Kevin Sheehan On The Case For Curiosity

Kevin Sheehan prompts C-Suite members to ask better questions in order to disperse creative solutions.

Take a look at the website of any Fortune 500 company and you’ll likely find their career page depicting their values of innovation and creativity. Successful senior executives and leaders understand the importance of employee’s curiosity and  strive to inspire employees to think outside the box. They value an open work culture and encourage it in practice enhances the health of the business.

There are so many reasons for why curiosity helps businesses gain financial success, from better collaboration, increased communication and smoother decision-making. The study, “The business case for curiosity” was written by Francesco Gino, a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School. She declared a long list of solutions for C-Suite members to adopt, many of which Kevin Sheehan agrees with. It is important to point out that smaller businesses require a greater attention to the curiosity model, spearheaded by the founder and leader.

Here are the tips that Kevin Sheehan best related to from Gino’s study.

Leaders Should Ask More Questions

The saying goes that a true leader is one who admits that they don’t know everything. As a corporate leader, it is your responsibility to pave the way for innovation by actually stepping out of your open door and asking important questions to your staff. Directing thought-provoking questions will not only prompt your employees to think a little harder and challenge conventional processes and plans, but it will also train them to start adopting a curious mindset.

Challenge Employees’ Daily Routines

This is especially true for individuals who have worked at the same company for years on end. You start to become comfortable in your daily processes and operations–it’s like you’ve got a second brain, the same one that drives you from work to home every day. Now, all of a sudden you’re told to question your structures and systems with “What if?” and “Why?” questions. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but opening up the conversation for new ideas is what Kevin Sheehan believes will guide a company from good to great.

Change Up the Learning

As a leader, you should also think outside of the box as to what type of additional learning you should provide your staff. Team-building exercises that force your employees to think with the left side of their brain are ideal. For instance, take each department out for a pottery class, or have them participate in the upcoming street graffiti festival where they can let their creativity loose. Host guest lectures and workshops that are aimed at inspiring your employees to think beyond. Allow your people to bring out their authentic personality in the workplace, and with that their unique perspective on tackling problems and meeting objectives.

These two steps are guaranteed to enlighten your employees to be a little more daring with the ideating portion of their work, a meaningful practice that will help your corporation thrive.

4 Steps To Help Millennials Shine At Work

Kevin Sheehan believes that providing extensive feedback and planning out millennials growth will help them shine at work.

As the soon-to-be largest employee demographic in the world, adapting to the constraints of millennials is vital.  By the year 2025, you can expect a whopping 75% of millennials to make up the workforce. Kevin Sheehan is aware of these numbers, and as a senior executive he believes that corporate leaders should prepare for this change-up earlier rather than later.

The process is two-fold. First, the CEOs and Presidents of major corporations must account for a shifting mindset. They should also be committed to encouraging the C-Suite and key decision-makers to understand the impact and plan for the inevitable future.

Step 1: Set Realistic and Clear Expectations

Kevin Sheehan recommends being clear and succinct concerning what is expected of the millennials’ daily responsibilities. This allows them to concentrate on their tasks and aids at prioritizing an incoming work. The ideal method to set millennials up for success is via their onboarding. Be clear from the very start so that they can integrate such expectations from the get-go instead of having to re-adapt months within their role. Enforce accountability by periodically checking in with the completion of specific projects and tasks, lending a helping hand if needed. Don’t feel like you need to hold their hand throughout their work, however offering guidance and advice that may speed up their time to delivery will only save the corporation money. Continuously manage expectations, and encourage an open line of communication between both the manager and the employee.

Step 2: Guidance and Support are Recommended

As briefly noted in Step 1, knowing that you have a mentor who has your best interest in mind will allow this demographic to reach new heights within their career, which can only benefit the company in question. Don’t simply tell your employee what they should do and how they can accomplish it; take the time to sit down with them and show them the ropes. Training should not be undervalued. Nonetheless, there should be a good balance between allowing your employees to figure out the solution on their own and walking them through your approach to the issue. Encouraging critical thinking and problem-solving will benefit your employees in the long-run.

