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Stori e s From the Walking Dead Don’t let Culture Catastrophes Plague your Business

7 Signs of a

High-Performance Company by- Steve Tobak

6 Keys to a

Winning Team

with- Craig Hohnberger

Having a Business that Sucks will Suck Away Your Profits Plum11 March Culture March Featured Charity

March of Dimes

Stories From the


Dead Don’t Let Culture Catastrophes Plague Your Business Just like zombies are only interested in eating your brains, some companies are only interested in feeding their well-being and forgetting about yours. Read on if you dare to discover several victim’s horrifying accounts of their soul sucking work environments. I was in high school when I thought I had scored a great position as a loan writer. I assumed it wouldn’t be the most thrilling job description to fulfill, but I was wrong. I quickly became an undercover sleuth as the discrepancies in the work place became blaringly apparent. I noticed odd behavior from my boss and soon discovered his eerie scheme he had kept secret for so long; it turns out he had been using me as the catalyst to secure his plan. He would write loans to fictitious people and ask me to go to the bank to cash them. The people who “needed the loan” he said would be coming in after hours to retrieve it, but it didn’t take a genius to realize he was just pocketing the money. When I caught on, I confronted him and found myself fired that week. I had been working for a trucking company that valued their employees by focusing on the importance of family and friendship. We would have huge company BBQ’s and frequent fun filled events that always included our family and made all the employees feel a part of the team. One unfortunate day, the trucking company was bought out by a leading parcel distribution

company and the fun quickly ceased. The new company’s motives centered on the security of their own services and completely disregarded the employees. There was no employee encouragement or acknowledgement and the motivation to work there quickly died. Many people including myself resigned from the company, leading to a drastic deficit in their business. I was working in the health services industry with a higher ranking coworker who always expressed snide remarks toward me that I’m assuming stemmed from her jealousy. I was never anything but nice to her, but because of our drastic age gap, she viewed me as a young incompetent female in the work place. Never once did she approach me with professionalism or request a disciplinary meeting that communicated any “wrong-doing” I had committed. I knew she didn’t like me, but I didn’t think she had the authority to do anything about it. I was proven wrong when I discovered that she filed false accusatory statements towards me that led the HR department to terminate me. I find it humorous that the HR director called me and illegally disclosed that it was in fact my angry coworker who had slandered my name. I am using this evidence and more to argue my current court case with this woman who has none. I am now working in a new department with awesome co-workers in a better and higher paying position. I guess in this case, jealousy

can lead to happiness. When I worked at a University as an Admissions Rep, the only time anyone communicated with me was when I was doing something “wrong.” The sales manager would stomp from her office to the dean’s office, slam the door and proceed to gossip about my “problematic” work performance. I always felt uncomfortable when I could hear my name repeated in their habitual exchanges. I found it odd that I was being reprimanded for explaining what the education entailed and being honest on what the commitment was going to look like for perspective students. They wanted the student aids checks.

I once worked at Burger King. I have really long legs. My boss would routinely tell me every day while I was working how he would love to run his hands up my long legs. Needless to say he was about 5 feet tall. I did not stay there very long. I worked for someone and during the term of my employment his wife had left him. He had an abscess on his back that had to be removed. Somehow I became responsible for changing his bandages. On top of that I took on a therapist role because he was distraught over the recent breakup. It was too difficult for me to continue in the position and after I gave my two week notice, I found out later through a mutual counterpart that he was spreading fictitious gossip about me.

Talk about a horror story!


Signs of a High-Performance Company by Steve Tobak

(MoneyWatch) Every executive and business leader has a set of principles he infuses into the organization. That’s where company culture comes from. Initially, it’s top down. But if managers successfully use that set of principles as a blueprint for recruiting and it resonates with employees, it begins to live and grow at the grassroots level, as well. While all great organizations have their own unique culture that motivates and engages employees, there are common signs that are visible from the outside. I’ve seen them in companies big and small. And their absence is just as evident. That speaks to the quality of leadership or its lack thereof. Next time you’re at work, take a look around. Do you see any of these seven signs of a high-performance company?

Employees take ownership When employees discover problems or issues, they take the initiative to ensure that they’re resolved. They don’t leave it for the next guy because it’s not their job, not their fault, or not their responsibility.

People are happy People look and act as if they’re genuinely happy to be at work. No, they shouldn’t be running around laughing like children in a playground, but you can tell that they like what they’re doing and are having a good time doing it.

Managers are comfortable with their level of authority They’re clear on what their authority is and they’re not resentful of what it isn’t. That means decision-making occurs at the right level, no higher or lower than it should be. Managers aren’t afraid to be overruled or second-guessed.

