The UofM Cardiology Fellowship Training Program: Building a “Culture of Builders”

by Levi Nieminen, Ph.D., Director of Research & Senior Consultant

According to the New York Times, the number of Americans in the “Gig Economy” grew by 9.4 million between 2005 and 2015.(1) This raises interesting new questions about the meaning of organizational culture.

A gig economy organization has an employee lifecycle that is on steroids. How do you create and maintain a culture in an organization where employees may not even see themselves as members of the organization, and where “membership,” even when perceived as such, is fluid, short-term, or intermittent? How do you reach out to these quasi-members and ask them to play a central role in forming and sustaining the organization’s culture? Further, how do you address the challenge of these individuals being in competition with each other? What roles are needed from the part-timers, short-timers, and consumer-employees in this new organizational paradigm? In short, how do you build connectedness in a fluid organization?

THE UNIVERSITY’S CHALLENGE: CREATING A “CULTURE OF BUILDERS”

These were the issues faced by the University of Michigan Cardiology Fellowship Training Program. But what was there to improve? The program was already among the top tier of programs in a very competitive subspecialty of medicine. “Most programs operate on an old apprentice model, a cottage industry in the post-industrial world,” explains Program Director Dr. Peter Hagan.

“We don’t apply modern, validated, education principles. So, how we train people is not a whole lot different than how people were being trained decades ago. I had this gnawing sense that there has to be a better way than the way we’re doing it right now.” The training model, Hagan realized, had not been adjusted to adapt to global changes affecting every aspect of not just medicine, but modern life. “Like everybody in the business world knows, the world is changing around us. We’ve had an explosion of knowledge and technology. The learners are changing. Society’s needs are changing. And we have a culture problem.” Hagan set out to transform the Program to create what he calls a “culture of builders.” “We want to be the ideal training program. We want to empower and leverage our Fellows to be builders. We want to develop a strong culture, a culture of ideas, a culture of support and openness. We want to improve that sense of community and energy.” How do you do that in a program where a third of the constituents graduate every year? Where the participants are to some degree in competition with each other? Where the old methods are entrenched in generations of tradition?

THE SOLUTION: BOTTOM-UP EMPOWERMENT

Hagan’s approach had several key components: Empowering the motivated. Hagan realized that not everyone in a fluid organization will see the value of investing in a difficult change process. The key to the improvement process in the Cardiology Training Program was to center on empowering the Fellows to build the program and the culture they wanted. The strategy was to start where intrinsic motivation was strongest and look to create a tipping point with the others. “You need some people who are going to be your champions,” said Hagan, “who see the vision or have the ideas.” You hand them the keys to the car. The “car” you put them in should give them a rhythm for reflection and dialogue about the culture and should show them how to translate their ideas into action. Setting the expectation that change is achievable. In an entrenched culture, it’s important for leaders to demonstrate humility and curiosity, creating a space for dialogue, and giving people hope. Some won’t believe it until they see it, but others will catch the vision and begin to contribute. Ensuring immediate initial results, even if they’re small. “If you say you’re going to do something and then a couple of months later nothing has changed, you’re done!” cautioned Hagan. “And luckily, the Fellows were able to really make some rapid improvements in a very short period of time.

Basically, Fellows came up with ideas and said, ‘I want to do this,’ and off they went.” Building a foundation for longer-range development. Over time, deeper-rooted issues will emerge. Early successes set the stage for tackling them. “We set a vision,” Hagan said. “We want to be the ideal training program. We want to empower and leverage our Fellows to be builders. We want to develop a strong culture, a culture of ideas, a culture of support and openness. We want to improve that sense of community and energy.” Overcoming in-house competition. It’s important to build a team spirit, as well as to promote opportunities for individuals to capitalize personally on contributions they make that benefit the whole group. People “buy in” for both selfless and selfish reasons that are rarely mutually exclusive. Capitalize on both. Using the rapid employee life cycle to energize the culture work. Embrace the reality of an organization’s fluidity as an opportunity to define many touch-points to the culture work: to promote the vision and to pass the baton from one “generation” of constituents to the next. Tracking Outcomes. It’s essential to have measurable goals and outcomes. Hagan used the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s (ACGME) annual, national survey of Fellows nationwide, combined with annual use of the Denison Organizational Culture Survey (DOCS) with his own Fellows, to track their satisfaction before and during the ongoing culture change project.

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THE RESULTS: EDUCATIONAL TRANSFORMATION

By all accounts, the Cardiology Training Program’s culture project is an ongoing success. Hagan handed the reins to four of his Fellows. Prashanth Katrapati, M.D., was the Chief Fellow when the culture change project began. Matthew Konerman, M.D., was the Chief Fellow the following year. Dan Alyesh, M.D. and Craig Alpert, M.D., were co-Chief Fellows the third academic year. All have now graduated, and all but Dr. Alpert were available for interviews, from which the quotes below are drawn.

Dr. Konerman: In a way, the culture work was a sort of crash course in leadership. One of the basics I’ve taken with me into my new role is the importance of getting organized and clarifying objectives with the teams I’m leading. With my nursing team, I’m paying more attention to how I can adjust my style and expectations based on their needs. Empowering the motivated. Hagan found motivated leaders who could motivate others. For Dr. Katrapati, the ability to shape the training process was key. “At the end of the day, the reason that you’re there is to learn and set yourself up for the future. And the fact that we were able to now tailor our own education to our needs, and be able to speak up about it when it wasn’t set up to our needs, was the biggest action item that I think helped overall.” For Dr. Alyesh, this was a lesson in the importance of empowerment: “Listen to those who are in the trenches and do the hard work. . . . Harness their creative energy toward making an improvement in what they care about, and trust that they’ll do a good job.” Setting the expectation that change is achievable. “The number one thing was that everybody realized that they could make a change,” said Dr. Katrapati, “and I don’t think that was the case before we started this process. The guy at the bottom now has a voice, and that voice is heard. And the guys at the top are more open to the idea that change can happen.” Alyesh concurred. “There is a collective belief in the ability and the need to get better. There is a tremendous amount of pride–there was always pride–but that has escalated.”

