Episode 173 – Do this to transform your people-culture strategy

Rob Shallenberger: Hey! Welcome back to our Becoming your Best Family. This is your host, Rob Shallenberger. I hope you’re having a fabulous day wherever you are in the world. This podcast is going to be a little different direction than of most of our podcasts. We’ve been asked a lot over the last two to three years, “What is Becoming your Best all about?” And there’s a lot of facets to this because you have the six-step process, you know, the six steps to planning and execution. You have the 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders, you have this new strategic rhythm that will help an organization really focus on strategic planning and alignment. So, we have all of these different facets, how do you explain that to someone? And so, over the last couple of weeks, we’ve really refined our messaging and focused on just three words. And this is what it’s all about. You’ll see a shift on our website, and I want to get this podcast on what this means to you, and how significant of an impact this can have in your life, your team and with your organization. And so, it really comes down to three words, and again, these are what you will see on our homepage right now. It’s People, Culture, Strategy. I’m going to say that again, People, Culture, and Strategy. Becoming your Best is all about developing a high-performing group of people to create a high-performance culture that is aligned strategically from top to bottom. That’s it, People, Culture, and Strategy. And they all mold within one of those three words.

Rob Shallenberger: So, I want to take a little deeper dive in each one of those three words. As I do this, keep in the back of your mind where you’re at with this. And this could really be applied to a team, certainly within a family, and anybody who has a leadership role of any kind, whether it’s managerial, again, in the family, wherever it might be, should be thinking this way, people, culture, strategy. And we’re going to use primarily the business as the focal point, but again, a family, the people, the culture that exists in the family and where we’re going as a family? Are we aligned, working towards the same things, or are we all going in different directions? So, just because we’re focusing on business, it doesn’t mean this doesn’t have a personal or family application. So let’s get into these.

Rob Shallenberger: Let’s start with People. There’s a restaurant that was really successful, a business that just experienced massive growth over the last four or five years, and I love what the CEO of this business said, and it’s restaurant business, remember. He said, “We don’t see ourselves as a restaurant business, we see ourselves as a training company.” Let me say that again, this is what the CEO of this massive restaurant chain, said. “We don’t see ourselves as a restaurant business, we see ourselves as a training company.” That is a brilliant leader, right there, because he gets it! If you want to 10x your growth, well, then 10x the investment into our people. I know that, in my own perspective as a CEO, that this is not necessarily easy. We’re going against a lot of programming from the world. You know, often times, from a leadership perspective, we see this as an expense. When we invest in our people, many times we don’t see it as in investment, it’s an expense. That’s how we look at on the ledger, “Oh, I don’t want to invest 10, 20, 30, whatever it’s going to be, thousand dollars, because that’s money out the door that we’ll never see again. Versus the great organizations, clearly, they see this as an investment. So, let’s see it that way because our teams will only be as good as their mindset and skill set. So, for any of us, wherever we’re at in life, right now, it’s a product of our current mindset and our current skill set, and if we want something to change in a team member, in a manager, an employee, a son or a daughter, then we need to shift one of those two equations, the mindset or the skill set. It’s all about the people.

Rob Shallenberger: Assuming that we have a viable product or service, the next greatest predictor of success or failure are the people. And that’s why, if we want to change the mindset or the skill set we have to do something as a transformational leader. A transformational leader, and that hopefully is all of us on this podcast, should be thinking about how to help their team members think like a leader. And not just think like a leader, the thoughts should turn into actions. So, how do we help our team members think and act like a leader? Because here’s what happens. When you get engagement, and this is one of the buzz words that we use right now, in our society, and engagement is right now sitting at around 30% in the United States, less in other countries. Europe in many cases, 15%. Engagement is when someone comes to work and they are innovating better ways to do their job, they’re engaged, they’re making the team better. A disengaged team member is someone who comes to work, they do what is in their job description, they don’t go outside that, they’re not innovating better ways to contribute to the team, they go home at the end of the day, and that’s it, you know, out of sight out of mind. That means that right now, in our society, two out of three team members are disengaged. And one engaged team member can do the same, productivity-wise, as three disengaged and I think we can all relate to this. You think about a go-to person on your team, you know that they are so much more capable than the people you never ask to do anything because you know it’s not going to get done. So, how do we engage our team members?

