HR Saskatchewan - Spring/Summer 2016 - (Page 16)
Stan Slap - the King of Culture
By Nicola Middlemiss*
In anticipation of the upcoming 10th Annual
SAHRP Conference, October 4-5, we wanted
to give you a sneak peek into one of the
fascinating keynote speakers, Stan Slap:
I DON'T CONSIDER MYSELF a role
model for a well-planned life," admits Stan Slap
when asked how he achieved his phenomenal
success despite dropping out of high school. "It
all turned out okay but that's more serendipity
than anything else," he insists. "It could have
The suggestion that everything turned out
okay is a ludicrous understatement - since
starting his namesake organization SLAP 25
years ago, the San Francisco-based management consultant has conducted business in
more than 70 countries; earned superlative
praise from some of the world's most respected
corporate leaders; and signed a three-book
deal with British publishing house Penguin.
The latter, Slap says, is one of his biggest
"I'm a huge reader and writers are heroes
to me," he reveals. "The ability to take a few
dozen letters and turn them into these transportational works of art is always something
I've been stunned by and I just really wanted
to do it myself."
A people-first approach
Slap acknowledges his best-selling books
are far from the fictional masterpieces that
have captured his attention since he was a
kid. But they're a refreshing alternative to the
typical stuffy management books. Slap's books
offer a much-needed glimpse into what businesses could look like if leaders dared to shake
up their priorities and put people first.
"I believe that the lack of humanity in business is a global issue and it affects everybody,"
Slap says, when asked why he decided to write
a business book rather than pursue his personal
passion for fiction. "No matter how many clients we took on, we couldn't get through the
scale we needed to so the book was a tool to
get to that scale."
Everyone has to start somewhere
It's clear Slap is on a mission to change the
status quo of global corporations, so I asked
him how it all started.
"For me, the worst thing that one human
being can do to another - short of actually
killing somebody - is to make somebody feel
small," he begins. "So the passion that started
to drive my company in the early days was
the notion that nobody should be diminished
by business, working in it or buying from it."
THREE BIG CULTURES
1. Manager culture: "The biggest issue for the enterprise is the gaining of emotional
commitment - a company can gain financial commitment, intellectual commitment
and physical commitment but those combined aren't as important as emotional commitment," warns Slap. "Emotional commitment will translate as managers taking
on a company's success as a personal crusade. Sometimes you get that in the early
garage days or in times of tremendous pain or gain but you need self-sustained
emotional commitment for prolonged success."
2. Employee culture: "It doesn't matter how well strategies are planned, it's how
well they're implemented that counts and that success depends entirely on your
employee culture," stresses Slap. "Ultimately, the employee culture has the power
to make or break any management plan.
3. Customer culture: "The biggest compliment that a company can be given
is if its customer culture company brands it," says Slap. "This means you have
transferred sustainability of your company to your customer and they advertise
themselves for you.
16 Spring/Summer 2016 * www.sahrp.ca
While colleagues shared his compassionate
ethos, the same couldn't be said for everyone.
"Everybody in my company loved that idea
so I naively assumed that every other company would love it too," he laughs. "I'd go to
these meetings with clients and say; 'You know
what's really important here - nobody should
be diminished by business, working in or buying
from it,' and I'd get this immediate, intense,
rabid disinterest. They'd be like 'Okay, yeah
that's beautiful. Now back to these numbers.'"
This lukewarm reaction led Slap to focus
solely on culture.
"I realized that if I was really going to change
the standard, I'd have to find something that
was of compelling interest to people - and
that's what led me to culture because culture is where the humans gather in business,"
All roads lead to culture
SLAP carved out its consulting niche by
starting with a proprietary definition of what a
culture is; then figuring out how it operates; and
finally identifying the biggest potential gain for
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of HR Saskatchewan - Spring/Summer 2016
Letter to the Editor
From the Editor
Leadership Styles: Helping or Hindering Engagement?
Building an Accountable and Self-Directed Workforce
Is Distance Learning Meeting Your Training Needs?
Advancing Women in Leadership
Spotlight: Stan Slap – the King of Culture
Saskatchewan HR Trends Report, Spring 2016
Legal Corner: The Use of Contract Workers Can Create Hidden Liabilities for Employers
The Resource Room
HR Saskatchewan - Spring/Summer 2016