Ensuring immediate initial results, even if they’re small. From Dr. Katrapati’s perspective, starting small was a key to success. “What we did well at the very beginning was to identify a few things that were specific and also easy to achieve. We didn’t go for the home runs in the beginning, and I think that helped a lot.” Some examples: the Fellows hosted a barbecue with faculty and alumni. They made more time for socializing with their peers. And they had the Program buy fleeces emblazoned with the program logo for each Fellow as a symbol of getting more intentional about their brand. The first wins were small but important. Building a foundation for longer-range development. As time went on, the Fellows identified curriculum needs and explored new avenues for collaboration. They invited outside speakers to present on the topic of leadership. They started a process to redesign their work space to allow for greater peer collaboration. They engaged the faculty within the division in a similar process of culture introspection and dialogue. They even developed substantive new programs within the program. “One example of a program that was very successful,” said Dr. Konerman, “was the creation of a clinician education pathway which addressed a core need in our training. We proposed the idea to the Graduate Medical Education (GME) at the University and got it approved . . . We had trainees across the hospital apply, and we selected 25 to participate in the initial program. The program has scaled to other departments.”

Dr. Alyesh proposed and successfully secured funding to create the first annual Value Innovation Challenge, a program designed to solicit improvement ideas from the entire UM Cardiovascular Center community, including the patients and families served by the center. The winning idea(s) will be turned into action. Overcoming in-house competition. “One thing that the Program Director does,” says Dr. Alyesh, “is get us to think about our Fellowship as a locker room, a team–check our egos at the door–and not see each other as the competition.” Konerman noted that there were also opportunities to contribute to the group in ways that had personal benefits, too—a win/win. “We were able to promote ourselves through the culture work. We learned that we could be creative and start projects that would benefit us personally. Some of the projects were turned into papers and benefitted peoples’ academic résumés. But people also really got behind the projects that supported quality and patient care. That stuff carries beyond the individual.” As one example, Dr. Hagan and the Fellows wrote a paper summarizing their culture work, “Better culture, better physicians: Empowering Fellows to measure and improve training program culture,” which was accepted for oral presentation at the 2016 International Conference on Residency Education (September 30th ) in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Using the rapid employee life cycle to energize the culture work. The Program made culture a core component of their new Fellow recruiting process. And as senior Fellows took new jobs, they passed on their “champion” role to more junior Fellows so that the process could repeat

Tracking Results. Survey data tracked over the three years since this work validate the progress, showing steady improvement in Fellows’ perceptions of the culture and their satisfaction with the program. The percentage of Fellows whose rating of the program is “very positive,” the highest rating category on the 5-point scale, was up nearly 20 points to 80% overall, whereas the national average is 52%. In addition, every year, the Fellows are asked another question (anonymously): What percent of your personal potential do you feel that you are achieving in the program? The Fellows’ response to this question also improved, rising by 10 points, to 80% overall. As Dr. Katrapati put it, ”My biggest takeaway is that there is a way to assess culture, and that you can actually change it. But you have to identify what is wrong and where the problem is in order to impact change.” Beyond data, anecdotal evidence is important, and the news is good here, too: faculty members across the division have asked “What’s different with the Cardiology Fellows?!”

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Top-Down or Bottom-Up?

Program Director Hagan was insistent on a bottom-up, Fellows-centric approach to culture change, giving them both the mandate to identify the changes needed and the reins to drive the creation of solutions. That said, it’s important to point out that his leadership was crucial to the program’s success. Dan Alyesh put it this way: “We believed change was possible pretty quickly because we had leadership and we had the Program Director who believed in the need to change, to improve.” Dr. Konerman concurred: “… I came to really believe in the idea that I could create something. It was very important to hear the Program Director reinforcing that message and acknowledging some of the ways the Fellowship could be improved.” Konerman became a conduit for the same message. “When I became the Chief Fellow, I tried to do my part to empower the other Fellows in the same way the Program Director had done.” Finally, Konerman noted the importance of engaging the Faculty in order to ensure continued success. “I think this is the ceiling of our improvement. The bottom-up efforts of the Fellows can only go so far, and then you really need the support and active engagement of the Faculty and the Division.”

What can we learn from universities?

The Cardiology Fellowship Training Program at the University of Michigan provides a fascinating example of the meaning and management of culture in an organization whose members are always on the move. What they have learned about how to create and sustain their program’s culture holds strong relevance for many organizations today, including some (like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb) who are defining new organizational forms, as well as to many others who are grappling with a high-churn millennial workforce.

Find the people who have the energy, and hand them the keys to the car. The “car” you put them in should give them a rhythm for reflection and dialogue about the culture and should show them how to translate their ideas into action.

