We love to support people and organizations in their pursuit of humanistic employee cultures where there is relentless passion for kindness, empathy, dignity, trust, transparency, sharing, happiness, humility, compassion and love.

A Special Issue

Stuff to Think About

Especially for those that do not yet have a progressive workplace culture.

Gerald R. Wagner, PhD.CEO, Inspired Organizational Cultures, Inc.

About This Issue of Role Models

I spend much of my time searching for people and organizations that are fostering exceptional workplace cultures, which means lots of reading and internet research. It’s all for the benefit of the Culture ROLE MODELS publication -- something I’m exceptionally proud of. If you’re not get a subscriber, click here.

For subscribers and other readers, I’ve decided to assemble a list of my thoughts about important issues for employee workplace cultures. While these are mostly not new ideas, there are many people and organizations who still aren't aware of them. But they will be. Some of the text here is not original to me. When others had words that were in agreement with my beliefs and better crafted, I used their words and gave them credit.

These are brief snippets but there’s an abundance of back up material. The list is in no particular order and the items are not prioritized.

My words are not intended to be academic or theoretical. Although most of my life has been spent doing research and teaching in a university setting, I am only interested in passing along ideas to everyday folks in businesses.

This special issue is instead of the usual Culture ROLE MODELS. I can tell you already that the March issue is amazing. It is like a reference book in and of itself.

If you are planning a meeting where you would like for me to give a presentation on the contents of this document, let me know (jerry.wagner.ioc@gmail.com).

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Self-Managed Teams

This section has words from First, Lets Fire All the Managers and The Art of the Self Managing Team. Also see ROLE MODEL Farm Credit Services, ROLE MODEL Nearsoft, and ROLE MODEL Morning Star.

“There are no job titles, but there are leaders, and everyone knows who they are. Hierarchy is based entirely on competence.

Goals are clear. At Morning Star every employee negotiates a ‘letter of understanding’ with the colleagues who are most affected by his or her work. It’s highly specific, detailing how the employee’s performance will be measured in up to 30 activity areas. When every member finishes the exercise, that team knows precisely what is on the hook to accomplish.

Individual team members can initiate a hiring request and final hiring decisions requires consensus of the team. Individual can apply to join a different team and that also requires consensus from the team being approached. Team’s members make better choices than any official leader.

Everything is transparent including salaries and bonuses. Same goes for purchasing. If a team member needs a piece of equipment, they issue that purchase order to get the equipment. Every employee basically has access to the corporate checkbook. If you’re spending our money on something that’s foolish, that doesn’t have a good business case behind it, people are going to come after you really, really fast.

So it’s the transparency, it’s the accountability, the peers that keep people focused and prudent, and so on, rather than reporting up through a hierarchy. It’s an organization with no place for slackers to hide. Nobody is bossing others around, because nobody really has that kind of authority. Everything has to be done in a more consensual way.”

This style of organization is not for every business but it can be exceptionally successful for some.

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If your company is not yet ready to fully embrace self-managed teams, it's still a good idea to start increasing transparency. Sharing salaries may be too big of a step to start with, but there’s a lot of other data that can readily and easily be shared with employees. It costs nothing and can have significant value to both employer and employee.

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Employment Engagement Surveys

Surveys about employee engagement and rankings of the Best Places to Work do provide a snapshot of employees’ opinions -- but they're only reflecting the past. It is time for companies to be proactive and let their employees decide upon the workplaces they wish for in their future.

We have been saturated with blogs, articles, books, web sites, etc. on employee engagement, happiness, etc. Many claim to offer “secret sauces” and generally include a lot of repetition. Best Places to Work surveys and awards have flooded the media, but we know that engagement surveys are often flawed. Employees sometimes blindly and robotically click a, b, c, or d, to simply finish and move on. Even if these awards aren’t necessarily an accurate reflection of company cultures, they can offer bragging rights to those who win.

That being said, Best Places to Work surveys are done by independent vendors and are not expensive. Therefore, it is wise to keep on using them and hope that top management will at least consider at the results. Also, Gallups’s Q12 is simple and frequent, and provides useful feedback that is closer to real time.

