Tag Archives: marketing

Monday Morning Moment – When Your Work Culture’s In Trouble – with Matt Monge

Photo Credit: Career Addict

Business thought leader and writer Matt Monge is my go-to guy on company culture. The fact that he also struggles personally with depression tenders my heart to what he has to say. He is a straight-talker. Courageous, transparent, and caring. Monge knows toxic work cultures. He is consulted to help fix them, and through his writing he gives generous help to all who struggle to thrive in a culture that makes that a challenge. Take heart, those of you currently in troubled work cultures. Once you have identified what the murkiness is about, you can then act to clear it out…or, if necessary, you can clear out. You have options.

Below you will find Monge’s piece 7 Signs Your Culture Is In Trouble. Click on the link to go further into depth on what these mean.

  • Your culture is in trouble if your CEO is a toxic leader. Matt Monge delineates this further in his article 10 Traits of Ego-driven Leaders. Employees and teams can experience huge shifts in their own thinking and behavior toward each other and customers, just in response to top-down influence. Beware of mission drift also.
  • Your culture is in trouble if poor managers are allowed to remain poor managers indefinitely. This is sad for both the manager herself and the team under her. When a company is frantic with reacting to the demands of toxic leadership, the simplest processes of feedback, teaming, and  development take a backseat. Everyone suffers.
  • Your culture is in trouble if humanness and vulnerability are absent. In a troubled work culture, trust deteriorates. The bottom line is the driving force. Keeping one’s job and the perks of that job trumps everything else that might have once mattered in a work culture.
  • Your culture is in trouble if accountability is misunderstood and only selectively applies. Healthy accountability is meant to be a two-way process. Leaders and subordinates are best-served when they have open communication and transparency is high. An employee is much more open to accountability when he sees that his leaders also submit to the accountability of others.
  • Your culture is in trouble if people aren’t learning much. Opportunities for training and growth are signs of a healthy environment where employees clearly matter to the organization.
  • Your culture is in trouble if teams and departments have ongoing problems performing their core functions. This is a glaring sign of trouble. When performance is off and morale matches it, a cry for help is being sounded. When personnel just don’t care, something has to be done to turn that around. What that something is and who is capable to doing it can be sorted out by both managers and employees. Punitive action is not the answer.
  • Your culture is in trouble if executive team morale is low. This speaks to the ripple effect starting from a toxic CEO, through the organization and then back up the chain-of-command. Morale, as we know, has a huge impact on performance. When the executive team is struggling with low morale, reflecting that of the company, then it’s to the point that someone from the outside must come in to help correct course. This takes enormous vulnerability on the part of the executive team.

Having come through a cancer diagnosis, my experience is that it’s better to know what’s going on than to remain in the dark…or that murkiness of knowing something is wrong but you’re not sure what.

Once we identify what the struggle is with our work culture, we can begin to rectify our situation. Some things we may have little control over, but what we can change, we must.Photo Credit: Venture Lab, Pauline James

Business writer Joanna Zambas has given us examples that mirror Matt Monge’s list on company culture (see links below). One of her lists celebrates companies who have made culture a priority.

25 Unmistakable Signs of a Bad Company Culture – Joanna Zambas

20 Examples of Great Company Culture – Joanna Zambas

Southwest Airlines made Zambas’ list. It is my favorite domestic airline. Mainly because of its customer service. However, that customer service is rooted in a work culture that is very pro-employee. Photo Credit: Business2Community

I know that first-hand because of my contact, over many years, with one Southwest employee. Her kindness, demeanor, and consistent care at every touchpoint have demonstrated to me the very heart of this company.

My hope for all of us is that we can work toward a company culture like this one…bottom-to-top if necessary. For you as company leaders, you may not see this or any such piece…but I hope you can be encouraged or re-energized to grow such a culture. The impact will nothing but positive…you know it somewhere in that leader heart of yours.

7 Signs Your Culture Is In TroubleMatt Monge

YouTube Video – Matt Monge: Speaker, Writer, Leadership & Culture Expert, Depression Fighter

What Not to Do When You’re Trying to Motivate Your Team – Ron Carucci

Turnover Trouble: How a Great Company Culture Can Help You retain Your Best Employees – Emma Sturgis

Monday Morning Moment – Kindness Over Cleverness – Work Culture Where Employee Satisfaction Impacts Marketing – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – the Essence and Ethics of Spin in Our Work, Our Politics, and Our Community

Photo Credit: MaxPixel

When I was in college, many years ago, a statistics course was required in my nursing program at Emory University. It was essentially a non-math course, more on critical thinking. The textbook was Darrell Huff‘s classic How to Lie With Statistics.

