Ten Steps for Creating a Culture of Commitment and Accountability

By: Ashley Bowers

1.) Communicate to everyone that accountability and commitment are important!

2.) Align every job description to your company’s strategy and goals for the coming year. Ask everyone to commit to a shared vision of results.

3.) Make accountabilities clear for everyone by using the benchmark for their job to start a discussion about how their individual contributions matter.

4.) When you onboard new employees, have job-related professional development planning already in place to help them reach their full potential.

5.) Build accountability into your company culture using “what & by when” goal and task planning. Project management can be very sophisticated, but the bottom line is “who, what, and by when?”

6.) Offer ways for employees to communicate obstacles and request the help or resources they need to achieve their goals. When you listen to them, recognize that what you’re listening to is someone who is committed to producing results.

7.) Involve employees in an ongoing dialogue about how they can identify process improvements or otherwise increase the quality of their work and the team’s productivity.

8.) Use small “course corrections” on a monthly or as-needed basis to guide employees toward behaviors and practices that are effective for meeting goals. Don’t wait for the annual performance review. You wouldn’t wait until arrival at a destination to notice a wrong turn along the way, would you?

9.) “Catch” people doing something right: Give frequent, honest and positive feedback. As a general rule of thumb, a ratio of five positive interactions to one critical interaction will help managers build an open communication channel with direct reports.

10.) Identify ways to recognize and acknowledge employees company-wide when their actions exemplify an “above and beyond” commitment to company objectives. Success breeds success!

Brains are Most at Ease, Most Efficient in Native Tongue

Proving the old axiom, It’s not what you say, but how you say it, Target Training International (TTI) announces initial results showing people who are multilingual are much more decisive in their native language. Following the development by TTI of a patent-pending process for verifying self-reporting with gamma and beta brain waves observed and recorded on electroencephalography (EEG), TTI applied this research to the realm of language processing. A study of multilingual individuals confronted by words in all of their language fluencies demonstrated a person confronting a word in their native language is far better at being decisive with their interpretation. Secondarily, working in a language other than your native tongue requires more energy to perform the same task.

“The results were amazing. First, subjects’ brain activity from each stimulus matched the prior acceptance and avoidance data collected, regardless of language, in the pre-EEG questionnaire,” said Dr. Ron J. Bonnstetter, vice president of research and development for TTI, and the co-leader of the study. “While this might at first suggest working in a first language is not important, the intensity of each stimulus response decreased in the order of the subjects’ language proficiency.”

The first language responses made far more neuro-connections to past experiences and resulted in a stronger EEG response.

The implication of this finding applies to assessments TTI develops, which are provided to consultants and corporations via TTI Performance Systems, a related company. Assessments are best provided in a person’s first language in order to attain the best response, and responses that do not fatigue the participant before they complete the task. In a broader sense, the study shows clearer communication is more likely when using the recipients’ native language when ever possible.

Leading this study were Dr. Bonnstetter, Bill Bonnstetter, chairman of TTI; and Dustin Hebets, TTI research and development coordinator. Providing integral support of this research in the form of equipment and software, is Thomas F. Collura of BrainMaster Technologies, Inc

Who Are Your Organization’s Entrepreneurs?

By Bill J. Bonnstetter

How useful would it be to identify the problem-solvers within your business? They’re called entrepreneurs, and not all of them are created the same. The ability to identify entrepreneurs empowers organizations to effectively manage their workforce. Through research, we’re beginning to learn more about spotting star performers who would otherwise become disengaged and flee — taking their new ideas with them.

Identifying these individuals is possible long before they enter the workplace. In fact, 42 percent of entrepreneurs have determined they want to own their own business before the age of 12, according to an ongoing study run by our company, Target Training International, of engineering students from 18 major U.S. universities.

Early findings from this research describe two types of entrepreneurs emerging:

Entrepreneurial-Minded People (EMPs): They tend to work well in teams, have an organized workplace and enjoy consistency. These individuals are happier within organizations or within a group of people working together to achieve a goal.