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Workplaces that Employees Wish For

Rather than focusing exclusively on employee engagement surveys (which can be flawed), we've developed a system that I think will be the new trend for gathering data about creating workplace cultures that employees long for.

We have developed 27 options for workplace culture values. Each employee selects a fixed number of values (e.g. 7) which they wish to represent their culture in the future. (This approach is proactive vs. rear-facing). Each value is preceded with the word “we” since each employee is speaking for the group of employees. To be clear, this is not a humdrum rating and ranking system.

Here is a sample of values from which employees make their choices.

After agreeing on values, employees then discuss how to achieve them.

As you would expect, the process is more involved than described here. But it is straightforward and fun for employees with clear documentation and easy to use software.

I confess that I’m doing some marketing here; this is a new idea that I hope to implement with companies in 2016. If you are interested in learning more, let me know.

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Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation and Mindfulness are rapidly becoming mainstream. This section is from Chuck Bolton’s new book entitled The Reinvented Me.

“It’s been reported more than 60,000 thoughts run through our heads each day. That’s a staggering, overwhelming number. To step away from them, to quiet your mind, you need to practice mindfulness, and gain clarity, harness creativity, relieve stress, and boost your energy. To be mindful is to look inward and observe, without judgment. Journaling, long walks, prayer, and introspection are all powerful mindfulness practices.

Meditation is another, free and easy to learn. It has been shown to work better than medication. You can practice it almost anywhere. It’s a perishable skill that you’ll want to practice daily. When you do, you’ll quite your thoughts, train yourself to concentrate, and relax. It’s like a reboot for you. It is becoming usual for companies to provide a quiet space for employees to meditate.

You don’t need instruction to meditate. There are many books from which to learn. There are also likely to be several local consultants for occasional classes that are very affordable.”

Also take a look at the piece by ROLE MODEL Dr. Anne Messervy on Managing to Meditate.

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Workplace Spirit Branding

Love in These Walls from Graphik Dimensions.

Creating a video that showcases your unique workplace culture is inexpensive and can pay back many times over. A compelling 90 second video can be distributed on YouTube and other social media. This can be a valuable way to inspire current employees and to attract the best new employees.

I love this short video called “Love in These Walls” from Graphik Dimensions. I think of this video as Graphik Dimension’s brand for their workplace spirit. Graphik Dimensions will be a fully featured ROLE MODEL in the March – April issue of Culture ROLE MODELS.

This short video tells a potent story about a workplace culture. You will benefit from having a video about your amazing workplace culture. Such video development is a service that we want to deliver starting this year along in combination with our process for determining the workplace culture that employees wish for.

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Get to Know Me/Us

Every day we spend eight hours (or more) with colleagues whom we often know little about. Every individual has stories, and these can help to strengthen bonds, appreciation, collaboration, and gratitude for each other. The idea behind this concept is to offer ways for employees to share their personal stories, such as:

With a little thought you can come up with more: invent your own! It might be a collage of magazine pictures such as the ones at Culture ROLE MODEL Marketwaveshown in the image.

Employee Photomap at Marketwave

Every January each employee at Culture ROLE MODEL Marketwave creates their vision boards (photomap) that spotlights their personal and professional goals by pasting images from magazines onto an 11x14 collage that is posted prominently at each person’s desk. Each employee presents there photomap in a staff meeting so that everyone hears what their goals are and can support them in reaching those goals.

This is another idea that costs nothing to implement but has huge pay back for human fulfillment and then productivity, engagement, and all the other of today’s fashionable words.

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Dream Managers

Dream Managers help a company's employees achieve their personal dreams The Dream Board shown below is at Infusionsoft which will be featured in the March issue of ROLE MODELS.

This is an excerpt from that issue: “Now in case, you have never worked at a company with a Dream Manager. A Dream Manager’s full-time role is to help establish a culture of dreaming in the company. To support employees in the process of discovering, organizing and accomplishing personal dreams. Prominently placed in the center of the Infusionsoft’s office is the dream wall displaying some of these dreams. “Beach life in Mexico”, “To start a foundation helping mothers dealing with infant loss”, “To travel to Portugal with my wife” and “Even start a successful small business of my own.”

