Five HR Tech Themes to Turbo-Charge Your Company Culture

Company culture is often thought of differently depending on who is in the discussion.  Leaders and executives think of culture from a forward-looking perspective; to leaders, culture is something explicit and a goal they are striving toward. Employees think of culture from a historic perspective; to individual contributors, culture is something implicit and is more of a reflection on how the company has reacted to past situations.

Both perspectives share a common thread though, both are action-based and impacted by results.  If company leadership has a vision for their culture and continually executes and acts in alignment with that vision, employees will take note and their perception of company culture will merge with that of the leadership team.   Shared missions, shared challenges and shared accomplishments will build on each other and reinforce that culture over time.  Teams that experience more missions, more challenges and more accomplishments together will be stronger and deliver better results.

We’ve experienced a transformation in the workplace over the last decade in regards to product design, manufacturing and software development.  Missions, challenges and accomplishments used to be attached to multi-year product development cycles or huge infrastructure investments to support future company initiatives.  Today, thanks to Rapid Prototyping, Just-In-Time Manufacturing and Agile Software development, we are seeing the mission, challenge, accomplishment cycle-time decrease from years to months and months to weeks.  The challenge to organizational development and human resource professionals is to find ways to translate that rapid cycle-time in product development into a rapid cycle of shared mission, shared challenges and shared accomplishments to strengthen and turbo-charge your company culture.  Good news, technology can help.

Five HR Tech Themes To Turbo-Charge Your Company Culture:

Theme #1 – Foster Real Time Collaboration through Private Social Networks

Systems like Yammer, Rypple and HipChat let your teams share challenges and accomplishments, then quickly broadcast them across the organization.  Soliciting feedback, sharing accomplishments and asking for assistance in real time across your company creates a ‘heartbeat’ in your workforce and will get everyone involved in helping the team move forward.   Think of it as your turbo-charged company newsletter – 140 character ‘team updates’ posted constantly, throughout the day, to keep everyone informed of exciting news in your organization.

Theme #2 – Promote Transparency With Wikis

Embrace Basecamp, Confluence or Sharepoint to get teams to post more in-depth status updates about what they are working on along with mockups of what is coming next, specs of how the product or service might interact with other teams in the company and timelines of upcoming launch dates.  Think of this as your turbo-charged company meeting – growth curve charts, product roadmaps and revenue projections to let everyone in your company know how each team is contributing to the common company mission.

Theme #3 – Collect Frequent Individual Feedback with Performance Management Tools

Use systems like Trakstar or Success Factors to shorten the cycle of employee performance management feedback within your teams.  If you are releasing features every week, try soliciting coworkers for monthly feedback on their peers.  Getting consistent feedback each month from coworkers makes feedback much more timely and meaningful and reinforces the ‘move quick’ mentality of constant professional improvement.  Think of this as your turbo-charged 360-review process, moving from annual feedback to monthly feedback to speed up performance improvements in your teams.

Theme #4 – Solicit Monthly Company Feedback with Online Surveys

Use a system like TinyPulse or SurveyMonkey to poll your employees regularly for feedback on how your company is doing against its company initiatives.  Keep your survey short, 6 questions or less.  Ask questions to ensure your employees have the tools to do their job, a positive environment in which to work and a culture that promotes risk taking and innovation.  As Peter Drucker said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. Think of this as your turbo-charged employee satisfaction survey – if you used to run it annually, try it quarterly – if you used to run it quarterly, try it monthly – see what happens.  Show your employees you are as agile as they are when it comes to making changes to improve company culture.

Theme #5 – Encourage Peer Recognition To Make Everyone A Leader

Use a system like MeritShare to let your coworkers recognize each other for workplace accomplishments.  Top down management is declining in favor of empowered functional teams; you need to be working to give everyone in your organization the power to act like a leader.  A great way to build leadership qualities in your staff and celebrate successes is to implement a peer recognition program.  The magic of peer recognition is that each action benefits three parties; the giver feels like a leader, the receiver feels like a winner and the observer (who sees the recognition) is motivated to emulate that same action so they are recognized next time.  Think of this as your turbo-charged employee recognition program – why have 10 managers be responsible for recognition when you can have 100 employees do it and build their leadership skills in the process?

We hope enjoyed our Five HR Tech Themes To Turbo-Charge Your Company Culture.  If you have any other themes you think we left out, please leave a comment and we’ll try to incorporate it into a follow up post.


Goals + Feedback = Motivation: An Interview with HR & leadership expert Bob Mendonsa

Several weeks ago I read a great blog post titled Steve Jobs on HR: do HR people really suck?  The article was written by HR and Organizational Development expert Bob Mendonsa.   I noticed Bob was located in Bellevue, near MeritShare’s Seattle headquarters so I quickly fired off an email to Bob asking for some time to meet and get this thoughts on the importance of employee engagement and recognition.

So we met for coffee and in one hour I was able to get a lifetime of wisdom and advice from Bob who runs an HR consulting firm and is the former Chief Human Resource Officer at Radia, SVP of Human Resources at Captaris, and VP of the Organizational Change Group at NeoPost.   Bob has done work for a lot of great companies, including T-Mobile, RSA Security, Nextel, Morgan Stanley, Pitney Bowes,, McKesson EFCU, University of Washington, Swedish Medical Center, and the Marriott Foundation

Here are couple of nuggets of HR advice we learned from Bob today:

  • Try to provide recognition that is spontaneous and in the moment, smaller but more frequent interaction is better.
  • Engagement surveys are a laborious process, try to break them down into a more digestible pieces.
  • Employees want to feel like they are making a difference, so explaining your company vision and values are important drivers of engagement and commitment
  • Focus on data-driven approaches to HR solutions

He also had some great one-liners ready-made for Twitter:

Question: Do companies need a business case to justify a recognition program?