Figure 1. Improved Culture Translates to Improved Training Experience

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Note: The Fellows’ ratings of the program culture are percentile scores in comparison to Denison’s global normative database. On an annual basis, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) conducts surveys of all accredited medical Fellowship programs in the U.S. The numbers shown above from the ACGME survey represent the percentage of Fellows who evaluated their overall experience in the University of Michigan (UM) Cardiology Fellowship Program as “Very Positive”, i.e., a 5 on a 5-point scale. In comparison, the national average according to the ACGME has been steady at 52%. For more details on ACGME, please visit: http://www.acgme.org/

References

Footnote 1: “Most remarkably, the number of Americans using these alternate work arrangements rose 9.4 million from 2005 to 2015.” Check out Neil Irwin’s article in TheUpshot: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/31/upshot/contractors-and-temps-accounted-for-all-of-the-growth-in-employment-in-the last-decade.html?mwrsm=Email&_r=0 Comments by Dr. Peter Hagan are excerpted from his 2016 invited presentation at the Denison Best Practices Forum. Comments by former Cardiology Fellows Dr. Katrapati, Konerman, and Alyesh are taken from a group interview conducted by Dr. Levi Nieminen. For more of the fascinating details of the culture transformation project at the University of Michigan Cardiology Fellows Training Program, see the full text of Dr. Levi Nieminen’s two articles on which this case study is based:

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• Convey confidence in employees and voice your appreciation of employees.

Defines Strategic Direction & Intent
The individual communicates the organization’s overall strategies so that everyone can see the relationship between their work and the accomplishment of the work group or organization’s goals. S/he effectively implements short and long-term strategies to meet organizational goals.

Self-Directed Learning:
Learning On-The-Job:
Social Learning:

1:1 Mentoring
Identify or ask your manager to match you with an executive mentor or a peer mentor based on your action plan focus area.

Group Mentoring
Join or create a group of 4-6 peer leaders who engage a senior mentor and meet as a group once or twice a month to discuss various topics and do structured group activities. Group mentoring combines senior and peer mentoring, as mentees learn from both the mentor and each other.

Training-Based Mentoring
Join a training program that matches you (or take the initiative to identify a mentor) with a mentor based on the specific skills taught in the training program.

Community of Learning: In-Person
Community or learning (often called “learning circles” is a great way to network and learn from peers and leaders for a common area of interest (management excellence). Join or start a group of employees who are interested in strengthening a particular competency. Identify specific topics, format (talk, panel, discussion, etc.) and meet periodically.

Community of Learning: Virtual
Similar in concept to “In Person” community of learning, except that where in person interaction is impractical or impossible due to different geographic locations. Instead, members use electronic methods such as email, instant messaging, and video conferencing. Join or start a community of learning that is virtual and build your global network and expertise.

Coaching
Identify a professional coach to help you improve, grow, and develop skills to overcome obstacles strengthen your competencies.

• Develop a 1-page document that includes the company mission, vision, and values, and the team’s goals – connecting them to the bigger picture. Share this document with your employees and discuss the connection between the mission, vision, and values, and the team’s goals.

• Adopt Denison’s Create-Communicate-Clarify-Reinforce model to ensure that vision and strategy move beyond the communication stage to enhanced ownership, with a clear demonstration of how they impact decisions.

• Develop a strategic roadmap for “winning” in the marketplace, highlighting growth, productivity and accountability, and for possible future situations, such as an acquisition or merger.

• Clarify and communicate five strategic priorities after conducting a needs assessment with external customers – priorities that help connect the internal actions to the customer wants and needs. This can also be done with internal customers.

• Hold “what-how-and-why” town hall, weekly, or one-on-one meetings with employees to build their understanding of the company direction. Encourage employees to ask questions, gain greater clarity about the priorities and direction, and how they affect their work. Ask for input and feedback from employees.

• Hold leadership-led strategy workshops, bringing all managers together to discuss and understand each division’s strategy and goals, and how they align to support the company vision and strategy.

• Create “strategic thinking” teams to engage staff in dialog about institutional priorities and future opportunities.

• Create transparency and discuss leadership long-range strategic planning process. Invite employees to voice their input regarding the planning process.

Creates Shared Vision
The leader helps create a shared view of a desired future state for his/her organizational unit. S/he inspires others with this vision, translates it into everyday activities, and engages others to ensure buy-in and commitment.
Self-Directed Learning:
Learning On-The-Job:
Social Learning:

1:1 Mentoring
Identify or ask your manager to match you with an executive mentor or a peer mentor based on your action plan focus area.

Group Mentoring
Join or create a group of 4-6 peer leaders who engage a senior mentor and meet as a group once or twice a month to discuss various topics and do structured group activities. Group mentoring combines senior and peer mentoring, as mentees learn from both the mentor and each other.

Training-Based Mentoring
Join a training program that matches you (or take the initiative to identify a mentor) with a mentor based on the specific skills taught in the training program.

Community of Learning: In-Person
Community or learning (often called “learning circles” is a great way to network and learn from peers and leaders for a common area of interest (management excellence). Join or start a group of employees who are interested in strengthening a particular competency. Identify specific topics, format (talk, panel, discussion, etc.) and meet periodically.

Community of Learning: Virtual
Similar in concept to “In Person” community of learning, except that where in person interaction is impractical or impossible due to different geographic locations. Instead, members use electronic methods such as email, instant messaging, and video conferencing. Join or start a community of learning that is virtual and build your global network and expertise.

Coaching
Identify a professional coach to help you improve, grow, and develop skills to overcome obstacles strengthen your competencies.

• Place posters of the company mission and vision in highly trafficked areas to remind employees of the organization’s mission and vision.

• Make the mission and vision key components of your employee onboarding process.

• Start important meetings with a reminder of the vision of the company, why it is important, and how the meeting relates to the vision.

• Ask employees to identify what the vision means to him/her and what he/she could do to make the vision come to life.

