Companies Are People, Too

3 Reasons March Madness Pools Benefit Company Culture

It’s every college basketball lover’s favorite time of the year – March Madness! This is an exciting time with all of the upsets, Cinderella stories and last minute three-pointers. It’s an equally exciting boost for company morale, with friendly competition, and many opportunities to get better acquainted with co-workers.  While an estimated $1.2 billion is lost in productivity during March Madness, at Marketing Works, we see a spike in, laughter, spirited conversation, and generally good moods.


March Madness Marketing Works Brackets


Seventy percent of HR professionals believe office pools play a positive role in relationship building. Statistics also point to added benefits of team building and employee engagement. Here are three reasons why March Madness pools can truly benefit your company culture:


1. Enhances teamwork and relationship building. With everyone in the office participating in a March Madness pool, it illustrates that there is a common interest shared among the team. Discussing your brackets and the results of recent games helps to build relationships and form a stronger bond. Plan a team outing to watch the basketball games offsite. Or give a day off to watch the games as a recruiting tool.


2. Boosts employee morale. March Madness spices up the usual daily events at the office, keeping things exciting with changes in the bracket standings and anticipation for upcoming games. This provides employees the opportunity to discuss something they are passionate about and gives them another reason to look forward to coming to work!


3. Increases the ability to multi-task. Most employees juggle multiple projects at once, but perhaps have not yet mastered the skill of multi-tasking. Utilizing March Madness as a way to take quick breaks from your tasks at hand, rather than as a distraction, may help to improve multi-tasking skills. Make sure not to get too focused on the games though.  Check the scores for just a few minutes at a time and then get back to that project you were working on.


What other ways do you think March Madness pools benefit your company culture? Let us know in the comment section!

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5 Ways Personality Tests Help You Get the Most Out of Your Team

You don’t have to be ambidextrous to be able to write with either hand.  Most people can do it.  But using your dominant hand is definitely more productive.  Try this simple exercise:  with writing instrument in your dominant hand, sign your name.  Now, switch hands and sign your name with your other hand.

“It felt like a seizure.” “Very awkward.” “Time consuming.”  “Required more thought and effort.” “Stressful.”  “Unproductive.” That’s how the Marketing Works team described this John Hancock experiment.   We all agreed that we wouldn’t last very long in a company that required us to work outside our natural preferences.

This was the first step in exploring, understanding, and accepting each other’s personality. There are many tools available that can be used to start the dialogue.  We used Companies Are People Too ® (CAP2) which is based on the dimensions of personality developed by Myers and Briggs.

The key take aways from sharing our personality assessment results were:

  1. Our team is comprised of individuals with unique personalities and preferences.
  2. Accepting each other’s differences makes us appreciate and even seek out other points of view (rather than judging them).
  3. We now know what each team member needs from the rest of us to function at their highest potential.
  4. Understanding stressors (our own and others’) prevents situations that impact productivity.
  5. Stepping out of our comfort zone is easier when we feel understood and supported.

The Marketing Works team frequently participates in a variety of events, like weekly team lunches, Shadowbox, Clippers games, and Trivia nights. But the personality assessment exercise enabled us to get to know each other on a more personal level. We gained a better understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and preferred work styles. We enhanced our company’s communication, understanding, and patience with each other. Since our meeting we have found more effective ways to work together and how to appeal to each other’s working styles. It was truly beneficial to not only gain a stronger self-awareness, but an understanding of our co-workers’ personality traits and qualities. The CAP2 exercise helped to enhance Marketing Works’ team dynamic.

Marketing Works Team





Do you know what your personality preferences are, and how they differ from the rest of your team?  Check out the free personality assessment provided by CAP2. Let us know your results in the comments section!