Dream Board at Infusionsoft

Carribou Coffee will also be featured in the April issue of Culture ROLE MODELS.

Development Manager and Dream Manager at Caribou

Carribou’s Dream Manager Nancy Fisher wrote this: “A unique benefit we offer at Caribou Coffee is the Dreams Program, which was inspired by the book ‘The Dream Manager’ by Matthew Kelly. We designed our program not as a single person with a Dream Manager role, but rather a group of trained coaches who guide employees toward reaching dreams. Our inspiring 6-week program lets ‘dreamers’ meet with an internal Dream Coach to identify and reach their dreams. The dreams they chose can be anything, big or small. We do not offer money to reach their dreams, but we do offer resources and support. Since its launch in 2011, there have been 147 participants and 18 dream coaches. Success stories include dreamers who took dream vacations (Italy, Paris, Wimbledon), lost 30 lbs, published a book, quit smoking, bought a house, started a Blog, became a personal trainer, lowered their blood sugar, got a promotion, and started the adoption process. These people are grateful to Caribou for caring enough to invest in them as a whole person. The power of the program is not that it’s a ‘cool incentive’, but rather a gift to our people, and a demonstration of Caribou’s big heart. The cost is minimal, and the payoff – witnessing our valued people living their dreams – is priceless.”

As you can probably detect, I love the Dream Manager idea. It costs nothing to implement and all touched are happier and thus more engaged in overall life.

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Virtuous Organizations

Graham Williams, Co-author, The Virtuosa Organization.

I had the privilege of getting to know Graham Williams in South Africa during 2015 when we published a series of blogs together for Culture University. Graham gave me the words for this piece.

“The time when self-interested businesses and entrepreneurs could independently reap rewards of growth and prosperity and maximize profits irrespective of their impact on the communities, society and environment in which they operated, are gone. A growing awareness of interconnectedness has ushered in an era of corporate citizenship and responsibility.

People are attracted by the magnet of virtue. A deep chord is touched and resonates with what they themselves wish to be. A virtuous person or organization has incredible positive influence. And this represents a huge opportunity for business organizations. Indeed it is now an imperative and no longer a choice.”

Here are the blog titles and addresses that Graham and I worked on together:

  1. Spiritual Mindfulness in Organizations
  2. Talent Hunt Clues
  3. Measuring the Performance of Virtuous Organizations
  4. Giving Virtuoso Performances
  5. Have We Crossed the Corporate Virtues Chasm?

You can see Graham’s complete article in the March – April issue of ROLE MODELS. I recommend you consider buying the book The Virtuosa Organization. It has surely influenced my thinking and it might yours also.

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Love, Kindness and Other Emotions

I think this is one of the most important topics presented in this document. It’s about humans -- and humans account for approximately 80% of operating expenses.

Dr. Kim Cameron

One reason I feel so strongly about this topic is the research of Dr. Kim Cameron from the University of Michigan. Kim and his colleagues are the gurus on positive workplaces. He reported research data showing statistically that 50% of the variance in standard business performance variables is explained by “soft variables” such as compassion. That is incredible and a wakeup call that needs to be noticed.

Publications that address this topic are rapidly coming onto the scene. Examples are The Psychology of Kindness in the Workplace, Love and Spirituality in Management and Business, Olivia McIvor’s book entitled The Business of Kindness, and Why Kindness is Good Business, Bill Taylor, Fast Company.

Initiatives related to supporting emotions can having amazing benefits and require little or no additional cost to implement. That is because they are based upon human habits and behavior which usually requires no additional space, equipment, perks, or traditional benefits.

In this special issue is the section called “Workplaces That Employees Wish For”. What we are doing there is very much influenced by the research reported by Dr. Cameron and the section by Graham Williams on Virtuous Organizations.

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Love Summit

In June, 2015, over 250 people gathered at the Wieden+Kennedy advertising agency headquarters in Portland, Oregon to discuss the role of love in business. Yes, you read that right — love in business.

