Identity, honesty and adaptability are key to growing as a professional as well as an organization.
Having a clear sense of identity is important for leaders and organizations. In the play Hamlet, William Shakespeare speaking through Polonius provides this fatherly advice, “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” A clear identity enables leaders and teams to be honest with each other as they seek to compete in business. Honesty among individuals as well as within teams facilitates real time adaptability to changes in the market that are critical to sustained success.
Let’s break down the quote from Polonius to peel through the layers that will enhance our growth mindset:
1. “This above all else…”
You must prioritize. There’s isn’t enough time, money or resources to do everything. There are limits and they can demotivate you or force you to take the smartest risks you can imagine. To activate your growth mindset you cannot lose touch with reality, you must learn the ever evolving terrain, rules, resources and limitations. Again, reality is not the enemy, it is essential to growth.
Author of Organizational Physics, Lex Sisney, has composed Three Covenants of operating agreements to help teams maximize input and buy in. Covenant 3 states, “The goal is frank and honest discussion of the facts before a decision is made, followed by total commitment to implementing the solution after the decision is made.” Those in a position of leadership do well to understand that they need as broad a net of inputs as possible from within as well as without their team.
Failure to listen to those who are in the field distributing your products or services, those frontline employees, is cutting your organization off from valuable perspectives. Leaders also must understand that conflict does not have to be negative. Creating an open forum where ideas flow without filters requires the allowance of dissension. The team can create healthy boundaries for discussion to remain civil while making clear the timeline for disagreement and the expectation of buy in once the decision is made. As Sisney put it, “Put another way, it’s OK to question a decision up front but it’s not OK to fight it or ignore it during implementation.”
2. “To thine own self…”
Organizations that struggle with their identify will struggle to clarify their value proposition in the market place. Organizational culture and identity sound like such lofty concepts but they are merely reflections of the teams day to day actions and the identity of the leadership. Your company culture is what you do. Your organizational identity often mirrors that of your leadership. We make culture and identity abstract when we try to create them rather than recognize what they are and then optimize them.
In The Real Life MBA, Jack and Suzy Welch write, “The only reason to talk about behaviors at work is that leaders need be very public, very clear, and very consistent about what kind of behaviors are needed in order to achieve the company’s mission.” Leaders must lead by example, it should be the working definition of leadership but often it falls short of action. When those in a position of leadership understand themselves they free up capacity to find and build other leaders who will round out the team needs so that the mission can move forward. When leaders don’t understand themselves they often lead by fear and hold the team back from reaching its potential.
Clarity comes from truth. Collaboration comes from a willingness to receive input. By combining clarity with collaboration, leaders, teams and organizations will unlock the capacity to compete.
3. “Be true…”
There is an emphasis on authenticity which is important for individuals as well as organizations. Yet, if you are failing or heading towards decline, it takes a strong person to admit they need assistance. In the rapidly evolving market everyone must be acutely aware that what worked last month may not net the same result this month. The need to adapt and adjust to the market is constant. Failure to recognize this reality is a recipe for certain failure.
Our values should be set in stone, in so far as they reflect our ethics and core culture, but our approach to the needs of our clients must be fluid. Lex Sisney shares more on how we remain true to ourselves and yet flexible, “If you want to scale your business successfully — without sacrificing innovation, core values, or execution speed as things get more complex — you’ll need to design on principles, not policies.” Good leadership recognizes the survival of the fittest, which isn’t so much that the strongest and richest survive but those who most adaptable to their surroundings. Recent history has shown how industry giants have been toppled by rigidity and replaced by entities that were willing to change their approach with the fluctuations of the market.
Being yourself and building an authentic company are not unreachable philosophical dreams. A leader who is listening will reap the benefits of real time feedback so that their team can adjust course expediently. Jack and Suzy Welch address innovation in this way, “It can and should be a continual, ongoing, normal thing. It can be and should be a mindset that has every employee at every level of the organization thinking as they walk in the door every morning, “I’m going to find a better way to do my job today.” Leaders who understand themselves can create teams and cultures that thrive. Competing in the market requires a strong identity with adaptability. My father in law wisely calls this rigid flexibility. Stay true to your core and nimble enough to adjust to the tides. Have a vision, work tirelessly to execute on your mission but don’t get so transfixed that you are unable to adapt.
Maintain rigid flexibility as you clarify your identify, build an authentic culture and adapt through collaboration.