Serial Entrepreneurs (SEs): The second group is made up of potential serial entrepreneurs who have a desire to own their own business. Serial entrepreneurs tend to be more individualistic, have a greater sense of urgency and a desire to control. They have demonstrated an ability to sustain a business past the first year, into the higher growth job production years of a young firm.

Both entrepreneurial types are identified by a distinct challenge-orientation and improvement-focused mindset. But they differ in their attitudes towards control. EMPs are less concerned with the amount of control they can exert. They are happiest when they work collaboratively on a task, in a team, striving for solutions to complex or recurring problems.

The SE wishes to have ultimate control over her life and business. While happy to set direction for a company or team, serial entrepreneurs need to feel that their employer is not limiting their destiny.

Once you identify certain performers as SEs or EMPs, it’s your job as a manager to retain them.

Make sure they have a forum where their ideas can be heard. When an SE shares his vision and is met with rejection, he will become disengaged and will likely resent the organization. He is also likely to not only plot his exit, but how to redress the rejection he experienced. That can translate into taking their ideas to a competitor or becoming a competitor himself. Similarly if an EMP is not allowed to engage in the problem-solving process or is asked to work independently, the same is likely to occur.

But how do managers identify entrepreneurial types? It’s often helpful to put these questions to use, especially during the hiring process or a performance review.

  1. Describe your career goals. The EMP’s answer would more likely indicate he could care less about being in management and is happy where he is or where he is applying for. The SE will tend to say she is looking for advancement.
  2. Describe your professional strengths. An EMP will focus on strengths directly related to the job in question. An SE will talk more about leadership and personal identity.
  3. Describe things you’re not good at. Honesty is important for both. Listen closely: If she claims to not have any weaknesses, she is likely more SE-driven. The more weaknesses he confesses to having, the more EM-driven he is.
  4. What activities do you do to keep current in your profession? The EMP is interested in keeping up within his profession and industry. The SE is more focused on keeping up on broader scope, going beyond just her career and may discuss things she is reading, experiencing or sharing.

Entrepreneurs — whether EMPs or serial — already possess the behaviors, attitudes, and values to build successful businesses. Finding out whom within the workforce possesses the traits of an entrepreneur — and which type they are — will allow business leaders to work with their unique approach to business. Recruiting and retaining entrepreneurs will pay big dividends not just for individual companies, but also for the economy as a whole.

New Research: The Skills That Make an Entrepreneur

By Bill J. Bonnstetter

Entrepreneurial-minded people (and the ideas they generate) are extremely valuable to an organization. At our research firm, we recently conducted a multi-variable analysis of a group of serial entrepreneurs and identified five personal skills that clearly make them unique. “Personal skills” — often classified as “soft skills” — develop slowly over time, and we used them to help identify what job-related activities a person has developed. We primarily looked at people who started multiple businesses and experienced both success and failure.

After assessing the subjects on their personal skills and comparing their performance against a control group, we found a certain set of skills were the most predictive of an entrepreneurial mindset. In fact, by examining these five distinct personal skills alone, we were able to predict with over 90 percent accuracy people who would become serial entrepreneurs.

The quality serial entrepreneurs displayed above others was persuasion, or the ability to convince others to change the way they think, believe or behave. Persuasion for this study was defined as the ability to persuade others to join the mission. In the study, this was uncovered by ranking on a scale of 1 to 6 prompts such as: “I have been recognized for my ability to get others to say yes,” or “I have a reputation for delivering powerful presentations.” Unquestionably entrepreneurs need to excel at persuasion, whether to recruit a team or get buy-in from investors and stakeholders.

