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years focusing on women and mothers of teenagers. I also led therapy groups and did threeday therapy retreats. I loved all of it, until I didn’t, and it was time for a change. I have been married for 36 years, and so have been a part of the Malnati family pizza business for that long, too. On the front line, I’ve led communication groups with our company’s executive directors and store managers. Behind the scenes, I’ve coached and consulted with my husband about the people side of the business, which has helped us, I believe, to receive one of the Top Workplaces in Chicago for six years in a row now.   Four years ago, after moving to the West Loop in Chicago from the North Shore suburbs with my husband, I “retired” from therapy and moved into the

Some believe “culture” is a new buzzword. It’s not. It’s here to stay, because the health of the interpersonal communication and relationships between co-workers and teams is of utmost importance. As Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” There are two kinds of culture focus. One I call “Cocktail Culture”­—where companies compete to have the coolest “nap-room” or best prizes for their weekly in-house ping pong tournaments. There’s “Free Haircut Wednesday” or “Beer-Cart Friday,” but who wants to hang around after work and have a beer with people you don’t like? The second kind is a “Relationship Model Culture” where the focus is on the people.  The relationships.  The communication that is or is not happening.  This is

the wounds that fester, causing dysfunctional places to work. No more band-aids, such as “let’s do a ropes course” for team building. We go into an organization and diagnose what the ailments are among the people and administer what is needed to create an organization where people look forward to arriving and performing together at work each day.  We also teach simple yet powerful tools that literally shift the feel of an organization and the engagement of employees, within half a day’s time.  It’s amazing.  It works.  It’s needed.   HOW IMPORTANT IS OPEN AND HONEST COMMUNICATION TO CREATING A POSITIVE COMPANY CULTURE? 

Open and honest communication is very important to have­—consistently—not just once a year at

IT IS OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE THAT WOMEN LEADERS LEARN THE ART OF HONEST, INTEGRITYFILLED COMMUNICATION. business world, starting my own company, The Culture Group­­— The Business of Conversation. DESCRIBE YOUR WORK WITH THE CULTURE GROUP. WHY YOU THINK THERE HAS BEEN AN INCREASED FOCUS ON WORKPLACE CULTURE IN RECENT YEARS?

what The Culture Group focuses on. Getting people in a room and “cleansing the relationship container”—having the difficult conversations face-to-face.  Team members/colleagues must dig deep at times (be honest and express your thoughts and feelings) so to heal the “infection,”

a person’s 360 review. When the honest, difficult kind of conversations are not happening, there is gossip and complaining behind closed doors. There is blaming and passive-aggressive behavior. Cliques form. Fake smiles behind gritted teeth abound. There is not enough genuine kindness and care for one another. There is a

FEBRUARY 2016

fw: chicago

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Chicago Woman February 2016 Issue  

Chicago Woman (formerly FW: Chicago) February 2016 Issue with Stephanie Izard

Chicago Woman February 2016 Issue  

Chicago Woman (formerly FW: Chicago) February 2016 Issue with Stephanie Izard

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