Rob Shallenberger: Let me give you an example of what this looks like. I’ll never forget this, I was driving home with my daughters, last year. Now, I’m going through a construction zone and it’s not often, as a leader, that you can engage a construction team, you have to be a great leader. And it’s very much possible, it’s just that most don’t do it. They don’t have the skill set or mindset as leaders, to do that. And they’re not thinking transformational. Again, it’s about the people first. People, culture, strategy. Here’s an example of where someone did, and you could tell. In this road construction group of people who were out there in the brutal heat of summer, almost 100 degrees, here was an engaged team, and they were having a blast, doing what most other people dreaded. So, imagine we’re out driving, there’s a construction zone like you see many times, you have the person holding the slow sign, the stop sign, you know, they flip it back and forth? What do you see most of the times when you pull up and you see that person? At best, they’re not smiling, they’re just flipping the sign back and forth, waving you through. Well, imagine in your mind, this big Polynesian, 250 pounds, six foot two, as I approach, he’s dancing. He’s got the sign, he’s flipping the sign, and he’s waving with his arm, he’s pointing right in, making eye contact with me, pointing right at me, wave me through while he’s dancing. It was even a point where I was like, “Man, that guy is awesome!” I went another mile down the road, there was another team member doing the exact same thing. These are construction workers, who typically would never do this kind of thing. As I passed the second Polynesian a mile and a half down the road, the same thing he’s going at, he’s dancing. So, I stick my head out of the window, and I start dancing, “Hey, what’s up?” and my daughter said, “Get your head back in the window!” The point is, this was an engaged team, whoever was at the helm of that team, whether it was an internal member of the team, or whether it was a leader, someone was a catalyst on that team. They changed the way that construction team approached what they did. The entire group was having a blast out there in the hot summer sun. Can you imagine what it would be like to be a part of that team, versus most other construction teams?

Rob Shallenberger: There’s a reason this restaurant business that I just alluded to, earlier, has experienced such massive growth. They’re invested in their people. So, here are two things that you can do as a leader, right now. Number one, this one’s simple, get an audiobook, get the physical copy of “The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders”. These 12 principles are what the top 10% do in any industry. So, if they’re that predictive of success, why not start making the 12 principles something that your teams can focus on? You know it’s going to transform the people and help bring out their very best, help them achieve their fullest potential. So, have them start doing that. Create a book club, where they’re starting to read. The point is, do something to engage them to shift the mindset and skill set. The next part, Becoming your Best has just created an online University, so go to There are several free courses on there. If you have someone on your team who’s involved in sales, we just released an incredible sales course, it’s only $199. What a simple investment! I mean, for most sales that pays itself off in one sale. The point is, if you want to engage someone and change their mindset and skill set, something needs to change. So, here’s another simple way to do it. Alright well that’s the people! One in two things that you can do right now, the book, whether it’s the Kindle, the audiobook, the physical book, start engaging your team and giving them principles that you know predict success. The second is the online university, You can track and see what courses they’ve completed and what they haven’t completed. Again, you’re engaging them. Alright, so that’s people.

Rob Shallenberger: How about the Culture? As a leader, we will either have a culture by design or we will have a culture by default. And one of our next books is really focused on culture building, and we’re in the process, we’re probably three fourths away through this book, we’re interviewing amazing coaches, who have created championship cultures, to find out what did they do, specifically in sports. So I just interviewed Andy Reid from the Kansas City Chiefs, Lou Holtz, a couple of weeks ago, Anson Dorrance from the University of North Carolina, 22-time National Champion for Women Soccer. These are amazing coaches! One of the things that’s become a common theme, is that they focused very specifically on creating a culture by design. They didn’t just hope the things will work out for them. There’s a reason why it’s in this order, People, Culture, Strategy. If the people and the culture aren’t there, it doesn’t matter how good the strategy will be. The culture will eat the strategy for breakfast. The culture has got to be there. So let me give you two examples of what you can do as a leader, and I’m going to use these through stories.

