Thomas Michael Hogg of TMH Consulting & Investment Group: “You need team spirit”

You need team spirit. Without working as a team the cost of opportunity gets unimaginably high. Good relationships, respect, trust, and expertise are only some of the shared values you need in a high-performance company. Oftentimes, different departments have contradictory intentions and do not see the harm of internal misalignments or even fights. Also, you need […]

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You need team spirit. Without working as a team the cost of opportunity gets unimaginably high. Good relationships, respect, trust, and expertise are only some of the shared values you need in a high-performance company. Oftentimes, different departments have contradictory intentions and do not see the harm of internal misalignments or even fights.

Also, you need a clear strategy and finance plan. The strategy roadmap is mostly defined by the top management. If you do not involve or engage your people with strategy definition and execution your culture will lack a sense of understanding, commitment, and accountability.


As a part of my series about about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Thomas Michael Hogg.

Thomas Michael Hogg, author of Profitable Growth Strategy, is a Consultant and Mentor with more than 20 years of market and work experience in Germany, Switzerland, the US, and Mexico. Thomas has been an advisor to global companies such as PepsiCo, Adidas, Campbell’s Soup, Johnson Controls, Bulkmatic, among other multinational companies, SMEs and nonprofit organizations. He is author of “Profitable Growth Strategy — 7 proven best practices from German companies” and a columnist at El Financiero. Thomas has been interviewed and featured at Forbes, CNN, Bloomberg TV, SalesTech Star, EE Times, The Entrepreneur Way, El Economista, Reforma, Cluster Industrial among others. Furthermore, he has been a speaker at the Mercedes-Benz innovation week, Hannover Messe, SAP, and Oracle events.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I got the opportunity to work for Adidas, the global sporting goods giant and world market leader for football products. Working day by day with my favourite sport brand I experienced working for and with highly competitive professionals that had the goal of exceeding customer needs and quality standards. Furthermore, the company and top management achieved sustainable business results regarding profitable growth, but at the same time creating a unique workplace culture. Nowadays, building up an environment that motivates, inspires and empowers employees is becoming more important than ever before in order for your people to perform at their best. At Adidas the performance factor plays a crucial role on and off the field. Here are some examples. At 07.00 am, before starting work, staff members meet to run together, at lunch time they play soccer or tennis, and at the end of their workday they use the headquarters’ gym. This way, sport performance is automatically inherited in the firm’s culture.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

At TMH Consulting & Investment Group we bring strategic clarity and direction to our client’s growth plans. One specific success story was when the board of a client wanted to close an unprofitable business unit. The CEO told me he didn’t know what to do because there were many jobs at stake. For around four months we implemented a new sales and marketing strategy to get new target customers. Over the next few months we worked on several cost drivers. After one year the company was back on track reporting profitable growth with top- and bottom-line results above industry average. The best thing: we rescued many jobs and employees are now earning even more than before the company’s crisis. Just think about the strong team and performance culture that exists now in the company. Once surpassing a challenge like this one, there are almost no future hurdles their workforce cannot face successfully. This is our passion — to create value for all involved parts: the customer, employees and company owners.

Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Actually, there are many exciting projects I’ve been working on that range from building up industrial parks, vaccine factory facilities, industry 4.0 initiatives to more social activities to provide a better Down Syndrome education nationwide as well as fueling the mindset of decision makers with a circular way of thinking.

Ok, lets jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?

According to the OECD, Germans work up to 20 percent fewer hours annually compared to those working in the US. Annual leave of more than 20 or 25 days (excluding public holidays) is a given in German companies guaranteeing its workers paid vacation. Employees pay back with focused quality, innovation, and financial performance. Historically, strong German trade unions and work councils try to work together with their employers striving for a circular business model where profitable growth goes hand in hand with people and planet initiatives. More flexible, healthier and greener conditions will be the work modus for the long-term and are basic requirements for the workforce. Companies which do not adapt will keep on having “unhappy” employees.

Based on your experience and research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?

Well, let me cite Adi Dassler, the founder of Adidas here: “If you want a job done well, you must create the right conditions for it.” The “New Work” and “Work-Life Balance” trend will reach a new high in some months regarding the post-pandemic talent acquisition and retention battle. The most successful business models will not only deliver customer and shareholder value, but also employee value. Productivity and profitable growth remain top objectives for top management as companies and businesses are experiencing ‘’home office’’ to be only one of the new basic requirements that the workforce will ask for more frequently. Flexible hours, child friendly policies, reduced overtime, more holidays, flexible but decent office spaces, working at home, less business travel and social benefits are important issues to motivate and retain talent. Without providing more wellbeing benefits, productivity and profitability will suffer.

Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture?