If you haven’t read this little book, you should at least track down some of the quotes from it:

“If you can’t prove what you want to prove, demonstrate something else and pretend they are the same thing. In the daze that follows the collision of statistics with the human mind, hardly anyone will notice the difference.”

“Nothing has been falsified—except the impression that it gives.”

“Even if you can’t find a source of demonstrable bias, allow yourself some degree of skepticism about the results as long as there is a possibility of bias somewhere. There always is.” – Darrell Huff

A fairly naive, trusting girl from a small Southern town became a bit more savvy after reading that book. Savvy but not yet skeptical.

The skeptical came and went with the years following.

When we lived overseas, local friends often broached the topic of American politics, a much less threatening topic than talking about their own government. Because I thought I knew our government, I would wax on about the positives of living under such a one. Our friends would smile at the seeming absurdity that our politics were less corrupt than their own.

Then we came home to the US…

I’m learning more and more about spin…or turning a message to the advantage of the one delivering it.

“I would define spin as the shaping of events to make you look better than anybody else. I think it is . . . an art form now and it gets in the way of the truth.”Benjamin Bradlee

Definition of Spin – Richard Nordquist

We’ve been back stateside many years now, and I have come to realize that none of us are immune to using spin to persuade. We can actually become very expert at it, almost without knowing. In fact, to be both honoring and honest, we must be vigilant and guarded regarding spin. In both avoiding its use and not reacting to its use. How might we react? Two negative ways: either becoming morally outraged because it smacks of lying, or by our own slick checkmate spin in return. Neither of these move the conversation or relationship to a healthy place.

The “What you see is what you get” kind of integrity sounds really old-fashioned these days. Not even smart. We are bombarded by messaging that sounds so true, so right (or so wrong it has to be true). We sometimes miss or disbelieve the bias that also exists.

Somewhere between the truth and a lie, there’s “spin.”…You too can spin if you look at data, filter it through your biases, and preach it like gospel. The rationale is that it isn’t really lying, just putting a bias on what is already true. So what’s wrong with it? – Mark S. Putnam

Before you choose to spin yourself into trouble, understand that in the context of ethical communication, you should be clear, truthful, and honest in what comes out of your mouth. Spinning is like any other kind of dishonesty, it’s wrong. It makes good old fashioned lying sound clever and trendy. It can be said that stupid people lie and smart people spin. – Mark S. Putnam

Ethical Communications: Spinning the Truth – Mark S. Putnam

Some authors use very different words to describe spin…

Harry Frankfurt, American philosopher and educator, wrote a book On Bullshit. [He also wrote a followup book On Truth.] I’m not keen on this word, at all, but Frankfurt casts a sympathetic eye on the one compelled to use spin. Any one of us could find ourselves floundering here:
 
Bull**** [Deb’s edit] is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about. Thus the production of bull**** is stimulated whenever a person’s obligations or opportunities to speak about some topic are more excessive than his knowledge of the facts that are relevant to that topic. This discrepancy is common in public life, where people are frequently impelled — whether by their own propensities or by the demands of others — to speak extensively about matters of which they are to some degree ignorant.”
“When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bull****ter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bull****
Finally, educator and attorney Kendrick Macdowell wrote a short and insightful piece on spinning versus lying:

There is a difference. And in my view, a critical difference. It is this: lying is cynical and deliberate disregard for the truth; spinning is benign disregard for the truth that never employs false facts.He further speaks of the origin of spinning: misdirection. (“Okay, other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”) Focus attention away from the unpleasantness onto something positive, even preposterously positive — without lying. Or maybe focus on something more negative as misdirection. Macdowell takes the high road on distinguishing spinning and lying (and if you read the rest of his take, you may also). He concludes with: “We’re a better people when we have a nose for spinning and know how to challenge it on the merits.”