Step 3: Be Generous with Feedback

Frequently discussing your employees’ performance, perhaps through a monthly informal private meeting, will allow them to be aware of their pain points and positive work qualities. The need to constantly improve is prominent amongst all generations, but most especially amongst a demographic that grew up on positive reinforcement. Always be constructive when criticizing their pain points; no one likes a manager who lacks tact and fails to see both perspectives.

Step 4: Provide a Career Growth Plan

Kevin Sheehan is a big fan of the career growth plan. Sit down with your employees and allow them to see the possible trajectories of their growth within the company. This will prevent job-hopping and will ingrain a deeper loyalty. Perhaps the growth could be lateral, in which case the opportunities can still be exciting as they reap the acquisition of new skills and fresh interactions between the team. When managers care about the advancement and progress of their employees, they will be yield remarkable results.

How AI Will Transform The Workplace

Kevin Sheehan has noticed that chatbots and other AI tools are frequently replacing humans.

As a seasoned executive, Kevin Sheehan has always been interested in evolving technological trends to transform the workplace. With the growing phenomenon of voice intelligence and home assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa, it is a known fact that certain tasks are being quickly replaced by technology. AI has transformed the hiring process, as well as marketers’ and administrators’ roles in the workplace.

The Hiring Process

When it comes to finding the perfect candidate, there is one thing that good HR specialists must be aware of… They are not using all the right technological capabilities like AI to help them find the perfect candidate. It’s not an uncommon sighting to see the same job posting remain vacant for months, simply because the HR department doesn’t wish to take a chance on any of the great candidates out there. Recruiters and hiring managers have begun using various AI tools to make more effective hiring decisions. Some notable tools include Montage, where the scheduling of interviews has become hands-off, thus smoothly allowing recruiters to focus on the more important and less routine tasks during their day-to-day operations.

Filtering Out Candidates

Certain tools, such as the first shared talent AI tool, Stella, help HR specialists match specific jobs to the best candidates out there. The software will not only track keywords within CVs that allude to soft and technical skills, personality qualities and educational credentials, but is also smart enough to match up desired experiences between employers and employees. Stella will thus recommend the top matches to the HR department.

The Removal of Repetitive Tasks

Similarly to eliminating the need for HR Specialists to schedule interviews, AI has eliminated complete job positions from the workforce by making certain repetitive tasks obsolete. From data entry roles to office administrators, now a robot can practically do it all for you. Routine tasks like scheduling appointments or important meetings between many individuals are now an easy feat.

Communication Made Easy

Meeting minutes, begone. Even during your most important meetings, you can use AISense via Zoom to transcribe every word that is said. Communicating between employees has become more efficient as apps like Spoke (think of it as Apple’s Siri) allow you to ask direct business-related questions in order to detract employees from answering the same routine questions over and over again. This allows every individual to focus at their larger role at hand versus getting caught up in stray questions that are not directly related to their position.

A New Wave of Marketing

Chatbots

Chatbots are all the craze for marketers. Take 1-800 Flowers as an example, one of the first ever businesses to use a chatbot to simplify the ordering process via social media channels.

Interestingly enough, KAYAK utilizes its own chatbot via Messenger in order to help consumers more easily plan their next vacation. It will automatically surf the web for the best deals when prompted with questions like “Where can I stay for under $200?”, and will securely book your rental cars, flight tickets and entrances into the best destination attractions in the area.

How Do They Do It?

The bots learn from salespeople and marketers, eventually mimicking the accuracy of their answers when conversing with potential employees. Certain bots, like GrowthBot, will even mine company and public data in order to quickly answer marketing-related questions. What exactly does this mean for marketers? The need to create Google Analytics reports and to search through your CRM has been reduced when searching for quick metrics.

Conclusion

AI is here to stay, and it has come to the point where corporations that don’t take advantage of it will fall behind.

Why You Should Speak Up In The Workplace

The team member, leader and employee that you are should be fairly represented through your expression of opinions. Maintaining a dormant voice in any organization robs you of the opportunity to bring forth value.

Speaking up in the workplace is essential when moulding your professional image. Establishing a culture of transparent communication is often thwarted over for workplace politics. The team member, leader and employee that you are should be fairly represented through your expression of opinions. Maintaining a dormant voice in any organization robs you of the opportunity to bring forth value.

