new year

New year, new start.

16059643_s Let us first welcome you all to a brand new year. It's human nature to look to the future when January rolls around. We want to do better. We want to be betterBe it in your career and professional development, or in your personal growth, it seems there's always "no time like the present."

(That is, until you abandon many of your well-intentioned resolutions by mid-January.)

Let's break the pattern for 2015, and work together to make these goals a reality for the new year. As you'll see in the coming months, LifeThrive will place an increased focus on giving you the skills, tactics and motivation to improve your performance, in and out of the office.

The LifeThrive team has always been here to help you maximize your potential. But, for 2015 and beyond, we're dedicated to giving you more content, more insights and more expert perspectives so you can turn your goals into accomplishments, and your accomplishments into long-term success.

Today begins a new journey for all of us. It won't always be easy. And it won't always bring immediate results. But, much like our own growth and transition, when the dust clears, a better, more productive future awaits.

Gain Control of Your Goals

To start, we need to get you where you want to be. To get off to a good start, try these quick steps:

  1. Remember that success and prosperity reside within your mind. Your version of prosperity is going to look like something very different than those that “direct you on the path you ought to be on.” If you haven’t taken our free on line behavioral and values assessment do so, so you will understand your strengths and how to use them. -
  2. Make a list of your goals. Both long term and short term. Don’t let anyone tell you what they should be. Follow the “desires of your heart.” That is your inner compass telling you what you need to value and prioritize. Those priorities will be the foundation, motivating your success. Without them, you will not have the passion, drive and energy to achieve your objective. -
  3. Plan, but start by mapping out what is holding you back or standing in your way. Look at your behavioral and value areas that show the lowest scores. Identify which of your strengths can help you compensate for them. Once understood, set long-term SMART goals. Then break them down into steps that make sense and are not overwhelming. Just as Rome was not built in a day, nor will you achieve long-term objectives in a day. Make sure your daily objectives are attainable, even though they may stretch you. -
  4. Make a commitment for your future and your success. The road to accomplishments is rarely straight. You are going to encounter some curves and road blocks along the way. In the same way you expect that the highways will have some construction going on during a long journey, so will you need some reformatting and expansion of your path way. Consider those as the essential elements you were missing on the road to success. Without learning them along the way you will not have the knowledge to manage your success. And, remember my favorite phase: “Failure becomes success, when you learn from it.”

Hear from a few of your peers: We want to hear about your plans for the coming year(s)! What goals have you set for yourself (or your business) for 2015? What steps are you taking to achieve them? Let us know in the comments below!

Blending Cultures for Maximum Results in Business Development: Part 3

Part 3 of 3

Corporate management, through the direction of their HR professionals can facilitate and achieve culture agreement. Their combined efforts can help in the facilitation of any culture merger. Each group can find common ground and have a positive experience by following these steps for blending business cultures.

  • Assess the CEO’s perspective of the company’s principles, policies and procedures. Use an empirical tool (as well as common sense) to measure what he or she has established.  Address any sensitive or problem areas to ensure the spirit of the law is being communicated effectively. Make sure that the measurement process identifies central core behavioral, attitudinal and value issues as well as their impact on the employees.
  • Use the same empirical measure with staff and management to isolate their perspectives. Staff members should define the reasoning on which they believe the guidelines are based.  Note any unclear areas for future discussions. Their perspectives of behavior, attitudes and values will also be critical.
  • Compare and contrast what you learn from the differing groups. There will be obvious discrepancies in thought as you move from the CEO to the staff.  Define the differences and describe how these differences may affect the workforce. Many times the CEO is charismatic and people will be drawn to him or her.  However, this does not mean that his or her principles, policies and procedures will be widely accepted. Sometimes these very things drive employees away from the company.
  • Sample the workforce.  Be sure the sample is indicative of the group as whole, as well as each individual department or merged groups. Make sure that the entire workforce understands they are participating in a culture development process and their opinions are valued.  Have a sample or representative group solicit input from everyone, and present it at the appropriate time.
  • Take the results of each of the individual departments or merged cultures and compare and contrast them. Have each department select “representatives” that are comfortable with and willing to present their perspective of the results. The empirical results will need to be visually and objectively presented to the group so they understand how close or divergent their views are. Individual groups should note the similarities and divergences of views and be willing to work together to find the correct vision, etc., that is acceptable to all parties.
  • After the staff and management team has reviewed their results, they should meet with the employee representatives, exchange their merged concepts and finalize recommendations for the executive committee. Ask for input and build trust; creativity will flow.  Human Resources should facilitate this process to insure there is a balanced approach that provides congruency, rather than adversity.
  • Redefine existing principles, policies, procedures, all vision, mission, objectives and other cultural related concepts to conform to the executive (or his appointed committee) desire for a positive performance-based approach. The CEO may have some final “tweaks” in some areas, but multiple sources of input from employees with different behavioral types will provide a greater opportunity to benefit the company as a whole. Once the finalized concepts are developed, the committees should be reconvened and be tasked with finding their individual departmental objectives and how they will enhance the completion of the corporate goals.  This will alleviate any confusion employees may have and provide a clear explanation of the outcome expected. It will also provide each department with an opportunity to identify their specific role in the profitability of the company.

