Tag Archives: SoundviewPro

Fix the Culture!

Today’s guest blogger is Brian Bedford, co-founder of MillerBedford Executive Solutions.

How many CEO’s value the culture of their organizations as the main driver of the company’s success? How many really take the time to define what the culture should be, cultivate it, nurture it, and the most difficult part, make sure all employees uphold it? We’re talking way beyond posting Core Values on conference room walls and on the website. To answer our question, we would say far fewer CEO’s are treating the culture with the respect it deserves.

Core values should be the guiding principles for all employees to follow when making decisions and deciding what actions to take. However, employees’ behaviors and actions don’t always match the stated core values. And these actions which deviate from those expected – even small ones – if left uncorrected can lead to the slippery slope of culture decline and later to a company’s demise.

Here’s a good example of what we are talking about. GM’s Core Values are stated as: “Integrity, Individual Respect and Responsibility”. Now let’s consider their actions…we’re sure many of you have followed the woes of GM’s ignition-switch recall. Under certain conditions, the faulty switch caused the car to slip from the “run” position to “accessories” which was possibly linked to 31 crashes and 13 fatalities. An engineer testified that GM made a “business decision” not to replace the $2 part. So what went wrong? On GM’s website you see that employees are trained annually on “Winning with Integrity”. The right words are in place, and employees were trained? But where was the accountability or the “teeth” in the process to ensure the words drive each employee’s actions? We would bet that no one individual set out to use a defective part that could cause so much damage, but rather, slowly, gradually actions were taken, decisions were made, behaviors chosen that eroded the core values. What became allowable or acceptable was not upholding the Core Values they stated. No one “called” people on their misgivings or gave them feedback to correct their wayward behaviors.

Compare this to the recent success of Ford. In the April issue of Fortune magazine, Ford’s CEO Alan Mullaly was given credit for “saving the company without resorting to bankruptcy or bailouts by doing what previous leaders had tried and failed to do: change Ford’s risk-averse, reality-denying, CYA-based culture.” Last year, Ford earned $7.2 billion in profit – far more that GM or Chrysler. You can bet Mullaly did more than posting the new Core Values on the walls to get that huge organization to change their ways. You can’t change a culture and keep all the same people, so we’d bet some of the key positions have new incumbents too.

Here’s another CEO who is taking culture very seriously. After hearing a major investor’s most important advice, “Don’t [mess] up the culture (only he didn’t use the word “mess”), Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, sent an email to his team. That email has now gone viral – you may have seen it…in Working Life called “Don’t [Mess] Up The Culture”.

In that email to his team he instructs that their next team meeting will be dedicated to Core Values, and prior to that meeting he wanted people to know why culture is important. Here’s one of the things he said, “By upholding our core values in everything we do. Culture is a thousand things, a thousand times. It’s living the core values when you hire; when you write an email; when you are working on a project; when you are walking in the hall. We have the power, by living the values, to build the culture. We also have the power, by breaking the values, to [mess] up the culture. Each one of us has this opportunity, this burden.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Mary Barra, GM’s new CEO, needs to fix an entrenched culture-and quickly-if she is going to succeed. Maybe she needs to start with a similar email to her team.

You can learn more about corporate culture from Brian Bedford and Julie Miller in their Soundviewpro course Installing an Accountability-Based Culture for Success.

What’s New at SoundviewPro

We’ve been fortunate over the past several weeks to enjoy guest blogs from our course instructors. We’ve heard from Phil Buckley, Morag Barrett, Les McKeown, John Baldoni and many others. I hope you’re enjoying these posts and would love to hear back from you as to what other subjects and instructors you’d like to hear about.

SoundviewPro continues to grow its catalog of courses, including an expanding line of the most popular software. Please take a minute to check out the course selection at SoundviewPro.

Among our most popular courses:
12 Habits to Create Disruptive Success with Bill Jensen
Building Brand [You] with Cyndee Woolley
How to Create a Memorable Presentation with Joel Worden
Microsoft PowerPoint 2010: Fundamentals with Donna Zarbatany
Leading Successfully through Challenges and Obstacles with Paul White
And more . . .

We are also continuing to build out the various disciplines, including Leadership, Management, Personal Development, Communication, Tech Skills and others. I encourage you to stop by our course site often to see what’s new.