People are accountable Folks say what they mean and mean what they say. They don’t promise what they can’t deliver or sandbag to get big kudos when they over-deliver. They tell you what they think they can do and are willing to be held accountable for the results.


There’s a “How can I help you?” attitude We used to call that a customer service attitude, but it’s so much more than that. People never act put off, defensive, or interrupted by requests from anyone inside or outside the company.

Employees have a positive outlook Whining and complaining is an epidemic in the modern business world. But there are companies where negative behavior is an outlier, meaning it stands out and is eventually flushed out, one way or another.

Things get done Perhaps the most evident sign of a highly effective organization is that things just seem to get done. That’s because people get things done. The company operates like a well-oiled machine. Yes, I know it’s an old metaphor, but I don’t know a better one. So, you went to work and looked around. Did you see a high-performance organization or not?


to a Winning Team

- with Award Winning ActionCOACH Master Licensee

Craig Hohnberger

“ Uncertainty will create slow tentative movements toward business growth. Understanding will lead to a home run.”

- Craig Hohnberger

#1: Strong Leadership: A strong leader not only has ambition and tenacity, they also have the ability to inspire ownership in a team. For someone to fully trust you there must be a rapport built and a sense of genuine care provided. A leader’s decisions should reflect what is regarded as best for the team and the bottom-line. It is important to include input from all of those affected by that decision. Although some would perceive this tactic as a weak approach, ActioCOACH believes a strong leader should be willing to fully integrate personal advising and team input under one umbrella. That way, if it ever rains in the business world, everyone will be united under one common goal to sustain the entire group, leading to success. Trust is often validated if a leader maintains a proven track record, strong character and a positive reputation. Clear communication, confidence, and passion are also key attributes that someone in a leadership role should possess. If you cultivate heart and integrity, you can lead any organization to peak performance.

CH: Leaders provide vision casting with a

strong emphasis on the importance of culture and a presence of inspiration. This fosters the

infrastructure for employees to be energized, excited and ready to take action in their day. A leader must be consistent and decisive. For instance the Patriots have been arguably the best NFL Team since the mid 90’s. When the pompous attitude of talented player Randy Moss surpassed the length of a football field, he was immediately addressed by owner Robert Kraft. Kraft’s leadership skills were evident when he gave Moss a piece of his mind: ‘you are gifted yet your attitude sucks; you play by the culture rules or you’re gone.’ He followed through on his word and was cut from the team with no remorse. At the end of the day no matter what business you’re in, it is imperative to execute strong leadership.

#2: Common Goal: The effectiveness of a strong goal is more in what it DOES rather than what it IS. Many people hesitate to set powerful, challenging goals because of a fear of failure. The leader needs to encourage the team to instead celebrate the progress and learn what has been attained, followed by the establishment of a new goal. The focus should be the progress, the learning and the adjustments that need to be made based on current results. Bigger dreams and goals create better questions, which lead to superior

decisions, actions, and results.

CH: We can define clarity by answering: what is

the common goal for this project today, this year, and overall? Your common goal should reflect common knowledge; the universal agreement to align your company in the same direction vs. in each employee’s perceived direction. This makes a big difference on your bottom line! The next level of a common goal is to leveage that direction and tie it to the personal goals of your team. For instance I work with a charity that helps men recover from substance abuse. It costs $33,000.00 per person to participate in the program start to finish. Money is raised by using an array of different strategies; from owning for profit businesses to events to cold calling. One of their top caller’s work ethic was beginning to decline due to lack of motivation. He expressed his disinterest saying, “I want to do more than just sell chicken, I want to change lives and be a part of this in a bigger way.” The owner can either see this as an individual’s excuse of laziness or as a common problem in need of a fix. As the owner, what would you do to rectify this? In this case, it should be the owner’s objective to tie in the employee’s personal motives and passions to unify a team of individuals. After analyzing the impact of the phone calls, it was discovered that every 122 calls the worker made actually saved 1 life. This statistic was groundbreaking in motivating the worker to feel encouraged and rejuvenated in his efforts. Both parties benefited from the minimal effort it took to prove how much value that employee contributed to their company. Employee recognition is invaluable in the workplace.

