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Organizational Values and Culture


Can you, as a leader, say “yes” to these questions? If a new customer walked into your business today, would they be able to identify your corporate values? Do your employees know and implement your values every day at work? It may seem like knowing the company values should be obvious or inherent but, often, employees and leaders have only a vague idea about their company’s values. Knowing and being able to speak to those values is important not only for company culture, but for your company’s bottom line.

While statistics never tell the “whole picture”, here are some reasons why defined company values are important:

  • More than 50% of leaders say corporate culture influences productivity, creativity, profitability, firm value, and growth rates (Forbes)
  • 76% of employees believe that well-defined business goals help cultivate a positive work culture (Bultin)
  • 88% of employees believe strong company culture is key to business success (Bultin)
  • 47% of active job seekers cite company culture as their driving reason for looking for work (Pivotal Advisors)
  • 15% of job seekers turned down a job because of the company’s culture (Jobvite)
  • Employees who don’t like their company’s culture are 24% more likely to quit their jobs (TINYpulse)
  • Actively disengaged employees cause U.S. companies between $450 – $550 billion in lost productivity per year (Zippia)

Company values are an important part of overall company culture. Having a clear set of values will help your employees understand what the company stands for while giving them guidance in their work and a sense of security. As a result, your employees will make better decisions that align with the company’s vision and goals. In fact, establishing and emphasizing your company values can have a positive impact in every area of your business.

Values and Communication
Communication is important in any kind of relationship, including between employers and employees. Communication plays an important role in better company culture, improving job satisfaction, and increasing employee engagement. When an employer doesn’t have clear company values, communication with employees usually suffers, which can lead to confusion and frustration in the workplace. With clear company values, you’re helping your employees understand and implement them every day.

Values and Employee Engagement
When your employee communication is built around your core company values, it boosts employee engagement. Explaining your company values to employees, and your reasons behind them, gives them a better understanding of your company’s goals and they will work diligently to achieve them. Engaged employees are the ones that have clear understanding of what is expected from them and how to achieve your business goals. They are also the ones who share and believe in your company values and naturally incorporate them into their work.

Values and Clients
Values aren’t just for management and employees; it’s important for your clients to know and understand your core values as well. When you define your company values, you’re clarifying the identity of your brand and educating clients about what your company stands for. Having a set of specific, and unique, core values can give your company a competitive advantage by building relationships with clients who share those values. You also have the potential to attract new clients who choose your company over another because they resonate with your values.

Values and Hiring
While there are many reasons job seekers apply to open positions, your company values will attract potential candidates who like your company’s mission and values. Most candidates extensively research a company before applying to open positions to help them decide if you’re the “right” employer. They check your website, social media, local news articles, and company reviews. As an employer, you also want to make sure that you hire the best person for the position and company. When you’re interviewing candidates about their qualifications and references, you should also be asking questions about their values. This is key in not only hiring the right candidate for your company’s culture, but in keeping them.

Values and Marketing
It would be difficult for your marketing and internal communications teams to send out appropriate messaging without having a strong understanding of your company values. To be credible, your internal and external communications need be in harmony. Companies without set, clear company values usually struggle with their communication strategies. As for marketing, knowing what the company stands for is integral in attracting new leads and clients.

Define Company Values
Defining your company values is important, but personal. You’re deciding what is important to your company not only for your image, but in how it will affect your company’s culture and how your employees interact with each other and your clients. The list of values is extensive, some of which include: Integrity, honesty, accountability, fun, balance, fairness, teamwork, and so on.

Your company values should help you support your employees so that they can be successful at work. Since these values affect all aspects of your business, communicating them to your employees and clients is vital. How you communicate them, however, matters. Rather than a one-time training or passive website statement, company values should be posted in the workplace and be a part of your internal and external communications. This creates synergy, a sense of commitment, and improves employee engagement.

Committed Values
COVID-19 has drastically disrupted the way businesses are functioning and shaken the confidence of employers and employees alike. This global pandemic is providing an opportunity for companies to reflect on which values continue to forward the culture of the organization. It isn’t enough to write your company values down; you must prove to your employees and clients that you live by them – even in stressful or peak performance periods. To build, or regain, your employees’ and clients’ trust, it may be appropriate to asses your core company values and honestly evaluate your company’s commitment to them to decide if changes need to be made.

To do that, you must first know and understand your company’s core values. Can you name the top three? Can you name them easily? If not, let’s chat.

