Tag Archives: Bosses

Bosses Beware! Part 2

Mar 7, 2014 | By Staff | Bosses Culture Leadership


Back in January we wrote about what happens when someone becomes a boss in a post called, Bosses Beware! The findings of a USC Marshall School of Business study revealed the changes in perception that often accompany the increase in power that comes with becoming a boss. (Hence our warning to all you bosses out there!)

An article in the latest issue of business magazine, Entrepreneur provides further evidence of how and why power can corrupt the mind. According to new studies, power makes people less able to feel empathy for others.

“Powerful people tend to ignore peripheral data and don’t process information about the less powerful folks around them. Their tunnel vision stays locked on the actions that will the praise, status, or glory they crave.”


“The powerful have decreased recognition of others’ concerns, allowing them to throw their weight around without qualm.”

But don’t fret. Just because this happens doesn’t make you a bad person – it’s your brain’s fault. Annette Simmons, author of Territorial Games, explains, “The person really believes they’re doing the right thing for the right reason.”

Ultimately, the onus is you to overcome the obstacle your brain may present you. Awareness is the first step; whether you’re a newly minted boss or a veteran manager of people. And now you’re armed with the knowledge necessary to keep from falling into the trap of being corrupted by power.

“Leaders have to find ways to break through the mind lock and the knee-jerk rationales.”

Entrepreneur March 2013

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Bringing New Employees Into Your Culture? Call RITA

Feb 26, 2014 | By Staff | Bosses Culture Hiring/Firing Leadership


Finding new employees to bring into an established organization is tough enough. But finding new employees to bring into an established culture…well, that’s even tougher. 

That’s why Will Dean, CEO of Tough Mudder, an adventure/endurance-race company founded in 2010, developed a process for onboarding new hires Dean has dubbed “RITA.” A Harvard Business School graduate, Dean knows a thing or two about how to build a successful company. But who’s RITA?

According to Dean, his method for finding the right employees to fit into Tough Mudder’s culture is divided into four parts:






Dean knows culture is key, which is why he identifies “Induction” as the most complex part of of his hiring process. “It’s easy to put your values on the wall. It means nothing. It’s about behavior. Culture is really just how people behave when they think you’re not looking.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Another way in which Dean communicates his desired culture at Tough Mudder is by actively making himself available to new hires, rather than simply declaring, “My door is always open.” Dean explains, “I also personally sit down with groups of new people for an hour and a half and let them ask me anything they want.” 

Between using RITA and employing active leadership, Dean is shaping the Tough Mudder culture — AND making sure its employees will fit right in.

Would you use RITA to find and hire new talent?

Inc. Magazine November 2013

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The Myth of the “Open Door” Policy

Feb 18, 2014 | By Staff | Bosses Culture Engagement Leadership

open door

“My door is always open.”

In the business world we often hear this phrase shouted out from bosses to their employees. It’s an attempt to connect – to convey a culture of equality and sharing where all employees can feel comfortable approaching The Boss.

Some bosses really mean it; others don’t. But regardless of the sincerity of intent, one of the problems with simply stating “My door is always open” is just how few employees actually take that sentiment to heart!

Jason Fried, co-founder of Chicago software company 37signals puts it this way:

It’s a cop-out. It makes the boss feel good but the onus entirely on the employees. You might as well say, “You find the problems and then take all the risk of interrupting my day and confronting me about them.” How many people have taken you up on that offer? 

Fried makes a great point. As an employee, how likely would you be to take your boss up on that offer? If most of you are saying “not very likely,” that gets us to the root of the issue: how can bosses build an Open Door Policy that actually works, and fosters a culture of learning and engagement that benefits everyone?

Most importantly, bosses can take the onus of gaining information, insights, and opinions off of their employees and place that responsibility on their own shoulders. “You need to make it safe to speak up,” says Fried, “People don’t volunteer information – they release it.” 

Rather than proudly announcing that your door is ajar, get out of your office and knock on your employees’ doors instead. And understand that a reluctance to speak up is totally reasonable. Who knows? Maybe you have staff members who were reprimanded at, or even fired from, a previous job for speaking up without being asked.

As a boss himself, Fried’s got the right idea. It’s easy to be a boss without also being a leader. Creating your desired culture takes active – not passive – leadership. It requires modeling that desired culture for your employees, rather than just expecting them to create it for you. You must walk the talk.

So get out there bosses, managers, supervisors, and foremen – lead from the front by seeking out those insights and opinions of your employees. If you don’t, who will?

Inc. Magazine, November 2013

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Creating a Culture of Excellence

Jan 20, 2014 | By Staff | Bosses Culture Hiring/Firing Leadership


The cover of Entrepreneur magazine’s February 2014 issue states, “Create a culture of excellence.”

