• Stacie Mallen

These 4 "People Practices"​ Help Businesses Score Big

Phoenix is not rising. At least, not yet…

But, isn’t it time to get things moving forward? In the past few weeks, I have had several meetings each day that end in my desire to flee the Valley…or run away from this people practice...or both. There have been far too many conversations about how businesses want to emulate the vibe (and success) of our counterparts in Cali, Denver, or Austin.

But, when it’s time to lay it all on the line—to drive the values and behaviors for real organizational change—they all seem to retreat to their same-old-same-old, historic practices.

Let’s look at this from a sports perspective. In football, moving backwards never wins the game. Running in the wrong direction results in the loss of hard-earned yardage. And, at some point, the other team scores if you retreat all the way to an eventual safety.

What’s the touchdown? Revenue and growth—for both the business’s bottom line and the people in the business. But, today, focusing on scoring opportunities through traditional mechanisms alone won’t get you to the win. 

Your Business Can’t Go Forward When It’s Looking Backward

Here’s an example of the push-pull evolution of sales practices. 

A good friend of mine, Dan Tyre, would tell you (and everyone within shouting distance—he’s like that) that inbound marketing is the future of building business. He literally wrote the book on it, titled “Inbound Organization.” So, you can imagine my disbelief when my daughter told me what she’s learning at her sales job: Make 100 cold calls a day, 10 appointments, 5 closed deals. All old-fashioned, outbound sales practices.

I was shocked! I asked why the organization didn’t leverage its resources better—to train staff how to pull traffic and leads IN through social media? She’s a marketing major in college, and this is one small teaching moment for her future: It’s great experience to grind. But it’s also the definition of insanity in 2018—when there are so many more-effective tools to move the business (and your proverbial football) forward.

Sadly, this issue is similar to what many who are new to the “people practice” face, too. They’re given a set of specific goals and objectives, and then provided none of the tools that match the current workforce, communication vehicles, or anything relevant to what employees want from an employer. Businesses are setting up our young people-practitioners for failure before they even make their first move. It’s a frustrating and futile effort.

4 Ways to Put Your People Practices into Scoring Position

To attract and retain winners, CEOs and their teams in Phoenix (and beyond) should know these four things about today’s most successful people practices:

1.    It’s Cool to Talk About Culture

It is all the rage to talk about company culture and purpose. But, you know what’s cooler? Truly aligning the people in the organization to a central purpose—and building culture on a foundation of values. Holding leadership, including yourself, true to a value system is key to growing the best talent.

However, if you’re not ready to walk the walk, please don’t talk the talk. There is significant evidence that modeling the values in your own actions really does lead to the results you want. Those companies that align to their purpose have greater revenue AND higher employee retention (and less bottom-line loss). 

2.    People Are Either a Priority...or They’re Not

There is no right or wrong to a leadership style or philosophy. Lots of leaders have been successful as arrogant assholes—at least they’re direct and people know what to expect. In fact, the least successful leadership style is when someone takes no action, never communicates their expectations, and then holds people accountable to these unspoken expectations.

Each leader has to decide what the highest priority for successful outcomes might be for the business. Solid returns for shareholders or investors ultimately bubbles to the top of the list. But it does not have to come at the expense of the people working in the business.

Is it important for you to cultivate talent? How do you want people to experience the organization? (As employees? As customers?) What is your greatest responsibility as a leader to the people who walk through your door each day? What do you want people to view as your legacy? 

If people are a priority, then make them the priority—in action, intent, and even budget.

3.    “Be the Change”

All clichés are based in reality and this one is no exception. If you want organizational change and you invite that change, buckle up! Change is challenging even if you know that every part of the end result will be exceptional. The most stressful part of that change is committing to it yourself and having people hold you accountable for it. Behavior change is a process. Being direct is challenging for most people. Find a person who you trust and who can hold you to your own standards.

Even better, have the whole leadership team commit to one another. With reckless abandon—while caring about the person as much of the outcome.

4.    Foster Autonomy

If you follow Daniel Pink, you know that the three primary drivers of human behavior are Purpose, Autonomy and Mastery. Based on my experience with high-growth companies, nothing is more toxic to building a company than lack of autonomy.

In companies with rapid growth, it’s common that high-performing individual contributors are quickly promoted to leadership roles. In most cases, however, there is no priority placed on building true leadership talent early-on. Seek out and train those high-performers who can model the behaviors, values, and alignment to purpose you’re setting.

Change is never easy. This fall, the struggle is real for our local football teams trying to get their players in synch with new coaching staffs. In business, transformation has to happen from the inside out, too—propelled by what moves people forward; not backwards.

Remember: A safety isn’t actually safe—and it’s definitely not progress.  


The Rebel Code helps high-growth businesses realize revenue goals more efficiently by transforming people practices (HR) and improving organizational performance from the inside-out.

#leadership #hr #humanresources #lead


© 2018 Meraki Culture LLC

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