#3: Rules of the Game: Can you imagine trying to win a game if you didn't know the rules? Often employees lack motivation and productivity because the expectations are unclear. Do your employees know the company core values? Have you

invested time in defining those core values and communicating the company culture to every team member? Most people have an inherent resistance to rules. It is uncommon that someone is willing to take strict direction limiting what they can and cannot do. Rules, especially if explained and executed poorly, most likely will be perceived as an infringement on one’s personal identity and freedom. For a winning team to embrace and love the rules, the leader must effectively communicate the function of the rules. It is not to squash creativity or to control and smother, but rather to clearly define the structure and means to winning. If your players clearly understand the boundaries, then they are able to play the game freely. Uncertainty will create slow tentative movements toward business growth. Understanding will lead to a home run.

CH: Decisive, consistent and strong leadeship skills

are key to putting your rules of the game to play. Don’t put something together you can’t, won’t or shouldn’t enforce. Take the time to think about it and stick to it!

#4: Action Plan: Procrastination is the enemy of all progress and learning, and it is rooted in fear. Fear is a paralyzing emotion or expectation about negative outcomes. The antidote and cure for fear is action. For the action to be most effective, it should be preceded by some organized thought and planning. Very simply stated, a great action plan is comprised of three components: WHO does WHAT by WHEN - that’s it! After you are clear on the WHO, WHAT and WHEN goals and rules, then organize your plan into logical steps, and delegate each step to the right team member. Assign accountability and a deadline, and you are on your way to a winning shutout against fear. Meetings are energy robbers when they don't end with an action plan. Talk and analysis with no action is non-productive and costs the business owner wasted time and money.

CH: An Action Plan boils down to the description of specific steps you commit to in order to reach your desired result.

Start a new employee off right by using a Positional Plan vs. a Job Description. The Positional Plan lays out what the employer is hiring them for, what is expected of them to know or briefly educate themselves on, what job performance standards you expect and ensure both understand you are entering the employer/employee agreement in order to be successful. It’s focused and clear so everyone is playing the same game. (Email Craig for a copy of the Positional Plan, it’s Free).

#5: Support Risk Taking: To maximize the potential of every team member, the leader and organization must support risk taking. What does that mean? It means the fear of mistakes and failure must go! It means that the organization always encourages and welcomes multiple solutions to challenges. It means that right brain creative thinking is encouraged and that new ideas and changes are embraced and rewarded. It

means that good is never good enough; that continuous improvement, innovation, and experimentation are a fundamental part of the culture. By failing to support risk taking, you drain the adventure, fun and creativity out of the organization. How do you support risk taking and not gamble away all your assets? Ask any professional poker player, and they’ll tell you to be strategic about your game. Likewise, a strong leader will develop balance, discernment, and integrity when crafting their game. Implementing strong rules will allow risk to flourish. In fact, strong rules of the game facilitate and enable risk taking. When the team knows the boundaries, they are free to take maximum risk and even make mistakes as long as they stay within the fence. Because risk taking and mistakes are supported within the rules, there is no fear of failure, and the team can accelerate learning by taking more chances, trying more things, and learning what does and does not work.

CH: Kimberly Clark, a personal and health care

products company, is a prime example of what risk taking can lead to. They decided to do something different than their counterparts by taking a risk on one of their ideas to start an airline. Initially founded to reduce company airline costs, Mid West Express was a one of a kind airline with first class only seating, home baked cookies and the absence of a middle seat. Mid West Express quickly took off in the business community and soared to success beyond their original plans. Imagine what your company could do by allowing your employees once a month, once a quarter or allow them freedom over 10% of their time to work on the business as a whole? What could your business do/become that you aren’t even thinking about?

#6: 100% Involvement and Inclusion: Finally, the sixth key to a winning team is 100% involvement and inclusion. Each member must know that they are accepted by the team, and each member must also choose to participate 100%. Those who are not fully engaged pull down the

team's performance. 100% participation creates powerful team synergy. The challenge is to REQUIRE 100% participation from your team. Jim Collins, author of "Good to Great", answers how to decide if a person should be kept on a team or asked to leave by rating them on an A, B, C or D scale.

CH: Everybody is the leader of themselves.

Every person needs to know their personal job is to step up and make sure they speak up and hold others accountable. 100% participation means more ideas, more engagement and more profits! Employee ratings are a big topic but here’s the basics of how to rate people as an A, B, C or D employee.

A’s: These employees actively engage with

colleagues, they are reliable and are motivated to see the company succeed and build a solid future. They educate themselves in order to grow and adapt to the industry they represent.

I started with 18 employees and realized 5 of those were D players. One of the five was a gifted salesman who carried our sales department, yet his ego centric attitude and anti-culture approach easily classified him with the other Ds. After speaking with the A, B and C players about where they are now and what I expect out of them in the future I made the difficult decision and cut the 5 D players. I was initially concerned about our profits and how it would affect the company but something fantastic happened. Only thirty days after cutting those employees our culture was transformed and we had a 61% increase in revenue! Getting rid of dead weight transformed my business and I am now committed to consistent A, B, C and D evaluations as a crucial step to forming a winning team. My recommendation for you to unlock these 6 key steps is to take the initiative to play hard and you’ll win the game!

