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  • Patty Soltis

Where, Who, What?

Updated: May 4


Let me start out by saying that I am an analytical, bottom line businessperson. I do not care for touchy feely things, when I am asked to close my eyes or hug a stranger, I am extremely uncomfortable. I want to get the job done. What I learned incredibly early on in my career though was that fostering the right culture made the difference to achieve the success both in the short and long term. My first pivotal moment was when I started as a department manager at Lord & Taylor one week after I turned 22 years old. I had two amazing sales associates on my team, Corrine, and Gloria. While I was a smart, young rising professional with a college degree, I quickly discovered they knew that I did not - they knew the customer, the merchandise and how to bring the two things together. They brought me value and I could not have succeeded without their support. This became a lifelong lesson for me.

As we talk about the assessment process of your organizational culture, it is imperative that you communicate with these components - be present, get real and work with empathy. 96% of leaders with empathy get better results.

You can create motivational accountability. If numbers resonate with you, then here is one for you. Businesses are 21% more profitable when employees are engaged. There are three components to the assessment: -Environment -People -Placement ENVIRONMENT The first step is to look at your environment so the initial question I ask is when is the last time you talked to your front-line teams? How often do you do this? How do you know what is important to your team? What do they need? Do they have the training/tools/support they need? What makes them feel accountable? Do you have an environment that fosters and encourages the innovation and creativity needed to develop product and adapt processes? Nearly 63% of employees feel disengaged day to day and this number could be even higher right now. It is important to be present and really listen to their answers - do not take it personally. Talk to an objective third party about this, I used my human resources director. Make sure to follow up and follow through on this. Then repeat it. I used to do an Employee Discussion Group every month and invited those who had a birthday or work anniversary. It worked beautifully, my employee engagement hit 90%+ with excellent scores in my leader listens to me, I feel supported and I want to build a career at this company. THIS WORKS.

PEOPLE The next series of questions in the assessment are centered around the people. Team members fall into three categories - key players, mid-level performers and those that would frankly be better in another role or company, identify where your team members are in these categories. This is not based on title or responsibility; it is based on how effective they are and how engaged they are. Work with the division heads on where their teams and individuals are, be consistent with how they are evaluated and rated.

There is a series of four questions: 1. What are the strengths of the individual and how do they fit with their role? 2. How connected are they to the customer service provided by the company? How vested are they in the success of your company? 3. How are you motivating your key players to maintain their performance, working with your mid-level performers to improve, and addressing the under -performers? 4. How are they recognized and compensated? Do these match their contribution to the company? I recently worked with a firm that had been in the low-to-no profit category, the owner was living from sale to sale keeping his professional and personal life afloat. One of his issues was that his two top sellers had significant decreases in their sales for the year. We dug around and found that their compensation had changed to more salary based. He and I collaborated with these two sellers, moved their compensation to more commission based and the improvement was immediate and lasting. Be realistic, objective, and honest in how you assess this, take the emotion out of the equation.

PLACEMENT Lastly, let's talk about the roles that you have on your org chart. Go back and review your goals and objectives. This is where you need to be reviewing your processes in conjunction with this. Key questions here are: What roles do you need in your company right now? What roles are you going to need in six months? Who is the right fit based on skills and traits? During times of chaos, right now is the perfect time to assess who is where doing what. How cross functional are your teams and leaders? Right now, take a hard look at your leadership team and those that are not team players have no place. Each division, department and function need to support the goal of the organizations. In conclusion, remember to thank your teams and individuals. Statistically, people work harder when they feel appreciated. Be specific about it, "great job today" is not motivating but saying why it was a great job is.

Here are four action points for you to conduct your assessment of your people: 1. Schedule time in your calendar to ask these questions. Break them down so that you are asking them in segments. 2. Set the tone with your leadership team to be objective, then schedule time with them to review these and create an action plan. 3. Have a variety of people on your teams review this action plan, then implement it. 4. Most of all, stay consistent with this and follow up.

As you open up with these questions and your team is feeling that they have motivational accountability, it opens up the innovation and creativity to develop products and services and adapt your processes that will add to your bottom line today and in the future.

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