IZ Ventures - more than business coaching and consulting, we help you connect, collaborate and conquer.
Safety must be a core practice of any organization that wants to recruit, develop and retain good employees.
When an organization builds a culture of safety, they create an environment that communicates care for the employees. A key building block in the safety paradigm is the incorporation of personal protective equipment (PPE). As the governmental agency that is responsible for educating and overseeing workplace safety, OSHA has advised, “If PPE is to be used, a PPE program should be implemented. This program should address the hazards present; the selection, maintenance, and use of PPE; the training of employees; and monitoring of the program to ensure its ongoing effectiveness.”
A culture of safety saves money by keeping an organization out of trouble and keeping employees on the job. According to OSHA, “It has been estimated that employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers' compensation costs alone.” In case you missed it - that was per week. This means employees are getting injured at a rate that should not be acceptable and there is great incentive for companies to invest in improving their approach to safety.
Let’s review eight keys to building a culture of safety, starting with personal protective equipment:
1.What is PPE
PPE stands for Personal protective equipment. The employer is required to identify the hazards that exist in relationship to the scope of work that they are sending their employees out to complete. In the identification of those hazards the employer must provide training to mitigate those hazards as well as personal protective equipment to ensure safety of employees.
To be clear, personal protective equipment does not remove all hazards for employees nor does it alleviate all liability for workplace safety for employers. OSHA states, “Controlling a hazard at its source is the best way to protect workers. However, when engineering, work practice and administrative controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, employers must provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to you and ensure its use.” Providing PPE to employees is one ingredient in the safety cake, to get the full taste there must be an effective training mechanism for helping employees to identify hazards as well properly utilize the equipment.
2.What is OSHA
OSHA is the abbreviation for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA operates as a part of the United States Department of Labor. OSHA was created by Congress through the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970
3.When is PPE necessary
The United States Department of Labor states, “If PPE is to be used, a PPE program should be implemented.” Personal protective equipment should be used in collaboration with workplace and environmental controls to reduce hazard exposure of employees. As previously mentioned, employers are first responsible to enact controls for safety through:
4.What kind of PPE is necessary
With regard to hazardous materials, OSHA 1910.120 App B covers the general description and discussion of the levels of protection and protective gear. In this section of OSHA there are four levels of personal protective equipment:
5.Who is responsible to provide PPE
OSHA has created a handout to attempt to clarify who is responsible for providing personal protective equipment. “On May 15, 2008, a new OSHA rule about employer payment for PPE went into effect. With few exceptions, OSHA now requires employers to pay for personal protective equipment used to comply with OSHA standards.”
6.How does a team member properly put their PPE on, adjust, wear and take it off
This is also referred to as don and doff. If the manner in which personal protective equipment is put on is incorrect then employees may be exposing themselves to hazards with a false sense of security. If the manner in which PPE is taken off is incorrect then the employees may be exposing themselves and their families to hazards by bringing contaminants home with them. If employees do not know how to properly put their PPE on or take it off then there is a dual threat of hazard exposure for the employee as well as liability exposure for for the employer. It is in the best interest of all parties to ensure this aspect of training is addressed.
7.What are the limitations of the PPE being used
Personal protective equipment should be viewed as one component of a proper safety program. 360training.com has a helpful pictographic that includes limitations of PPE, “
8.What is the proper care, maintenance, useful life and disposal of the PPE
OSHA expects that employees:
Competing in the marketplace requires organizations to recruit, develop and retain good employees. Once those employees are in the door they must be trained on how to perform their work safely which includes knowing how to identify hazards, what personal protective equipment to use and how to maintain their PPE. Building a culture of safety communicates to the team that the organization cares about them. Building a culture of safety is essential to being competitive as it helps to keep players in the game and significantly reduces the cost of preventable workplace injuries or illness.
IZ Ventures - more than business coaching and consulting, we help you connect, collaborate and conquer.
How organizations approach training and certification has a direct effect on development and retention.
In the property restoration industry we all have heard multiple employers complain that they sent their employees off to a water damage certification class only to lose them in a short period of time to their competitors. These same persons in positions of leadership believe that the issue is 100% on the employee side. If we take a step back to dig beneath the surface are we able to determine whether the symptoms give us more insight on the potential cause(s)?
