Does Your Culture Put a Lid on Thinking Outside the Box?

Do you complain that you don’t hear enough good ideas from your people on how to make the business better? Could be several reasons. The company may not have enough A-players who tend to speak up and take on problems. Or, the problem could be that a top-down management style actually keeps a lid on innovation and discussion. Highly successful companies have learned how to use insight and data to not only boost the performance of their people but thinking outside the boxto also create a positive reputation for their company that is a magnet for attracting top talent.

Thinking Outside of the Box

I was at a restaurant recently and asked to see if an item that I didn’t see on the menu was available or if I had overlooked it on the menu. They didn’t have the item, but the staff response set me back. The server stated, “Our goal is to think out of the box. To do what we can to please the customer so that positive word of mouth is shared and that will result in more business for us!”

Isn’t that what we all want: team members that will think out of the box, positive word of mouth about our business, to increase revenue? What we all need are people like that on our team. So the million-dollar question is: how do we get staff members to think along those lines and how can we attract people like that?

What is Driving Your Top People?

Learn what is driving your top talent people. If you help them to succeed you’ll create a high level of retention and become a magnet for recruiting. Here are some action items for you to consider:

  1. Use an in-depth work style and personality assessment during the hiring process and for current staff.
  2. Use the data to manage, which in turn will reduce the learning curve for new hires and help to better understand current staff members.
  3. Place individuals in positions that they can succeed in based on their strengths.
  4. Take the time to constantly mentor and create plans to help individuals grow.
  5. Identity traits of individuals that you want in your organization and target those individuals through specific messages in ads, on the web, through networking, and association gatherings.

For the A-Players

For you A-players (your major contributors), play to their strengths and help them grow. Don’t ignore them just because they are doing well. These are the individuals that if they don’t feel engaged in helping the organization to continue to grow and improve, they’ll leave!

For the B-Players

For your B-players, nurture them through mentoring so they can become A-players down the road.

For the C-Players

For your C-players, measure and possibly remove them if they are eating up your time. Never spend 80 percent of your time and energy on the people who are producing 20 percent of your results.

But Don’t Be Too Quick To Write Off the C-Players

But don’t write those C players off too fast. A small hotel chain had reservation reps that were not meeting the volume level that was being required. The manager thought they were just C players and was a very unhappy camper with his team.

That person was placed in a different department and a new manager came in who sat down with each individual and then with the group. She discovered that 24 hours before a guest was going to arrive at the hotel property that a high percentage were calling in to verity the reservation and to get directions. This used up valuable call time, so as a team they brainstormed together and came up with a brilliant idea. Since the reps were asking for email addresses why not send an email confirmation 24-48 hours prior with a fun page welcoming the individuals and include links for weather and directions.

Guess what happened? Calls were reduced and the reps were able to take more calls for new reservations with less hold time. All because the manager took the time to ask questions to peel the onion back to identity the underlying issue. When the reps were asked why this topic hadn’t been addressed in the past they simply responded, “No one
asked and we never thought of it.”

See More Clearly with Data

The saying, “a rising tide lifts all ships”, applies to company performance, too. When all employees are empowered to think and act, the company will overcome obstacles and grow. Use insight from data to help you make the right decisions.

Contributed by Dana Borowka, President, Lighthouse Consulting Services, and a Vistage member since 1995.

Category: Leadership Retention & Engagement


About the Author: Dana Borowka

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “to help keep organizations and staff off the rocks of potential self destruction”. They do this through the …

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  1. Joe Scarlett

    March 18, 2015 at 4:42 am

    Well said – reminds me of the basis of the Tractor Supply culture we built in the 1980s and still in place today.

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