Organizational Health: The Last Untapped Advantage

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Late in August, the folks of Daxko joined together in our Garage to listen to Brian Jones present on why organizational health is the last competitive advantage that has remained underutilized. Brian Jones is a Principle Consultant of The Table Group, a company dedicated to helping other company’s teams work together more seamlessly. As Brian explained, they believe that the most important piece of technology at a company is the table at which they meet.

As Brian explained it, there are many requirements for organizational success, that can be split into two categories:

‘Smart’ requirements deal primarily with what many would consider more traditionally business aspects of an organization: strategy, marketing, the technology, finance. These are easier to quantify and harder to mess up, as, traditionally, this is what all companies will focus on.

‘Healthy’ requirements are, conversely, easier to mess up and harder to quantify. These include minimal politics, minimal confusion, having a high morale and high productivity in your team members, as well as having low turnover. Most organizations focus on the ‘business’ requirements while neglecting these health requirements, to the detriment of their company.

Brian went on to explain that there is a tough spot for employers to be in due to how employees can behave. Essentially, an employee either lives our core values (or not) and that same employee will either get results, or not. This creates four types of employees:

  1. Those who live our core values and get results
  2. Those who live our core values without getting results
  3. Those who do not live our values yet still get results
  4. Those who neither live our values nor get results

Three of these four team member types have clear courses of action concerning how the leadership should approach them. For those that live our values and get results, you obviously want to promote this behavior, so you recognize, reward, promote these team members. Likewise, those who have our values while not receiving results, you want to hold on to: you retrain or reassign these individuals to where their skills are more helpful. And of course, those team members who neither share our values nor perform well, they likely won’t be team members for long.

The last type Brian called the ‘Brilliant Jerk,’ someone who has bad behavior but is a high performer. What do you do with this team member? As was pointed out in the session, ‘the norm is defined by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.’ If core values are what an organization values to its core (tautology here to drive the point that the organization should value that above all else), then the Brilliant Jerk must be either coached to hold those values or, unfortunately, let go.

Brian’s talk covered a dozen more interesting talking points; if I were to attempt to write them here, I would not only do a disservice to his comical and engaging speaking style, this post would be transformed into a small novel…which they’ve already wrote! You can find many of The Table Group’s books online, such as The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and The Ideal Team Player; I’d highly recommend giving them a read. His overall point, though, remained constant throughout: an organization that holds fast to its core values and hires with those in mind will have a happier, more engaged workforce.

If I Were a Butterfly

By | Culture, Healthy Stuff, Team Member Spotlight | One Comment

Editor’s Note: This post is less about Daxko and more about a team member and something they do that they hold near and dear to their heart. It’s important to see our team members outside of work and learn about their passions, motivations, and how they give back. So… read on!

When I’m not busy being a Project Manager at Daxko, I find myself drawn to a lot of different things, many of which can be attributed to my parents. I’ve been playing video games since I was a kid, when my parents purchased the original Nintendo Entertainment System. They bought it for themselves, but I quickly latched on and before long, I was stomping on goombas and destroying the robot masters with the best of them. They thought (perhaps hoped) I’d grow out of that…but they were very wrong. On a daily basis, I’ll find myself digging too deep into a dark cavern or attempting to talk myself out of a zombie apocalypse. Somehow, I always manage to come out unscathed.

What I am most thankful my parents passed along to me (even more than Zelda) is something called Special Session. This week of summer camp takes place at wonderful, wonderful Camp McDowell (located near Nauvoo, AL, which is somehow smaller than it sounds). This year was Special Session’s 20th year, and I am very proud to say I’ve been involved from the very beginning: I started as a staff brat, being my parents’ tagalong before graduating to driving golf carts, then to being a counselor, and finally joining the ranks of adult staff. We had two separate weeks of camp this year, our first-ever time splitting it, and by all accounts it was an incredible success.