Trust Matters Even To The NFL

A guest blog with John Baldoni, chair of the leadership development practice of N2growth. Originally published at Forbes.com.

The NFL is sitting pretty.

You bet! After a series of widely publicized domestic assault cases, repeatedly botched attempts to impose discipline, and the performance of a commissioner who has been AWOL for most of the recent crisis, the fans keep flocking to the gates and even more fans are watching on Sunday (as well as Thursday and Monday).

The NFL is a business but it is a business like few others. First off, it is exempt from anti-trust code and its individual franchises play in taxpayer-supported stadiums. It is also very lucrative. The NFL itself rakes in $10 billion a year, over a billion coming from sponsorship dollars. It is a pseudo public institution that as an institution is tax-exempt. The teams pay taxes on their revenues, not the league itself.

While a few high profile sponsors – Anheuser-Busch, McDonald’s and Visa – expressed concern about the way the NFL has managed the abuse cases, no company has disassociated itself with the league.

Trust in the NFL has eroded, says Barbara Kimmel, executive director of Trust Across America-Trust Across the World, “primarily because many view the players as role models. In other words, they set an example for lots of people, including young fans.  The NFL is caught up in a crisis based on a small number of bad apples.”

While fans do of course express outrage at players who transgress by beating up women and children, their discontent is merely vocal. Their feet stay firmly planted in the stands or propped up on footstools as they watch the game at home on TV. And maybe that’s okay. Say you needed a prescription medicine and the company producing that drug had broken laws (as have some major pharmaceutical companies) you would still take the drug if ordered to by your doctor.

Fans do want sponsors to do what they are not willing to do themselves: give up the NFL.  Over half of those surveyed by Reuters/Ipsos said sponsors should drop their support of the league. Not surprisingly more women (58%) than men (49%) believe that sponsors need “in some way” to stop supporting the NFL. At the same time nearly 80% said they would continue watching the games. Jason Maloni, an executive with the strategic communications firm Levick, told Reuters,” It should not be lost on anybody that America is of two minds when it comes to football in the last month. They are voting with their hearts.”

We humans are good at compartmentalizing issues. We can choose to look at issues the way we want to. For example, I can root for my team because I always have. And if one or two miscreants misbehave, well, most of the players are okay guys. And they are. Professional athletes are not exempt from breaking the law though it can seem they receive preferential treatment. [Case in point. Ray Rice who was allowed due to his celebrity to avoid jail time and consequently avoided jail time even after cold-cocking his significant other.]

This does not mean that fans have any trust in the league. As Kimmel writes in a recent blog, “trust is taken for granted. It is assumed that it just ‘exists’ when, in reality, it rarely does. Some leaders might argue, ‘Why bother? Maybe we’ll get lucky and never face a crisis.’ [Yet] it’s much less expensive to build a foundation of trust, than it is to ‘manage’ a crisis and attempt to build trust after the crisis. Building a foundation of trust also brings tangible and intangible benefits.”

Trust is the currency organizations need to survive not simply for its public image but for its own health. As Kimmel points out there are real-world advantages to trust. These include “greater personal effectiveness, increased employee responsibility, improved collaboration (and) decision-making speed, and improved morale.”

As for the NFL we have seen what happens when a lack of trust prevails. Perhaps now is the league’s opportunity to show us what good can occur when trust returns.

To learn more about leadership from John Baldoni, enroll in his course Do-It-Yourself Leadership.

Accuracy Is Everything

A guest blog with Jones Loflin, an internationally recognized speaker, author and trainer.

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Wyatt Earp is remembered as being one of the most prominent figures in the taming of the  American West. Born in 1848 in Illinois, Earp had a frontier spirit at a young age. He tried, unsuccessfully, to run away from home several times in his youth, but was always caught and returned to his family. In 1870 he married, only to lose his wife to typhus a short time later. This tragedy fueled his desire for adventure even more and he began traveling throughout the West. He was known for being deadly accurate with his guns.

His most famous gunfight came in October 1881 at the O.K. Corral. It was there that he, along with Doc Holliday and others, challenged the wild cowboy culture that pervaded the West. Earp was the only one in the fight to sustain no injury. Again, his accuracy was his true weapon of success.