Rob Shallenberger: We showed up at a bowl game about two years ago in San Diego. And when we arrived, we got off the airplane, climbed into the shuttle bus that took us to the rental car facility, and as you know, if you’re flying in an airplane, that’s not typically when you catch people at their very best. People are looking at their phones, they’re obviously not happy for the most part, that’s a generalization, of course. But that’s what they are and that’s what it was like that day. And because it was December, this bus was packed. So imagine this rental car bus, just shoulder to shoulder. We get on, the bus driver closes the doors. And he said, “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to San Diego! For the next 10 minutes, I’m going to be your personal Tour Guide! I’d like everyone to put away your cell phones, and direct your attention at the right-hand window. And what you’re going to see out there, is where Don Juan Pablo, in 1837 came and established…” And he went on. And my antennas were all up for transformational. I mean, he’s got my full rapture and attention at this point. And so, sure enough, I’m looking around at what are people doing, they’re putting away their cell phones, they’re starting to engage. And 10 minutes after we left the airport, we arrived at the rental car facility. People are laughing, they’re smiling, they’re totally engaged with the person next to them, who before was a complete stranger, and remember, before, people were in this massive hurry. Well, I watched what happened here. This bus driver got off the bus and a line of probably between 15 and 20 people formed, in front of this bus driver. And I watched them walk up and shake his hand, saying, “You know what? Thanks for taking the time to make our day great!” And they handed him a $5 or $10 tip. He probably made 60-70 bucks in that short little drive, and we gave him a little tip.

Rob Shallenberger: Now, can you imagine in your mind, you know, a group of normal bus drivers would get together and share their experiences from the day, you could imagine that most would probably say, “Man, my job sucks! I’m getting paid hardly anything, the people are grumpy and angry all day long,” and this guy is sitting over there and thinking, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about, people lined up to shake my hand! People loved this! I mean, I’m around people that are happy all day long!” And that’s because of a culture. Now, this story gets even better! I’ve shared that when we’ve trained organizations around the world, I probably shared that story for a couple of years now. When we talk and focus on how to create a World Class customer experience, as part of Principle 5. Well, this story got even better, because two years later, so last year, I went back to San Diego. We landed, I got on the bus, it was a female bus driver, you would never guess how she started the drive. Doors closed, and she said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to welcome you in San Diego. For the next 10 minutes, I’ll be your personal Tour Guide!” I said, “I’ve heard this before.” And she went through something that was very familiar, same engagement, and I thought, “This is amazing!” Because what I just saw there was a culture. This wasn’t just a single transformational bus driver like I thought it had been for two years. If you could dig deeper into this team, I guarantee, either someone within that team has made the shift, has taken upon them the role of leader, even without the title, or you have the leader who also has the title of manager, who has created that culture within the team. That would be defined as a high-performance culture. They’re doing what 90% of bus drivers would never even think about doing. And that’s where transformational leadership comes into play. People, Culture, Strategy!

Rob Shallenberger: Here’s another example of what a transformational leader is doing to create excellence, a high-performance culture in their organization. Panda Express. So, they have, I don’t know, 600+ stores, branches all over the United States. Their owner, CEO, called us about a year and a half ago, and what she does every year is, have each of their store managers read a book throughout that year. So, last year, it was Becoming your Best. And what they decided to do, was focus on one principle every month, with each store manager. And if I understood it correctly, what they had each store manager do, was send in an idea of what they were going to implement within their store that month, as it relates to that principle, one of the 12. And then, they would choose the best ones and shared those with the other store managers on the monthly call. See, that’s a culture by design. And is it any wonder, they had one of their best years ever! Last year, as a company. That’s because they were focused on not only the people, the people lead to a high-performance culture, so they invest in their people, they create a culture by design, and that puts them in a very strong position, to execute on a high-performance strategy. So, that’s an example of what Panda Express did last year. See how easy that is, to really implement when you get serious about it?

Rob Shallenberger: So here are three things that you can do with your team, as it relates to a culture. Number one, just like Panda Express, except taking it down to the weekly level, we invite you to have an operations meeting with your team and focus on one of the 12 principles every week. At the end of the 12 weeks, start over. Our friends at the Dallas Cowboys credited this process with helping them have one of their best years ever! It’s because it’s transformational, it’s a way to build the people and transform a culture. A lot of people listening to this podcast right now are getting the weekly email from us. On that weekly email, it has a story, an action item, and a how-to with a principle that week. It is a powerful transformational process. This is one of those, as we’ve trained organizations all over the world, they’ll say, “You know, we’ve had great speakers in the past, great training, but within a week or two, it’s all gone.” And this is the first time they’ve had something this sustainable and it’s really transforming their culture, because every week, as part of their weekly meeting, there’s a focus on one of the principles, and what they can do to improve their team, that week. And this is part of creating that high-performance culture. The second is to set up your quarterly and annual meetings. If you don’t already have, or holding those, I invite you to set up your annual and quarterly meeting dates. This is a whole separate podcast, it’s a separate training, coaching, suffice to say that this is a very strong predictor of success and cultural alignment. The third is, to look at your current training program, the one that you have right now. What are you hoping for your desired outcomes? Are they transformational, transactional? What are your targets? If you want to create a high-performance culture, we already know the starting place, it’s with the people. So that’s where we can start, three things you can do. A principle a week with your team, set up your quarterly and annual meetings, and look at your current training program. What is its desired outcome, how will it impact your culture, and what adjustments can you make to your current training program? Because if you’re not training the people, it’s very difficult to have a high-performance culture.