Perhaps not surprisingly, leadership is also one of the five areas where entrepreneurs excelled. In this study, good leaders were defined as having a compelling vision for the future, i.e., surveyors who highly ranked prompts such as: “In the past, people have taken risks to support my vision, mission or goals,” or “I have been criticized for being too competitive.” Serial entrepreneurs ranked both of these prompts highly. For people with an entrepreneurial mind-set, their strength of vision is usually tied to a product or service that provides solutions to challenges, even when the general public is not aware the challenge exists.

Entrepreneurial-minded people also display personal accountability. We defined personal accountability as demonstrating initiative, self-confidence, resiliency and a willingness to take responsibility for personal actions. Subjects with strong personal accountability highly ranked prompts such as: “I have been recognized for achieving results when others could not,” or “I have been criticized for holding people accountable for their actions.” As evidenced by these prompts, people who are personally accountable look at obstacles as a part of the process and, rather than give up, they are energized by them. From this we can gather, individuals who blame others for their failures display a significant lack of personal accountability and will most likely stall in any entrepreneurial effort.

Goal orientation is another critical skill for entrepreneurial-minded people. In the study, goal orientation was defined as energetically focusing efforts on meeting a goal, mission, or objective (which closely paired with leadership, as it is described above). More entrepreneurs generally agreed with the statements: “I am known for overcoming significant obstacles to reach goals,” or “I am most productive when working closely with others to achieve goals.” As mentioned above, it’s important that entrepreneurs have a strong sense of what their goal is, because their product or service depends on it. Identifying and advocating for the goal allows them to influence others and gain their support.

The final identifying skill is a mastery of interpersonal skills, the glue that holds the other four skills together. They include effectively communicating, building rapport, and relating well to all people, from all backgrounds and communication styles. In the study, people who excelled here agreed with: “My ability to get along with people has been a key to my greatest accomplishments,” or “I am known for my ability to calm people who are emotionally upset.” Without interpersonal skills, an entrepreneur would be limited to relating only to those who share their exact communication style, thus restricting her ability to convey her vision and goals.

In contrast to ephemeral notions that entrepreneurial success comes as a result of perfect timing meeting brilliant ideas in a cosmic moment of alignment, this research indicates entrepreneurially successful people are successful for a reason — that many of them highly display certain personal skills. And while this research identifies these skills, it should be pointed out these five attributes are not inherent. They can be learned and developed, especially early in life, and further honed throughout an entrepreneur’s career.

Motivating the Masses

By: Favor Larson, Senior Business Services Consultant

If you’re like us, your internet browser often finds its way to Fast Company’s website, where the latest trends in business innovation are always at the forefront. Recently, they published an article entitled, “Why Trying To Manipulate Employee Motivation Always Backfires,” that definitely piqued the interest of my Certified Professional Motivators Analyst (CPMA) brain.

The article, which you can read in its entirety here, explains that “organizations as a whole have made little progress on improving employee engagement … because you can’t control motivation.” We could not agree more.

People’s motivators are the personal “why” of what we do. Some people can live their whole lives, and they may never be asked to identify the things that truly motivate them, because our true motivators are tucked away in a part of our brain that often makes them difficult to access, thus keeping them private. If we can truly see people clearly and understand their personal motivators, we can expose why people do what they do, what gets them excited and up out of bed in the morning, and, ultimately, what keeps them engaged.

TTI has developed research-based, validated assessments that identify a person’s motivators (in addition to other dimensions such as behaviors, acumen, competencies and emotional intelligence). Why? When the leaders of an organization understand the unique rewards of each job, they can make better hiring decisions.By hiring people who are naturally rewarded by the type of work they perform, they will be more engaged and, therefore, more productive. By understanding how the ideal candidate will approach situations, changes or initiatives in the workplace, a selection specialist can then identify those candidates who share that specific job’s motivators.

The concept seems simple, right? When executed properly, the benefits of improved role clarity, job engagement, reduced stress, enhanced interpersonal relationships and improved performance are invaluable. Once organizations and individuals begin to apply motivational concepts, the world of opportunity, potential and satisfaction opens to them.