WHY ORGANIZATIONAL HEALTH TRUMPS
EVERYTHING ELSE IN BUSINESS
• Opened in 1980 as family-owned business
• Positive reputation in the community
• Purchased in 2003, annual sales of $1.8M, at
• Infrastructure required improvements to
• Tremendous potentials + aggressive growth plan = 267%
growth in 3 years
• Over 400 staff members
– Diversifying segment base
• Expanded to Tampa with acquisition and now a new
• Five exclusive venues
• Engaged Leadership Team
Two Requirements for Success
• Minimal Politics
• Minimal Confusion
• High Morale
• High Productivity
• Low Turnover
The Four Disciplines
First – Lead by a team open, passionate, able to
debate issues and commit to decisions, who
hold each other accountable and focus on
what’s best for the company.
Second – Lead by a team guarded and
protective, holding back in difficult
conversations, half-hearted, and hesitant to
point out other’s unproductive behaviors,
pursuing their own agenda.
Where do you want to work?
Build a Cohesive Leadership Team
• A leadership team is a small group of
people who are collectively responsible
for achieving a common objective for the
• ‘A small group of people’ – 3 to 12, and
really ideal would be 3-8
• ‘Collectively responsible’ – selfless and
• ‘Common objectives’ – collective focus,
with comp tied to that achievement
2014 Organizational Chart
Five Behavioral Principles
1. Building Trust: Team members who trust one another are
comfortable being open, even exposed, to one another
about their failures, weaknesses and fears.
2. Mastering Conflict: When trust is present, teams are able to
engage in unfiltered ideological debate around ideas, issues
and decisions that must be made.
3. Achieving Commitment: The ability to engage in conflict and
provide input enables team members to buy-in or commit to
4. Embracing Accountability: After commitment is established,
team members must be willing to hold one another
accountable and remind each other when actions are
counterproductive to the team.
5. Focusing on Results: Collective team results must supersede
any departmental or personal objectives or pursuits.
Aligning the leaders
Personal Histories Exercise
• Purpose: To improve trust by giving team members an opportunity
to demonstrate vulnerability in a low-risk way and to help team
members understand one another at a fundamental level so that
they can avoid making false attributions about behaviors and
• Time Required: 15 — 25 Minutes
• Instructions: Go around the table and have everyone answer three
questions about themselves.
1. Where did you grow up?
2. How many siblings do you have and where do you fall in that
3. Please describe a unique or interesting challenge or
experience from your childhood.
• Debrief: Ask team members to share what they learned about one
another that they didn't already know. This reinforces the purpose
of the exercise and allows for a natural ending to the conversation.
• With trust, conflict is just pursuit of truth
• Conflict avoidance at the top transfers it down
• Ideally, the team should engage in constructive conflict
but not destructive
• Willing to recover if the line gets crossed
• Mine for conflict in meetings, and reinforce it when it
• Trust is critical
• Can’t happen without trust and conflict – people
need to provide input, ask questions and understand
the rationale of decisions
• Can’t wait for consensus – disagree and commit
• Leader’s responsibility to break ties
• Have to prevent passive sabotage (undermining piece
and not allowing it to come up after the fact)
• Must have clear agreement on message
• Requires commitment first
• Peer-to-peer accountability is the primary and most
effective source of accountability on the leadership team
of a healthy organization
• Can’t all come from leader, but leader has to be willing to
• Hardest part of building a cohesive team
• Ultimately, courageous and selfless (it’s not about you or
me, it’s about the company)
Focusing on Results
• Ultimate outcome of trust, conflict, commitment and
accountability is results
• Need to focus on collective goals – not departmental
goals – one team, one score
• Have to place higher priority on leadership team than the
team they lead
• Leadership team must embrace the power of team
First - Led by a team who share a passion for what they do, abide by a
set of values; have a clear plan for success and know exactly how they
differ from their competition; can articulate their top priority and
understand how every team member contributes to achieving that
Second - Run by a group of well-intentioned executives who have a
good understanding of the details of the business but are not strategic;
they talk about being more strategic, but don’t have a consistent
method for evaluating decisions, and manage a long list of diverse
goals; and most have a limited knowledge about the responsibilities of
How much of an advantage does the first have over the second?
