Episode 164.5 – Green Apple Slice


Adopt the Means to Measure and Manage the Return on Culture Consistently



The Green Apple Podcast does weekly “Green Apple Slices”, where John Garrett and Rachel Fisch discuss a recent business article related to the Green Apple Message. These shorter segments are released each Monday, so don’t miss an episode by subscribing on iTunes or an Android app.

This week, John and Rachel discuss a Livemint article, “Adopt the Means to Measure and Manage the Return on Culture Consistently” by Rajeev Peshawaria.


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    Good morning. It’s Monday morning. This is John Garrett coming to you with another episode of Green Apple Slices. I have on the other line the — man, what’s your title again?

    Rachel: Accountant Alliances for Sage Canada.

    John: Accountant Alliances for Sage Canada, Rachel Fisch.

    Rachel: I thought you were just going to make me introduce myself there for a second.

    John: We should probably do that. It’s safer for everybody.

    Rachel: It’s just easier, yeah.

    John: Mostly Sage because they’re like way ton up.

    Rachel: Where are you up to this week, John?

    John: This week, I’m actually off to the University of Notre Dame. We’re filming the football award show that I write that to move the last three years, we’re nominated for an Emmy. That’s pretty weird. No pressure on the fourth year.

    Rachel: I think you meant to say great.

    John: Oh, great. Yes, great. No, it’s awesome. It’s really incredible.

    Rachel: Well, no kidding.

    John: Yeah. I’m excited to get back and shoot that. Yeah.

    Rachel: I will be a little warmer in San Diego and then heading up to Vancouver a little later this week as well.

    John: Nice, San Diego. Look at you.

    Rachel: Yeah, not bad. Not bad.

    John: You’ve been all your US citizen.

    Rachel: I got my status. I’m good.

    John: Well, the good news is I know where the US cities are. When you name off Moncton and whatever the heck you say in Canada, I’m like, “All right, whatever.”

    Rachel: You now know it’s a great geography lesson. But, yeah, we’re in a roll with Rachel Fisch. Yeah, but it’ll be good.

    John: Yes, you are the new Carmen Sandiego. That’s your title. You’re the Carmen Sandiego of Sage.

    Rachel: I’ll take it.

    John: Right. Yes. But every Monday, we always get together and talk through an article about culture, employee engagement, things along those lines. I found this article on livemint.com. It was an article by Rajeev Peshawaria. It was, “Adopt the Means to Measure and Manage the Return on Culture Consistently.” The subtitle being, “The problem is that company culture — and how to shape it — is grossly misunderstood.” I agree.

    Rachel: I totally agree. I think I was wishing for a little bit more advice on the “how to shape it” a little bit, like Peter Drucker’s really famous quote, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” I definitely think that there is something here and especially again, when you’re dealing with professionals, in many cases, accountants who want numbers and goals and targets. How are we going to get from step A to step B? You have to break things down that way for pretty much everything. It’s just the nature of what makes a great accountant.

    I think I was looking for a little bit more of what are those KPIs? What do those things look like? How do you get your baseline? Then what do those KPIs look like?” Because it doesn’t have anything to do with charge codes. What are the different ways that those matrix can be measured so that they can be improved on?

    John: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I think the harder part is just organizations figuring out what are the things that matter to them. What are the values that are the bedrock of their culture? Because those are the things that you need to measure. But a lot of times, people just cherry pick some generic thing that they Googled and then go with that. It’s like, “Well, no. I mean what do you want the organization to be? Because you can become whatever you want.”

    Rachel: Or they get some of those teamwork or integrity pictures and just put them around the office. They’re like, “There. That will fix that.”

    John: Right, right. My favorites are the de-motivational posters, the ones that came out mocking them roughly about 15 years ago or so. Yeah, those were great.

    Rachel: But definitely, I mean it speaks to having a mission statement on the wall or having things that are mandates but really aren’t developed or exemplified — there is a fancy word for you — in the senior management, right? If they don’t live what they were expecting everyone else to live, you really aren’t going to get the by-end from people below you.

    John: They listed three common problems. That was number two. “Senior leaders talk about values, but don’t walk the talk.” Then two of the other issues were, “There are no visible rewards or consequences for living the values or not.” It doesn’t matter. Then number three was the. “KPIs and performance expectations often encourage behavior that violates or compromises the values that you’ve established.”

    Rachel: Yeah. One of the things that we’ve seen in firms, the typical measurements are around charge codes and chargeable hours and billable hours and work hours, all of these elements. You have to play a number’s game to not get crapped on every week. I may have had experience with that. Yet the very thing that makes you great at those make you really crappy as a colleague and a general employee, right?

    John: Yeah. I mean if you’re just all chargeable hours the whole time, then you’re clearly not socializing with anyone. You’re not a good team member. You’re not helping people develop. You’re not doing training yourself. I mean I’ve had firms that I’ve talked with and consulted with where I’ve had to explain to them that just because it’s not chargeable doesn’t mean it’s not good for the firm. If you’re recruiting, if you’re doing community service projects, things along those lines, I mean those are very good for the firm. They’re not billable. But then people feel guilted into needing those chargeable hours.

    Rachel: I mean it’s even gone to the point where there are awards for that, for the most chargeable hours or the highest build to a client, right? There are actually awards for that. How do you award the behavior that you actually want to be seeing, right? There’s got to be some motivator there in order for you to get results sometimes.

    John: Yeah. I mean exactly. I mean that’s an excellent question. I mean their solution in the article is a 360-degree feedback system, which I know we all don’t love surveys. It also says once a year. I mean I think it would be great to do it maybe more frequently, but it also has to be completely anonymous. Because I think that’s the other thing. People get nervous when you start filling out forms on a work computer from a work email. They’re like, “Oh, this is tagged. They’re tracking me and whatever.” But you should also feel comfortable to be able to say things and not have repercussions against that. You should also be also to say them to the person’s face in a meeting. I mean like, “Hey, here’s something that you could have done better,” both ways as a manager and as a colleague, staff person.

    Rachel: Here’s one sentence that stuck out. “If you have a well-articulated set of company values, it should be easy enough to create a set of behavior statements for each value.” If you’ve gone through and you’ve done the work on what your company values should be, it shouldn’t be that much of a stretch then to say, “Okay. Now, what does that look like? How does that appear within a character?” Then measure on that, right?

    John: That’s exactly it. They’re saying there are some flaws to it, but in all their years of this company observing cultures and corporate consulting projects that they’ve done, they haven’t found anything better to do. But I think it’s great because it keeps everyone accountable in all directions. It’s an idea to put into practice. But again, having those real conversations is probably more important than having a survey once a year type of a thing.

    Rachel: Yeah, for sure.

    John: Well, there you go. I mean I’ll just tell you. You’re amazing, Rachel. You couldn’t do anything better even or maybe you can just follow words going at what you’re talking about.

    Rachel: Okay, now I know you’re lying.

    John: Nope, nope.

    Rachel: That’s okay. I will definitely do that. John, you’re a pretty funny guy, so keep that up.

    John: There you go. The KPIs are now number of syllables that you use in a word that you win every week.

    Rachel: And how many times you make me laugh, so there.

    John: There we go. No, but that’s awesome. Thank you so much. Yeah. Everyone check out the show on Twitter @GreenApplePod or you can leave a review. Don’t forget to hit subscribe because we love sharing such cool articles each and every week. Yeah. Have a great week and safe travels to San Diego and Vancouver.

    Rachel: Thanks. Have fun on your shoot.

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