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.

Change Management and Churros

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Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a Change Management course through ATD with some coworkers from the Launch and Education team. We spent two full days discussing Change Management and how it relates to our work. We discussed change management theories and split off into groups to dive into how we would apply them to our work. Aside from the educational value, this experience also proved to be an excellent team-building activity.

On Day 1, we indulged in churros – see glorious examples below.

Although we were tired after a day full of information, we still found time to hang out. We ate at a fancy wine and burger shop called Zinburger and made an impression around the Lenox mall in Atlanta.

Upon leaving, a couple of us decided to further explore the city and ended up on Krog Street which is known for its ever-changing graffiti.

I learned much more about my team members on the second day. For starters, we’re a creative bunch. Check out these amazing posters about the characteristics of a “Change Agent”:

Secondly, we’re a fidgety bunch. ATD provides pipe cleaners, dice, and scented markers on the tables for those that need to do something with their hands during class discussions. I was amazed at the creations my teammates made. Interestingly, as I looked around the room, the only people who were fidgeting were people from Daxko. Eventually, it caught on, and others started to create pipe cleaner masterpieces. The real question: do we fidget because we’re creative? Or does fidgeting spark creativity? Either way, seems like we’ve got this down.

At the end of the second day, the class stood in a circle and discussed Change Management quotes that resonated with us. More importantly, we also talked about what our action items would be.

Change Management is important to our company because we are constantly changing, but it is also helpful to have a grasp on the concept because our customers are in a period of change when they decide to implement our software. Understanding the phases they endure in a change process and how we can guide them to a successful result helps us better serve our clients.

It was great to see our culture outside of the walls of Daxko. This offsite excursion reminded me that our culture is contagious and whether or not we realize it, we do an awesome job of embracing change. I can’t wait to take what I’ve learned to create exceptional experiences during times of change for our customers.

“Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.” – Will Rogers


Emily V. is a proud dog mom, and Netflix connoisseur, and lives on Daxko’s Engagement Solutions Team.

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.

March 2017 TMD: Own it Like Oprah

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For March’s TMD, many teammates and I congregated in the Garage to learn how to Own It Like Oprah, courtesy of our VP of People, Dawn Burke. This TMD, promising tips to be an outstanding presenter, certainly did not disappoint, as I left the session with ideas to ponder and practices to perfect (at best; at worst, I had to break some old habits).

Dawn got right to the heart of things by asking the group how, on a day to day basis, we present materials. Her point, of course, was that everyone presents all the time, be it in Sales or onsite training a customer, or anything in between. This light conversation got the crowd engaged and feeling comfortable, which she later pointed out is a good technique to presenting well.

She then asked if there was anyone who had not heard of Oprah, to which the room was unsurprisingly silent. Be it for her magazine, her talk show, her book club, or her philanthropy, I would wager there are not many people who do not know Oprah. Her interviewing skills were the things we spoke about the most, how she has a way of making the interviewee feel as if they are the only person in the room as she asks questions, listens well and then asks follow-up questions. Her charisma and body language paint her as authentic, which makes her engaging.

This authenticity aspect was my big takeaway from the discussion: because Oprah is authentic, when she praises something, her viewers will see it as an honest and earnest recommendation and try it. Good examples include her Book Club and how those books rose to become best-sellers after Oprah’s recommendations. This authenticity led to a connection, and as Dawn put it, ‘the more you connect, the more you’re heard.’

Another excellent quote from Dawn, the one which she described as the biggest focal point of her presentation: ‘the reason you present is so people hear your message.’ Combined with the ‘authenticity’ piece above, it makes sense then that to successfully communicate your message to an audience, it is best to engage them well. Which leads us to Dawn’s 13 Tips on Talking (a name I just made up, but you’re welcome to it for a small fee, Dawn):

  1. It’s all about engagement. Dawn suggests immediately engaging the audience by captivating them with a story or some other form of ‘hook’ to immediately grab their attention. Anything that makes the audience want more will do, be it ‘Call me Ishmael’ or the opening riff on the guitar in the Rolling Stones’ song ‘Satisfaction.’
  1. Start strong. Similar to the above, generally speaking the first and last five minutes of any presentation are the ones that will stick with the audience. Hit the ground running and finish strong! A big point (for me, at least) that Dawn made here is that starting with an apology is seldom the best move.
  1. Slow down. Remember to breathe. Another important idea is to view the presentation as a conversation, which will make it feel more natural and, importantly, ease the feeling of wanting to sprint through the prepared material.
  1. Be aware of verbal garbage. The ‘empty calories of conversation,’ filler words should be avoided. Uh, um, like, y’know, ah…these are verbal ticks best avoided though, as Dawn points out, filling silence in this way is not as big a deal as many often make it out to be. Avoid using these when possible, but do not lose sleep over an errant ‘um.’
  1. Make eye contact. Making eye contact builds trust, though maintaining eye contact too long or in a manner that might be seen as inauthentic does more harm than good. Singling out one person and holding eye contact for too long makes all parties uncomfortable and scanning from side to side looks robotic. Move from person to person, do not linger too long.
  1. Know your audience. Without knowing your audience, you will have trouble connecting with them; without a connection, your communication will be hindered. Dawn revealed her questions in the earlier parts of the TMD were building rapport and a connection with the audience.
  1. Make Shakespeare proud. More for in person, but presentations, like Shakespearian plays, are better seen and not read, better as plays and not novels. Body language is crucial. Stand like an actor. Body language, though subconsciously, is more telling than speech.
  1. Hand-le with care. Continuing on that, your hands are the biggest tells your body has as to how you’re feeling. Are your hands in your pocket? That might come across as boredom. Are they across your chest? You now seem standoffish. Dawn recommends keeping them at your side or, if that induces too much discomfort, lightly linking your fingers together in front of your stomach.
  1. Don’t turn your back on the audience. Instead, use what she called the ‘actors’ cheat,’ which is when two actors are having a conversation and somewhat ‘open up’ to the audience, so that they’re included in the conversation. Turning your back to the audience is insulting at worst and, at best, it makes the presentation significantly harder to hear.
  1. Work the tools. Don’t let the tools work you. Have your technology together, have your files together, and know how everything works with one another.
  1. Have a Plan B. That being said, technology can and will fail, so it’s best to be prepared. There is no shame in taking a small break to resolve any issues that have sprung up before a presentation.
  1. Practice. A quote Dawn used here that I enjoyed: ‘make talking to yourself an art form.’ However, over practicing can lead to a rehearsed feeling, which is something we want to avoid entirely. Practice to the level of your own comfort and be comfortable in your material.
  1. Be yourself. You knew it was coming, but the last tip is to be authentic. Again, without a connection between the presenter and the audience, communication will be hampered. Be yourself, be authentic. Enough said.

As we were leaving, though, Dawn had one more piece of wisdom that seems to be the case regardless of any of the rules above: content trumps everything. Of course, the tips above are the stars for which we all shoot, but if your presentation is on a topic that is of immense interest to the audience, all the ‘ahs’ and ‘ums’ of the world will not be able to detract from your presentation.