Dan Wieden chairman Wieden+ Kennedy and Samantha Thomas Executive Director DreamChange.

Executive Director Samantha Thomas gave me these words. “People spent the day at the debut of nonprofit organization DreamChange’s first annual Love Summit; a business conference aimed at demonstrating why compassionate businesses—businesses that put people and the planet alongside profit—are the greatest candidates for solving the social, environmental and economic crises of our time.

Fifteen heart-centered CEOs, government and thought leaders came from around the world to share why ‘loving is good business’. Speakers included Charlie Hales, Mayor of Portland; Dan Price, founder and CEO of Gravity Payments; Darcy Winslow, former senior manager at Nike; Minister Freddy Ehlers, Ecuador’s government minister of Buen Vivir (Wellbeing); and Marci Zaroff, eco-fashion and eco-lifestyle pioneer.”

I think the Love Summit is appearing at just the right time. The location for 2016 has not yet been settled, but will be in the near future. See the complete Love Summit article that will appear in the March issue of Culture ROLE MODELS.

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Random Acts of Kindness

Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects

Dalai Lama.

From Wikipedia: “A random act of kindness is a selfless act performed by a person or a group wishing to either assist or to cheer up an individual person is to be kind, thoughtful, use your manners, give out compliments, volunteer, and or forgive someone.”

The phrase ‘Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty’ was written by Anne Herbert on a placemat in Sausalito, California in 1982. It was based on the phrase “random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty.” Herbert's book ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ was published in February 1993, and contained true stories of acts of kindness.

The CornerBank in Winfield, Kansas started their random acts of kindness project in the 4th quarter of 2002. On their web site they show their acts of kindness for each month in 2015. It is beautiful and simple program that any business can do for no cost.

When people get to know each other, when they take the time to interact – they get results. Small actions that create a greater sense of community, like drinking your coffee with others at work instead of at your desk, can have a big impact”.

By being kind, you empower those you work with by increasing their self-worth and giving them the strength and courage they need to be the best that they can be. This certainly is not being weak or soft. In fact, by being kind, you will make those around you happy and they will be happy and engaged co-workers and employees. Moreover, your kindness will have a tremendous impact on your organization because more times than not, kindness breeds more kindness.”

There is a precious book entitled THE 100/0 PRINCIPLE, The Secret of Great Relationships by Al Ritter. The principle is to give 100% and expect 0%. It would be beneficial for everyone to know about and be conscious of the principle.

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Ancient Teachings

Major world religions and theories of human development affirm this truth: kindness works. Practicing kindness blesses the world. As a pebble in a pond sends out ripples around it, the effects of kindness multiply as they lead to more of the same.

I became aware of South Africa’s Ubuntu while working with Graham Williams. I was intrigued with its teachings which are directly related to love and kindness. It is clear that such “soft variables” are more and more influencing leading workplace cultures.

Knowing Graham resulted in a feature on Ubuntu in the December issue of Culture ROLE MODELS. If you missed it, you are encouraged to check it out.

Franz Metcalf and BJ Gallagher, Being Buddha at Work: 108 Ancient Truths on Change, Stress, Money, and Success.

Ancient teachings of Buddhism is featured in the March issue of ROLE MODELS with the title “He Foreshadowed Modern Management Practices”. The authors of that feature are Franz Metalf and B J Gallagher (the book authors). Features on Native American and Hinduism teachings will be featured in the May issue.

I hope to assemble a conference featuring principles of ancient teachings along with CEO’s presenting actual case studies of the principles being practiced within companies. Maybe that will come together in 2017. If this piques your interest and you would like to help, please let me know (jerry.wagner.ioc@gmail.com).

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Chief People Officers

The following content is from an article entitled, The Rise of the Chief People Officer. They say what I want to say and do so better than I can.

“The number of CPO’s have been increasing steadily over the past 10 years. The rise of C-level executives whose focus is people shows companies are, finally, ‘championing’ the idea that “business success is intrinsically linked to a happy and successful workforce.” Typically, the CPO reports to the CEO.