• Link discussions about the strategy, goals, and daily tasks directly back to the vision, to create line-of-sight between the near- and long-term priorities.

• Check-in with employees on the progress of the goal to reach or maintain the mission and vision. Ask for input from employees in what can be done to accelerate progress.

• As a leader, elude more clarity and excitement about the vision, including your stories of success and progress.

• As a leader, demonstrate your own passion about the work of the company and share stories of how your passion has translated into your work.

• Use social media, case studies, and internal communication vehicles to highlight examples of the company, demonstrating the mission and vision.

Promotes Organizational Learning
The individual leader encourages innovation, risk taking, and continuous improvement. Sees mistakes as opportunities for gaining knowledge and developing capabilities.
Self-Directed Learning:
Learning On-The-Job:
Social Learning:

1:1 Mentoring
Identify or ask your manager to match you with an executive mentor or a peer mentor based on your action plan focus area.

Group Mentoring
Join or create a group of 4-6 peer leaders who engage a senior mentor and meet as a group once or twice a month to discuss various topics and do structured group activities. Group mentoring combines senior and peer mentoring, as mentees learn from both the mentor and each other.

Training-Based Mentoring
Join a training program that matches you (or take the initiative to identify a mentor) with a mentor based on the specific skills taught in the training program.

Community of Learning: In-Person
Community or learning (often called “learning circles” is a great way to network and learn from peers and leaders for a common area of interest (management excellence). Join or start a group of employees who are interested in strengthening a particular competency. Identify specific topics, format (talk, panel, discussion, etc.) and meet periodically.

Community of Learning: Virtual
Similar in concept to “In Person” community of learning, except that where in person interaction is impractical or impossible due to different geographic locations. Instead, members use electronic methods such as email, instant messaging, and video conferencing. Join or start a community of learning that is virtual and build your global network and expertise.

Coaching
Identify a professional coach to help you improve, grow, and develop skills to overcome obstacles strengthen your competencies.

• Hire talent that brings a unique set of experiences that are new to the organization and allow them to promote a different way of thinking.

• Send employees into the field/customer site to observe their designs and products in use, and bring that knowledge back for process design or improvement.

• Create a “knowledge channel” to facilitate employees sharing information, stories and best practices. This could be monthly learning circles, profession-specific meetings, internal social media, internal shared drives, emails etc.

• Promote AAR’s (After Action Reviews) or “Lessons Learned” events to deconstruct an activity and share what was learned – capturing the positive and negative in an effort to inform future actions.

• Utilize Action Learning methodologies to not only broaden the team participating in problem-solving, but also to discuss what the team is learning about the way they solve problems.

• Implement “Fu Pan” (replaying the chess board), a process that promotes revisiting a set of actions for evaluating and improvement of work quality and speed.

• Allocate time for learning and innovation, making them an expected component of an employee’s job.

Emphasizes Customer Focus
The individual is driven to clearly understand the present and future needs of the customer, seeks ongoing input from the customer, continuously strives to improve customer service, and ensures that all employees are driven by a concern to satisfy the customer.
Self-Directed Learning:
Learning On-The-Job:
Social Learning:

1:1 Mentoring
Identify or ask your manager to match you with an executive mentor or a peer mentor based on your action plan focus area.

Group Mentoring
Join or create a group of 4-6 peer leaders who engage a senior mentor and meet as a group once or twice a month to discuss various topics and do structured group activities. Group mentoring combines senior and peer mentoring, as mentees learn from both the mentor and each other.

Training-Based Mentoring
Join a training program that matches you (or take the initiative to identify a mentor) with a mentor based on the specific skills taught in the training program.

Community of Learning: In-Person
Community or learning (often called “learning circles” is a great way to network and learn from peers and leaders for a common area of interest (management excellence). Join or start a group of employees who are interested in strengthening a particular competency. Identify specific topics, format (talk, panel, discussion, etc.) and meet periodically.

Community of Learning: Virtual
Similar in concept to “In Person” community of learning, except that where in person interaction is impractical or impossible due to different geographic locations. Instead, members use electronic methods such as email, instant messaging, and video conferencing. Join or start a community of learning that is virtual and build your global network and expertise.

Coaching
Identify a professional coach to help you improve, grow, and develop skills to overcome obstacles strengthen your competencies.

• Create customer personas to help the team better understand customer (internal or external) wants and needs.

• Create a program or workshop to “walk a mile in the customer’s shoes” and collect customer stories that are then shared within the organization.

• Have a recognition program that is based on exceptional customer service.

• Start every meeting with a customer story or update to reinforce the importance of the customer.

• Conduct customer satisfaction surveys and require corrective actions for any teams that fall below a targeted percent satisfaction.

• Use stories and examples to encourage team to challenge customers when it is in their (and/or the organization’s) best interests to do things differently from their expectations

• Share/cascade examples of customer expectations to the team.

• Interview customers to get a clear picture of their expectations and feedback on the current service/deliverables.

• Do periodic check-ins with the customer and show visible course-correction, when needed.

Builds Team Orientation
The individual manager places value on employees working cooperatively toward common goals and often relies on team effort to get work done. S/he helps establish a sense of mutual accountability for the accomplishment of goals.
Self-Directed Learning:
Learning On-The-Job:
Social Learning:

1:1 Mentoring
Identify or ask your manager to match you with an executive mentor or a peer mentor based on your action plan focus area.

Group Mentoring
Join or create a group of 4-6 peer leaders who engage a senior mentor and meet as a group once or twice a month to discuss various topics and do structured group activities. Group mentoring combines senior and peer mentoring, as mentees learn from both the mentor and each other.