Special Session is an intentionally regular week of summer camp, complete with pool time, arts and crafts and pie-in-the-face bingo, with one small exception: the campers are mentally and physically handicapped. I choose the word small here with purpose: everyone has disabilities, and while some people’s disabilities and special needs are more obvious than others, this does not stop us from having a good time. We celebrate our differences and are thankful that we are exactly who we are, how we are.

There is a theme that we roughly adhere to (this year being Willy Wonka and his World of Pure Imagination), but usually we offer the same activities every year. Above, you can see my friend Shea riding on a horse and absolutely loving it. He rides on a horse every year and beams with that happiness every time. Below, Dennis has his whistle ready to go in case someone needs saving at the pool (while the real lifeguard sits to the right).

Both Shea and Dennis have been coming for years and are some of my oldest friends. They’ve seen me grow up and have helped form the person I am today. They’re old pros at Special Session, so when we have a counselor (who are normally in the mid-teens to early twenties) who might be nervous about how the week will go, we let Shea or Dennis, among others, hang out with them for the week. The campers don’t need any help, but the counselor might: we know these two will take good care of them.

Another highlight of the week is the Talent Show. What happens on that Special Session stage is magical and is tough to explain in words. We have all kinds of talent showcased, from singing and dancing to extreme smiling and coat hanger twirling. Dennis will often grace us with his harmonica playing, and we get to see Michael Jackson’s songs come to life. We’ve had Pokémon battles, we’ve had arm wrestling competitions, we’ve had a guy tell us all about his cats at length: we’ve had everything.

And the crowd goes wild for it. On Talent Show night, every single person is a star on that stage. You can feel the energy as Geoff walks on stage to tell us on exactly what day of the week any random person was born, or the rapt attention as Jurdy reads us a poem she wrote. Breath is held as we wait to see which of the four contestants will be this year’s most extreme sitter or if Jeremy is going to be able to make his bed in that perfect way that he does. If there was more excitement in the room, the air would crackle with electricity.

The other heavy hitter of the week is the dance, which is the final night. This year, as our normal musical talent was unfortunately ill, I was volunteered as someone who might be able to DJ. What if I mess it up? What happens if I play the wrong song or someone doesn’t like my tunes?  I’d never done this before and was nervous: I’ve come to Special Session for twenty years and the dance is the single most impactful moment of the whole thing.

The first image in this post is of that night, right as a conga line is breaking out as I play one of the Soul Train themes; you can see me to the right finding the next song. My fear evaporated as Dennis, Shea, Moose, Philip and this large cast of characters I’ve come to know danced and cheered with each new song; as I should have expected, they took good care of me. It is at the dance where the underlying message of the week is most apparent: it is more trouble than it is worth to discern who is a camper and who is a counselor. We are all loved, we are all special and we are all incredible.

It’s hard to stop talking about Special Session. It’s a bittersweet feeling knowing that I’ll see all these people again in a year, knowing that I must wait a year. Life returns to normal and the most we can do is hope we hold on to the special parts of the week. You would think I would have a lot of practice but it is still sad to see my favorite week of the year, every year, pass by once again.

There’s always next year though!

A very special thank you to the incredibly talented Allison Kendrick, who took the photos. Check out her other work on her website: http://www.allisonkendrick.com/.


McKee S. is a Project Manager who loves playing video games and kickin’ around a hacky sack.

May 2017: Be a Brand Ambassador Through Social Recruiting

By | Culture, Employment Brand, Free Career Advice, Life at Daxko | No Comments

On May 3rd, our lovely Talent Marketing Manager (and editor of the Culture Blog that you’re reading right now!) Janna Stevens-Bradt led a Daxko TMD encouraging us even in its title to ‘Be a Brand Ambassador Through Social Recruiting.’ Self-styled as our ‘Daxko’s chief story-teller,’ Janna is the marketing extension of our People team, ensuring that we are recruiting as many good hires as we can.

In an earlier TMD, the idea that we should want to impress our interviewees as much as they want to impress us was proven to be beneficial for all parties on both a personal and professional level. This plays into how recruiting has changed, as well: we live in an increasingly globalized world and economy. Top talent is no longer wooed by local companies, but nationally and sometimes even internationally as well. In a job market where nets are being cast so far and so wide, companies must go out and search for the best and the brightest. Utilizing social media, be it LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or whatever platform you prefer, it is possible to reach a much wider range of applicants. For example, Glassdoor is now our top source of influence for candidates. Since January of this year, we have had a 214% increase in views on our Glassdoor page.

