Archive | October, 2011

Three Steps to a Bully-Free Workplace

Courtesy of photos-public-domain.comI’ve been reading Steve Jobs biography and have compared what I’ve learned so far in the book to what I know about his career. I’ve been pondering two powerful insights:

  • Jobs was a passionate genius for well-designed tools and for making those tools available to everyone
  • Periodically, Jobs was a complete bully, prone to yelling, name-calling, and put-downs

Jobs’ successes (and misses) are well documented. I wonder just how much more productive and creative Jobs’ staff would have been had Steve created a positive, healthy workplace that did not tolerate bullying of any kind, from anyone, at any level in the organization.

I am a huge proponent of creating high performance AND values-aligned workplaces. Where there is a safe workplace, activity may be frantic, but people treat each other with respect.

I admire the work of the Workplace Bullying Institute; they conduct research on the impact of workplace bullying and educate others about those issues. In a recent article for the International Journal of Communication, WBI founder Dr. Gary Namie and colleague Dr. Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik describe the “communal character” of workplace bullying. Their research found that witnesses to workplace bullying have a choice: they can 1) do nothing, which inspires more bullying in the workplace, or 2) raise the issue with key players to ensure the bullying stops quickly.

“Low”-lights From The Findings

  • Nearly 25% of respondents report being bullied at some time in their careers. In the US, the number is 36%.
  • In the US, over 49% were either targets of bullying or witnessed it.
  • In 72% of the cases, bullying was done by someone who ranked higher in the organization than the targets.
  • Solo harassers are the source of bullying 1/3 of the time. 2/3 of the time, there are multiple harassers.
  • In the case of solo harassers, 60% of the time there is organizational tolerance of the bullying (lack of response from senior leaders, the harasser’s peers, HR, and even the target’s peers).
  • When bullying was reported, the situation was resolved only 31% of the time.
  • When bullying was reported, NOTHING HAPPENED 45% of the time.

Three Steps to a Bully-Free Workplace

You will never create an inspiring, safe work environment if you tolerate bullying. If you are serious about eliminating bullying, follow these steps:

  • Make the choice to create a high performing, values-aligned workplace. Leaders must decide together to no longer tolerate bad behavior from anyone (including themselves). Once leaders decide that their company culture needs to be a safe, inspiring place of contribution and creativity, the next steps are easier to put into place.
    NOTE: NOT deciding to create a safe workplace IS A DECISION to enable and tolerate a less-than-safe workplace.
  • Create clear standards and expectations for both performance and values. Most organizations have performance standards reasonably well-defined and valued behaviors not defined at all. You need to describe tangible, observable, and measurable expectations for performance AND values, for all players, top to bottom.
  • Hold all staff accountable for both performance and values. You have systems in place to measure performance, progress towards key metrics, etc. You need to create systems to equally measure the demonstration of desired valued behaviors. Gather that data and 1) praise those that exceed standards for BOTH performance and values and 2) coach and redirect those that miss standards in EITHER performance and values. If, after coaching, folks miss the mark in either, lovingly SET THEM FREE.

Put these three steps into place and enjoy the significant shift to the high performance, values-aligned culture you desire.

What is your experience with workplace bullying? Share your insights in the comments section below.

Download your FREE excerpt of Chris’ newest book, #CORPORATE CULTURE tweet.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Creating a Motivating Work Environment

The Ken Blanchard Companies is a research-based firm. We come up with all kinds of cool ideas, hypotheses, and strategies – but only those ideas that are tested in real world environments and hold up under the scrutiny of proof are shared with our customers.

A recent article in Training magazine by Blanchard colleagues Drea Zigarmi, Jim Diehl, Dobie Housen, and David Witt, highlighted the responses of over 800 magazine subscribers on Blanchard’s Employee Work Passion survey.

These colleagues identified twelve factors that a wide variety of research found contribute significantly to the creation of a motivating work environment. The factors that generate employee work passion include:

  • Job Factors—Autonomy, Meaningful Work, Feedback, Workload Balance, and Task Variety
  • Organizational Factors—Collaboration, Performance Expectations, Growth, Procedural Justice (process fairness), and Distributive Justice (rewards, pay, and benefits)
  • Relationship Factors—Connectedness with Colleagues and Connectedness with Leader

This post will note a few significant discoveries from this study.

Respondents in the Training magazine survey were asked which of the above categories of factors was most influential regarding their intent to stay in their current job. The strongest category was Job Factors (60% scored them as most influential). However, all three categories are important to creating a motivating work environment; respondents in this study ranked job factors as the most important of the three categories.

Which are the most Important Job Factors to Employees?

Respondents were then asked to compete a forced ranking of the five job factors in order of importance to them. Though all factors were seen as important, the top ranking factors were Meaningful Work (the extent to which employees perceive their job actions are important inside and outside the organization and have lasting worth for themselves and others) and Autonomy (the extent to which employees feel empowered to make decisions about their work and tasks, in control of their work, and in control of their ability to achieve their goals).