Asked numerous times about his amazing ability to win gunfights, Earp was often quoted as saying, “Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. You must learn to be slow in a hurry.” Some suggest his actual word was “final” instead of “everything.” Earp mastered the art of moving quickly, but with clear focus and direction. No doubt it saved his life countless times.

“It’s easy, and often commendable to be busy (fast), but working on the right things (accuracy) is what is most important on hitting the target.”

While the days of the Wild West are gone (except for maybe Las Vegas), Earp’s quote profoundly resonates with me about the “execution” of my day. It’s easy, and often commendable to be busy (fast), but working on the right things (accuracy) is what is most important on hitting the target. When the smoke and dust of the day’s battle wanes, accomplishment of our highest priorities is what we should see, not just an accumulation of completed tasks.

Additionally, his quote about being slow in a hurry is intriguing. It emphasizes that in the midst of moving quickly, you MUST have a clear plan of action AND outcome in mind. In Getting to It, Todd Musig and I discuss this need to stop, if only for a second, so you can more clearly identify what your most important next step should be. Just continuing to pick up one task, complete it, and then mindlessly engage in another is not the way to maintain the accuracy between what you say is important, and what you are actually doing.

Lastly, Earp’s quote reinforces comments in my recent blog about the power of routines. It’s a learned routine, or habit, that allows us to be “slow in a hurry” by moving through a systematic process almost mindlessly because it’s become a part of our physical or mental reflexive response. If we have to evaluate, over-analyze, fret, or weigh out a choice of action, our opportunity is gone. And with it our hope of improved productivity.

One quick way to slow down and make a better choice of task to undertake is a quick question like:

  • What task, if completed, would give me the greatest sense of accomplishment tonight?
  • Which of my tasks could best be accomplished with the mental and physical energy I have right now?
  • What task would most benefit the productivity of someone else?
  • What’s my “It” right now? (i.e. Important Thing)

Unless you are in law enforcement or the military you will probably not be engaged in a gun battle today. However, your ability to accurately align your daily actions with your highest priorities will make the difference in whether your goals and dreams move closer to reality…or are wounded by your willingness to just be busy.

Where do you need to slow down to be more accurate in your work today?

To learn more about productivity, enroll in Jones Loflin’s course The Five Keys to Experiencing Extreme Personal Productivity.

Can You Change the Culture with the Same People in Place?

A guest blog from Brian Bedford, co-owner of MillerBedford Executive Solutions.

Much of our work as international consultants concerns business culture. Sometimes we’re asked by companies to establish and align a new culture to support the strategic direction of the business; and sometimes we’re asked to help change the culture of a business, because the CEO and the leadership team believe that the existing culture is hindering progress.

Culture change is significantly more challenging than creating a culture from the outset of an organization. It takes years to establish a particular culture, so it’s unrealistic to expect change overnight. It takes focus, commitment, clear expectations, consistent application, and regular feedback.

But the most important thing we’ve learned about culture change is that you can’t expect it to happen if all the same people remain in place. Relationships build up over the years, as do loyalties, old grudges, and resistance to change. As the old saying goes, “you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs”; similarly, you can’t change the culture of an organization by simply making statements, and leaving all the old guard in place. The old culture will win every time, and spit out those who desire change with the greatest of ease. Culture is built on behaviors; unless clear expectations are set as to how behaviors are required to change, and unless people are held accountable for getting in line with the changes, nothing will happen.

Take a look at a couple of examples to see what we mean. The first is General Motors. GM appointed Mary Barra as the new CEO, and there’s been a lot of talk about the need for culture change. However, Ms. Barra is a 30+ year veteran of GM. We don’t doubt her good intentions for one moment, but she’s a long-term part of the culture, and she doubtless has a lot of the loyalties we talk about above. So take a look at the structure of GM; how many senior executives have gone? When the recent troubles over ignition switches took place, exposing a culture of cover-up and negligence, how many senior heads rolled? A few middle level people, perhaps, but no-one at senior executive level. “The lawyers didn’t do their job”, we heard. Who do the lawyers report to, pray tell? Yes, you can give Ms. Barra credit for defending her people, but to do so at the same time brings into question how serious GM is about culture change, or whether it’s simply PR. Unless there are major changes at senior level, and clear expectations are set for behavior change, the existing culture will always win, and all the old behaviors will remain the same.