Some employees believe that keeping quiet and going with the status quo is the best way to advance and win at the political warfare. What if you started to approach this habit of remaining silent as detrimental to your long-term success and professional growth? The less you speak out, the more you allow others to create and define your identity. However, you should not say too much or else you will become an easy target for criticism–causing you to risk ever gaining authority. A balanced and consistent voice in any work environment is key. The onus is on you to manage how and when you should speak up.

Below are vital reasons for why Kevin Sheehan believes that employees should let their voice be heard.

Demand Respect

Only when your consistent voice is managed responsibly can you be taken seriously within your organization. You will begin to gain respect from employees who are not as brave as you with speaking their truth and fighting for their beliefs. Nonetheless, be wary of your tone. If your voice wavers or you triumph in the heat of the moment, then you’ll be known for ranting and raging versus remaining level-headed.

Ameliorate Your Influence

Your superiors will soon begin to recognize you for your ability to move people forward with your communication skills. You may therefore be tasked with leaded a meeting or pitch to a potential client, or initiating and executing a new project. Once your colleagues understand the influence you have, mobilize it as a networking advantage so that you can connect with other influential voices.

Spring Forward Your Career

Once you’ve mastered the art of speaking out respectfully and eloquently, you’ll notice a great upward shift in your career acceleration. Other employees will begin to recognize you for your challenging thoughts and innovations against the status quo, the inspiration that you transpire for those that fear speaking up, and the ability to motivate key organizational decision-makers. All these traits will skyrocket your marketability and value.

Your Voice Should Mature with Age

If you are fearful of taking the plunge into the seemingly risky terrain of speaking your mind (the right way!), harness a stepping stone transition for yourself. Instead of borrowing the voices of others to get your point across, think introspectively about your values and beliefs and how you can help your organization grow financially and operationally. It can take time to create a voice that you believe best defines who you are. Kevin Sheehan recommends testing out your ideas by pushing away from your comfort zone and raising your voice during meetings. Examine how others react to this swift transition. And above all, don’t neglect the idea that work is not about being popular. It’s about being respected and leading people and visions with the handy help of your voice.

Top Tips For Retaining Your Employees

If you want to ensure consistent growth, then a low-turnover rate will work in your best favour. Here are a few golden nuggets of advice that Kevin Sheehan has learnt throughout his twenty years of Board experience and several positions as CEO and President of multi million and billion dollar corporations. 

Hiring top talent is one of the most critical aspects of driving your company into newfound growth. While scouting out the most competent new hires is one of the most difficult and important tasks, ensuring that you retain your employees can prove to be even more challenging. While you may believe that a competitive salary and generous benefits are one of the reasons your employees took the job in the first place, these aren’t reasons enough to keep your employees long-term. If you want to ensure consistent growth, then a low-turnover rate will work in your best favour. Here are a few golden nuggets of advice that Kevin Sheehan has learnt throughout his twenty years of Board experience and several positions as CEO and President of multi million and billion dollar corporations.

Make Your Employees Feel Valued

This one may seem obvious, but in the grind of the North American work culture where the concept of work-life balance is practically non-existent, it is even more important now than ever before to demonstrate how valuable your employees are to you. Don’t ever treat them like they are merely an overhead expense, or a number on a list of thousands of others. Take the time to get to know them for who they are, not only for what they can do for the company. Greet them by their first name, and allow them to make significant contributions within their role. Encourage your employees to participate in the decision-making process, and use performance objectives and goals to drive them towards success. When an employee feels as though they are making progress at work while also receiving constructive feedback and recognition in order to ensure their professional growth, they may just hold on to their position for as long as possible.

Harvest an Honest Work Culture

As an employer, you should never bad mouth other employees. This can only transpire a toxic work environment. Always listen to what your employees have to say, and take into consideration their feedback for change. While chance meetings by the kitchen are a great way to offer a few business thoughts with employees, these short happenings cannot replace a sit down, face-to-face discussion about the employee’s work-related comments and concerns. Whenever your employee asks for advice or guidance, be there for them. Harp on the fact that problem-solving solutions are always welcomed.

