Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Bet on Talent: How to Create a Remarkable Culture That Wins the Hearts of Customers by Dee Ann Turner

Bet on Talent: How to Create a Remarkable Culture That Wins the Hearts of Customers by Dee Ann Turner. Baker Books. 213 pages. 2019

I have often said that there is no organizational culture that I respect more than that of Chick Fil-A. Over her thirty years at Chick Fil-A, Dee Ann Turner had a lot to do with their remarkable culture. In this helpful book, Turner shares both principles and stories. She shares the principles she learned, practiced, and taught about creating and growing a remarkable culture and selecting and developing extraordinary talent in her role as vice president of human resources and later vice president of Talent at Chick-fil-A. She shares stories about how people working in remarkable cultures can build brand loyalty by providing remarkable customer experiences, and gives you practical steps to follow to grow a remarkable culture in your organization.

Turner writes that because people decisions are the most important decisions a leader makes, they can be game changers for the culture and the organization. If you want to transform a culture or increase the competitive advantage, you should bet on talent. It’s high risk when you make the wrong decision, but it’s high reward when you make the right one. She writes that the people decisions that you make—the people you choose to select and the people you choose not to select, grow, and develop—will directly impact the culture of your organization, either positively or negatively.

She writes about the importance of leaders when she tells us that changes in any culture begin at the top of the organization when the leadership intentionally encourages and serves those within the organization. Strong, healthy organizational cultures don’t just happen. They are neither accidental nor unintentional. Someone must create that kind of culture or transform an existing culture. The driving force behind such a strong culture is an individual or group of individuals who share a common vision for the future.

She compares remarkable cultures with toxic cultures. Remarkable cultures go above and beyond the requirements of consistently perfect products. The delivery of those products and services is what distinguishes a culture as remarkable. Toxic cultures on the other hand, are known for poor service and poor performance. Organizations with remarkable cultures are led by effective leaders. Those with toxic cultures are managed by bad bosses. Culture is most healthy when there is a balance between rules and principles. Organizations should require and enforce rules when absolutely necessary, but when judgment can be exercised, they should allow for the application of principles. Compliant cultures are smothered by rules. Committed cultures are cultivated with principles.

Turner gives this helpful recipe for your organizational culture: Why (Purpose) + What (Mission) + How (Values and Guiding Principles). A remarkable culture begins with a clear and meaningful purpose for existing. In other words: Why are you in business? The next step to growing a remarkable culture is to establish a challenging mission. What are you in business to do? Determining core values is the next crucial decision necessary to create a remarkable culture. These values are the fundamental beliefs that inform decisions, actions, and behaviors, and they rest at the heart of the culture. Core values answer these key questions: What do we believe in? What experiences in our organization indicate that these are our beliefs? How are these beliefs demonstrated within the organization? Remarkable cultures possess guiding principles. These principles provide the organization clarity and focus because everyone understands what they do, why they do it, and how they do it.

The author discusses the importance of integrity, which is doing what you say you will do, when you say you will do it, and how you say you will do it. Integrity is doing what is right even when it is hard. Leaders with integrity strive to fulfill purpose and mission.

Turner shares steps on selecting the right talent, focusing on character, competency and chemistry. Once selected, effective on-boarding sets them up for success starting day one. Once you select talent, you want to retain, or better yet, sustain your talent. Sustained talent is engaged and is a competitive advantage.

I appreciated the section on the book on providing feedback. Turner writes that the kindest thing you can do for someone is tell the truth. This is especially true when providing feedback.

Turner discusses the value of making mistakes in a remarkable culture. She writes that most forward-thinking organizations value innovation, but the only way to cultivate innovation is to allow employees the freedom to make mistakes and fail. Organizations with toxic cultures often determine failures to be fatal. Organizations with remarkable cultures realize mistakes often propel them to new levels of success when they incorporate failure into the learning process. She tells her team that it is OK to make mistakes. Their goal is to be sure not to make the same one twice.

While organizations tend to focus on their emerging talent, Turner tells us that organizations that invest both in emerging leadership and seasoned leadership will clearly create the most competitive workforce to win in the marketplace.