B’s: They get good results and do their work yet they aren’t as engaged on making sure the company lasts past today.

C’s: Mediocre results, participate only for a

paycheck and usually sub-par on delivering tasks on time. They drain your time and hold an agnostic feeling about completing any additional work for the company.

D’s: Few results, tasks are carelessly

unorganized; they address the manager/owner as an incompetent individual. Their interactions with colleagues are usually pessimistic and draining. They sink the positive work morale like an anchor searching for the bottom. These employees take a huge chunk out of your time which you should be spending with your ‘A’ employees. In my corporate life I put my faith in this model by evaluating each team member and figuring out which category they fell into.

Craig Hohnberger Award Winning ActionCoach Master Licensee Pickering, OH (614) 762-7282

In order to obtain a high functioning business, it is imperative to understand the meaning of culture and execute it clearly. The Harvard Business Review defines culture as “the specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organization that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organization.” Culture plays a crucial role in the makeup of a sustainable business, so how do we find the “current performance indicators of a high performance company”? Refer to the Cycle of Business: Business Owner: Be a great leader and communicate! Uphold the culture of the business, clearly represent and explain the goal of the business and inspire, drive, encourage teammates.

Employees: Empolyees should be magnetic, be people that others want to interact with, have a vested interest in the success of the company vs. the “i’m here for a paycheck” attitude.

Business: A business is a representation of the owners, employees and customers, and will function at a high sustainability if all parts work at peak performance in symbiosis with each other.

Customers: Do your customers merely buy and then forget? Or do they talk about your company to other companies? Do they feel like they are a part of something?

*Business Cycle is a system developed by ActionCOACH International.

Harvard Business Review:

You can gauge company performance by referring to the business owner, employees, customers and business. Your company will perform at a high level of sustainability if the individual parts are functioning at a high level. If even one part is compromised, then the entire cycle will suffer. If the business owner doesn’t take care of the employee, then the employee won’t take care of the customers, and the business as a whole will depend on the owner versus the business working for the owner.

“If you’re always looking at the short term, the ‘right now’ and reacting to the day to day obstacles of business, then the chances of you becoming a long term company are dismal.” -Ashley Graham CEO/Owner Plum11 Reno

Take for example one of the world’s leading companies, Nike. Originally selling running shoes to locals out of a green Plymouth Valiant, Nike has grown into a global marketer of athletic footwear, apparel and equipment. Now to sustain the consumer’s demand, more than 35,000 Nike employees across six continents make their individual contribution in the cycle of this high performing business. But Nike didn’t reach this peak point by running a

marathon, rather carefully crafting their company’s culture by taking the time to consider all aspects of the business including their employees and customers. If the objective of your business is to create something magnetic that people want to be a part of: think clear, think culture, and execute and communicate your results with your team.

Culture Focused

Plum11 believes the effect of culture within a brand is a magnetic experience and a key ingredient to business success. By valuing and living by culture, a company will lead their industry in results, creativity and a higher quality production. We experience this energy-boosting morale every day by standing by our 11 culture points; one of which is to encourage laughter and fun. Bi-monthly our team sets aside time to get together and connect face to face outside the office. This brings on a new dynamic that fosters ideas, fun experiences, and rejuvenates energy toward a job you love doing.

March’s Featured Chartity

It’s no mystery that babies are the world’s future. Not one person can claim they haven’t been affected by babies; after all, we were once a baby ourselves. This month we show our compassion by supporting the health of babies and preventing unhealthy child birth. Featured as our March Charity, we invite you to join in the fight with March of Dimes. An estimated 21 million babies worldwide are born too soon every year and a heart breaking 4.4 million slipped out of life’s grasp after straining for just a few breaths of air and until recently, premature birth defects weren’t recognized by international health agencies as a public health priority.

To confront this global crisis, the March of Dimes organization was developed to fulfill their mission of “working together for stronger, healthier babies”. By donating to this cause, your contribution is vital in fueling the research, education, and community service programs implemented worldwide to restore health in pregnancies and childbirth. These precious babies depend on our support for their future, much like our future is dependent on the health of babies. Get involved today to make your mark on a child’s life.

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Plum Vol #3 March 2012 Culture & Customers  

The Vol. #3 Culture and Customers eMag provides professionals with business facts to successfully attract ‘A’ grade employees and customers...