Bob’s Response: “Companies that get it make intuitive decisions first, knowing they can get the data later to measure the results”

Question: What are your thoughts on Employee Engagement?

Bob’s Response: “Goals + Feedback = Motivation”

We recognize Bob by awarding him a MeritShare thought leader award and thank him for taking the time to guide us on MeritShare’s mission to give people the recognition they deserve.

You can follow Bob on Twitter @thehrdifference and The HROD Blog.


Employee Recognition and Flow

In a recent Linkedin HR group thread, Cris Wildermuth, Ed.D., SPHR and Editor for Linked:HR asks “What impacts your Flow?  Does recognition matter?”

Cris defines flow as “an exciting combination of joy and productivity in which we are “in the zone” and “time stands still”.

Ben St. Hilaire, Director of Guest Services for Comcast arena  further defines Csikszentmihalyi original concept of flow as “two core factors: perceived challenge, and one’s perceived ability to meet that challenge.  Flow results when perceived challenge is high, but not so high as to be overwhelming, and one’s perceptions about their own ability to meet that challenge is also high.”

The question at hand is whether or not recognition can have any impact on this state of flow.

Hillaire believes “Managerial behavior can only indirectly influence a person’s experience of flow.  Recognition or lack thereof can bolster or undermine some peoples’ perception of their own abilitiesbut for other people it has very little impact. This means that there is no one-size-fits-all rule about rewards, recognition, or other behaviorist technique to maximize employee flow.”

Founder and CEO of In2Focus Leigh Mastrantonio shares her story on recognition and flow: “ I spent my 20′s toiling in a role that offered great advancement opportunities yet little internal fulfillment.  In some ways I remain a “seeker” of flow. Some days, some projects, some clients inspire this feeling more than others.  One thing I can say is that for me flow is less about extrinsic reward and more about intrinsic value…  For me it’s the connection of my heart (passion) and head (logic/applied knowledge) that is the perfect setting to inspire creativity and purpose.”

Many of the commenters on the thread agreed with the notion that recognition can impact flow.  Ken Cowman, Managing Director of Emercomm Business Consultants says “I’ve come to the conclusion that management has a huge role in facilitating an employee’s ability to get into that zone where work is rewarding and meaningful which, IMHO, is when they are going to achieve that state of FLOW.”

Yet recognition is not the only factor influencing flow.  ”If you are talking about Flow using basics concepts from the psychologist Mihalyi Czentsmihaly, than recognition is just one out of seven indicators of Flow, and NOT the most important to get people really engaged with their job!!” says Marcos Luiz Bruno, a Professor at Post Graduate HR program.

The question is particularly interesting for us at MeritShare because we provide peer-based recognition programs for over 100 companies, enabling everyone to impact flow, not just managers.  Leigh Mastrantonio  says “I am in flow when I have the opportunity push the boundaries of conventional thinking and collaborate with others who are willing to do the same in an effort to solve a particularly hairy organizational challenge”.   Given this, peer-recognition can enhance team flow.

Cris Wildermuth is also doing further research in this area and she has set up an anonymous survey here:  Her co-researcher (Kim Barney) and Cris will summarize the results and share the article which will be published by the Human Resources Certification Institute – HRCI – magazine).

We have posted additional comments, resources, and links on the concept of flow here, along with the Mihaly Czentsmihaly’s original TED Talk.

Featured Comments:

From Ken Meyer FLOW by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi

From Ali Godding
I like the work of Prof Wilmar Schaufeli in this area. He makes clear distinctions between:

Engagement (flow) (active state involving excitement and pleasure)

Satisfaction (de-active state involving calmness and pleasure)

Burn out (de-active state involving tiredness and displeasure)

Work addiction (active state involving tenseness and displeasure)

From Nate Regier, Ph.D.
These days I am into studying the impact of personality on flow. It makes a big difference. Sure, everybody wants a sense of mastery, autonomy, and purpose in their work. Beyond that, what uniquely motivates each personality to have passion, be energized, and believe that they are here for a reason? Here’s a white paper we wrote on the topic for those interested.

Are You A Top 10% Most Viewed Profiles On LinkedIn?

Did you receive an email from Linkedin congratulating you on being a top 1%, 5%, or 10% of all profiles viewed?

Both my Linkedin and Twitter streams are filled with posts from users that have received this distinction.

The LA Times posted an article yesterday titled “LinkedIn’s clever marketing: You’re special like 10 million others“.  The story estimates that 10 million people were sent an email to the 1% or 5% most viewed user profiles out of their 200 million members.

But wait, there is more.  Linkedin also sent awards to the top 10% most viewed profiles bringing the total to an estimated 20m users.  Katie Notopolulos at Buzz Feed was the first to update the initial estimate of 10m to the current of 20m.

Are there more to come? So far most of the commentary on Linkedin’s award-bombing has been mostly positive.  Michelle Wetzler, writes on the Keen IO blog” Props, LinkedIn marketing team. Props.”.

The top 10% of users who did receive seem quite proud..  You can tell it’s working from the stream of people tweeting this stat that “deserves to be shared”

We think this type of professional recognition is awesome and want to honor LinkedIn’s Top Users.  MeritShare will honor the top 1%, 5%, and 10% most-viewed profiles with a MeritShare online badge and public award page.  The benefit to the recipient is that a MeritShare award page is more permanent than a post in a social media stream.  The MeritShare award page is also optimized for search; many MeritShare profiles with a photo and a badge show up in the first page of Google results for someone’s name.”  A personal and professional branding win!

To receive a MeritShare award, just forward the email you received from LinkedIn to and we’ll send you a special “Connector” award through MeritShare.

Michelle Wetzler’s Linkedin Award invitation and share page: