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Changing culture, not the crew

If in pursuit of a calm and leisurely work environment, Hire Dynamics is likely not the place for you.We’re a little loud, love friendly competition and like our meetings adorned with snacks and silly putty. But there’s a method to our madness, and although we can’t relate to most staffing companies, we’re okay with that because we’ve been ranked as a Best in Staffing company, a Best Place to Work and received one of the highest Clearly Rated Net Promoter Scores.

This month, I had the pleasure of attending a CareerBuilder conference for staffing executives. It was here that I met Michael Abrashoff and learned about his book, “It’s Your Ship,” which preaches a workplace culture that is spot on with ours. Although Michael’s leadership methodology first became legendary in the Navy during his command of USS Benfold, he is now frequently called upon to speak to businesspeople about innovative leadership and organizational transformation. The tale is one of top-down change – a story that continues to inspire businesses to create a culture of inclusivity.

Captain Abrashoff became commander of USS Benfold, a ship armed with the most cutting-edge technology available, yet was ranked as the worst performing of the fleet. Improving performance was one of his most pressing responsibilities, and he succeeded through implementing a non-traditional leadership style that quickly helped the ship coast into first place. The idea behind his “grassroots leadership” was simple – change the culture, not the crew. By empowering crewmembers to sharpen their problem-solving skills, he built a culture composed of crewmembers that were eager to take both initiative and responsibility. As a result, “It’s your ship,” became the slogan.

Michael shared his story in a way that was relatable to business at large. Here (in a very top-line fashion) are his secrets of results-oriented leadership including:

  1. See the “ship” through the eyes of the “crew” and listen aggressively.
  2. Create discipline by focusing on purpose and showcasing the value of each task.
  3. The more you communicate the plan, the better the performance.

If you have the opportunity, pick up the book. It’s a great read and an inspiring story. If you’ve read it, we would love to hear your thoughts.

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