Molding A Culture For Millennials

In a Deloitte survey published last month, almost 5000 Millennials across 18 different countries were asked various questions regarding their gen-y-imageviews on innovation.  According to the survey, 78% of the Millennials surveyed believe innovation is essential to business growth.  However:

  • 52% believe their workplace environment helps them innovate.
  • 26% believe their organization’s leadership encourages innovation and idea sharing regardless of organizational hierarchy.

That’s a huge gap in the number of Millennials who feel innovation is critical, yet who also feel their leadership teams aren’t fostering cultures of innovation.

Where does your company leadership stand on innovation?  Do you believe that innovation comes only from the top?  Should new ideas be shared and implemented based on seniority, or do employees on the frontlines have opportunities to innovate?

A lot of this deals with change.   Well-established companies may be struggling with an old way of thinking that leadership is where all of the good ideas are generated.  53% of respondents perceived that newer businesses were better able to innovate compared to older businesses.

In reality, innovation should come from all levels.  Innovation shouldn’t be thought of as flowing in a pyramid starting at the top.  Instead, think of innovation spreading across a level playing field in an organization.

innovationFrontline employees who work directly with customers are often the ones who see areas for change.  They can spot problems with processes and even products and services.  They’re the ones who hear the most feedback from customers.    That makes them a great source of new ideas.

How do you know if your employees feel they can innovate?  Can they come to you and/or other company leadership and bring up new ideas for products, processes, and solutions?  Do you have any established process for those ideas to be shared?  Are you open to listening to those ideas, or are they quickly dismissed regardless of how innovative they may be?

There are various other studies/surveys that have shown Millennials are less “loyal” in staying with a single employer.  In other words, if they aren’t getting what they perceive is essential to their work environment, they are more likely to find employment elsewhere compared to the other generations.

In seeing how important Millennials feel innovation is, this could also lead to a possible conclusion that businesses who don’t foster a culture of innovation will have a hard time retaining talent from this generation.

There are some other key data points in the Millennial Innovation survey:

  • 66% of respondents agreed that innovative organizations will be better positioned to attract talent.
  • Innovation was considered a top reason for the purpose of business.
  • Employee satisfaction and retention was ranked as the #1 non-financial  measurement for business success (the interesting part about this is that this category could be further broken down by the Employee Work Passion survey published by The Ken Blanchard Companies on what factors affect employee satisfaction).

No matter where you are in your organization’s hierarchy, what are you doing to foster innovation?

Leave your comments!

Lead Your Team To Effectively Use Technology To Learn

Ensuring employees have ample opportunity to learn and develop is crucial to organizational success. Yet, leaders can be bombarded with messages to increase the use of technology if they want the most effective means for their teams to learn.

As a leader, how do you judge which learning modality will lead to the most effective, quality learning experience? How do you appeal to learners on your teams at differing levels of technological savviness without discouraging their development? Or, worse, avoid humiliating anyone who is not as technologically savvy while simultaneously avoid disengaging your digital learners? Preventing yet more training materials being set up on a shelf never to be used again is key!

GEIKuMAosmicN5EZXkEBKDl72eJkfbmt4t8yenImKBXEejxNn4ZJNZ2ss5Ku7CxtSteps you can take to lead your team to effectively use technology to learn include:

1. Understanding how your team learns – Become intimately familiar with how your team learns. Do you offer a learning product on a flash drive only to find you run out before you can order more or are you scheduling face-to-face classes on their behalf with little resistance? Are your most productive employees viewing recording links from live stream workshops because they want to learn in their own time in the comfort of their office? How your employees learn will help you intuit in what form content should be delivered to increase learning. Don’t discount your own observations regarding what your employees seem to gravitate toward.