As an example, Janna asked us to raise our hands if, when applying for Daxko, we had sought out the company on social media. As expected, the grand majority of hands were put in the air to indicate that most of those present had done so. Having an engaging and inviting social media presence is a good way of showing Daxko culture to potential teammates.

Now that Janna had proven how integral recruiting through social media is to a company’s hiring process, she had some guidelines on what to share and what not to share. Sharing career opportunities or photos and videos of neat Daxko gatherings is of course recommended! As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words and in this case, some find it easier to tout a company’s strengths with a picture as opposed to written word. However, many of us aren’t so great at taking pictures… which is why I choose to write for the Culture Blog! Be it submitting a post or simply an idea, we’re encouraged to contribute to the Culture Blog in any way we can. After Glassdoor, it is the second highest source of influence for our candidates.

Janna concluded with how we should put our best selves forward: be professional, be fun and be responsive. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and, really, if you’re already active on social media, just keep doing what you’re doing. Tagging Daxko and throwing out that shout-out, showing that you’re excited about your job and the company, will continue to cast the net of social recruitment far and wide.

April 2017 TMD: From Where I Sit – A Candidate’s Point of View

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April started off with a perspective that everyone at Daxko has seen at least once, but few of us consider as much as we should: the view from the other side of the hiring table. When someone is going through the interview process, what do they think of Daxko and how we conduct ourselves?

Talent Acquisition Specialist Beth Wolfe led a TMD entitled ‘From Where I Sit – A Candidate’s Point of View’ which went into detail about how we present ourselves and how our candidates like us. Beth started off by asking the unspoken but perhaps subconsciously thought about question: so what? Aren’t they trying to impress us? Why do we care how we come across in the interview process?

Well, of course they’re trying to impress us. As everyone surely remembers, interviewing is a scary process that makes even the calmest and collected persons anxious. Alleviating any trepidation an interviewee has is of course a high priority, which is one big reason we want to ensure our candidate experience is top-notch. Another big reason is like the customer loyalty post from recent memory: when someone goes to talk about Daxko online, be it through Glassdoor or Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, we want the review they leave to be a positive one. Not unlike purchasing a product on Amazon, reviews of a company’s interview process are important in providing the applicant an idea of what they’re getting into. Especially now more than ever, these online reviews are incredibly important, as we’ve seen a 444% over the past calendar year compared to the previous year.

How do we measure how our candidate’s experience goes? Well, again hearkening back to the customer loyalty TMD, we utilize NPS. Essentially, on a zero through ten scale, how likely is the candidate to recommend applying for a job at Daxko? We break this out across three different parts of the application process: the actual application itself, the interview and then the onboarding. Let’s look at the average score given at each part of the process:

  • Application – 8.8
  • Interview – 8.0
  • Onboarding – 9.5

Not too shabby! While anything above a 7 and below a 9 is considered ‘passive,’ we’re very close to breaking through to a score indicating ‘promoter’ on two of the three fronts.

This put us at the question to be answered: what can I do as a Daxko team member to make a candidate’s experience better? Beth told us about how when she was interviewing here, during her tour of the office, she was greeted by two Daxko veterans who introduced themselves and made her feel more at home with the company. She said that the peer interview is a great time to show our Daxko values and strengths to candidates, as well as a great time to be positive, to reassure any anxiety the interviewee might have. Transparency is important: tell the interviewee what the job is, as well as what it isn’t.

While I would consider myself personable, I was certainly bettered by having attended the TMD if for no other reason than I’d not thought much about how the candidate feels…well, since I was a candidate here. It makes absolute sense that we should be polite and cordial to an applicant, but going above and beyond to provide the best experience we can for a candidate, whether hired or not, will ensure that Daxko is well staffed for many years to come.