The CPO is the highest rung of the Human Resources ladder, responsible not only for a company’s staff, but also its culture — in other words, its values, ethics, mission, and how it creates a working environment in which employees can thrive. Traditional HR functions related to policies and procedures are handled by an HR manager reporting to the CPO. Stakes are high. According to Pat Wadors, chief human resources officer at LinkedIn, 80 percent of a company’s operating expenses are talent-related.

According to Deloitte’s 2014 report, Global Human Capital Trends, which surveyed 2,500 organizations worldwide, 79 percent of business and HR leaders believe their company has a significant retention and engagement problem. Strengthening a company’s culture aims to create employees who are happier — and, therefore, more productive, loyal, and motivated to collectively achieve the business’s goals.”

If you don’t now have a CPO position, think about having one. An HR manager continues as a part of their department to handle traditional HR policies and procedures.

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Coaching and Mentoring

Executive coaching and mentoring is not new, but there are still many leaders who are unaware of these principles. I asked my friend Kristin Robertson to give me a few words for this section and I'm grateful for that.

Kristin Robetson, CEO, Brio Leadership.

“It’s lonely at the top. When you’ve reached the C-suite of an organization, there are few to no peers with which to discuss issues and challenges and it is darn hard to get straight feedback from direct reports. In order to be most effective as a leader, executives need a trusted advisor or coach who has your best interests in mind. A coach can help you increase self-awareness, the first step in being an effective leader, through assessments including a 360 feedback tool. Then the coach can help create a development plan that addresses the feedback received and the new understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses. With a skilled executive coach at side to encourage, prod and challenge, leaders can develop their skills and capabilities, reach their full potential as culture-shapers and achieve the results they desire.”

The increasing number of professional executive coaches is evidence of value and need. If you are a CEO it might be good for you to think about and look into this.

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Triple-bottom-line companies strive to have positive social and environmental impacts, as well as to earn a profit—in the transition to a sustainable economy. “Put simply, the conventional economic model—amoral capitalism—and the willingness of so many investors and consumers to tolerate it are two of the most challenging threats to preserving a livable human future,” writes Collen Cordes of the Nature Institute of Ghent, New York. Cortes says “A remarkable new breed of business is volunteering to be held publicly or even legally accountable to a triple bottom line: prioritizing people and the planet, while also promoting profits”.

B Lab is a non-profit organization headquartered in Wayne, Pennsylvania, which created, and awards, the B Corporation certification for for-profit organizations. The ‘B’ stands for beneficial and indicates that the certified organizations voluntarily meets certain standards of transparency, accountability, sustainability, and performance, with an aim to create value for society, not just for traditional stakeholders such as the shareholders.”

A perfect example of a B Corporation is Firespringthat is a featured Culture ROLE MODEL.

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Culture Role Models

This is the only publication that features people and organizations that are leaders of humanistic employee workplaces. It is not a blog and it’s not a newsletter; it is more like an applied journal or magazine chock full of insights about exceptional workplaces.

There is no subscription charge for ROLE MODELS. Subscribe

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Across the country, chapters of Culture AMBASSADORS are being formed. These Culture AMBASSADOR groups are for like-minded persons to share ideas about state of the art workplace cultures. Chapters meet bimonthly for 90 minutes at a host company. After a light breakfast there are two 20-minute presentations (TED format).

There are several national conference opportunities and some are highlighted in the “Conferences” section, but local venues have the advantages of being free, flexible, and have quality of speakers similar to those found in large national events. They also are favorable for networking with people only a few minutes from where members are located.

If you would like to start a Culture AMBASSADORS group in your city, please let me know.

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Public Conferences

This list of conferences is not complete; there are many more, but these are some that I can personally vouch for. Look at their websites and you will probably be energized to want to attend.

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Follow Up

If you are planning a meeting where you would like for me to give a presentation on the contents of this document, let me know. If you would like to pilot test the “What Employees Wish For” process and software, let me know.

I think this stuff is so much fun. I hope you agree.