Training-Based Mentoring
Join a training program that matches you (or take the initiative to identify a mentor) with a mentor based on the specific skills taught in the training program.

Community of Learning: In-Person
Community or learning (often called “learning circles” is a great way to network and learn from peers and leaders for a common area of interest (management excellence). Join or start a group of employees who are interested in strengthening a particular competency. Identify specific topics, format (talk, panel, discussion, etc.) and meet periodically.

Community of Learning: Virtual
Similar in concept to “In Person” community of learning, except that where in person interaction is impractical or impossible due to different geographic locations. Instead, members use electronic methods such as email, instant messaging, and video conferencing. Join or start a community of learning that is virtual and build your global network and expertise.

Coaching
Identify a professional coach to help you improve, grow, and develop skills to overcome obstacles strengthen your competencies.

• Embrace the differences between team members and play to each team member’s individual strengths.

• Encourage trust, communication, cooperation, transparency, and information sharing among team members.

• Create a supportive and safe environment where team members can discuss issues within the team, including differences in personality styles, decision-making approaches, conflict resolution preferences, and so on.

• Ask for information and formal feedback, and allow team to offer innovative solutions to critical business needs.

• Recognize and reward “winning” solutions, but remember to convey appreciation for all solutions.

• Clearly define the roles and responsibilities as well as the values and goals for each team. Have each team provide input regarding the values and goals for their team.

• Use an “open-office” working environment and instant messaging applications (for remote employees) in order to encourage more collaboration and communication.

• Promote social activities that allow for the building of stronger working relationships and fostering team spirit (volunteer work, sporting events, team competitions, etc.).

• Select a team-building framework (for example, the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team) and use that framework for a team assessment and improvement.

Defines Goals & Objectives
The individual encourages high employee accountability in setting and accomplishing organizational goals. S/he communicates a clear set of goals and objectives that can be linked to the mission, vision, and strategy of the work group or organization.
Self-Directed Learning:
Learning On-The-Job:
Social Learning:

1:1 Mentoring
Identify or ask your manager to match you with an executive mentor or a peer mentor based on your action plan focus area.

Group Mentoring
Join or create a group of 4-6 peer leaders who engage a senior mentor and meet as a group once or twice a month to discuss various topics and do structured group activities. Group mentoring combines senior and peer mentoring, as mentees learn from both the mentor and each other.

Training-Based Mentoring
Join a training program that matches you (or take the initiative to identify a mentor) with a mentor based on the specific skills taught in the training program.

Community of Learning: In-Person
Community or learning (often called “learning circles” is a great way to network and learn from peers and leaders for a common area of interest (management excellence). Join or start a group of employees who are interested in strengthening a particular competency. Identify specific topics, format (talk, panel, discussion, etc.) and meet periodically.

Community of Learning: Virtual
Similar in concept to “In Person” community of learning, except that where in person interaction is impractical or impossible due to different geographic locations. Instead, members use electronic methods such as email, instant messaging, and video conferencing. Join or start a community of learning that is virtual and build your global network and expertise.

Coaching
Identify a professional coach to help you improve, grow, and develop skills to overcome obstacles strengthen your competencies.

• Utilize a specific framework for goal setting (SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely).

• Set clear, high but attainable goals for individuals and teams. Develop these goals with the individual or team.

• Split large or “big picture” goals into smaller attainable goals. Communicate how these small goals will eventually help accomplish the larger goal.

• Adopt a performance management process that includes feedback and dialogue about progress towards individual and team goals. Feedback should not be limited to meetings but should be given at every opportunity.

• Recognize and reward employees and teams when goals are reached and work together to set additional high but attainable goals.

• Give a quarterly award for employees and teams based on measurable contributions to goals. Also, highlight contributions employees and teams made that contributed towards a goal, even if that goal was not met.

• Develop a set of clear behavioral objectives that reinforces how work needs to get done in order to support shifts in the strategy. Ask for input and feedback from employees regarding this.

• Implement the use of scorecards to increase transparency and accountability regarding critical KPIs. Be sure to communicate whether scorecards will be taken into account during performance appraisals.

• Adopt several “big picture” goals that promote cross-functional coordination in order to achieve those goals.

• Open meetings with progress updates on team goals to keep them top-of-mind and relevant to leaders from across the organization.

Creates Change
The individual knows the organizational environment, quickly reacts to current trends, and anticipates future changes. S/he continuously creates adaptive and innovative ways to meet changing needs.
Self-Directed Learning:
Learning On-The-Job:
Social Learning:

1:1 Mentoring
Identify or ask your manager to match you with an executive mentor or a peer mentor based on your action plan focus area.

Group Mentoring
Join or create a group of 4-6 peer leaders who engage a senior mentor and meet as a group once or twice a month to discuss various topics and do structured group activities. Group mentoring combines senior and peer mentoring, as mentees learn from both the mentor and each other.

Training-Based Mentoring
Join a training program that matches you (or take the initiative to identify a mentor) with a mentor based on the specific skills taught in the training program.

Community of Learning: In-Person
Community or learning (often called “learning circles” is a great way to network and learn from peers and leaders for a common area of interest (management excellence). Join or start a group of employees who are interested in strengthening a particular competency. Identify specific topics, format (talk, panel, discussion, etc.) and meet periodically.

Community of Learning: Virtual
Similar in concept to “In Person” community of learning, except that where in person interaction is impractical or impossible due to different geographic locations. Instead, members use electronic methods such as email, instant messaging, and video conferencing. Join or start a community of learning that is virtual and build your global network and expertise.

Coaching
Identify a professional coach to help you improve, grow, and develop skills to overcome obstacles strengthen your competencies.