2. Determine their favored modalities – Fit how the content is offered to the learner by offering it in various forms such as audio, video, face-to-face, and asynchronous. Have a workshop that you know learners on your team will love but know it’s in a format they won’t be interested in learning from? Encourage your employees to determine if they would be interested in learning the same content in a different modality. If the content is off the shelf, inquire as to whether it is offered as mp3, asynchronous, and face-to-face format. Purchase and offer multiple forms and see which format your team seems to prefer. Learn from your purchases and take note of what your employees want more of and most often request.

3. Then…limit options – mp3 audio books, asynchronous learning groups, virtual book clubs , CDs, DVDs, hard-copy libraries, face-to-face workshops…the list goes on as to how employees learn and you could potentially intimidate and confuse learners by creating modality overload. Most important after determining how your team learns is to introduce new technology and options slowly by choosing their favored modality. Then, let them get comfortable with change by limiting the options offered to those two or three favorite modalities the team gravitates toward. Don’t get caught up with the new, shinny technology if you know your employees will most likely not be interested in learning in that particular format. Perhaps you have determined your team enjoys reading hard-copy books, listening to CDs, and asynchronous learning. Invest in these three modalities by allowing your employees to show you this is how they most feel comfortable learning. If the content is then offered as a webinar with live chat, don’t spring it on the team. Wait to allow them to lead you in their own learning.

Understanding how your employees learn will help increase the benefits derived from learning in modalities that best fit the learner and resultantly most benefit the organization.


Cheryl DePonte is a Human Resources Learning and Performance Specialist at The Ken Blanchard Companies and has over 15 years experience in the fields of organizational effectiveness and human resources development.

Is Workplace Bullying on the Rise?

Have you ever been bullied by a boss, coworker, or another employee? Chances are, you may have been. Research by the Workplace Bullying Institute has revealed that 35% of the U.S workforce has reported being bullied. That’s an estimated 53.5 million Americans! And that’s bad news for both employees and organizations. Employees who have been bullied suffer tremendously from stress, somatic disorders, anxiety, and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In fact, in some cases, the effects of bullying were comparable to WPB CartoonPTSD from war or prison camp experiences. The organizations themselves don’t escape so easily either. High turnover, low employee morale, and medical and insurance costs are just a few of the detrimental effects an organization must face. In fact, many European countries have adopted laws against workplace bullying, often called mobbing in Europe, costing organizations millions of dollars a year.

Ok, so still not sure if you have ever been bullied? Well, there are many definitions of workplace bullying (wpb) but a widely accepted one is harassing, offending, socially excluding someone or negatively affecting someone’s work tasks. In order for the label bullying (or mobbing) to be applied, it has to occur repeatedly and regularly (e.g., weekly) and over a period of time (about 6 months). Having a bad day at work and yelling at an employee, though not excusable, is not considered bullying. Bullying is a more divisive, targeted behavior that is usually aimed at one particular employee for a long stretch of time.

Bullying can come in many different forms such as intimidating, threats, physical abuse, verbal abuse, and even covert bullying—giving an unrealistic deadline to an associate for the purpose of belittling or embarrassing them.
But people can’t really be that mean can they? Gulp!!! In the years that I have studied the subject, I am more convinced it’s not just the bully who is responsible. It’s an institutional issue and really a global issue. In fact, workplace bullying has been identified as one of the major contemporary challenges for occupational health and safety around the world. In the U.S alone, it has been found to be four times more prevalent than sexual harassment in the workplace.

I used to think bullcartoon bullyying behavior was just a leadership flaw. But it’s much worse. Research has shown the culture of an organization may breed or allow for this behavior to thrive. Many different cultures see exuberant amounts of bullying instances, including the military, para-military (police, fireman) and commercial kitchens—Hell’s Kitchen anyone? If you’re like me, you don’t want Gordon Ramsay critiquing your cooking and you definitely don’t want him as your boss. But why does bullying seem more acceptable or permissible in these environments?
Unfortunately, some of these questions are yet to be fully answered, but hopefully soon these gaps will be filled and we will have a more comprehensive picture of bullying. Both the organization and the individual have a responsibility to mitigate this behavior and should actively seek ways to provide a safe environment for employees to work. Although wpb may seem to suddenly be on the rise due to the economy, social factors, etc., it may be that we are now just revealing what has already been at work for quite some time.