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How to Brand Your Blog

Bloggers are a dime a dozen in today’s world, which is why it’s so important to make sure your blog is in alignment with your brand. Your brand conveys the tone, messaging and personality of your company.  A branded blog helps differentiate you from the countless other bloggers and more importantly, helps you control how you present yourself to your followers. Follow these steps to help brand your own blog based on your company’s personality to make it stand out from the pack:





  1.  Brand above all – You may be starting a new blog, or revamping one you’ve been working with for a while, but from the beginning you need to decide how your brand is represented through every post. Do you have an overarching message you’re trying to get across? It helps if a reader can get a strong sense of your brand just by reading a few posts. If you need help getting started, check out these branding tips to help you walk through shaping your brand. The Flickr blog is a perfect example of a company using what they’re best at; each post contains fantastic pictures with the right amount of text to enhance the story behind the images.
  2. Allow room for inspiration – Whether you’re a big company or a small business, think of a few concepts for how you would like to present your blog. Do you want to feature numerous posts on company culture or prefer to only talk about industry news? Will you joke around with your readers or engage them in serious discussions? You may even want guest editors once a week, or bimonthly videos. A great example of this is GE’s blog “Edison’s Desk,” which features industry news and has posts written by a wide variety of GE employees. Determining this will help to better develop a clearer picture of the story you want your blog to tell.
  3. Perfect the voice – Your audience will most likely be clients, competition and potential prospects so it’s important to use the right lingo that they will resonate with them. Chances are your company already has brand guidelines, social media policy, etc. Now you can put those to use as a baseline for engaging with your audience. If you don’t have any guidelines in place, here is a list of questions to get you started. You can also check out the HomeGoods blog, which goes over DIY home design. The bloggers always speak in a conversational, friendly tone, and when explaining projects to the reader do it clearly and in a way that’s easy to understand.
  4.  Content is king – This is probably the most important (and fun!) part of branding your blog. What do you want to put out there for your audience to see? You may find some posts do better than others, so be patient while going through trial and error. Just be sure you’re always asking yourself at the end of each post, does this represent my brand well? Johnson & Johnson use their blog as an opportunity to show the charity work they’re doing in communities across the world, from global cancer prevention to a 9/11 Hero’s Run.

Branding your blog enables you to embrace what you enjoy most about your company and find a way for that to show through. Do you know of any great branded blogs out there? Let us know in the comments!

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Marketing Culture, Inside and Out

If you’re interested in finding new ways to tell your company’s story, a video on company culture can be a fun way to project your company environment in a way that you can easily control. It allows recruiters to learn what it’s like to work in your company and potential prospects to get a stronger sense of the culture.


Kids II, an inventor of toys for babies and children, is a great example. In their video below they discuss what working there means to them, and the type of environment that they work to achieve. They repeatedly mentioned creativity, encouragement, and a family atmosphere all as vital to their success. The video itself includes employee testimonials from all different areas of the company, along with shots of them interacting with each other in the office and outside of work.


A company culture video is a huge benefit in two ways:


1.       Attracts Recruiting Interest


The most straightforward way a company can benefit from making a video is generating positive recruiting buzz. Not only will it differentiate you from the competition, but future job hunters may decide they just need to work for your company after watching a video that highlights the aspects of your culture that you’re most proud of.


2.       Connects with customers


Usually company culture videos are focused on attracting potential new hires, but they also allow for companies to connect with their customer base in a unique way. They can see the people that are behind the product, hopefully allowing them to feel more connected to the brand. It lends itself to a feeling of loyalty as well, when customers can relate to a company’s employees.



Here’s a post from the SmartRecruiters website with eight different examples of company culture including videos from Twitter, Sea Breeze, and Shopify. Of course, the key to an excellent company culture video is showcasing your brand’s personality. If your office is relaxed and casual, it doesn’t make sense to shoot everyone wearing suits and ties and speaking formally into the camera.


Here are two more examples of great company culture videos from Eventbrite and Custom Made.


What do you think is the most important thing to relay in a company culture video? Let us know in the comments!


Posted in: Brand Alignment, Company Culture

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3 Employee Engagement Tips to Boost Morale in the Workplace

According to Gallup, only 30 percent of the U.S. workforce is engaged in their work. What does this mean for your employee morale? Less productivity, less motivation and less satisfaction for employees. When your workforce lacks these fundamentals for producing good work, your company lacks – well, talent. Creating an inviting culture that engages your employees is an important element when it comes to boosting employee morale.