Reward Great Work

This links back to Kevin’s first lesson about ensuring that your employee’s feel valued at work. When you notice that an individual at your firm has gone over and above, or has made a great impression on a potential or new client, then you must specifically recognize them by stating “Great job on your presentation for Scientific Games.” It’s a no-brainer that researchers have found that employees who feel under-appreciated and undervalued begin to search for new employment opportunities. The praise that you give must be genuine and sincere, not forced. Think about it this way: You’ve hired the best crop of talent; they are smart enough to differentiate a fake applause from a genuine one. While monetary bonuses are a great touch when reviewing stellar end-of-year performance, consistent appraisal for what it’s worth may go farther than that hefty paycheque.

It Takes A Founder’s Mentality To Achieve Success

There are three crises that hamper a corporation's success: overload, stall-out and free fall. Kevin Sheehan has adopted a Founder's Mentality to avoid all three.

Kevin Sheehan’s Story Appears in The Founder’s Mentality

As you must already know from scouring through our site, Kevin Sheehan has a proven path of success that has landed his story in the well-versed Harvard Business School book, The Founder’s Mentality: How to Overcome the Predictable Crises of Growth. It depicts a nice case study on how Kevin’s leadership at Norwegian Cruise Line led to an increase of the corporation’s equity valuation from under $1 billion to $11 billion.

The book prefaces with an in-depth explanation of the paradox of growth. A growing corporation lends itself to a great number of complexities. The paradox thus exists since complexity in and of itself is deemed a “silent killer” to any corporation’s growth.

Knowing these facts, the authors of the literature, Chris Zook & James Allen, settle into a discourse concerning the notion that only one out of nine large corporations gained enough profits that supersede the minimum growth rate in the past decade. The great majority at 85% of C-Suite members believe that the causes behind such  disparaging numbers is not a result of the external environment, but in fact of the organization’s internal conflicts. The hidden secret, one that Sheehan has encompassed all throughout his career–ranging from his time as CFO and President at Sega Channel all the way to his astute leadership at Norwegian Cruise Line and Scientific Games Corporation–has to do with the adoption of this “Founder’s Mentality.”

Successful Corporate Leaders Have a Distinct Mindset

Wondering what differentiates a moderately successful business leader from an executive who can churn a company’s valuation from one million to one billion in the span of a few years? It’s all in their mindset, in their perception of the world. The latter are the individuals who recognize the importance in directing a corporation’s internal complexities versus simply playing the outer fields that consist of returns of shareholders, changes in market share and profitable income, and quarterly earnings.

Zook and Allen make it clear that you don’t necessarily need to lead an existing multi-million corporation to put into practice the “Founder’s Mentality”. You can be an employee at a startup that is led by two driven founders, or an employee driven to breaking down barriers in a large organization that doesn’t have a founder to follow by.

Factors for Distressing Growth Complications

The authors, who also happen to be Bain strategists, depict in clear detail the three main deterrents from any organization’s success.

The first one is Overload. This occurs when an organization is dealing with internal dysfunctions that create a loss of momentum in their growth. The corporation is in its infancy stage of the business lifecycle, establishing exponentially quick growth. This is where managers and even founders tend to under-manage their employees as they become distracted by the scaling up of their startup, thus drastically reducing the quality of their greatest assets: their employee’s productivity and performance.

The second growth complication is something known as Stall-out. For many corporations, the fast-paced growth ends at some point. This is where a slowdown of business development can be felt. Younger competitors are beginning to eat up more market share, and your company’s internal organization exudes disorientation and de-motivation. The majority of corporations that fall into this stage never find a way out of it.

The last step is called the Free Fall. Out of all the aforementioned crises, this one is by far the worst. Truth be told, it can have a debilitating effect on your organization. Your corporation’s entire core market has stunted in growth, resulting in an ineffective business model. Managers feel a lack of control for the company’s future success, uncertain about what truly caused the free fall and how they should get out of it.

Taking into consideration these three crises, the book illustrates how a Founder’s Mentality can rise above each and every one of them, thus garnering the corporation’s long-standing success.

How To Move People In Business

Wondering how it is that Kevin Sheehan moves people in large corporations? He knows how to create a meaningful workplace, bonuses and cubicles included.

Dan Ariely’s Influence on Kevin Sheehan

As a business leader in the 21st century where Millennials and Generation X white-collar workers are on the threshold of taking over leadership positions as more and more Baby Boomers retire from the workforce, it is essential to understand what makes people move.