The leadership team must agree on the answers to
six simple but critical questions
1. Why do we exist?
2. How do we behave?
3. What do we do?
4. How will we succeed?
5. What is most important, right now?
6. Who must do what?
Question 1: Why do we exist?
• Core purpose from Built to Last
• Why a company exists has to be completely idealistic
• Employees in every organization need to know that at the
heart of what they do lies something grand and aspirational
• Ultimately, every company exists to make lives better
• Not designed to be tactical or practical
• Based on the real motivations of the people who founded or
are running the organization
• Not about marketing – internal or external
• Answers ‘How do we contribute to a better world?’ (Both
them and for us)
• Take that answer and ask Why? To get to highest purpose
Question 2: How do we behave?
• Core values guide employee behavior
• Can’t be effective if broad and inclusive
• Types of Values
– Core – just 2-3 that are inherent and unchanging
– Aspirational – values a company wants to develop
– Permission-to-Play – minimum behavioral standards
– Accidental – unintentional values developed over time
• Core values
– Apparent in the organization for a long time
– Must be more committed to this value than 99% of competitors
– Found in best employees (and missing in employee misfits)
– Must be embodied by leadership team
Question 3: What do we do?
• Simplest of the six questions
• Not idealist – just a description of what the organization
• One-sentence business definition
• No adverbs or qualifiers, no details on strategy
• Can change over time
• What’s yours?
Question 4: How Will We succeed?
• Essentially – the strategy
• Strategy is simply the plan for success – intentional decisions a
company makes to thrive and differentiate from competitors
• Broad – every decision is part of it
• Important to boil down to 3 strategic anchors
• Create an exhaustive list of everything intentional you do – hiring,
product/service approach, marketing, décor
• Then look for patterns to find three strategic anchors
• Strategic anchors change when market conditions change
• Provide clarity to walk away from opportunities that don’t align with
Question 5: What is most
important, right now?
• Most immediate and tangible impact on the company
• Companies have too many top priorities
• Create alignment by having one top priority at any given time
• Identify a thematic goal
– Singular – one thing is the most important now
– Qualitative – not about specific numbers (yet)
– Temporary – clear time boundary of 3 to 12 months
– Shared across leadership team – all member focused on this as
their top priority
• Not about rallying the troops – more about clarity for how the
leadership team will spend their time and resources
• Must identify four to six defining objectives to achieve, and
also identify standard operation objectives
Question 6: Who must do what?
• Division of labor – starts at the top
• Easy step but can’t be overlooked
• Worthwhile to clarify so everyone on the leadership
team knows and agrees on who does what
• Make sure all critical areas are covered
First - Led by a team who remind employees why the company exists,
its core values , its strategy and its top priority. They communicate the
same message to employees, and make sure they know the concerns
and ideas of their people to use in decision making. The company has
simple practices for recruiting and orienting people based on core
values, managing performance based on top priorities, and training
and rewarding based on culture and strategy.
Second – Leadership team limits communication to a few events each
year, mainly on tactical initiatives, doesn’t share consistently after
meetings, and aren’t aware of employee opinions. The company has
plenty of processes, but most are generic and complicated, not
customized to the unique culture and operations of the company.
How much of an advantage does the first have over the second?
• Employees are skeptical about what they’re told unless they hear it
consistently over time.
• Need to be CROs – Chief Reminding Officers. But Leaders are
hesitant to repeat themselves. Why?
– It seems wasteful and inefficient – want to avoid redundancy
– They fear it is insulting or patronizing to repeat a message.
– They get bored saying the same things over and over.
– Need to overcome all this and do more reinforcing of key messages.