Two of my favorite sections of the book were on calling and servant leadership. She tells us that our calling is the purpose to which we devote ourselves for a lifetime. A calling is not something you do, but it is something you fulfill. She writes that Jesus set the ultimate example of servant leadership. Jesus taught that whoever desires to become great must first become a servant. Servant leadership means putting others before yourself. A commitment to servant leadership permeates a remarkable culture.

She discusses the importance of loyalty and mentoring in a remarkable culture. Loyalty is a two-way street. Employees will often be as loyal to you as you are to them. Loyalty inspires people to demonstrate loyalty. She encourages organizations to invest in mentoring, which is critical to growing the leadership talent in the organization that sustains the culture of the organization. Mentoring is not a one-way street. There’s something in it for everyone who takes the time to invest in others. Mentors often learn a great deal from the mentees in which they invest.

I thoroughly enjoyed this helpful book about creating a remarkable organizational culture. You can use the principles, which are brought to life with inspiring stories, to transform the culture in your organization.

Below are 30 of my favorite quotes from the book:

  1. If culture is the soul of the organization, then the purpose is the heart of it, for what unites an organization is a common purpose, a reason for existence.
  2. There may be no greater role or responsibility for the top leader than ensuring that the culture remains healthy.
  3. If we want to achieve something, whether it’s a personal record in an athletic event, an annual team goal, or an organizational performance goal, we have to know where we are going and monitor our process for getting there. When we do this effectively, there is no limit to our achievements and our ability to fulfill our mission.
  4. For a core value to have credibility, leaders have to consistently demonstrate it.
  5. Excellence in the details and in small things leads to excellence in greater and bigger things.
  6. When leaders provide people with the generosity of their time and influence, they often equip those people to better provide for themselves; then, those recipients of generosity can become more generous too.
  7. Organizations that identify, commit to, and continually affirm their guiding principles strengthen the foundation upon which decisions are made regardless of changes in strategy, core work, and even leadership.
  8. Leading a successful organization requires an intentional focus on culture every single day. Without intentionality, culture slowly begins to erode.
  9. If you select the right people, again and again, the collection of the character, competency, and chemistry of those people will develop and strengthen the culture over time
  10. Organizations that invest a lot in the culture understand that people decisions are the most important decisions a leader makes.
  11. Outstanding companies are created by selecting extraordinary talent.
  12. In order to create, strengthen, and grow a remarkable culture, focus on every people decision, ensuring that each selection matches your culture and organizational goals.
  13. Think of the difference between hiring people and selecting talent this way: We hire people for jobs. We select talent to grow our leadership bench and prepare for the future.
  14. Character matters, and knowing how someone is likely to approach situations, relationships, and issues should be determined during the selection process.
  15. Character counts. Character defines who someone really is. Character is, in fact, the most important thing to look for in selecting talent. People can be taught to do a lot, but if they have poor character, skill and talent will not compensate for the negative impact they can have on an organization.
  16. When I was selecting franchisees, at the end of every interview, I always asked myself a question taught to me by a former boss: “Would I want my three children to work for this person?” It’s a simple question that sums up my decision.
  17. Unlike a job, which is for a season, a calling will beckon us for a lifetime.
  18. There is nothing quite like the feeling of knowing you are doing what you were made to do.
  19. A calling is not something you do; it’s something you fulfill.
  20. When people find their calling in their work it changes everything, because they change things for the people they serve.
  21. Leaders are not called to work; they are not called to fill a position, make money, or use their authority to manage people. Leaders are called to serve.
  22. Servant leadership means putting others before yourself.
  23. Servant leaders are keenly aware that it is not about them but about people and the organization. They focus on others, not themselves.
  24. A servant leader recognizes the tremendous responsibility not only to lead but also to serve those they lead.
  25. When we serve others from the heart, starting with our own team, then our team will serve customers and coworkers from their hearts.
  26. Remarkable cultures put the needs of others over and above our own needs or wants.
  27. Often it is not the failure to deliver that guests remember, but how you react and respond when your products or services have failed to deliver.
  28. A quality organization consists of quality individuals who understand that errors are not the expectation, but when they occur, they create opportunities to respond and recover well and to deliver, meet, and exceed previous expectations.
  29. When businesses go out of their way to help people, they leave an impression and engage them by creating a lingering emotional connection.
  30. Even the smallest acts of hospitality and thoughtful gestures can radically transform a customer’s perception. Customers will not only come back, but they will also be highly motivated to tell others about the experience and the service they received.