The Five elements of building an organizational culture

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“Change the culture” is frequently used when people talk about improving an organization.  We are pleased to offer this excellent, free white paper authored by Zingerman’s co-founder Ari Weinzweig, “The Five Elements of Building an Organizational Culture.” Those of you who are familiar with Zingerman’s understand that their culture is characterized by extraordinary customer service. But this culture did not simply emerge when they opened the doors of their now world famous delicatessen in 1982, it took years of hard work. When asked how they get people to care and have such a good time at work, Ari answers by saying, “there is no secret, no magic formula, there are just a thousand things that make a culture what it is.” Download this free paper and gain insight from someone who has built and continues to build an organizational culture where service to the customer trumps everything.

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Getting Business Results from Employee Learning

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It is our belief that a key to organizational success is the capability to learn at the individual, team and organizational levels. Zingerman's, a community of nine businesses in Ann Arbor, Michigan, owes much of their success to their collective capacity to learn and apply that learning to improve their businesses. In a recently published article in Zingerman's monthly e-newsletter, we explain our 5A framework that has influenced much of Zingerman's approach to training and learning. 

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The Employee Engagement Problem Assessment is a tool for assessing the extent to which you have employee engagement problems in your organization. Employee engagement is defined as enthusiasm for one’s work, commitment to do one’s best, and a willingness to go the extra mile and put in discretionary effort to help the organization be successful.

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Understand and learn from survey data. Give employees an opportunity to discuss the survey findings and provide suggestions for improvement. Regardless of the survey topic, this tool guides leader-facilitators in using data to improve organization performance.

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To get the most from training and development programs, managers should align those programs with their organization’s strategic goals. This tool helps managers achieve this alignment. The instrument is used by groups of managers to identify and improve the path from learning new knowledge, skills, and attitudes to achieving important business outcomes. It is also used by learners to understand the business value of what they are learning. For additional information see: Getting More From Your Investment in Training: The 5As Framework, by Stephen J. Gill and Sean P. Murray, RealTime Performance 2009.

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The purpose of the Manager’s Learning Process Model is to guide managers as they work with their employees on any learning process – workshops, seminars, college courses, desktop eLearning, mobile eLearning, video/audio trainings, reading materials, on-the-job learning, internships, or ongoing mentoring and coaching. This model highlights where, when and how a manager can intervene to ensure that employees and the organization receive maximum benefit from individual learning.

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The Organizational Learning Maturity Scale is used to assess how close an organization is to having a learning culture and to help that organization decide what needs to be done to develop such a culture. The OLMS has two dimensions: (1) the focus of learning and (2) the level of learning. By determining where an organization falls along these two dimensions, leaders can stimulate conversation and planning around how learning can help meet team and organizational goals.

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This tool is designed to help you understand communication issues in your organization and develop positive alternatives to poor communication. First, a scenario that reflects the challenges associated with communicating change throughout the organization is presented. This scenario is followed by a set of questions that compare the case to your own organization; this will help you identify strengths and weaknesses in the way people plan for organizational change.

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Do you want employees to learn? Do you want them to acquire new knowledge, new behaviors, and new attitudes? Do you want them to transfer that learning to the workplace and apply that learning to achieve business goals? If so, it’s important to develop manager-employee relationships that are based on and supportive of learning. This isn't a nice-to-have – it’s a must-have.

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The purpose of this tool is to identify barriers to learning within your organization and determine actionable steps to remove those barriers. Organizations put up both interpersonal and structural barriers that get in the way of individuals becoming smarter and more effective in their work. Most often this isn’t intentional; rather, these barriers are the natural tendency of people trying to function in complex systems. Twelve of those barriers are listed in this tool. Using this guide provides an opportunity for individuals and teams to examine why they aren’t learning as effectively as they could be and to figure out what they can do about it. This is the kind of problem-solving that all organizations should go through from time to time.

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Often, the first response to a performance problem is to blame the performer. We hear comments like, "this person is not motivated, they are not a good fit, they sold us a bill of goods during the interview but they don't have the skills they said they did." But there is another, much more effective way to solve performance problems. This guide will help you diagnose performance issues in a more systematic way, lead you to a deeper understanding of the underlying causes and help you develop solutions which have a better chance of succeeding. 

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