Employee Engagement: A Key to Success


While there are many keys to success in business, one of the most important is employee satisfaction. Without dedicated employees, who understand and support the organization’s mission, a business will fail. How, then, do you ensure that your employees are engaged at work? There are different aspects to the employee experience and while some of them do not come with a financial impact, others do.

Investing money and resources into employee development and engagement might seem counter-intuitive to you as there is no guarantee that they will remain with your company. However, when investments are made in employee skill development and engagement, the results include higher productivity, increased efficiency, and elevated levels of innovation. In fact, when your employees recognize your investment in them, their commitment to the business and loyalty scores increase, diminishing the risk of voluntary departures from your workforce.

According to a Gallup poll on Employee Engagement from 2014-2017, only 32% of employees in the United States reflect active engagement in the workplace. What does an actively engaged employee look like? They demonstrate

· Consistently high levels of performance

· Natural innovation and a drive for efficiency

· Clear understanding about their roles

· Emotional commitment to their work

· High energy and enthusiasm

· Commitment to the organization

As leaders, how can we create a culture of organizational engagement? We need to encourage work-life balance, provide a safe working environment, both physical safety and emotional/mental safety, and offer training and development.

Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance affects the overall well-being of your employees. When they have a good work-life balance, they are happier, more relaxed, and less susceptible to burnout. Multiple studies have shown that when employees feel that they have good work-life balance they work significantly harder than their counterparts. Employees with good work-life balance have higher overall employee engagement which results in an improved company operating income by at least twenty percent.

High engagement also influences creativity and innovation. When employees are happy, they are more likely to be satisfied in their jobs and inspired to offer new ideas and suggestions. Additionally, it is important to note that one quarter of employees who do not feel supported in work-life balance intend to leave the company before the end of two years.

Safe Work Environment

Creating a work environment that is “safe” for employees is another important aspect to

increasing engagement in the workplace. While feeling physically safe at work is also important, safety in this context means that employees feel supported by their leader and team. To make employees feel safe, great leaders must be openly communicative and sharing, invest in one-on-one time with each person, give positive feedback and constructive criticism, encourage collaboration, and be ready to have corrective conversations.

Creating a safe environment is not about avoiding conflict. As a leader you must be ready to deal with performance issues for the overall well-being of the team. It is also important to be aware of behavioral changes and be willing to ask questions. Watch for altered behaviors such as being late to work, lack of eye contact, changes in mood, tension between employees, and so on. Any kind of sudden behavioral shift should be noticed. Checking in with your employees shows that you care about their mental health and emotional well-being, even if their change in behavior is not work related.

Employee Development

While there are many reasons people apply for and accept a position, such as salary and benefits, one of the driving factors is the opportunity to advance their career. In order to provide that opportunity, employers must invest in employee development.

Investing in employees include but are not limited to:

· Professional training

· Intentional conversations (ask questions, i.e. “what challenges are you facing?”)

· Encouraging cross-departmental collaboration

· Building core relationship skills (communication, collaboration, etc.)

· Investing in your employee’s personal development; including programs like tuition reimbursement.

While investing in employees can mean different things to each company, employee development starts on the first day. It is important to properly onboard and train new employees. If an employee is not given this opportunity, they will end up confused, frustrated, and pressured to catch up, which leads to disengagement.

After initial training, many employees will want to continue to develop their skills and take on new challenges, which, of course, increases employee engagement overall. You can stimulate engagement by giving new duties to employees to prevent boredom, allowing growth in their positions, or, if it’s possible for your company, offer a job rotation program so employees can be stimulated with different tasks.

Engagement is Multifaceted

When you take care of your employees, they take care of your business. Increasing your employee engagement through encouraging work-life balance, creating a safe working environment, and offering development opportunities will increase production and profit in the long-run. An employee who has high engagement has an investment into your company and its goals which will drive your business further into success.

Innovation of New Work Models on Rogue Voice

I was honored to be a guest on the first Rogue Voice alongside John Bowling with Jessica Gomez and Tiffany Cooper. We discussed how work models will most likely change in response to COVID-19 and steps businesses can take now to help ensure a successful future. I hope you’ll watch and let me know your thoughts!


Re-Opening the World’s Workplaces: A Playbook

As we all begin to consider how to “re-open” our businesses, I invite you to review the attached Playbook brought to you courtesy of international real estate firm, CBRE and my good friend Nancy McClure who is one of their top executives.