Here are three approaches to employee engagement that will help boost the morale of employees:


Embracing friendship in the workplace – Research by Gallup shows that close friendships with

Zappos' teamco-workers boost employee satisfaction by 50 percent. Zappos is a great example of one company that values employee engagement. They put an emphasis on their team, family, as it is embedded within one of their core values, “We watch out for each other, care for each other, and go above and beyond for each other because we believe in each other and we trust each other.” They not only treat each other like family, but they spend time with each other outside of work, “We work together, but we also play together. Our bonds go far beyond the typical “co-worker” relationships found at most other companies.” Encouraging friendships among the team at work can make the workplace a more welcoming and enjoyable atmosphere for employees.



All work no play – wait what? – Who said you can’t make work fun? According to Make Theiremployee morale Day, 90 percent of employees value a fun work environment. Google is without a doubt known for their fun corporate culture, “Our offices and cafes are designed to encourage interactions between Googlers within and across teams, and to spark conversation about work as well as play.” They pride themselves on a culture that incorporates fun in the workplace for their creative talent. And you don’t have to be Google to have fun at work. Encourage team outings, monthly potlucks or even a, “bring your dog to work day” to loosen up your team and promote a fun place to work.  Marketing Works likes to host a monthly potluck in the office and also takes the team out for fun – to the ballpark, bowling or even the comedy club to share some laughs.




Recognize good work – Another fact that emerges from Make Their Day is that 83 percent of employees appreciate recognition more than gifts or rewards. While it is great to offer incentives and benefits, nothing beats the power of a simple “thank you” or a personal recognition of great work. When you engage your employees through positive feedback, they are more motivated and feel like temployee moralehey are a valuable part of the team. For example, Marketing Works creates a culture that values the work of each other with a strong focus on “what we’re doing right” as a team as well as individually. There is always praise for good work as well a “thank you” for appreciation of someone else’s hard work. It’s as simple as a hand written note or a one-on-one conversation.










It takes an engaged workforce to produce talent that is productive, motivated and satisfied. Try embracing friendship among the team, incorporating a fun environment and praising the hard work of your employees to keep them engaged and their spirits high.

Marketing Works team at a Columbus Clippers game!

employee morale

How does your company encourage engagement in the workplace? Please share your insights on employee morale with us by commenting below!




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How to Discover Our True Core Values

It’s no secret that core values are an integral part of each organization’s culture.  When truly ingrained throughout the company, values guide our behaviors and decisions. They represent what we stand for and believe in. We are followers of Jim Collins’ work, and his belief that core values should never change. Operating practices and cultural norms, on the other hand should never stop changing (case in point:  Nordstrom whose core value of exceptional customer service has never changed, but the delivery of it has evolved with the internet experience).

Core Values sign

How do we uncover our core values? Start by gathering a task force of people who have an intricate and innate understanding of what makes the company tick.  These can be decision makers as well as people who influence decisions.  It can include the delivery driver who has been with the company 30 years interfacing with customers to the CEO and admin who has been through 5 CEO’s. (It is best to use a facilitator to keep the process on track and get the end result you want).

If starting from ground zero, it is helpful to have every team member complete a values worksheet so you can rank the values that make it onto everyone’s list. Here is a worksheet of values we use when we facilitate discovery sessions.

After you and your team identify the strongest values, you can test whether or not each one meets the criteria of a core value, and most importantly your core values. We find that the best way to do this is with Jim Collins’ core ideology work. He provides a “test” for each value, including:

  • “Would I continue to hold on to this core value, even if it became a competitive disadvantage?”  
  • If you were to start a new organization, would you build it around this core value regardless of the industry?
  • Would you want your organization to continue to stand for this core value 100 years into the future, no matter what changes occur in the outside world?
  • Do you believe that those who do not share this core value—those who breach it consistently—simply do not belong in your organization?
  • Would you personally continue to hold this core value even if you were not rewarded for holding it?
  • Would you change jobs before giving up this core value?
  • If you awoke tomorrow with more than enough money to retire comfortably for the rest of your life, would you continue to apply this core value to your productive activities?