• Identify key stakeholders when implementing changes to proactively engage those stakeholders throughout the change process.

• Use communication with the team at various points in time to create excitement, openness and readiness to change.

• Volunteer to be a change agent for organizational or cross-team initiatives to design and/or deploy new initiatives.

• Create sub-teams to assess and support change readiness for new organizational initiatives rollout – using sub-teams who can later support their colleagues in adopting the changes.

• Develop or cascade clear messages regarding organizational changes that reinforce why the change is important and how it will move the organization forward.

• Implement lean principles and processes to involve employees in redesigning efficient work processes.

• Create communication plan for change to cascade message effectively starting from direct reports to the broader team.

• For organizational changes, demonstrate support for the change through communication and actions.

• Use the opportunity to coach employees through the change.

• Engage with and provide support to the project team managing the change.

• Identify and manage resistance and create a plan to address it.

• Re-allocate resources and accountabilities, if needed, to better meet customer needs.

Develops Organizational Capability
The individual manager continually focuses on the development of skills and knowledge to meet ongoing business needs. S/he knows how to effectively utilize the diversity in the work force.
Self-Directed Learning:
Learning On-The-Job:
Social Learning:

1:1 Mentoring
Identify or ask your manager to match you with an executive mentor or a peer mentor based on your action plan focus area.

Group Mentoring
Join or create a group of 4-6 peer leaders who engage a senior mentor and meet as a group once or twice a month to discuss various topics and do structured group activities. Group mentoring combines senior and peer mentoring, as mentees learn from both the mentor and each other.

Training-Based Mentoring
Join a training program that matches you (or take the initiative to identify a mentor) with a mentor based on the specific skills taught in the training program.

Community of Learning: In-Person
Community or learning (often called “learning circles” is a great way to network and learn from peers and leaders for a common area of interest (management excellence). Join or start a group of employees who are interested in strengthening a particular competency. Identify specific topics, format (talk, panel, discussion, etc.) and meet periodically.

Community of Learning: Virtual
Similar in concept to “In Person” community of learning, except that where in person interaction is impractical or impossible due to different geographic locations. Instead, members use electronic methods such as email, instant messaging, and video conferencing. Join or start a community of learning that is virtual and build your global network and expertise.

Coaching
Identify a professional coach to help you improve, grow, and develop skills to overcome obstacles strengthen your competencies.

• Conduct developmental and professional training for employees that includes 360-degree feedback.

• Provide coaching and mentorship for employees’ personal and professional development.

• Create a learning center (e.g., folder) with relevant resources to allow for employee self-directed learning and development. Encourage employees to share and add resources to the folder.

• Develop individual development plans with employees.

• Schedule weekly and/or monthly one-on-one meetings with employees or teams to discuss progress towards organizational and professional goals.

• Create an explicit map of career paths and the competencies needed to move along those paths.

• Discuss with employees their current career path standing and what needs to be done to move their career forward. Identify any high potential employees.

• Review the talent strategy on a regular basis to support the evolving needs of the business.

• Provide employees the opportunity to work on “stretch-assignments” in an effort to build additional skills while working on interesting projects.

• Cross-train employees to broaden skill set, increase department collaboration, and enhance organizational efficiency.

• Require all leaders to dedicate at least 10% of their time to professional development for themselves and those who report to them.

Manages Coordination & Integration
The individual ensures that different functions or units of the work group or organization are able to work together well to achieve common goals. S/he establishes necessary contacts and coordinates resources in other groups to prevent organizational boundaries from interfering with getting work done.
Self-Directed Learning:
Learning On-The-Job:
Social Learning:

1:1 Mentoring
Identify or ask your manager to match you with an executive mentor or a peer mentor based on your action plan focus area.

Group Mentoring
Join or create a group of 4-6 peer leaders who engage a senior mentor and meet as a group once or twice a month to discuss various topics and do structured group activities. Group mentoring combines senior and peer mentoring, as mentees learn from both the mentor and each other.

Training-Based Mentoring
Join a training program that matches you (or take the initiative to identify a mentor) with a mentor based on the specific skills taught in the training program.

Community of Learning: In-Person
Community or learning (often called “learning circles” is a great way to network and learn from peers and leaders for a common area of interest (management excellence). Join or start a group of employees who are interested in strengthening a particular competency. Identify specific topics, format (talk, panel, discussion, etc.) and meet periodically.

Community of Learning: Virtual
Similar in concept to “In Person” community of learning, except that where in person interaction is impractical or impossible due to different geographic locations. Instead, members use electronic methods such as email, instant messaging, and video conferencing. Join or start a community of learning that is virtual and build your global network and expertise.

Coaching
Identify a professional coach to help you improve, grow, and develop skills to overcome obstacles strengthen your competencies.

• Conduct facilitated cross-functional “give-get” sessions to clarify interdependencies and expectations for working across teams and functions.

• Identify the strategies and goals that require cross-organizational execution to deliver, and clarify the expectations for how different groups need to work together to meet those goals.

• Create job shadowing or rotation programs to pair up functional counterparts across divisions.

• Hold routine coordination meetings with critical external vendors and suppliers to ensure that they understand your company’s needs and expectations.

• Map out your key stakeholders across groups and rate the overall effectiveness of those working relationships.

• Create stand-up cross-functional teams to study complex issues and problems that require a “big picture” perspective, then recommend integrated solutions.

• Hold “brown bag” sessions where employees can hear what others in the group are working on, learn about problems they are trying to solve, and hear success stories. This increases awareness of the broader group activities and provides a platform for sharing what is going on outside of one’s own immediate team.

