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Reset the culture to create new mindset

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Kaz is a Southborough, Mass.-based company that makes health care and home appliances. In 2008, it was struggling to survive.

That’s when Julien Mininberg arrived. Over five years, he took Kaz from near insolvency to record profits.

The turnaround started when Mininberg, 50, followed the fictional Jerry Maguire’s footsteps and spent part of his vacation writing a manifesto to reset the organizational culture. He sought to establish a new framework to lift em­­ployees’ spirits and help them derive more meaning from their jobs.

From that starting point, Mininberg designed huge posters—the size of French doors—listing the company’s cultural beliefs. They now adorn the walls of every Kaz office around the world.

Mininberg also drafted the company’s first strategic plan, consisting of a list of goals and measures that he referenced often with his team. The more he referred to the strategic plan as the basis for his decisions, the more they began to realize their role in advancing the company’s success.

When leading town hall meetings with employees, Mininberg often placed his comments in the context of how they fit into Kaz’s larger mission.

“I go out of my way to personally tie back what we are discussing and doing to our strategic plan,” he says.

To promote ongoing learning, Mininberg engaged in what he calls “the 30-second classroom.” He’d stop meetings to identify teachable moments—to relate a decision they were about to make to something else inside or outside the company that underscores its strategic relevance.

In 2014, Mininberg earned a promotion. He’s now CEO of Kaz’s parent company, Helen of Troy.

— Adapted from Make It Matter, Scott Mautz, AMACOM.

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