For any further information or questions contact me at

The 3 Most Critical Times of a Productive Work Day

Managing your everyday job responsibilities in an effective, systematic manner is increasingly more challenging in today’s world. It does not matter whether you are a stay at home parent, an around the clock workaholic, or an “average Joe” working for the weekend. Organizing your daily activities demands a lot of thought before jumping right into your tasks. At the end of the day you want to look back and say to yourself, “I made a positive difference today.”

It’s important to remember that you have a choice to control who, what, and how you let the world affect you. It is vital that you develop a daily routine so you can find the time you need to shut out the world for a few minutes and focus on yourself.

Use these three times during your work day to create a productive routine:

The first 30 minutes at the office:

  • Be social with work colleagues. Ask people how they are doing and be prepared to dive deeper into their answers.
  • Write out your top-of-mind tasks and prioritize them for the day. Be sure to revisit and check them off the list as they are completed.
  • Most Importantly, DO NOT CHECK YOUR EMAIL OR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS. Don’t seek out additional tasks first thing in the morning – more often than not, they will only overwhelm you more than you already may be.

The Lunch Hour:

  • Read for recreation to put your mind at ease. Distract yourself with non-work related material so that when you go back to work you have a clean, fresh perspective.
  • Go for a walk outside. Connect with nature to clear your mind and re-connect with the world outside of the office.
  • Work on a home project. If you have a list of to-do’s, use a portion of this time to schedule service appointments or plan out your home project.

The first 10 minutes of your drive home:

  • Praise yourself on your accomplishments. Take a few moments to think about what you achieved during the day. This act emphasizes the importance of mindfulness.
  • Formulate a mental outline of tomorrow’s task list. Once you have a picture in your mind you can come in the next day and write it out.
  • Prepare to be fully present for your spouse and children. Separate your work and home life by embracing the time you spend with your family. Give them your full attention.

Finding the time for yourself requires dedication and directed focus. Once you hone your prioritizing skills you will find a sense of relief and satisfaction. Your productivity will increase while your stress levels will decrease because you are organized, optimizing your ability to lead yourself.

“This is the key to time management – to see the value of every moment.”

– Menachem Mendel Schneerson


If you are feeling overwhelmed and inundated with more and more tasks at work, you are not alone! Visit and register for The Ken Blanchard Companies next livecast, Doing ‘Still’ More With Less, where some of the most respected leadership experts will share their thoughts on the topic!

Work Less

If you want to be great at work—work less!


Hair on Fire!

Organizations around the world are struggling to keep up with the complex demands of their clients and constituents while restrained by reduced budgets and limited resources. Individuals and teams are frantically trying to come up with the next big idea that will drive revenues or reduce costs but are overwhelmed by the process. Hysteria abounds, projects flop, and market share flickers like a candle in a cold dark room with cracks in the mortar.

In a world where people are struggling to do more with less, the answer is not to fuel up on Starbucks, set your hair on fire, and simply work harder with fewer resources. The answer is to manage the fire by working smarter with what resources you have—caffeine is optional.

Lean times call for lean ideas.

the lean startup book-1

The Lean Startup

In his book, The Lean Startup, Eric Reis discovers and explores a concept called a Minimal Viable Product (MVP), an idea generation process that requires minimum amount of effort within the least amount of development time. In the world of Startups, an MVP helps entrepreneurs and business leaders go through the product development learning curve as quickly and effectively as possible. A Minimal Viable Product doesn’t mean that it has to be a tiny project or product, it simple means that you accelerate your learning cycle on what will or won’t work in the market place by testing a piece of your idea with minimal time and resources.