This 55-page document “Reopening the Worlds Workplaces Playbook” is the next major deliverable in CBRE’s Reopening the World’s Workplaces initiative – It incorporates insights and expertise from colleagues across the Americas, APAC, and EMEA, including experts in HSE, Facilities Management, Project Management, Space Enablement, Advisory, Legal, and more – and addresses three phases of the Reopening process:

  1. Planning for the return to the workplace
  2. Bringing employees back to work
  3. Ongoing workplace management and evolution

I hope you can take any applicable “plays” and use them to jump start your own “re-opening” plans for your businesses.

There is just no need to reinvent the proverbial “wheel”!

If we can help you navigate these challenging times, please give us a call or drop us a note.

Strategic Focus During a Crisis

These are challenging and uncertain times. Business owners are in the midst of a major transition. What business owners are going through today with COVID-19 is very different from the gradual recession of 2008 and 2009. Today’s pandemic has caused a drastic and immediate impact for a large percentage of businesses.

Business owners need to reset expectations. To reduce the long-term impact, it’s wise to alter your planning now and get help from your advisers to make educated decisions.

If you don’t yet have a plan for how the future of your business will look, now is the time to create it. Begin by brainstorming scenarios of what your business will look like in the coming months and how that may impact the next few years. Some thoughts:

  • Executive Level Planning: What will happen if the CEO or a member of your Executive Team falls ill and is no longer able to manage the business?  A succession plan that outlines overall direction and guidance to operate the business in their absence is imperative. The best in class companies have a succession plan in place that both identifies the successor as well as an executable transition plan. Do you have information that addresses financial authorizations, access to staff information and messaging outlined for how to communicate with your customers? Are your systems and processes in place? Have you trained your entire leadership team to take the reins if necessary?
  • Leadership Training: One of the more productive practices that is emerging from the Pandemic is the identification of those within your company who are “rising to the occasion.” This is an opportune time to give increased responsibilities to those you believe may have the skill-sets required to take on more leadership roles. Give them increased duties, let them make non-mission critical decisions and watch how they respond. Who are the natural leaders? Who can you rely on? Who struggles with the new pressure? Your next set of leaders will become apparent quickly.
  • Adapting for the Long Term: All leaders, even the highly successful ones, must be able to adapt and reinvent themselves and how the business is being led. If those executives fail to change, the organization will stall and fail. This means embracing new technology, finding ways for your teams to successfully work remotely, learning to engage with employees in virtual meetings and using technology like AsanaSlackTeams and Zoom to keep organized and productive while in constant communication virtually.

I also invite you to read my last article on optimizing this shift in how your traditional work gets accomplished in this new environment and then be strategic, plan, test, implement and repeat these tools. We cannot be ad hoc in our thinking. Your business needs to be more agile, nimble and more flexible than ever before.

Megan Davis Lightman
CEO, Davis Consulting Group

Leveraging the Change in Your Work Structure in Response to COVID-19

Business challenges present opportunities to approach past practices and processes in a new way. We know that the essence of change is fundamentally the transformation from one state of being to another. A crisis, like Covid-19, can impact how, when, and where you and your employees operate as well as how your company can continue to meet customer demand. However, one thing is clear: this outbreak highlights the need for businesses to be resilient, prepared and easily adaptable, with qualities that will benefit you long after this outbreak is behind us. Now is the time to optimize this shift in how your traditional work gets accomplished in this new environment.

Use your leadership capital to suggest new approaches that make existing work achievable by following the suggestions below:

  1. Assess Systems, Processes and Strategies: When we think of improving a company by improving its processes, the first step is to study them, analyze them and understand them. Take this time to dive deeply into each area of your business and asses what needs to change, improve or remain the same. This could provide the specific opportunity to “course correct” your strategic plan.
  2. Increase Online Training: One of the most common mistakes organizations make is ending staff training after the on-boarding process. Your staff needs training throughout every stage of their employment, regardless of their experience level or position within the company. With more employees working from home, online training’s are easy to implement. This could be a great time for folks to get up to speed on accreditation’s, certificates of completion or adapt how your company will drive its desired culture through remote staffing.
  3. Skill development using Remote Meeting Facilitation:  A great facilitator empowers a group to be more effective and focused, often with an emphasis on open communication and trust. Use this time to let other team members practice and strengthen their facilitation and leadership skills. You’ll be conducting more remote video calls in the very near future.
  4. Update Prospective Client Outreach Strategies: Having a solid customer acquisition strategy is essential for any business. The best time to create and implement an effective client outreach strategy is NOW. Get into the planning phase and begin preparing a personalized, thorough client outreach strategy people can’t ignore. Working remotely will drive all sorts of innovative approaches to how work gets accomplished. Try new approaches to your existing traditional processes and practices.
  5. Asses First Quarter Success and Shifts: While the end of the first quarter is still a couple of weeks away, you may find that demands on your remote working time looks very different from working in the office. Take this opportunity to assess your business under the lens of COVID-19. Are the social distancing approaches requiring a new approach for how to best meet the needs of your customers? The first quarter is significant because it is sets the foundation from which to base the rest of the year.

