  5. Healthier employees: With ROWE employees no longer have to race to get to the office at 8. Employees can attend doctors’ appointments without feeling guilty, take care of their health and catch up on sleep when they need to. ROWE provides enough flexibility to eliminate situations such as the example of an employee faking a sick day shown in the video below: 
  6. Elimination of under performers: ROWE weeds out poor performers, resulting in an increase in involuntary turnover during the transition stage. Mediocre, incompetent, time-wasting employees will not be able to survive in this kind of environment. However, why would your organization want to keep these employees anyway?
  7. Empowerment: ROWE creates an environment of trust where employees are treated as adults accountable for getting work done on their own schedule. Employees in ROWE environments are also empowered from knowing that their superiors trust them to get the job done.
  8. Greater talent retention and acquisition: After migrating to ROWE Best Buy’s strategic sourcing and procurement team boosted employee retention by 27%. The work-life balance that ROWE offers can greater help organizations to attract and retain the best talent.

The video below adds to the reasons I’ve listed above by enabling you to see organizations’ experiences and results achieved with ROWE:

For more information on ROWE visit Culture RX’s websiteblog and read Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson’s book: ‘Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: The Results-Only Revolution.’

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Back in February I wrote a blog post about companies that offer their employees unlimited paid vacation time. The unlimited paid vacation time concept is a part of a greater concept called Results-Only Work Environment, which I intend to explore further in this post and in a follow-up post tomorrow.

Many of us have experienced working with individuals who while they may seldom leave their desks and may even be the first to arrive and last to leave, don’t seem to accomplish much work. While most organizations pay great rhetoric to the importance of employee results, many traditional organizations fall into the trap of rewarding face time over results. As this video mocks:

 

 

Pioneered by consulting group Culture RX and in practice at Best Buy’s Minneapolis headquarters, a Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) is a management philosophy focused on employee results over presence. With ROWE employees are free to come and go as they please and do whatever they want, so long as work gets done and deadlines are met.  As the authors of the book ‘Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: The Results-Only Revolution’ Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson explain:

 

 

For a ROWE to be achieved there should be unlimited paid vacation time, no mandatory meetings, no schedules and employees should have the freedom to come and go as they please without judgment from their coworkers and managers on how their day is spent.

ROWE enables organizations to create an environment of trust, which quickly helps to differentiate the employees that are getting work done from those that aren’t. This concept is most suited to knowledge work environments, which are task and project focused. It is unlikely to work in a service environment.

Here are a couple of examples of how employees can use ROWE:

Example 1: Jane works from 8-12 in the morning before spending the afternoon enjoying the nice weather at the park, before logging back in to her computer to work from home in the evening.

Example 2: Joe completes an entire month of work in 2 weeks and apart from checking in with work by e-mail or cell phone, enjoys the rest of the month with his kids who are on break from school.

So what do you think of this concept? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and look out for my next blog post on the benefits of ROWE tomorrow.

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In recent months I have read several articles on progressive companies who offer unlimited paid vacation time to their knowledge workers. Companies who have initiated this policy require that employees get their work done on time and depending on the role find someone to cover them while they are away.

I am sure this concept may send more traditionally minded individuals into a frenzy of questioning how a company would get anything done? Wouldn’t workers take advantage and take too much time off? But for those companies that have tried it, it seems to be working very well for the following reasons:

  • Increased Retention: employees feel more appreciated when their organization cares enough to allow them this flexibility. Essentially this approach allows employees to find a work-life balance as WeddingWire acknowledge:

‘Vacations are important and we want you to have a life so our vacation policy is simple: take what you need. The concept allows for life to happen and as long as you get your work done, you can take what ever time you need, when you need it.’

  • After introducing unlimited paid vacation, retention at MeetingMatrix International was 100%. Interestingly, a tax services firm called Ryan, introduced unlimited paid vacation after receiving a resignation letter from a rising star. Since their policy change they have seen a significant reduction in voluntary turnover.
  • Productivity: as many of us have observed in the workplace, sitting at a desk from 8-5 does not necessarily equate with optimum productivity. Flexible working practices shift the focus from hours spent at work to what work is actually done. Under the unlimited time off approach employees are evaluated based on meeting job objectives and deadlines.
  • Save Money: this may surprise the cynics but this approach could actually save employers the time and money they currently spend on tracking sick and vacation time.
  • Recruit The Best Candidates: people notice when you combine a good culture with exemplary employee benefits. Being an MBA student word definitely gets around among my classmates on who the best organizations to work for are and benefits definitely factor into these analyses.
  • Treats Employees As Adults: this approach offers employees the flexibility to come and go without explaining every move. By showing that you trust your employees to take responsibility for ensuring they still get their work done; you empower them to perform. Indeed if you don’t trust your employees, you really need to examine if you have hired the right people.
  • It’s Not Just For Big Organizations: while some of the organizations that offer this policy are large, such as Netflix, other smaller organizations such as Red Frog Events, and WeddingWire have had success with this approach.

Overall the concept of unlimited paid vacation is very attractive, particularly from an employee standpoint, however caution is needed. Care needs to be taken by employers to ensure particularly in workaholic cultures that reverse psychology doesn’t kick in and that employees don’t feel manipulated into not taking time off.

So what do you think? Would this work at your organization? And do any businesses in the Reno/Tahoe area already offer this?


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Growing up in England, I remember being 13 years old and using the earnings from my newspaper delivery route to go shopping for the latest top 40 CD at Woolworth’s.  At the time, Woolworth’s was one of the UK’s best-known retailers, having opened its first store in 1909.  The company’s product categories included entertainment, home goods, children’s toys and clothing, and confectionary.  The company had over 800 stores in the UK and a Woolworth’s store could be found in almost every British town.  I am no longer living in the UK and unfortunately, I’m not the only one.  In January 2009, just short of its 100th birthday Woolworth’s closed its doors in one of the biggest company collapses in British business history.

There were many different reasons cited for Woolworth’s UK collapse, which collectively demonstrate a business that had failed to adapt their business model to the changed 21st century environment. Woolworth’s made a classic mistake that many other organizations make. They were complacent and assumed their past successes would continue into the future.

A Harvard Business Review Article (from July – August 2011) ‘Adaptability: The New Competitive Advantage,’ by Martin Reeves and Mike Deimler addresses how today’s complex changing business world requires organizations to adapt in order to survive and thrive. Reeves and Deimler assert that traditional business approaches assume a relatively stable and predictable world, which is clearly no longer the case. The 21st century business needs to be good at scanning the environment, learning new things and trying out these new ideas not just in terms of product and service innovation, but also in regards to their business model, processes and strategies (Reeves and Deimler).

The purpose for my blog is to explore forward thinking and innovative business approaches, to encourage business leaders to reconsider traditional business practices and to consider incorporating new creative approaches to leadership and the work environment. Business is continually changing and as Woolworth’s, Borders, Circuit City and many others have demonstrated, there is no guarantee that approaches that have been successful in the past will continue to be effective in the future.

Photo Credit: Staffordshire Newsletter

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