A fundamental mistake leaders often make, at all levels of an organization, is that they attempt to solve a big problems and challenges all at once. Good leaders of self and others understand that for every major responsibility they have, there are sets of goals that can help guide them toward success. Further more, within those goals are a series of tasks that can be broken down into manageable, executable projects, while testing the solution theories for reliability and effectiveness. The smaller the task, the less energy expanded, and the more likely you will be able to make quick adjustments that drive you toward an effective resolution of the larger problem, one small step at a time.

Creating Minimal Viable Products or Tasks is not just a means to find answer to technical or finical questions; but also a means to test fundamental business or social ideas before wasting too much time and talent creating a solution that nobody will invest in. Today’s leader of self or others needs to put out minimal viable effort. In other words, today’s leader needs to think lean—to work less in order to achieve more.

Jason Diamond Arnold is a Leadership Consultant and Learning Media Specialist at The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action, a virtual learning experience that helps individuals collaborate with others more effectively.

Cartoon Leaders Who May (Or May Not) Be Good Role Models

Long before we even think about what we’d like to do for a career or even our first summer job, we’re exposed to a variety of leaders.  You know the ones there during weekday afternoons or even Saturday mornings?

In no particular order, below is a list of cartoon characters that are either bad or good examples of leadership (note that not all of them are necessarily from children’s cartoons):

The Bad


Image courtesy of

  • Mr. Burns (The Simpsons) – Let’s start with one of the most infamous and iconic leaders in cartoons.  Most people will recognize this power-hungry nuclear tycoon.  Some could say he’s a wealthy businessman (depending on which episode you’re watching), but if you’re an employee under Burns’ leadership, you better watch out.  He’s the perfect example of a self-serving leader only looking out for his own best interests.  The employees do get some nice perks (naps during work hours, anyone?), but I’m betting there’s a high turnover rate at that power plant.  Don’t say the wrong thing around this one, or he may “release the hounds.”
  • Mr. Slate (The Flintstones) – Mr. Slate actually isn’t that bad of a leader.  In fact, he seemed to have an ok working relationship with Fred.  However, he has no patience for Fred’s mistakes.  He likes to fire Fred on a regular basis.  Instead of firing and re-hiring an employee consistently, he should spend more time giving Fred some direction.  Yabba-Dabba don’t do this.
  • Spencer Cogswell (The Jetsons) – While George Jetson’s boss, Cosmo Spacely, has his own set of problems (another leader who loves to fire and re-hire his employees), he doesn’t compare to their infamous competitor Cogswell.  This leader isn’t above stealing other’s ideas or firing employees for little-to-no reason.  Stop this crazy thing!
  • Professor Farnsworth (Futurama) – He might be a great individual contributor since he always seem to invent something you need just at the right time, but watch out if you report to him!  This leader has a tendency to sleep on the job, especially when you need something from him.  For the most part, he’s honest with you, but he has a habit of forgetting to mention important details, especially in challenging and even dangerous situations.  He also doesn’t provide a lot of support when you need it most.  You might find a better leader on Omicron Persei 8.
  • Pointy-haired Boss (Dilbert) – If you could think of all the stereotypes of bad leaders and ball them under one individual, you’d get the Pointy-haired Boss.  Can you say “demotivated?”  He says and does everything the wrong way.   He usually makes uneducated decisions and most of them are highly unethical.  HR probably has a whole filing cabinet dedicated to just him.  Don’t expect any direction, support, or any input, for that matter.  It’s time to start combing your own hair to a point if you want him to notice you in a favorable light.