Here are some best practices that have evolved from our experience helping companies discover their core values:

  • A good rule of thumb is no more than 5 and no less than 3. Zappos has ten core values, but everyone in the organization knows them, believes them, and lives them.
  • Define behaviors associated with each core value and establish performance standards (identify the person in the organization who best personifies a core value and have the team list actions and behaviors that support it).
  • Ask your customers what they experience your core values to be. Make sure they are in alignment with what your team believes.
  • Develop your recruiting website around your core values so you appeal to and attract individuals who share your beliefs.
  • Every performance appraisal should include measuring behavior against core values.

The best companies uphold timeless core values that impact their company culture.

Here is a look at 100 core values of 15 successful companies.  What core values did your organization uncover? Please share with us and comment below!

Posted in: Brand Alignment, Company Culture, Organizational Development

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Your company can build your culture into your office, literally

The minute we walk in the door of a business, we have an immediate sense of its personality. It’s the indelible first impression. The décor is akin to the clothes we select – and how we wear them. And because it’s where employees spend so much time, it has a huge affect on morale.


Yesterday I visited the offices Delta Energy recently built. It was warm, comfortable, inviting, and almost shouted “Make yourself at home.” The workplace was a reflection of Delta’s beliefs, behaviors and values.


AnimotoAnimoto, a New York City-based company, makes a video slideshow creation app. When it came time to relocate the business, they took a creative approach and literally built their fun and quirky culture into their space. Moving into an old furniture warehouse in SoHo set up the perfect opportunity for creating workspace that accurately reflects Animoto’s personality. As you can see from these photos, the company culture is brought to life throughout the entire office. From the way they creatively showcase their vision, values and life of the logo to the themed conference rooms and offices.


Dixon Schwabl, a Rochester, NY based advertising agency, designed their building around their Companies are People, Too profile, “It’s Fun to Do Good Work.” Morale there is the highest I’ve seen, evidenced by being awarded Best Places to Work nationally.


Art ClockProgressive Medical, is an example of a company that instinctively designed its space to its personality – before they took Companies Are People, Too.  Their profile as a “We Aim to Please” personality is perfectly reflected in the huge, colorful piece of art that is actually a clock and a cafeteria that is a wide open space that lets employees take a break and interact.


How have you showcased company culture in your workspace? Share your technique in the comments below.



Does This Company Have The Coolest Meeting Rooms in New York? (Open Forum)

This Company Literally Built Its Culture Into Its Office (Business Insider)

Posted in: Brand Alignment, Company Culture, Organizational Personality

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Is Southwest’s famous culture in jeopardy?

Over the past few weeks I have seen a lot of advertisements while watching March Madness. One ad in particular stood out to me, Southwest’s new spring campaign ‘Welcome Aboard.’ This ad is very different from the Southwest ads I am accustomed to seeing. It feels like a brand shift to me. The sense of humor is missing and the real employees are replaced with models and a slicker, more corporate look. Let’s take a look at the ad:



In the ad, Southwest claims to be the largest airline in the country. Read the small print at the end of the ad, and you’ll see it is based on Q3 2012, before the consolidation of American Airlines and US Airways. Is this campaign Southwest’s response to the “new” American, which is offering fliers more than 6,700 flights to 336 destinations in 56 countries, becoming the largest airline in the world?  Here’s how American and US Air want us to view the “new” American:



Southwest’s culture is the glue that holds it together. It is a standard to aspire to, and a case study used by educators and lecturers (including me) to learn how to create a sustainable culture based on a strong set of beliefs and consistent behavior by every employee, each of whom lives its values every day.

In the wake of airline consolidation, I hope Southwest doesn’t lose its “Warrior Spirit, Servant’s Heart, and FunLUVing” personality, which enabled the airline to profit when others declared bankruptcy.