• Conduct an organization network analysis (using survey or current digital data) to understand patterns around communication and information sharing. Take actions to address issues emerging from the analysis.

• Conduct a team workshop to identify areas for improvement in the coordination and integration competency - Link.

• Reward behaviors that exemplify good coordination efforts.

• Communicate examples of collaboration and how it impacts better business results.

Works to Reach Agreement
The individual helps to reconcile differences when they occur by actively promoting constructive discussion of conflicting ideas, incorporating diverse points of view into decisions, and working toward win-win solutions.
Self-Directed Learning:
Learning On-The-Job:
Social Learning:

1:1 Mentoring
Identify or ask your manager to match you with an executive mentor or a peer mentor based on your action plan focus area.

Group Mentoring
Join or create a group of 4-6 peer leaders who engage a senior mentor and meet as a group once or twice a month to discuss various topics and do structured group activities. Group mentoring combines senior and peer mentoring, as mentees learn from both the mentor and each other.

Training-Based Mentoring
Join a training program that matches you (or take the initiative to identify a mentor) with a mentor based on the specific skills taught in the training program.

Community of Learning: In-Person
Community or learning (often called “learning circles” is a great way to network and learn from peers and leaders for a common area of interest (management excellence). Join or start a group of employees who are interested in strengthening a particular competency. Identify specific topics, format (talk, panel, discussion, etc.) and meet periodically.

Community of Learning: Virtual
Similar in concept to “In Person” community of learning, except that where in person interaction is impractical or impossible due to different geographic locations. Instead, members use electronic methods such as email, instant messaging, and video conferencing. Join or start a community of learning that is virtual and build your global network and expertise.

Coaching
Identify a professional coach to help you improve, grow, and develop skills to overcome obstacles strengthen your competencies.

• Train employees on skills for having honest, crucial conversations.

• Institute “direct with respect” as an expectation for managers to engage in candid feedback and performance discussions.

• Adopt a decision-making model that utilizes prioritization and risk tools to promote more thoughtful, yet expedited, decisions.

• Create a clear approach for escalation of issues – with specific directions regarding whom to engage with and when.

• Adopt a RACI approach (Responsible-Accountable-Consulted-Informed) to determine ownership and influence over decisions.

• Set the tone on how diversity in thoughts and ideas can help to make better decisions. Introspect on own biases and make effort to overcome those.

• Be an ‘active’ listener (by giving undivided attention and acknowledging the message).

• Manage conflict at work thoughtfully and respectfully by ensuring privacy of employees, learning about the complete picture, and enabling objective decision-making.

• Promote and leverage ‘healthy’ conflict related to work related tasks through structured discussions (facilitated group meetings, brainstorming, etc.).

Defines Core Values
The individual communicates and lives by a set of nonnegotiable core values. S/he helps to define the work group or organization’s culture, values, and ethics; and helps employees learn to apply the organization’s values when dealing with customers, stakeholders, and other employees.
Self-Directed Learning:
Learning On-The-Job:
Social Learning:

1:1 Mentoring
Identify or ask your manager to match you with an executive mentor or a peer mentor based on your action plan focus area.

Group Mentoring
Join or create a group of 4-6 peer leaders who engage a senior mentor and meet as a group once or twice a month to discuss various topics and do structured group activities. Group mentoring combines senior and peer mentoring, as mentees learn from both the mentor and each other.

Training-Based Mentoring
Join a training program that matches you (or take the initiative to identify a mentor) with a mentor based on the specific skills taught in the training program.

Community of Learning: In-Person
Community or learning (often called “learning circles” is a great way to network and learn from peers and leaders for a common area of interest (management excellence). Join or start a group of employees who are interested in strengthening a particular competency. Identify specific topics, format (talk, panel, discussion, etc.) and meet periodically.

Community of Learning: Virtual
Similar in concept to “In Person” community of learning, except that where in person interaction is impractical or impossible due to different geographic locations. Instead, members use electronic methods such as email, instant messaging, and video conferencing. Join or start a community of learning that is virtual and build your global network and expertise.

Coaching
Identify a professional coach to help you improve, grow, and develop skills to overcome obstacles strengthen your competencies.

• Establish core values and engage team in an exercise to discuss the behaviors that would be “in-bounds” or “out-of-bounds” in an effort to surface what the values look like “in action.”

• Incorporate the core values into the performance review process – indicating that how work gets done is as important as what gets done.

• Teammates agree to “donate to the bucket” for any behaviors that violate their values – allowing for a fun, yet practical, way to hold each other accountable.

• Recognize behaviors and actions that reflect a core value in-practice.

• Refer to the values as key decisions are made and describe how the values informed those decisions.

• Include an opportunity for employees to describe the ways in which the organization is “living the values” and where the organization is “falling short" as part of the annual culture assessment.

• Add a cultural component to the onboarding process to accelerate a new employee’s cultural awareness, including emphasis on the core values and the reason those values are important to the organization.

Demographic Analysis

Determine where and why significant differences in the perceptions of your employees exist.

Denison’s Advanced Analytics allows you to tailor actions to meet the needs of diverse employee populations (e.g., location, tenure, age, gender, race/ethnicity, etc.)

Example (Click To Enlarge)
Driver Analysis

Understand how culture relates to outcomes and where action can be focused to impact change in outcomes of interest.

Denison’s Advanced Analytics connects the dots between culture and outcomes, like employee engagement. With the Driver Analysis, you will be able to pinpoint the areas of your culture that will have the greatest impact on the outcomes you care most about. This knowledge will allow you to make targeted interventions to maximize impact.