Spinning Versus Lying Kendrick Macdowell

Photo Credit: FreeGreatPicture

Unlike spiders who rarely get caught in their own or other spiders’ webs, even the best spinner of deceit can eventually be exposed. Spin happens. Sometimes over the course of a career, when ambition or fear of failure prompts us to color our findings, or message, in a favorable direction. Wisdom for all of us is to recognize spin, and to reckon that we are all vulnerable to its use or misuse. Wisdom is not calling it lying and also not extolling it as smart. Wisdom is to discipline our communications by being tireless students of our community, our company, the market… and then bring as truthful message as we can that has benefit for all involved.

[Have you had the occupational hazard of needing to use spin in a situation? Or have you been more on the receiving end of a spin campaign? Help us learn from your situation by commenting below.]

YouTube Video – Harry G. Frankfurt: On Bull****

CNLP 178: Scott Sauls on Unhealthy Ambition, Envy and Isolation in Leadership – Carey Nieuwhof

YouTube Video – What Is SPIN? What Does SPIN Mean? SPIN Meaning, Definition & Explanation

YouTube Video – The Language of Politics – Stephen Fry’s Planet Word – BBC – Euphemism/Verbal Slipperiness

Pickup Trucks, Culture, and a TV Commercial Like No Other

Blog - 2016 Nissan Titan XDPhoto Credit: Car and Driver

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. Isaac Newton

My dad always owned Ford pickup trucks. He taught me to drive in one of those trucks. Standard transmission and all. Dad said you always need a truck to haul stuff around. Mom loved using rocks to make walls for our yard, and he hauled those home for her.

The very last truck Dad bought was a bright red Dodge Ram pickup. He was in his late 80’s and would stop driving soon after, because of Alzheimer’s. He always wanted a red pickup…and this was his last one. Fancy.Blog - Dodge ram pickupPhoto Credit: The Car Connection

During the post-season of NFL football in the US, new commercials for all sorts of products abound. We football TV watchers actually look for them. Many are geared toward the men in the viewing audience – looking to buy “manly” stuff. Still, most products cross gender lines, and pickups definitely do. This commercial by Nissan promoting the 2016 Titan pickup truck is a huge marketing stand-out. Extraordinary, really.

90 seconds of beauty…poetry…honoring those who’ve gone before.

After watching it a few times already, I am completely enthralled. Who was on the creation team for it? Who came up with the “shoulders of giants” idea? Were they all in their 20’s or was this a multi-generational effort? I want to know these things.

An article from Auto News, gives a bit of the story of how a commercial like this one is born.

It was a bit outside the box when Nissan’s U.S. sales chief, Fred Diaz, recruited Jeremy Tucker from Disney last fall to head Nissan marketing.

Blog - Nissan Titan pickup truck - Jeremy Tucker

Photo Credit: Auto News

Tucker put the question directly to his future boss.

“I told Fred, I’m not a car guy,” says Tucker. “I’m a consumerist. I love humans. I love marketing. I’m an idea guy. I’m trained as a storyteller. I learned the philosophy of ‘imagineering’ from Disney. So how do you bring together that dreaming and doing?

“And Fred said, ‘That’s exactly what I want.'”

Jeremy Tucker further had this to say about marketing in a field out of his expertise (cars/trucks), “I’m looking at it all through a fresh lens — through the eyes of people and families, and through the lens of passion and engagement. My job is to bring all that together, to bring collaboration and new ideas to build relationships with the consumer.” 

Forbes article points out the uniqueness of one company (Nissan)honoring the greatness of those who went before – Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge. Those “shoulders of giants” for Nissan.

“We wanted to reach out to areas where no man has gone before, and we’ve done just that,” Diaz said. “By showing and acknowledging, or saying thank you to people you’re about to go to battle with, or compete with, is something you just don’t see, and that’s what we needed to do.”

While sure to turn some heads because of its unusual approach, the ad is consistent with what Tucker called “Nissan’s marketing strategy of leveraging big cultural moments”.

When you think of the airing of this commercial during the NFL playoffs and Superbowl, Diaz’ words are packed with meaning, beyond the choice of a pickup truck.

So here’s to the creators of the 2016 Nissan Titan XD and to the creators of its promotional ad. Wow! 30 years ago, my husband bought his very first new vehicle – it was the Nissan D21 Hardbody pickup. When we were overseas, his dad used it and was kind to give it back to Dave now that we’re back. 30 years and still going. That’s what you can expect from a company that learns from the giants who went before…and understands the importance of knowing your culture and telling stories that touch the heart of that culture.Blog - Dave's Nissan Pickup

Southwest Airlines – the Airlines with Heart – One Heart I Know Well

2015 April phone pics, American Idol, Spring flowers, Dad visit 390

[Disclaimer: This may seem like an ad for Southwest Airlines. It is not. It is a story of how marketing can actually reflect what is true – at least in my experience of this airline.]