A brand means nothing if your people don’t live it every day. Is your brand in alignment with your culture? Take the Companies Are People, Too organizational assessment to find out.

Posted in: Brand Alignment, Company Culture, Mergers and Aquisitions

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Part 2: Behaviors Can Be Seen – Beliefs Can’t

Because it was part of the culture of my family of origin, I believe children should be seen and not heard.  That value (respect) drove my behavior as a child, especially in the company of adults.  This very basic example of behaviors modeling beliefs can be extended to corporate America where I believe values should be lived and rarely, if ever, changed.


Behaviors and Beliefs

In Part 1 of our look at the clash of two cultures at the Chicago-based Tribune Co., we saw how disregarding the ingrained values of the 166-year-old company hampered efforts to enforce a new culture driven by opposing values. The example illustrates the difficulties of imposing change to a company’s culture without first understanding and embracing its long-standing beliefs.  What’s the best way to validate those values?  By observing common behaviors among the leadership and staff.  Behaviors are the manifestation of beliefs! And that’s why values (and cultures) are extremely difficult to change.   When merging two cultures, each with ingrained core va

lues, start with the commonalities.  If there are none, watch out!


Now, let’s take a look at some thoughts about beliefs and behaviors:

  • “It’s easier to behave your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a different way of behaving.” – Chris Parker
  • “Beliefs determine Behaviors which influence Relationships which in turn affect Results.”  – Tom Crane
  • “Behaviors can be seen.  Beliefs can’t. Leadership’s behaviors need to model the beliefs (actions speak louder than words….and beliefs)” -  Julie Kantor
  • “Core values are timeless and do not change, while practices and strategies should be changing all the time.” – Jim Collins
  • “It’s not a value if 99% of the people aren’t behaving that way 99% of the time.” – Sandy Fekete


Achieving alignment between beliefs and behaviors drives culture.   In an upcoming post, we’ll look at the airline industry as many carriers struggle to combine culture, processes, and strategies in the wake of merger mania.


If you are interested in learning more about your company’s culture, take the Companies Are People, Too personality assessment.

Posted in: Change Management, Company Culture

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Part 1: Behaviors Can Be Seen – Beliefs Can’t

Chicago TribunePrior to initiating change it is essential to consider the beliefs and behaviors that are ingrained in the company. Behaviors can be seen – beliefs can’t. This is most apparent in the behaviors of a company’s leadership, which everyone inside and outside the organization sees and monitors. If new leadership is put into place, he/she must behave as the company believes, not as they believe.


Here’s an example: Sam Zell took control of the distressed Chicago-based Tribune Co. in 2007 with hopes to make it profitable. Zell and newly appointed CEO, Randy Michaels, shocked and alienated their employees by implementing a new culture in accordance with their personal values rather than those of the company. Let’s compare the values of the 166-year-old company vs. those of the new duo:


Tribune Co.’s Values

  • Citizenship
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Diversity
  • Employee Involvement
  • Financial Strength
  • Innovation
  • Integrity
  • Teamwork

Zell & Michaels’ Values

  • Creative Spirit
  • Fast Paced
  • Freewheeling
  • Loose Culture
  • Fun Atmosphere


Employees felt discouraged by the behaviors from leadership including cronyism in hiring practices, sexual harassment and off-color jokes. Needless to say, Zell failed to revive the company. A year after he took control he was forced to file for bankruptcy protection which lasted until 2012.  Zell sold the company at a loss of $3.7 billion, and Tribune Co. continues to fight to get back on its feet.


Will we ever know what would have happened if Tribune Co was placed under different leadership back in 2007? Check back next week for a part 2 post on behaviors and beliefs.


To avoid a similar mistake and get a better understanding of what the people of your company are experiencing internally, we can help. Here’s a free trial of the Companies Are People, Too organizational assessment to find out your company’s personality.

Posted in: Brand Alignment, Change Management, Company Culture

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