Now, compare that to Charlie Strong, the new football coach at the University of Texas. We’re not naïve enough to compare the challenges of running a football program to the challenges of running one of the world’s biggest companies, but the differences in approach are instructive. First, Mr. Strong cleared out all the old coaching staff, and brought in new people on whom he could rely to make the culture and behavior changes he was looking for. Second, he defined the new culture clearly; “Honesty; no stealing, drugs or guns; treat women with respect”, and added his 4 T’s-“toughness, trust, togetherness, teamwork”. To prove his point, seven players have been kicked off the team to date, and a further three suspended. This man is serious about culture change, and about the accountability that goes with it.

Back to where we started. Culture change requires clear expectations of behavior change, and personal accountability for those changes. Any guesses as to which organization will be more successful? UT or GM?

You can learn more about accountability-based culture at Brian Bedford & Julie Miller’s course Installing an Accountability-Based Culture for Success.

Influence with Ethics

A Guest Post from Mark Pastin, President of the Council of Ethical Organizations

To succeed in any business, you have to influence others to support your viewpoint and decisions. Top business leaders are masters of influence. Those who succeed in leading their organizations on a long-term basis influence with ethics. When you influence with ethics, your decisions are respected and, thus, more easily implemented than they are when you rely on force or manipulation. And you do not face a rebound effect when others realize that you have manipulated them.

We look at two tools of ethical influence. These tools will help you get others to agree with you without carrying the penalties associated with less effective, more manipulative approaches.

Up Close and Personal:

Ethical influence works best up close and personal. Our ethical instincts were honed when we needed trust and cooperation to survive in small hunter-gatherer groups. Our emotions of sympathy and empathy helped the group stick together. While our world has changed dramatically, our wiring is still the same. It is often said that many who could drop a bomb on city could not kill a civilian face to face. By the same token, it is harder to ignore the needs of someone close to you than someone who lives thousands of miles away. This is because the core of our ethical sense – our abilities to feel sympathy and empathy – relies on cues in our immediate environment.

This means that if you are trying to influence with ethics, it helps to do so up close and personal. The other party will be more attuned to your needs and you will be more attuned to theirs. Many influence situations that seem hopeless when handled remotely can be resolved up close and personal.

Get Specific:

When we are trying to influence with ethics, we often start out trying to get others to accept our general viewpoint. This often fails since you may be asking someone to give up beliefs to which they have clung for years. But it is often possible to achieve agreement with someone in a specific case even if you would never agree at the level of basic principles. In the Washington, D.C. area, we often see politicians acting contrary to their stated principles when it comes to their own families. A politician who would never support gay right acts differently when one of their children is gay. An advocate of public education sends their own children to private schools.

When you seek to influence with ethics, find the level of agreement you need to move forward. Start with the specific and only move to a more general level if you can’t reach agreement at the level of specifics. If you don’t need to change someone’s principles to move ahead, stick to the specifics.

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When you influence with ethics, you decrease the distance between yourself and those you seek to influence. This gives you a basis for continued influence with no price to pay for past instances of influence by manipulation. Learn more about influencing with ethics.

Turn Your Mobile Device into a Classroom

 

It’s been five months since we launched SoundviewPro, to provide free video business courses for people looking for efficient ways to improve their business skills.

During the past several months, we’ve added many courses on leadership, management, personal development, professional development, computer skills and more. Courses are being added weekly as we continue to build a strong base of content to match the needs of our business customers.

Every course is free of charge and consists of a group of classes broken up into short video segments. The short videos allow for easy display on mobile devices and tablets. Each trainer is an expert in their field and Soundview brings that expertise to bear in these concise skills courses.

When a customer signs up to take a course, an account will be established for them which includes their personal information and also tracks their courses and stage of completion. They can view a course one class at a time, viewing videos as they progress. While customers can view courses for free, supplemental learning materials including tests, additional readings and a certificate of completion are available for purchase.

Here is just a sampling from the subjects now available at SoundviewPro.