I fly Southwest. Two free bags. Enough said.

Still, let me tell you about customer service like I’ve never received from any other airline. On their website, you can actually engage a screen that tells you which days are cheaper to fly. So much easier than re-typing alternate flight days on the booking page. Even after 20 years of frequent flying, I still stall out at check-in kiosks. The Southwest staff just seem to know right when to intervene and do it with graciousness.

Two free bags.

Open-seating is really a nice option. The check-in process at the gate is consummately fair. Onboard, the pilots and flight attendants act like real people (not like rigid, uniformed Ken and Barbie dolls). [Side-note: These folks in all airlines have very hard jobs and deal with all sorts of unpleasant people and situations. Still.] The Southwest personnel give all the FAA-required emergency information, but they do it in such an upbeat, people-friendly way that I actually listen.  Sometimes, they are even funny. Just such a nice touch to relax weary travelers. On most flights, we are offered a choice of pretzels OR peanuts with our beverage. We get to decide.

Two free bags.

The best side of Southwest Airlines after the getting us safely from Airport A to Airport B is their personalized customer service. There are lots of stories of grateful customers in their onboard magazine and on various websites. I want to tell my story here.

Trips back and forth from Richmond to Atlanta are a regular part of my life because my dad lives outside Atlanta. He has Alzheimer’s. Our visits are still very sweet, and so far, he still knows me. Although he doesn’t remember now how often I come, when I was there last, or what we do, I make those trips as often as possible. As much for me as for him, perhaps.

A few months back, I was sitting in Concourse C of the Atlanta Airport, waiting for my flight back to Richmond. The next time I would come to Georgia, Dad would be in a Memory Care Unit. This was on my mind, as I ate supper out of a box from The Varsity. Then someone spoke to me. That someone was a beautiful young woman named Candice Hewitt. She was a Southwest customer service representative on hospitality duty at my gate.Southwest heart with skin on - Candice Hewitt

We talked a long time, as if I was the only customer there. We talked about my dad. She listened…and listened…and listened. I knew she had other responsibilities and people to visit, so finally I “released” her. She reflected about how all kinds of people go through airports with happy destinations and sad. It’s not always vacation or weddings or successful business. She expressed that she was glad for our talk and that she would try to see me again at a gate visit during my travels.

We exchanged phone numbers. Believe it or not, Candice has been in touch regularly. Mostly we text. She checks in, just to say hello. I give her updates about Dad. We haven’t managed another gate visit, but that doesn’t really matter. When Southwest calls itself “the airline with heart”, Candice is who comes to mind. She is the heart of Southwest Airlines to me – the heart with skin on it.

I’ve flown a lot of airlines and had mostly positive experiences with them. Southwest’s culture intrigues me. I want to close with their purpose and culture statements (see below – from their website). The “Two Free Bags” policy is what drew me away from my previously preferred airlines. Many times, I don’t need to check bags. It’s then that Southwest’s Customer Service holds my loyalty. The elements of that service is communicated below, and the essence of it is pictured here, in Candice.Candice Hewitt

Southwest Purpose: Connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, low-cost air travel.*

Live the Southwest Way**

Warrior Spirit

  • Work Hard
  • Desire to be the best
  • Be courageous
  • Display urgency
  • Persevere
  • Innovate

Servant’s Heart

  • Follow The Golden Rule
  • Adhere to the Principles
  • Treat others with respect
  • Put others first
  • Be egalitarian
  • Demonstrate proactive Customer Service
  • Embrace the SWA Family

Fun-LUVing Attitude

  • Have FUN
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously
  • Maintain perspective
  • Celebrate successes
  • Enjoy your work
  • Be a passionate Teamplayer

Work the Southwest Way

  • Safety and Reliability
  • Friendly Customer Service
  • Low Cost

Southwest at sunset

*Southwest Airlines Culture

**Southwest Airlines Values

Southwest Airlines’ Legendary Corporate Culture | An Interview with Dave Ridley – Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University

Customers of Size Policy – so gentle and respectful of all – just an example of the consideration of this airlines to what could be awkward for some of their valued fliers.