Despite the fact that culture is about groups and entrepreneurs are individuals, this statement reminds us that cultures are born, built, and nurtured. They come from somewhere, from someone. From visions, values, and beliefs. This is especially true in newly-formed companies, which take their cultural cues from their founders and top leaders.

The author of Entrepreneur‘s February article, “Good Vibes,” writer and professor Christopher Hann, points out four “common lessons learned” from his interviews with entrepreneurs about creating and sustaining positive cultures:

- The CEO and senior management team must play an active role in defining the culture,  then reinforce it through their words and deeds.

- That reinforcement must take place on a regular, if not daily, basis. You can’t live the culture only when the mood strikes.

- All employees, from the boss to the newest hire, must embrace the culture.

- A company must hire people who will be a good cultural fit.

What do you think of these four common themes? Is your organization’s culture in alignment with these positive themes? If not, how can you, whether you’re the CEO or the newest hire, improve and reinforce the culture?


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Big A** Fans — Big Fans of Culture

Jan 15, 2014 | By Staff | Bosses Culture Hiring/Firing Uncategorized


While the company name my be controversial, its bottom line is something everyone can agree on. With annual sales of over $125 million, Big Ass Fans, a fifteen-year-old ceiling fan design and manufacturing business based in Lexington, KY, gets its culture straight from its founder, Carey Smith.

Inc. Magazine’s January issue features an article on BAF’s hiring practices, and points out the influence of culture on the hiring process. Smith encourages a “work hard, play hard” culture, and according to Inc., “He acts as both the company’s CEO and culture czar.” Even BAF’s own Director of Business Development told CNN, “The culture is a little bit off the wall.”

But with BAF revenues more than doubling over the past three years, it sounds like this culture is working! “Smith is particularly interested in employing people who possess two specific personality traits: curiosity and positivity,” writes Inc., which means that Smith actively seeks employees that are genuinely curious rather than simply qualified. Similarly, while it’s clear Smith likes to have a good time, he wants to get the message across that BAF is “a serious place to work and slackers will not be tolerated.” Work hard, play hard indeed.

The company’s YouTube videos (humorously listed under the account name, “Fanny the Donkey”) indicate how far Smith and BAF are willing to go to show its employees AND its customers just what the “play hard” side of their culture is really like. This is best illustrated in the video titled “Big Ass Fans Fan Mail,” which features recordings of consumers who have received BAF advertising materials and called the company to complain about its controversial (and, admittedly not for everyone) name. Love the name or hate it, there is no question that Big Ass Fans and its founder Carey Smith are comfortable with, and confident in, their own corporate culture to the point where they are willing to alienate potential customers in order to live the culture of “work hard, play hard” they believe in. Take a look:

BAF Fan Mail Video

What do you think of the BAF culture? Are they crazy to limit their potential consumer base with an unconventional name and boundary-pushing YouTube videos? Or are they just espousing the culture they believe in? Would you want to work at company with a culture like Big Ass Fans?


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Bosses Beware!

Jan 9, 2014 | By Staff | Bosses Leadership

smitten kitchen

“It’s a black and white issue.”

“We’re working in the grey area.”

These phrases get thrown around a lot in business culture. And with good reason – some of us see the world in black and white, while others see the grey in between. One viewpoint isn’t better than the other, but it can be important to understand where you stand and how you see things. Especially since a new study shows how easy it is to switch from one point of view to the other, without even realizing it.

But how? Why?

Believe it or not, the answer is by becoming a boss.

A study at the USC Marshall School of Business attempted to find out what happens to someone’s viewpoint when he or she becomes a boss. In other words, anytime a person is given more power or authority. This could mean becoming the CEO, or it could mean becoming a Team Leader, Union representative, Supervisor, or Middle Manager.

The study revealed  two fascinating – and startling – findings:

1) “People given power suddenly feel much more certain about the difference between right and wrong. And they come down on wrong harder.”

2) “Newly-minted bosses are quicker to decide what’s moral and immoral…and they’re more likely to deliver punishment for the immoral than to reward do-gooders.”

Yikes! So those who might previously have found themselves in the grey area, suddenly become more black and white when they’re given increased power, AND they become quicker to punish than to reward!

Lord Acton’s famous 19th Century remark declared, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

But it doesn’t have to!

All you bosses out there — has your viewpoint shifted since becoming a boss? Have you become less grey, more black and white? Likewise, if you’re someone who’s apt to be given more boss-like responsibility soon, note your current viewpoint and be aware of any changes.

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