Organizational approach to training
How does your organization approach training within your team? Is training a priority in the sense that those responsible come prepared to meetings with relevant information? Often designated training time approaches with no preparation and is utilized by leadership to air out opinions on how the team is coming up short on execution. When a team has experienced water, fire and hazardous restoration employees, there are plenty of resources to facilitate sharing of knowledge from within.
Questions leaders should ask about training
Organizational approach to certification
How does your organization approach certification with your team? Is certification something that is earned and celebrated? Most organizations are one of two extremes - A) certify everyone from day one or B) certify as few persons as possible.
Certification extreme A often puts the cart before the horse and produces employees who have the book smarts without any field experience which creates some tension with their trainers. Being able to quote the IICRC S500 standard reference guide for professional water damage restoration is only one of many steps to being able to successfully perform mitigation.
Certification extreme B creates an environment without opportunity to expand knowledge or promotion within the team. While those in leadership would say they value industry certification, they either value it too much or do not practice what they preach. The end result is that only a few designated representatives become the information silos in the workplace.
Organizational application of certification
Whether you certify everyone or only a select few, what do you do with certification on your team? If your competitors are lining up to pay your employees who have become more valuable by completing benchmarks such as IICRC S500 or EPA RRP, why are you not competing for your own internally developed resources?
Common organizational responses to certification
Optimizing training and certification
Lead by example. As a person in a position of leadership, are you still actively learning new things about your industry? While the leader should not be the only one acquiring certification, they should lead by example that on going education and personal development are important. When was the last time you learned and/or shared something?
Invest in your greatest assets. Do you invest in regular training to develop your teams abilities and opportunities? Employee retention in the current economy is more difficult and costly than customer acquisition. Certification alone is not the cure all to employee development but it should be viewed as a valuable tool for the team as well as the team members.
Celebrate achievement. Who doesn’t like to celebrate? What does your team celebrate? Do you celebrate certification both leading up to and following completion of the course? Do you make an effort to notice and share the day-to-day wins of your team?
Don’t allow negativity to steer the organization
Perhaps many organizations are speaking their future into reality when they view their team members in a negative light. If you are fearful or suspicious of your people leaving the organization rather than blame them for being unreliable, make an effort to create an organization that they wouldn’t want to leave. Easier said than done, but clearly focusing on blaming others and complaining to your friends with similar negative views isn’t fixing the problem.
Developing a growth mindset requires one to read, to pursue knowledge from unfamiliar arenas and to keep pace with changes in the modern context. We had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Network Beyond Bias: Making Diversity a Competitive Advantage for Your Career by Amy C. Waninger. Amy asks many key questions, perhaps the most pointed being, “How diverse is your network?” Expanding your perspective will enable you to broaden your network which will unlock pathways to opportunity that you would otherwise miss. Through personal stories and some very practical tools, Amy helps the reader to navigate areas that many are uncomfortable with. Network Beyond Bias is a significant resource for growth minded professionals who want to thrive in the modern economy.
The benefits of reading on broad topics as a growth minded professional
We all know that we should read more, but with so many items competing for our time reading often draws the shortest stick. The benefits of reading have been told to us over and over. Harvard Business Review has a catchy title, For Those Who Want To Lead, Read, in which the author challenges that the history of success is full of, “Business leaders who believed that deep, broad reading cultivated in them the knowledge, habits, and talents to improve their organizations.” When selecting content for personal and professional growth, the material we choose should inform, challenge and expand our resource capacity. Author Amy C. Waninger provides an opportunity for those in a position of leadership to broaden their understanding and ability to navigate the complexities of diversity.
The necessity of understanding the modern context as a growth minded professional
While diversity in the workplace is not a new reality, the modern context has brought to light broader perspectives. Amy asks four key questions in the introduction, one of which sticks out as pertinent to any person who wants to develop themselves and their ability to reach their potential in any industry, “Is your professional network as diverse as the workforce and community around you (p.5)?” If we are not aware of where we stand we stand to miss out significantly on opportunities to meet new people, learn new things and open new doors. Networking Beyond Bias helps brings modern topics to light and makes them approachable both by explaining them while sharing personal stories of victory as well as failure. Personal growth starts with a willingness to be a part of the solution and taking time to listen.