• Leaders need to tell ‘true rumors’
• Cascading communication takes the message through the company
• Three keys to cascading communication
– Consistency of message
– Timeliness of delivery
– Live, real-time communication
• Have to end leadership meetings answering the question: What are
we going to go back and tell our people? And make sure there is
• Every process that involves people needs to reinforce the
answers to the six questions
• You need to institutionalize culture without bureaucratizing it
• Hiring, performance management, training and compensation
need simple systems specific to the company
• Hire for cultural fit
• Orientation needs to be built around the six answers and
leaders need to take an active role in design and delivery
• Performance management needs to be simple and stimulate
the right kinds of conversations on the right topics.
• Compensation & reward has to be tied to one or more of the
big six questions
• Leaders need to give recognition and personal appreciation,
and be quick to take out employees who don’t fit the values
• A cohesive team with clarity requires more meeting time, not less.
• Eliminate meeting stew – can’t combine tactical, admin, strategy,
personnel and brainstorming in one session.
• Four types of meetings
– Administrative – Daily Check-In – 5-10 minutes
– Tactical – Weekly Staff Meeting – 45-90 minutes
• Real time agenda – issues & what’s most important now?
– Strategic – Adhoc Topical- 2-4 hours
• Competitive threat, revenue drop, new opportunity –
monthly or so
– Developmental – Qtr Off-Site – ½ to 1 full day
• Review strategic anchors, cohesiveness – clarity,
Checklist for A
Cohesive Leadership Team
• The leadership team is small enough to be effective (3 to 10
• Members of the team trust one another and can be genuinely
vulnerable with each other
• Team members regularly engage in productive, unfiltered
conflict around important issues
• The team leaves meetings with clear-cut, active and specific
agreements around decisions
• Team members hold one another accountable to commitments
• Members of the leadership team are focused on team number
one. They put the collective priorities and needs of the larger
organization ahead of their own departments or themselves.
Checklist for Creating Clarity
• Members of the leadership team know, agree on, and are passionate
about the reason the organization exists
• The leadership team has clarified and embraced a small, specific set
of behavioral values
• Leaders are clear and aligned around a strategy that helps them
define success and differentiate from competitors
• The leadership team has a clear, current goal with a collective sense
of ownership for that goal
• Members of the leadership team understand one another’s roles
and responsibilities, and are comfortable asking questions about
one another’s work
• The elements of clarity are concisely summarized (‘Play Book’) and
reviewed regularly by the leadership team
Checklist for Overcommunicating Clarity
• The leadership team has clearly communicated the six
aspects of clarity to all employees.
• Team member regularly remind the people in their
departments about those aspects of clarity.
• The team leaves meetings with clear and specific
agreement about what to communicate to their
employees, and they cascade those messages quickly
• Employees are able to accurately articulate the
organization’s reason for existence, values, strategic
anchors and goals.
Checklist for Reinforcing Clarity
• The organization has a simple way to ensure that new hires are
carefully selected based on the company’s values.
• New people are brought into the organization by thoroughly
teaching them about the six elements of clarity.
• Managers throughout the organization have a simple, consistent and
non-bureaucratic system for setting goals and reviewing progress
• Employees who don’t fit the values are managed out of the
company. Poor performers who do fit the values are given the
coaching and assistance they need to succeed.
• Compensation and reward systems are built around the values and
goals of the organization.
“When an organization’s leaders are cohesive,
when they are unambiguously aligned around a
common set of answers to a few critical
questions, when they communicate those
answers again and again and again, and when
they put effective processes in place to reinforce
those answers, they create an environment in
which success is almost impossible to prevent.
CATERING PURCHASING SOLUTIONS
Las Vegas Convention Center
South Hall – Room S113
1pm – 2pm on Tuesday March 25th
Warren Dietel | firstname.lastname@example.org | 407.629.7833
To download a copy of my slides, go to:
www.facebook.com/puffnstuffcatering | Twitter: @pscatering