The Good

  • Splinter (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) – You could argue that Leonardo is the leader of the green machine, but at the end of the day, who do they actually report to?  That’s right, it’s the wise rat.   He always seems to support his team the right way.  In fact, I don’t recall Splinter ever making any real leadership mistakes/gaffes.  Sure, he gets captured by the Foot Clan, but who doesn’t?  He’s more than just a great leader since he’s also a father-figure.  Don’t get caught goofing off on the job, though.  You might find yourself doing 10 flips.
  • Optimus Prime (Transformers) – Yes, it’s the infamous leader of the Autobots.  This leader fights for righteousness every step of the way.  He could’ve landed on Earth an only thought about his own problems.  Instead, he protects all forms of life.  He’d sacrifice himself before sacrificing others.  He’s a cross-species(?) kind of leader and has all the servant leader qualities.  Roll out!
  • Keith (Voltron) – Keith is a good example of a leader who follows the GROW acronym.  He likes to read in order to educate himself and he always thinks about how he can improve.  He’s another leader that looks out for his team.  Need to form the head?  Don’t worry, Keith has you covered.
  • Papa Smurf (The Smurfs) – This is another leader who also has a parental role.  He deeply cares and loves those who follow him.  He helps those that have made mistakes or need guidance.  Yes, he’ll get upset if his orders aren’t followed, but when the health and safety of the village rests in your hands, it’s easy to understand.  Isn’t that Smurfy?
  • Lucky (Pound Puppies) – If you watched the Pound Puppies during the 80’s, you might not know Lucky.  Lucky is actually the leader on the new version of Pound Puppies.  This is the leader my own daughter would pick.  While he commands respect (he is the alpha dog of the show, after all), he still does it without coming off as rude or mean.  He cares about his crew, helps them in any way he can, and is always willing to do what’s necessary.  Once a Pound Puppy, always a Pound Puppy!

What other cartoon leader makes a good or bad role model from your point of view?  What makes them stand out from the rest?

(After compiling this list, I realize that it is composed of all-male characters and it could use more balance.  If you can think of female characters that have good or bad leadership qualities, please leave them in the comments section).

Leave your comments!

Personal engagement: it’s a relationship thing!

As so many of us focus on the newness of setting goals and resolutions, I find myself looking back over various relationships with friends, coworkers, and others that were once new and have now matured to be strongly connected and bonded.

The day-to-day work I do is something routinely accomplished within hundreds of organizations. Although some of these organizations may have more resources and are perhaps more sophisticated in their processes than my own, what these organizations don’t have are my friends and those who I have come to care about.

I used to believe a job that allowed me to accomplish meaningful work, utilize my talents, and recognize my accomplishments was the real key to career happiness…to true engagement. I pictured myself accomplishing goals and completing projects much to the delight of my superiors and earning that ego-affirming bonus or raise. Truth be told, these things are important and something I strive for. Yet, when I find myself completing a task that can be, shall we say, less than fulfilling, it is my coworkers-turned-friends that make the job more meaningful and fulfilling.


It was not always this way. Like any new hire in any organization, at first I spent lunches alone, felt awkward at company events, and had to endure hearing the “who is she?” question just out of earshot. Over time, I saw how people in the organization built bonds with one another and how they eventually did the same with me.

In previous jobs, I interacted with those I worked with, attended the obligatory coworker’s family event, and said hello as necessary. Years after, there are a few people from each of those jobs who I consider to be friends…but only a few.

What I have come to realize is that engagement often seems to be a term employees believe an organization should own. For example, engagement is a word often mentioned as part of “problem” for an organization to solve.

Instead, I have learned how to create my own personal engagement by bonding with those I work with.

I created my own sense of engagement by:

1. Sharing personal stories with coworkers, like what funny things a parent said and how my dog chewed my favorite pillow. I became comfortable with laughing a little…and connecting by sharing the most mundane topics.

2. Stopping the multitasking when a coworker offered to share a personal story with me. I gave him or her my full, undivided attention, making the moment about them.

3. When coworkers or others in my organization (or industry) did not reach out to me, seemed to ignore me, or for whatever reason do not connect with me, I tried my best to keep it in perspective. I realized that some people are slow to trust, have personal issues, or are simply not ready to be vulnerable with newer organizational or industry members.

The more bonds I built, the more I found I was inexplicably, personally engaged in my work.

Try it, but don’t get discouraged if it takes time. The rewards are worth the effort!


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