Example (Click To Enlarge)
Performance Linkage Analysis

Understand how your culture, leadership behavior, or any “people data” are impacting your KPIs.

Denison’s Advanced Analytics connect the dots between culture and business performance metrics. With the Linkage Analysis, you will be able to pinpoint the areas of your culture that will have the greatest impact on the KPIs you care most about. This knowledge will allow you to make targeted interventions to maximize impact.

Example (Click to Enlarge)
Archival Data Analysis

Understand your culture without administering a survey.

Denison’s Advanced Analytics allows you to gather insights about your culture without administering a survey. We partner with you to analyze and map your policies, procedures, and existing data to the Denison Model. From there, we help you determine where to drive change.

Example (Click To Enlarge)
Leader-Culture Fit

Visualize how leadership and culture interact, and how one can be used to support the other.

Denison’s Advanced Analytics can compare your leadership and culture against a proven framework. These findings will help you identify where your culture and leadership competencies work together and where they are working against each other. This knowledge will help you hire and develop the leaders that can shape the culture you want and need.

Example (Click To Enlarge)
Custom Benchmark Solutions

Every organization is unique, working in a niche market that differs from a typical organization. Understand how your culture scores compare to organizations just like yours.

Denison’s Advanced Analytics helps you understand how your unique organization compares to similar organizations (e.g., industry, size). Using data from thousands of organizations, Denison’s database provides you with the exciting opportunity to create the right benchmark to meet your needs.

Interested in this Service?
Example (Click to Enlarge)
Custom Content Development & Review

Create a unique survey measurement to capture data on a concept or area outside Denison’s survey library.

Denison’s Advanced Analytics provides expert support to create custom survey content to measure the concept and areas most important to you. Our Ph.D. - level team gives you the assurance that any custom item, scale, or open-ended question will gather the highest quality and most actionable data. If you have already drafted custom survey content, let our expert team review them to ensure your survey collects the best and most actionable data.

Example (Click to Enlarge)
Concept Mapping

View your past surveys, tools, and models through the lens of our research-backed and intuitive Denison Model.

Denison’s Advanced Analytics scientifically compares your past survey's tools and models to our research-backed and intuitive Denison Model. This knowledge will allow you to design a custom Denison Culture Survey that takes advantage of our valid, reliable, and benchmarked assessments while ensuring we continue to measure the concepts and areas you care about most.

Example (Click to Enlarge)
Change Over Time

Understand how your culture, engagement, or leadership behavior has changed over time.

Denison’s Advanced Analytics gives you the ability to view assessment scores across multiple years. With this capability, your organization can determine significant and meaningful improvements and remaining opportunities. This knowledge will help you reinforce your new strengths and pivot to address arising needs.
Interested in this Service?
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Overview

Brief Explanation of what types of collateral can be found in the Overview section

ACCESS OVERVIEW MATERIAL
This is a Test
The individual communicates the organization’s overall strategies so that everyone can see the relationship between their work and the accomplishment of the work group or organization’s goals. S/he effectively implements short and long-term strategies to meet organizational goals.

Self-Directed Learning:
Learning On-The-Job:
Social Learning:

1:1 Mentoring
Identify or ask your manager to match you with an executive mentor or a peer mentor based on your action plan focus area.

Group Mentoring
Join or create a group of 4-6 peer leaders who engage a senior mentor and meet as a group once or twice a month to discuss various topics and do structured group activities. Group mentoring combines senior and peer mentoring, as mentees learn from both the mentor and each other.

Training-Based Mentoring
Join a training program that matches you (or take the initiative to identify a mentor) with a mentor based on the specific skills taught in the training program.

Community of Learning: In-Person
Community or learning (often called “learning circles” is a great way to network and learn from peers and leaders for a common area of interest (management excellence). Join or start a group of employees who are interested in strengthening a particular competency. Identify specific topics, format (talk, panel, discussion, etc.) and meet periodically.

Community of Learning: Virtual
Similar in concept to “In Person” community of learning, except that where in person interaction is impractical or impossible due to different geographic locations. Instead, members use electronic methods such as email, instant messaging, and video conferencing. Join or start a community of learning that is virtual and build your global network and expertise.

Coaching
Identify a professional coach to help you improve, grow, and develop skills to overcome obstacles strengthen your competencies.

• Develop a 1-page document that includes the company mission, vision, and values, and the team’s goals – connecting them to the bigger picture. Share this document with your employees and discuss the connection between the mission, vision, and values, and the team’s goals.

• Adopt Denison’s Create-Communicate-Clarify-Reinforce model to ensure that vision and strategy move beyond the communication stage to enhanced ownership, with a clear demonstration of how they impact decisions.

• Develop a strategic roadmap for “winning” in the marketplace, highlighting growth, productivity and accountability, and for possible future situations, such as an acquisition or merger.

• Clarify and communicate five strategic priorities after conducting a needs assessment with external customers – priorities that help connect the internal actions to the customer wants and needs. This can also be done with internal customers.

• Hold “what-how-and-why” town hall, weekly, or one-on-one meetings with employees to build their understanding of the company direction. Encourage employees to ask questions, gain greater clarity about the priorities and direction, and how they affect their work. Ask for input and feedback from employees.

• Hold leadership-led strategy workshops, bringing all managers together to discuss and understand each division’s strategy and goals, and how they align to support the company vision and strategy.

• Create “strategic thinking” teams to engage staff in dialog about institutional priorities and future opportunities.

• Create transparency and discuss leadership long-range strategic planning process. Invite employees to voice their input regarding the planning process.