The most successful business leaders agree, the most effective way to respond to any crisis is to be part of the solution, to act quickly and to make strategic changes to help advance the company and benefit in the long-term.

It’s also essential you take extra care to focus on building and sustaining trust within the organization. In times of uncertainty, great leaders share facts, data and set future direction. Leaders need to “lean in” and create new solutions and opportunities. Now can be the time for positive change. Be courageous and make every effort to take decisive action to leverage this unplanned opportunity.

Best Wishes for Leveraging Change in Your Work Structure in Response to COVID-19.

Megan Davis Lightman
CEO, Davis Consulting Group

How Team Dysfunction Can Signal Tremendous Success

A business succeeds when its leadership works as a team. However, when office politics, varying agendas, unclear goals and bad behaviors go unaddressed, the business will inevitably stagnate or decline in the results it achieves because of the unproductive environment.  By recognizing and addressing five common conditions found in dysfunctional teams, identified by Patrick Lenconi in “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” you can attend to these issues and lead your organization to realize successful and formerly unattainable achievements.

So, what are signs to look for in your team’s dynamics?  How strongly held are the following beliefs in your team?  (3=Usually; 2=Sometimes; 1=Rarely)

  1. Uncertainty, not having the right answer or vulnerability equals weakness.
  2. Conflict is damaging and unnecessary.
  3. Consensus equals commitment.
  4. Accountability comes naturally with team members who are closely connected.
  5. Results are easy to achieve if everyone can recite what they are.
  • A score of 5 or 6 is a probable indication that the dysfunction is not a problem for your team.
  • A score 7-9 indicates that the dysfunction could be a problem.
  • A score of 10 or higher indicates that several of the 5 dysfunctions need to be addressed.

Here is what we learn from Lenconi’s fable about dysfunctional teams:

  1. Absence of Trust. In the context of building a team, trust is the confidence among team members that their peers’ intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group. Teammates must get comfortable being professionally vulnerable with one another around organizational weaknesses, skill deficiencies, interpersonal shortcomings, mistakes and requests for help.

As “soft” as this might sound, it’s only when team members are truly comfortable being exposed to one another that they begin to act without concern for protecting themselves.  As a result, they can focus their energy and attention completely on the job at hand, rather than on being strategically disingenuous or political with one another.

  1. Fear of Conflict. All great relationships, the ones that last over time, require productive conflict in order to grow and thrive. This is true in marriage, parenthood, friendship and certainly business.  Unfortunately, conflict is considered taboo in many work environments.  It is important to distinguish productive ideological conflict from destructive fighting and interpersonal politics.  Ideological conflict is limited to concepts and ideas and avoids personality-focused, mean-spirited attacks.  However, both kinds of conflict can have many of the same external qualities – passion, emotion, and frustration.  So much so, that an outside observer might easily mistake one for the other.

But teams that engage in productive conflict know that the underlying purpose of pushing differing points of view is to produce the best possible solution in the shortest period of time.  They discuss and resolve issues more quickly and completely than others, and they emerge from heated debates with no residual feelings or collateral damage, but with an eagerness and readiness to take on the next important issue.

  1. Lack of Commitment. The two greatest causes of a lack of commitment are the desire for consensus and the need for certainty. Great teams understand the danger of seeking consensus and find ways to achieve buy-in even when complete agreement is impossible. They understand that reasonable human beings do not need to get their way in order to support a decision, but do need to know that their opinions have been heard and considered.

Great teams also pride themselves on being able to unite behind decisions and commit to clear courses of action even when there is little assurance about whether the decision is correct.  They understand the old military axiom, that clear decisive action is infinitely better than no decision at all. They also realize that it is better to make a decision boldly and be wrong, and then change direction with equal boldness than it is to waffle or postpone indefinitely.  Contrast this with the behavior of dysfunctional teams that try to hedge their bets and delay important decisions until they have enough data to feel certain that they are making the right decision.  The paralysis and lack of confidence it breeds is counterproductive and inherently damaging to the culture of the team and larger organization.