Now, share the results with the company in meetings, bulletins and corporate newsletters. Use this as a public relations opportunity. Make the most of the employee-driven culture concept. Most employees will embrace ideas and concepts they have played a role in assembling. The new revitalized corporate culture and philosophy, as well as the employees, will be prepared to meet any new change on the horizon. Additionally they are mentally prepared for growth, due to a higher morale, creating conditions perfect for performance enhancement and profitability.

Blending Cultures for Maximum Results in Business Development: Part 2

Part 2 of 3

The HR professional, or people expert, struggles between meeting the employees’ wants and needs and ensuring that the company is protected in our litigious society – not the easiest of tasks.  As it often happens, the HR professional successfully produces the guidelines and vehicles for a smoother operation.

However, they often end up utterly frustrated when trying to combine executive direction (with which the company is tasked) with the cultural diversity and perspectives that business team growth, merger and acquisition bring.  Having fun or a positive attitude at work becomes difficult at best. As a result, management, staff and to an even greater degree, employees may not feel inspired or even “heard." The company looks great on paper, but morale is low and performance flounders.

A thriving culture can only occur when morale is high.  A company will never realize its full potential until employees feel a sense of belonging, “ownership” in the processes, pride in their accomplishments and look forward to coming to work. The only way to accomplish this is to work from two directions. You must start at the top and the bottom. Management must commit to and support efforts for a unified corporate culture and the employees must play a part in establishing and developing that culture.

Creating a unified corporate culture is not as difficult as it may seems, even though there are many individuals involved. The key is participation and support by the employees. Consider the two different potential problem areas we have discussed and their unique challenges:

1) Departmentalization, addition of new divisions (products and services) and rapid growth has less negative impact on the corporate culture than mergers or acquisitions. However, this can cause fragmentation due to the need for greater diversity in internal services as the organization grows. Each time a new job description is published, new behaviors, attitudes and motivations are required to fulfill those responsibilities. As those new characteristics are introduced into the culture, change is affected.

Change is the most difficult issue most employees face. The introduction of a new paradigm of thought can even be offensive to some individuals. For example, as an organization grows the need for a constantly expanding IT department is a necessity. Most IT people are linear thinkers and prone to introversion. They must wrestle with complicated issues and integrate them into processes they are familiar with. This can be frustrating when they have to deal with sales people who are predominantly extroverted and more global in their thinking processes. The natural result is a clash in daily business interaction as well as their perception of how those interactions affect the culture. They will undoubtedly disagree as to how the culture will benefit from their department’s unique skills and talents.

Each department formed will have its own perspective of the company’s vision and reason for existence. Each one will have biases based on their place in the organization. Each one will be less tolerant of other departmental needs and perspectives based on their job descriptions and the behavioral skills needed to complete the task.

2) Mergers and acquisitions can try the best HR professional because there is limited opportunity for either culture to adjust before being thrust into a situation that requires results, often with less staffing and familiar support systems than previous. All of which is done in the name of efficiency.

Often the cultures are so different that the change can simply overwhelm some employees. If the changes in policies and procedures aren’t enough, the company’s principles, vision and objectives may take employees out of their comfort zone. They may have to do a full 180-degree turnaround in their philosophy about the reason their employer is in business.

This synergy between them is vital to proper business team development. These two groups must find something in common or they will end up divisive in their efforts, inconsistent in their behavior and generally unproductive. The company and the employees will never grow organically if this is the case.