Rob Shallenberger: And the last of the three is Strategy. So, People, Culture, and Strategy. Once you have the right people on the bus, once they’re in the right seats, once we’ve given them the right tools to help them have a high-performance mindset and skill set, once you’ve created a high-performance culture, now you’re in a strong position to execute the strategy. And the strategy is all about creating alignment from top to bottom. So, imagine arrows going the same direction, versus arrows going all over the place. I’m sure that you can relate to what is like to be part of a team where the arrows aren’t aligned. Same thing in a family. If we’re going to empower our children, then we need to give them the tools, the skill set, and the mindset, we have a culture within our family. And we don’t want to leave it to hope, so let’s come up with a strategy in our family. How do we align the arrows as best we can, without taking away someone’s agency? How do you engage them? Well, that’s what leadership is about. That’s what we can do. Now, remember what I said earlier, culture will eat strategy for breakfast, so the assumption is you have the first two in place. The strategy is all about getting the oars to row together. I heard that the Minnesota rowing coach, rowing meaning, imagine a kayak or a canoe. If you’re in a rowing competition, if the oars don’t hit the water within 0.03 seconds of each other, that’s the difference between first place and middle of the pack. Having the strategy is making sure not only that we’re going in the same direction, but the oars are hitting the water at the same time. And there’s a power when that happens.

Rob Shallenberger: One of the first parts of an effective strategy is the principle that you’ve heard us talk over and over about in the 12 Principles, is To Lead with a Vision. Many of you have heard us share the story of president Paul Kagame. I’ll reshare a very brief version of that here. We’re in the process of building a Becoming your Best Leadership and Entrepreneur Institute in Rwanda right now. Paul Kagame is what I would consider being a transformational leader. It doesn’t mean any of us are perfect. What I mean is, he’s done what 90% wouldn’t have done. Let me give you an example. Twenty-one or so years ago, you had this mass genocide, where 1.2 million Rwandans were killed. The Hutus and the Tutsis. Well, he came in as the new president in a war-torn country, where two tribes of people hate each other. Well, what’s his focus? People, culture strategy. He knows that he has to change the thinking, the mindset of the people. He knows he has to create a different culture, so he gets rid of the tribes. On the driver license it now says, Rwandan, it doesn’t say Hutus or Tutsis. That’s part of creating a culture. He focused on the development of the people. How do you put all of these people through the judicial system? Well, and then, they start to think strategically. He comes up with a vision for Rwanda 2020 and that is to be a middle-income country, on the global stage, by 2020. Well, that’s great, what’s the plan to make that happen? Well, part of that is one day, every month, the entire country shuts down and everyone goes out on the streets and they clean the streets, pick up trash, including him, his cabinet, everyone does this. See, imagine what happens when you get aligned like that. People, Culture Strategy. Well, it’s now the second fastest growing economy in all of Africa, it is the fifth safest country to walk around at night. I was just there three weeks ago, there’s a palpable feeling amongst the people. There’s this growth mentality that exists. And that’s because of their strategic focus. People and culture, he’s got that in place now. It doesn’t mean we leave it alone or put it on cruise control, he’s already going in the right direction there, and now the strategy is there to complement that. So, you had this country that is unlike almost any other country in the world, right now, and what they’re doing. And they love their president because it’s just been a total transformation.