Leadership:

Leading Successfully Through Challenges and Obstacles with Paul White

Helping Successful Leaders Get Even Better with Marshall Goldsmith

Management:

Solving Today’s Employee Engagement Challenges with Les Landes

Installing an Accountability-Based Culture for Success with Julie Miller & Brian Bedford

Communication:

Becoming a Powerful Business Presenter with Stanley Ridgley

REAL Talk – Creating Real Conversations for Results with John Stoker

Personal Development:

Building Brand [You] with Cyndee Woolley

The Five Keys to Experiencing Extreme Personal Productivity with Jones Joflin

Technology Skills:

Microsoft Excel 2010: Introduction with Robert Devine

Microsoft PowerPoint 2010: Fundamentals with Donna Zarbatany

Please check out the courses and let your colleagues know about this free resource. Our goal is to transform the way business people learn the skills they need to move forward in their business and career.

New Courses Added Today

Our library of free video training courses is receiving a few additions today. The 4 new courses are all taught by business experts and cover topics such as employee engagement, developing customers for your startup, getting into the entrepreneurial mindset, and making accountability a critical part of your company culture. Read the full descriptions below.

We’re really proud of our current library of courses and are excited to be adding new courses regularly. This round of new courses is the third expansion of our library, and we have many many more additions planned. Stay tuned!

Solving Today’s Employee Engagement ChallengesLes Landes

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Les Landes asks a pertinent question to any organization. “When it comes to delivering on the promises you make, does your organization know how to walk the talk?” This course will provide you the tools to empower your employees to deliver on any organizational promise through the ImaginAction System.

Customer Development for StartupsBob Dorf

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Why do more than 95 percent of all startups in North America die? Serial entrepreneur Bob Dorf will give you all the tools you need to avoid the startup curse. This high-energy, no-nonsense course will keep your entrepreneurial feet firmly rooted in reality.

How to Develop an Entrepreneurial MindsetFaisal Hoque

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You don’t need to start your own business to be an entrepreneur. Author and serial entrepreneur Faisal Hoque believes a true entrepreneur is someone who pursues an opportunity with limited resources. In this course, he gives you the skills to develop thrive in a world of change.

Installing an Accountability-Based Culture for SuccessJulie Miller and Brian Bedford

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Accountability is NOT an initiative. It requires a specific set of practices that help you weave it into the fabric of your organization. In this course, you’ll learn how to install and maintain a culture of accountability.

Another Batch of New Courses

It’s another exciting day for the SoundviewPro team! We’ve been hard at work trying to expand our diverse course offerings, and today 4 new courses have just been added.

  • Interested in maximizing your Spiritual Intelligence? Take Cindy Wigglesworth’s course Spiritual Intelligence for Leaders.
  • Want to provide exceptional customer service? Steve Curtin’s new course is all about that.
  • Need to cultivate a more honest company culture? Bob Phillips can help you out in his course Building a Culture of Honesty.
  • Or maybe you need to grow your company brand? The new course by Bryan Mattimore and Gary Fraser is a great place to start.

These instructors have been working tirelessly alongside the SoundviewPro team to put together these great new courses, and we’re all extremely proud of these additions to our great library of business knowledge. Click on the links below to find out more information about the courses and instructors. Or take a look at the rest of our course offerings. Upgrading your business skills is just a few clicks away!

Spiritual Intelligence for LeadersCindy Wigglesworth

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There are CEOs that lead organizations with thousands of employees, but individuals such as Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi and Nelson Mandela were able to secure the followership of millions. How did they achieve it? Cindy Wigglesworth will show you the 21 skills of Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) that will help you lead with wisdom, compassion and serenity.

Delivering Exceptional Customer ServiceSteve Curtin

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Your organization’s customer service experience can be the difference between a “one-and-done” customer and a “promoter” who will create more customers for your company. Customer service expert Steve Curtin takes you through the seven keys to exceptional customer service.

Building a Culture of HonestyBob Phillips

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Transparency is a term that looks great on a Corporate Values Statement. Its much more difficult to practice. Bob Phillips will help you create and model the values that will drive behaviors toward a culture of honesty.

Growing Established BrandsBryan Mattimore and Gary Fraser

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Don’t just create, innovate! Take your existing brands to new levels of success by learning the growth strategies and ideation techniques taught in this course.