We noticed that when Kevin Sheehan is not leading large corporations into new strategies for success, he enjoys watching TED talks. Based on the methods he has led countless corporations from good to great, we have a hunch that he gets some of his inspiration from Dan Ariely.

If you haven’t already heard of Ariely, he is a professor at Duke University in behavioral economics and psychology and an author of multiple books concerning career motivation. One of his more recent books, Payoff, details what hidden logics shape individuals’ motivation in all aspects of their life, with an emphasis placed on career.

Creating a Sense of Meaning in the Workplace

Sheehan has made it a priority to ensure that the individuals that work at his corporation all feel a sense of meaningfulness and purpose in what they do. It’s not an understatement when Ariely states that larger corporations often have streamlined processes, bureaucracy and red tape to hinder employees from using their own judgment and making important decisions. The moment that any leader starts acting and thinking of their employees as a simple cost to the company versus one of the most prized assets they have is when things start to go downhill.

When it comes to the office environment, Dan Ariely is completely against cubicles for the main reason that they make employees believe that they’re easily interchangeable. If an open concept work environment is not what you’re going for, it is recommended that all employees who do have cubicles make them their own. They should be provided with resources to decorate them as if it were their own small home. Personalization.

The Art of the Bonus

Bonuses are another method to increase motivation. While there are many reasons for employers to use bonuses as an incentive, such as for tax efficiency, accounting reasons or as a means to providing stock options, the act demonstrates that the corporation is not simply trying to squeeze the maximum amount of revenue out of each employee. In Corporate America, it is becoming more of the norm to expect overtime from employees and to rely on their goodwill. A bonus will help compensate for the extra work that they are expected to provide.

Be cognizant of the magnitude of the bonus you provide employees. Ariely’s study has found that for cognitive tasks, employees will not work harder if the bonus continues to increase. This is because they become laser-focused on living up to the amount of the bonus. This thus takes them out of the flow, especially when creativity and important decision making is involved. They may be less likely to take risks that could be highly beneficial for the company, and soon enough part of the brain will be busy thinking whether they are thinking hard enough to deserve that end-of-year bonus.

 

3 Tips On Transforming Your Company

From good to great in 3 Kevin Sheehan-approved ways

Nuggets Of Business Advice

Kevin Sheehan has mastered the concept of transforming large corporations from good to great. For instance, he exceeded all expectations during his time at Scientific Games by increasing their stock price from $8 to $60 in the span of less than two  years.

Sheehan has taught as a popular professor at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, where he enjoyed discussing the best methods for business transformation with his students. As a previous student of Sheehan’s myself, I thought I’d pass on a few nuggets of success practices that I remember learning about back in 2015.

Show What You Stand For

If you examine large, multi-million dollar companies such as Procter and Gamble, you may notice that they don’t solely encompass the products they offer. Although their company has a portfolio of billion dollar brands such as Bounty, Tide and Crest, their marketing emphasizes a deeply-embedded culture that makes P&G unique. It’s all about the values a company holds true to that allows them to lead purposefully in the marketplace. Nowadays, consumers are searching for brands that represent a sentiment that they believe in. That’s why integrity is one of P&G’s first values, one that depicts ethical and honest practices in all aspects of business. If you’re a manager or executive at a large company that needs to bump up from good to great, then you should consider further understanding what values you stand for and making that be known through operational and marketing initiatives.

Why Do You Do What You Do?

It’s great to know the what and how of what your company does, but in the same vein as understanding what you stand for, you need to understand the WHY behind this acknowledgment. Figure out the differentiating factor that makes your corporation unique so that you can better meet your customers expectations. If you’re a fan of TED talks, you may have heard word about this notion being passed around. Simon Sinek gave the memorable talk about the methods in which the best leaders motivate their employees to take action. He dubbed the “Golden Circle”, where great leaders always begin asking themselves why, before they question the how and what. This all goes to say that understanding the core belief of your company is essential in terms of reaching high profitability and expansion.

Decide the Future Of Your Business

One thing that has stuck with me during Kevin Sheehan’s business classes is that the best leaders in business don’t let fate determine their corporation’s success, they determine it in advance. By identifying in substantial detail the perimeter of your future successes, you are in front determining the goals and steps that you need to reach in order to get there. This propels leaders’ motivation to change their business practices and make different decisions in order to reach the best outcome.