  1. Avoidance of Accountability. In the context of teamwork, accountability refers specifically to the willingness of team members to point out harmful or counterproductive behaviors or performance to their peers on the team. The essence of this dysfunction is the unwillingness of team members to tolerate the interpersonal discomfort that accompanies calling a peer out on his or her behavior and the more general tendency to avoid difficult conversations.

As counter-intuitive as it sounds, the most effective and efficient means of maintaining high standards of performance on a team is peer pressure…not bullying.  More than any bureaucratic performance management system, there is nothing like the fear of letting down respected teammates that motivates people to improve their performance.

  1. Inattention to Results. The ultimate dysfunction of a team is the tendency of members to care about something other than the collective goals of the group. An unrelenting focus on specific objectives and clearly defined outcomes is a requirement for any team that judges itself on performance.  So, what are the common distractions?  Individual status, ego and self promotion.

For members of some teams, merely being part of the group is enough to keep them satisfied.  For them, the achievement of specific results might be desirable, but not necessarily worthy of great sacrifice or inconvenience.  For other people, their focus is on enhancing their own positions or career prospects even at the expense of their team.  While self-preservations is an innate tendency for most human beings, a functional team must make the collective results of the group more important to each individual than individual members’ goals.

Lenconi reminds us that “teams succeed because they are exceedingly human. By acknowledging the imperfections of their humanity, members of functional teams overcome the natural tendencies that make trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and a focus on results so elusive.”

By: Megan Davis Lightman, founder of Davis Consulting Group



How to Work On Your Business, Not Just In It

When you started your company, you imagined the day when business would be booming, current clients would be sending consistent work and maintaining regular income wouldn’t be a struggle. For many business owners and managers, that time has arrived. You are busier than ever trying to finish projects, meet deadlines and continue to deliver the high-quality production of work your clients have come to expect. At the same time, business owners and leaders know a solid, consistent pipeline of new business is essential to the long-term success of the business.

A plan for strategic growth is something everyone knows they should have, but who has the time to create and implement one? Most business owners would say their biggest challenge is getting to a point where they are not actively working “on” their business because they are too busy working “in” their business. How do you navigate the delicate balance of running your business without getting caught up in the smaller, daily details?

Creating a strategic growth plan takes time. There are many details to address, so how do you prioritize? Important elements for a good growth plan include streamlining work flow processes, recruiting and training talent who are a good fit for the culture you are working to create, and finding diverse prospecting avenues for new relationship and business development. Most folks don’t think they can afford the “thinking time” away from checking tasks off their daily to-do lists. However, you do not want to reach a point where you neglect these things, as they are the foundation of your business, and helped you get where you are today. Working on your business, as opposed to in it, will help you achieve future successes as you grow.

The best way to combat working in your business is to create—and continually revisit—your business’ strategic plan. This plan defines your organization’s direction and provides guidance on how resources should be used to achieve the overall strategy for the company. A strategic plan goes one step further than a traditional business plan, in that it outlines how to leverage your goals to take advantage of future business opportunities.

Strategic planning provides direction, outlines measurable goals and creates an action plan for future growth. While a strategic plan is helpful for guiding day-to-day decisions, it’s best used to evaluate progress and changing approaches moving forward.

If you are trapped in the day-to-day hamster wheel of working in your business, referring to your strategic plan clears away the mental fog and allows you to refocus on the bigger picture. Company managers and owners are in a better position to understand their business and test industry trend data when they employ a strategic plan. Your plan helps review past progress—see what tactics may have succeeded or failed—and make changes to improve as you move forward.

In business, you should always remember the mission and values that delivered your initial success, and then continuously and actively work on your business by testing and delivering new strategies to meet the needs of your customers. As your business prospers and you gain more clients and projects, a strategic plan becomes invaluable. It will shine a spotlight on where your business has been, the goals it has reached, what the next steps are and how to achieve future objectives.


Megan Davis Lightman: She chose to stand up and lead
Inside Tucson Business

When she was 12 years old, Megan Davis Lightman says she had a big decision to make: “Do I stand up and educate people? Or do I sort of hide in the background? And my choice, with the support of my family, was to stand up and educate.” READ MORE


Strategic Plan Must Drive Organizational Culture CORP!

What makes an organization a great place to work, motivates employees and decreases turnover? The best run organizations are inevitably those with a clear sense of mission and goals that are shared by everyone from the C-Suite to the mailroom. READ MORE