3 Questions for Kevin Kennemer, founder of The People Group

Kevin Kennemer

Kevin Kennemer is founder of The People Group, an Oklahoma-based organizational consulting firm “founded on the premise that positive people practices are primarily the missing component of average performing companies.” Kevin also is a long-time friend of this blog and an emerging leader in calling for workplaces that are both humane and productive.

Over the years I’ve mentioned and linked many of Kevin’s blog posts and commentaries. I’m delighted that he kindly agreed to take a few questions about his work:

1.  Kevin, please tell us about why you created The People Group and describe its mission.

In December 2007, I left one of the largest privately-owned energy companies in the U.S. to start The People Group.  As the former chief human resource officer of this large energy concern, my department, along with many other fellow leaders and employees, helped create a best in class work environment. Unfortunately, we also had a few executive bossholes who were as toxic as a Cyanide cocktail.

After fighting for months to enlighten the CEO of the growing presence of toxic leadership, I was asked to move on. Seven months after my departure, the renowned mid-stream energy company filed for bankruptcy.

The positive and negative experience of this trying time allowed me to see how to create and destroy a great company.  Just like positive people practices create great companies, toxic leaders will eventually destroy an organization.

The People Group focuses on the best practices in culture formation. Great workplaces have a positive impact on employees, their families, business owners, and society.

2.  What are your plans for The People Group in 2012?

Continue working to create National awareness of the positive business benefits of creating positive company cultures, by 1) speaking to groups about the business necessity of creating great workplaces, 2) working diligently to acquire new clients to help make our message a reality on the ground at various workplaces, and 3) continue writing The Chief People Officer Blog and serving as an official blogger for SHRM’s Next Blog.

3.  How can we get businesses to take workplace bullying more seriously?

Although I would like to imagine that all human beings, including CEO’s, would want to build a team of employees without bullies, I realize this not the reality. Businesses are in business to make money. However, bullies cost companies a great deal of money by lowering productivity, increasing turnover, reducing the positive energy inside their department and simply sucking the life out of those around them.

The best way to reduce or eliminate bullying in the workplace is to show CEO’s the financial advantages of eliminating bullies and their toxic behavior. Enlightened self-interest is the best way to move this mountain.

If the CEO is a bully herself, there is not much hope for that company and I would recommend employees find a different place to earn a living.


Starting in 2012, “3 Questions for…” is a regular feature presenting short interviews with notable individuals whose work and activities overlap with major themes of this blog.

4 responses

  1. David
    This is a great discussion. I was wondering if you know whether anyone has ever done a study on what it costs nationally in the USA for work related stress? I am speaking of hospital bills, doctor bills, medication, lost time wages, every expense that is involved in workplace stress and especially bullying. The numbers have to be staggering, and one thing i wonder is would large insurance companies have an interest in pushing the healthy workplace bill, since they pay a large portion of the medical expense. Food for thought.

  2. Thank you Sharon, this is excellent i have reviewed it and i am passing it onto some of my friends at the healthy ny workplace bill organization.Good stuff

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