Based on these results, leaders who desire a motivating work environment for employees might choose to spend time:

  • helping talented staff understand how their work benefits customers, stakeholders, and their community at large,
  • enabling talented staff to make decisions about how their work is done rather than having those decisions made by team leaders.

Who is Responsible for Influencing and Improving Job Factors?

Respondents were also asked who, between senior leaders, their boss, or themselves, is responsible for improving job factors in their workplace. The results were slightly surprising:

  • Senior leaders are not seen as strong drivers of Job Factors
  • Primary responsibility lies with the employees themselves
  • Secondary responsibility lies with the employees’ leaders

These results suggest that leaders and employees have mutual responsibility for improving the evidence of these desired Job Factors – the responsibility does not lie primarily with employees’ bosses.

Leaders need to see that this partnership for creating a motivating work environment requires their proactive time, energy, and activity to ensure employees see their company as a pretty good place to work.

Blanchard’s research indicates that employees are constantly assessing their work environment and work relationships. These assessments impact employees intentions to stay in their jobs, to apply discretionary effort, to perform well, and to endorse the organization and its leaders. When leaders partner with employees to create a motivating work environment, these intentions will be acted upon consistently.

What is your experience with a highly motivating work environment? Share your insights in the comments section below.

Download your FREE excerpt of Chris’ newest book, #CORPORATE CULTURE tweet.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Managing “Retired On Active Duty” Employees

(Chris’ video of this blog post was featured on Blanchard’s Leadership Livecast on January 25, 2012.)

At a recent leadership training session, some of the managers and supervisors taking the course revealed they were struggling with direct reports who were getting close to retirement age. Some of these team members weren’t working hard. Some weren’t working AT ALL. They referred to these staff as “retired on active duty.”

This is a US military term, used across the service branches, to reflect that a member is proactively NOT doing the work they are 1) supposed to do and 2)committed to do. They are months (or more) from being discharged and choose to disconnect do as little application of brain cells as possible.

This is NOT exclusively a military experience. A recent article in the Examiner.com describes the impact of this behavior in non-military work places. AND – it’s not just employees; leaders can retire “on the job,” as well.

Do you have ROAD Employees or Leaders?

What are the conditions that allow for staff to “retire on active duty”? Many employees and leaders are able to be productive and engaged right up to their retirement celebration. Why do some employees “bail out” of their workplace responsibilities while still on the payroll?

Leaders create what is “OK” in their teams, branches, plants, and divisions. Both of the key “enabling circumstances” of noted below fall on the shoulders of organization leaders.

The two greatest contributing factors are:

  • Unclear Goals – If the path to expected contributions isn’t clearly defined, any employee or leader will struggle to perform consistently. All performance plans should include clear definition of specific goal standards so there is no question about what is expected from the team member during the performance period. If clear goals have been defined and agreed to, you’re good.
  • Poor Accountability – This is the biggest contributor to a ROAD-friendly work environment (which you DON’T want). Once goal agreement is in place, leaders must coach players daily to ensure followers are on track to meet or exceed declared goals. If goals are missed and NOTHING HAPPENS, the subtle message is “goals aren’t really important around here.”

How Can YOU Effectively Manage a ROAD Employee?

Let’s assume you’ve addressed the first issue above and goal clarity is in place.

When faced with a non-performing employee, many leaders do NOTHING. They hope whatever problems exist will repair themselves and the employee will get back on track. HOPING the problem resolves itself is NOT a sustainable strategy.

Accountability for performance must be handled directly and non-judgmentally. As a leader, it is your job to manage consistent performance from all players while maintaining a healthy relationship with each person.

Research shows that a firm and caring approach, coaching the ROAD employee to resume proactive goal accomplishment, can resolve this issue in many cases.

In certain instances, the player isn’t “savable.” When every opportunity has been presented to align the employee’s performance to standards yet they do not engage, it is time for progressive discipline. Employees and leaders need to know that they cannot “hang out” and not perform in your work environment.

All of your employees know when a team member isn’t carrying their load – and they expect their leader to proactively deal with the ROAD employee. Do the right thing; engage these employees directly and without judgement, and coach them to contribution again.

The Ken Blanchard Companies will hold a Leadership Livecast webinar on this topic, “Quit and Stayed,” on January 25, 2012. Look for more details in the coming weeks on the Blanchard website.

Please share your insights about “ROAD” employees and leaders in the comments section below.

Download your FREE excerpt of my book, #CORPORATE CULTURE tweet.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Lead from Your Heart, Intentionally

I reflect regularly on my best bosses. I analyze how they took widely varying players with differing skill sets, experiences, and personalities and helped each of us genuinely contribute while we immensely enjoyed our work environment, our peers, and our customers.

That’s a pretty remarkable task – and this kind of leadership is exactly what our world needs today. We each want and need bosses that create safe, inspiring workplaces where all team members genuinely contribute.

The Secret to Being Your Employees’ Best Boss

As I look at my best boss’ personalities, behaviors, and values, what comes clear to me is that they each were very clear on who they were as a person. They understood what their life purpose and values were. That clarity helped them understand who they were as a leader. That, in turn, helped them serve us team members so effectively.

Who you are as a person is very clear to those around you. Every plan, decision, and action you make and take tells others exactly what your life purpose is and core values are.