Rob Shallenberger: I just finished the Strategic Planning and Alignment Workshop for a company. And afterwards, one of their comments was, “We’ve never been so aligned.” And when they started this conversation at the beginning of this workshop, one of the things that was clear, was they, as an executive team, prior to walking the doors, thought they were aligned, they thought they had a strategy. And it became abundantly clear to everyone in the room that they couldn’t even agree on the direction of where they were going as a company, a vision, their tigs, the Totally Inspirational Goals, which mean 18 months to five years out. Maximum of three tigs. They couldn’t even agree on the vision in tigs. So, where they thought they had a strategy, it became abundantly clear that they, as the executive team, were not even aligned. Well, if they’re not aligned, what happens as you go out from that center of influence? That just simply turns into a massive ripple effect throughout the rest of the company. So, what’s the chance that the next tier manager is aligned if the executive team in that room is not aligned? So, here’s a couple of things that you can do, strategy is not the primary focus of this podcast, is just to illustrate the importance of people culture, strategy. Here’s a couple of things that you can do right now as it relates to strategy.

Rob Shallenberger: Number one is, get the book, “The Transformation Challenge” This is the six steps to planning and execution, and it’s a powerful six-step process to help you to develop an action plan. This is the foundation of problem-solving, navigating change, and helping your team and managers be solution-focused. Know how to solve a problem. And most people do this the exact wrong way. So, that’s number one, is to get the book “The Transformation Challenge”, and use the six-step process in your organization. The second, we are working on a book right now, that will be released in 2020, and it’s all about strategic planning and alignment. So, we’ve developed a powerful process that can help a company develop their vision, and translate that all the way down to the daily focus and execution. So, I’ll just give you a glimpse. Imagine your mind a pyramid, and so we have an entire book we’ll use for strategic planning and alignment workshops with organizations. At the top of this pyramid is Vision, then is Core Values. The vision is the direction, the core values are what we hire and fire to. Those should define the culture. Below that, are the Tigs. A maximum of three tigs within a team or an organization. This is an 18-month to five-year time horizon, typically 18 months to two years, for most companies. The tigs are specific, measurable goals that will help you achieve the vision. Below the tigs, as we continue down the pyramid, would be the Five Key Strategies on how you’ll achieve the tigs. Articulate what does the strategy look like? Maximum of five strategies, and then below each strategy, what are the specific Initiatives between now and the next two to three years, to help you achieve that strategy? And the strategy should align with the tigs and the tigs should align with the vision. Now, there’s more to the pyramid, but you can get the point to what I’m looking at. That will be a powerful process, and if someone’s actually interested in doing a workshop, we can do that, you can write us an email and we can talk about what that would look like for your team. If you do just what I described right there, alone, Vision, Core Values, Tigs, Five Key Strategies, and the Initiatives, you are ahead of probably 80% of most organizations. I mean, of all those I’ve been out there with, I’d even venture to say close to the 90%. Very few are able to articulate those, and what they look like, let alone the people at every level of the organization.

Rob Shallenberger: So, as we wrap up this podcast, where did this begin? This is a real description of what Becoming your Best does. High-performance people, culture and strategy. Assuming that you have a viable product or service, this is what will help you create a disruptive organization, a transformational team, and company. Focus on the people first. If you do that and invest in the people, that’s already the first part of the recipe in developing a high-performance culture. And then, very much be focused on creating that culture by design, and once you have that, really get clear about the strategy, from the vision to the core values, the tigs, the five key strategies and the initiatives, and then beyond that, the annual, quarterly goals, the weekly meeting and the daily focus and execution. People, Culture, Strategy. If you can think like that as a leader, if we can all think like that, this is how we can transform our teams and organizations to be among the very best, wherever you’re at in the world, and whatever industry you’re in. And remember, this just as much applies to a family. On a drive, I was thinking about this and my role as a father. People, who are the people? It’s my wife and my children. What’s the culture that exists in our family? What I consider to a high-performance culture, where people love being a part of it, that they like being in our home. In some ways yes, in some ways no, so there are some things we can do to improve that. And what’s our strategy as a family? Are we focused, are we aligned, or are we all going on our own separate directions? And it’s when you bring all three together, that you create a great culture, strategy, and people, all around you.

Rob Shallenberger: So, that’s what we wanted to introduce on this podcast: People, Culture, Strategy. If you haven’t read the books, that’s a great starting point., free courses and some paid courses that are amazing, another great starting point to build the people, the culture and the strategy. So, I hope this has been helpful to you, wish you a fabulous day wherever you’re at in the world, and remember, that one person can make a difference. We don’t need two or three, that’s better if we had two or three. This can be any one of us, stepping up to the plate, and asking, “What can I do, to impact myself, the people around me, and make my team, the community, and the world a better place?” And that’s where it starts. That’s the spirit of Becoming your Best. So we wish you a great day, and we’ll tune in next week and talk with you then.

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