The importance of understanding oneself as a growth minded professional
Amy does a good job of walking the reader through confronting unconscious bias as a baseline for opening oneself to embracing diversity. In chapter two we see how our values, sense of self, perception of others and experiences are core to our interactions. “We define ourselves relative to others, and we evaluate others relative to ourselves (p.20).” Operating in this unconscious bias only limits our personal and professional growth. To break this cycle we have to intentionally confront this reality and transform how we think by expanding our information base through networking. Perhaps the two most applicable tools of Network Beyond Bias are two acronyms, first the C.H.A.M.P. network which starts in chapter 11 and the I.G.G.N.O.R.E. test from chapter 32. Networking in this fashion opens yourself to see how many resources you have in your existing circles that can help you develop greater diversity, growth and opportunity.
Developing a diverse network as a growth minded professional starts here and now
Network Beyond Bias creates the case that diversity is the key to unlocking your potential and advancing your ability to navigate the modern economy. “Just as you wouldn’t put all of your financial eggs in one basket, you also need to diversify your professional relationships (p.93).” Whether you need to be convinced that your current network needs to be more diverse or need help in finding ways to expand, the C.H.A.M.P.S. test is a good place to start. This acronym stands for Customer, Hire, Associate, Mentor and Protégé. Chapters 11 through 16 break down these categories with practical insights to help you identify and build a more diverse network. Start with who you are and where you are. If you are willing to confront these two realities then the tools Amy provides in this book will serve to accelerate that process of growth. Opening yourself to new opportunities, asking questions of people you trust and listening have great power in further unlocking your potential.
Awareness leads to understanding and action as a growth minded professional
The sub-title for Network Beyond Bias is Making Diversity a Competitive Advantage for your Career. Diversity is a complex issue that extends through many sub categories from the primary segments that we are familiar with in relationship to discrimination such as gender, race, age, ethnicity and religion. Our willingness to understand is directly proportionate to our ability to succeed. “Invest in people and ideas outside your own norms to create opportunities for yourself and others (p.95).” In chapters 17 through 23 Amy walks through these categories with practical insights for professionals at any level. Chapter 21, Gender Identity: A Primer for People Who Just Don’t Get It, goes into greater detail on this topic including a lexicon, questions to avoid and ways to show respect to individuals. Amy shares her vision as well as lessons learned the hard way throughout the book. Even if you set out to understand and impact these issues, you will make mistakes, it’s how we deal with those events that makes an impact on our personal and professional trajectory.
Honest and ongoing assessment is required to continue your success as a growth minded professional
We discussed the C.H.A.M.P. network as the starting point for building a diverse network. In Chapter 32 Amy provides a grid that will help anyone answer the questions, “How diverse is your network?” Once you have your CHAMPs list, we can plug in the data to determine where we stand with regards to diversity by cross referencing with another acronym, I.G.G.N.O.R.E. To expand and develop a diverse network we need to understand where our CHAMPs fit into the categories of Industry, Generation, Gender / Gender Identity, National Origin / Native Language, Sexual Orientation, Race and Ethnicity. The final E in IGGNORE is for Exchange, this is where we determine the depth of these relationships. Exchange measures how deep we have shared personal stories with these persons, “Do you know the values, challenges and worldviews that make your CHAMPs who they are (p.198)?” Knowing your network starts the process of being able to expand your network as well as your pathway to long term success.
Growth minded professionals see the value in engaging diversity and inclusion
If you feel like the world is changing, you are correct. One of the few constants is that everything is changing. The rate of change is increasing exponentially. Professionals at every level can lead at any level, which is also the name of Amy’s organization (see more at leadatanylevel.com). This organization, “Promotes in-the-trenches leadership, diversity and inclusion, and career management through mentoring, public speaking engagements, and other offerings.” Understanding the evolution of diversity enables professionals to engage the marketplace and leaders to navigate the workforce with success. Chapter 31 provides Seven Questions for Self-Reflection which should be referenced on a regular basis as well as a guide to Recovering from Honest Mistakes which again includes a personal story from Amy. Network Beyond Bias reminds us to recognize the value to ourselves and others by engaging diversity. In writing this book, Amy has provided a roadmap to personal and professional development through the rewarding subject of workplace inclusion.
Resources for professionals wanting to learn more about diversity and inclusion
1. Review our interview with Amy C. Waninger
2. Invest in a copy of Network Beyond Bias
3. Connect with Amy on social media
4. Follow the Lead At Any Level Blog
Jon Isaacson / IZ Ventures - More than coaching and consulting, we help you Connect, Collaborate & Conquer. #MTWSL
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