A recent news story is a perfect example. The owner of a convenience store chain in Iowa, USA, held a contest for employees to guess which of their peers would be fired next. He offered a $10 cash prize to workers who accurately predicted the next “victim.” A number of employees quit and applied for unemployment benefits. The owner challenged their claim. The judge granted their claims, indicating that the owner had created a hostile work environment.

This man’s actions let others around him see his core purpose and values clearly.

Start with Clarity, Live in Alignment

If you’re not 100% proud of your plans, decisions, and actions up to now, you need to clarify who you are. You might start with Ken & Margie Blanchard’s “Leadership Point of View,” a powerful process that many have used to clarify their life purpose and values.

Once your purpose and values (defined in behavioral terms) have been formalized, you can use them as a standard to examine whether you are behaving consistently with that purpose and those values. Keep them at your fingertips, in front of you, so you can monitor your plans, decisions, and actions for alignment daily.

It is easy to “assume” your plans, decisions, and actions are values-aligned with your heart. Assuming doesn’t work. You need to share your purpose & values with your direct reports and tell them you’ll need their help to understand how well you’re living your purpose and your values. Then you must proactively seek out feedback to learn how well others’ perceive your efforts. If they say you are behaving in alignment with your purpose and values, good work. If they say you are not behaving in alignment, refine your plans, decisions, and actions . . . and continue seeking feedback.

Over time, you’ll get really good at serving others. Staff will love working with you, your team will exceed performance standards, and customers will love working with your team.

To learn more about leading from your heart, I invite you to join the #LeadFromWithin community on Twitter. Founded by the incredible Lolly Daskal, a global group of heart-driven leaders join together on Tuesday nights from 8-9pm EST to examine how to best lead from within. Everyone is welcome; all may participate. The insights derived from the questions and responses during this weekly chat will inspire you.

Please share your insights about living in alignment with your purpose and values in the comments section below.

Download your FREE excerpt of my book, #CORPORATE CULTURE tweet.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Does Your Team Have a Healthy “Locker Room”?

For USA Major League Baseball fans, Wednesday night, September 28, goes down in sports history as the date of two of the biggest baseball team collapses ever.

The Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves lost big division leads during September. Pressure mounted heading into Wednesday evening; the losses they each experienced that night kept them out of the post-season playoffs – which were only weeks earlier a near “sure thing.”

When sports teams do not meet expectations, it is most often the head coach or manager who takes the fall. Boston’s manager, Terry Francona, resigned on Friday, September 30, indicating the team “needed a different voice” because players had not responded to his coaching during their difficult September.

Though the Red Sox missed the playoffs for the second year in a row, Francona led the team to World Series championships in 2004 and 2007. He was the franchise’s most winning manager. The Red Sox never had a losing season under Francona’s guidance.

Francona’s lack of effective leadership led to a “mis-aligned locker room.” Apparently the team’s pitchers were seen drinking beer during games. Some had not maintained their fitness levels during the season. To few of the highly paid acquisitions contributed down the stretch, despite their manager’s efforts.

Francona is no longer Boston’s manager. I believe that a talented, inspiring leader of his caliber won’t be out of a job long.

Assess the Health of Your Team’s “Locker Room”

How team members treat each other, their customers, and their boss are strong indicators of the team’s locker room culture. My co-author colleagues (of Blanchard’s award-winning culture change process) and I use the questions below to conduct an initial assessment of client organizations that are concerned about their corporate culture.

By answering the questions below, you’ll reach a better understanding of how well your team’s current operations compare to the best practices of high performing, values-aligned teams.

Rate your team using the 1-6 point scale below:

1 – Strongly Disagree
2 – Disagree
3 – Slightly Disagree
4 – Slightly Agree
5 – Agree
6 – Strongly Agree

  1. Team members have defined their personal purpose & values.
  2. Organizational systems, policies, and procedures enable team members to be peak performers.
  3. Each team member has an up-to-date written performance plan that describes specific goals to be achieved.
  4. Team members regularly praise and encourage each other for their peers’ goal accomplishments.
  5. Team members are held accountable for both performance (goal accomplishment) AND good citizenship (modeling our company values).
  6. Individual team member goals are aligned with team and organization goals.
  7. Declared team values are the foundation for team decisions and actions.
  8. Team members regularly praise and encourage each other for their peers’ citizenship (modeling our company values).
  9. Our work environment builds trust among team members.
  10. Our organization’s values are well-defined, with specific, measurable behaviors listed for each value.
  11. Team members understand how their work improves the quality of life for peers, customers, and stakeholders.
  12. Team members keep their commitments and promises to each other.

It is rare to find an organization that does all of these activities well. Desired scores – by leaders and team members – are consistent ratings at the 5-6 level.

Refining an intact team’s culture is easier than refining a large organization’s culture. And, our proven process helps senior leaders change an organization’s culture, demonstrating remarkable results in as little as 18-24 months.

Rate your team’s “locker room” and share your insights in the comments section below.

Download your FREE excerpt of my new book, #CORPORATE CULTURE tweet.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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