In my 20 years of market experience I have seen clear patterns of striving companies that succeeded on a global scale improving their financial indicators year by year, but sometimes at the cost of their own people. In my opinion, CEOs, Directors and Entrepreneurs have to take into account the following “five” crucial concepts that will definitely enhance any business achieving employee value.

Firstly, find out what employees value most. You will be amazed that it is not only about money. Vacations and social benefits are even more important drivers to stay focused, productive, and motivated.

Then, once you are able to motivate them you need a vision that goes beyond the daily routine to get things done. Well-developed and communicated visions are the key ingredient to get your people moving and facing challenges. At Adidas the guiding principle of Adi Dassler, the founder of Adidas, is simple: to make athletes better. Employees stay motivated and are performance-driven because they know that they have to develop the best products to satisfy the demanding athlete’s needs. One example at the Adidas headquarters was when I met Aubrey Dolan, the man responsible for creating the lightest boot in football history. Dolan describes that they identified a clear need for a speed boot and designed a holistic concept to make the players faster on the pitch. It came clear to me that Aubrey’s motivation was influenced by the transcendent principle of the company.

Third, you need team spirit. Without working as a team the cost of opportunity gets unimaginably high. Good relationships, respect, trust, and expertise are only some of the shared values you need in a high-performance company. Oftentimes, different departments have contradictory intentions and do not see the harm of internal misalignments or even fights.

Also, you need a clear strategy and finance plan. The strategy roadmap is mostly defined by the top management. If you do not involve or engage your people with strategy definition and execution your culture will lack a sense of understanding, commitment, and accountability.

Last but not least, I recommend creating a “Quality is King” culture. “If the industry quality standard is 100, we deliver 150.” This was one of the key lessons I learned while working at the Adidas headquarters in Herzogenaurach. Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Audi, VW when it comes to automakers. SAP when it comes to technology. Adidas and Puma in the sporting goods industry. Lufthansa, Siemens, Bosch, T-Mobile, DHL, Nivea, Hugo Boss, Bayer, and BioNTech are global German quality brands. Quality is the German trademark. A German product or service often meets and exceeds the expectations of the customers in areas of innovation, performance, and quality. Why? There is this engineering and quality DNA they all stand for.

It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture”. What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?

A paradigm shift is now taking place and workplace culture is more important for strategy than ever before. You need to profoundly understand both performance goals and employee needs while showing the capacity to connect the parts. The “German business model” offers a wide range of benefits that most Americans don’t have, like 25 to 30 days of annual leave, health insurance, illness pay, pension fund, and unemployment insurance. German employees are given the opportunity to have a healthy work-life balance. So, while the “4-day workweek” concept sounds appealing, that alone will not be sufficient for developing and satisfying the workforce. A more holistic model and movement is needed. A new workforce culture can only emerge when employee value becomes part of a business. Many big US companies like Google and Zappos do have benchmark cultures, but when we talk about small and medium-sized businesses you will find many company owners who see their collaborators as a given without valuing enough their time and efforts. It’s hard to believe, but workforce benefits in the US really can be compared to the ones in developing countries.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I guess my first boss at Adidas, Guenter Pfau, was very influential. He had a great and smart leadership approach and was always in a good mood, but in certain crucial moments he was super-demanding and competitive. My favorite story is when I did a really good job at something. He knew it was time to get my feet on the ground again, saying: “It is so good that we have you.” My pride went through the roof when I heard this compliment! Then he very quickly added: “Well, and if it weren’t you we would have someone else.” He often said and repeated that sentence and up to the present day I still remember this lesson.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

First of all, we need to define what success means. Many people associate success with money and this is a common pitfall, especially for the younger generation. I think you are only successful when you serve other people. Goodness means success. So I try to be successful by doing good. For instance, I raise money for a Down Syndrome organization which is something that I find to be very rewarding. But, by doing so, I have learned that you learn and receive more than you can give. I think good and servant-minded people attract each other and do more good together.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Well, this is in German and it goes like this: “Schaffe, schaffe, Häusle baue”. This actually means, “Work, work, .. and build a house.” This is a common saying from the Swabian region in Germany. Working hard, saving money and then building a house was also my goal because my dad and grandpa did it too. I think building a home and a family, being responsible and being there for your wife and kids is a life goal that we should pass on to the next generations. Marriage and family is an intrinsic part of this quote and this is why I like it.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Giving more importance to a circular business model. Giving your employees more freedom, freetime, and clear goals will provide your company financial results and a completely new accountability mindset within your staff on taking responsibility and caring about the business. So, promoting wellbeing and productivity is key for a sustainable and financially healthy business, in effect for both large corporations and small enterprises. The voice of the employee is as important as the voice of the customer or the shareholder. Being a profitable business and at the same time an employer brand is possible. I call it “Profit Redefined” which refers to a new way of purposeful management thinking where profit is achieved and re-invested to “profit for” and benefit our most important asset: our employees.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you continued success!

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