Archive | December, 2011

Layaway Angels Create Well-Being

These past three years have been hard on families all over the globe. The recession has generated difficult circumstances for anyone touched by unemployment, foreclosures, and worse. Though the global economy has begun to recover, optimism about the future is not widely held.

Into this mix come holiday season stories of “layaway angels” here in the USA. Shoppers put gifts “on layaway,” set safely aside for a limited time to enable the shopper to pay as they can (weekly, for example). For Christmas layaway, the total due had to be paid this week. Anonymous givers/”angels” have sought out layaway staff at K-mart, Target, Walmart, and other stores in their communities and, without fanfare, paid off the majority of the money owed (and in many cases, paid off balances completely).

This week in Denver, CO, burglars broke into a family home and stole nearly every Christmas gift under their tree, a loss of over $700. Less than 24 hours after the story aired on the local newscast, viewers/”angels” contributed gifts plus over $5,000 cash for the family.

These examples of genuine, unselfish giving inspire us (especially since we typically see more frustration and polarization in society than we see giving!). What is powerful is the fact that giving not only benefits the receiver, but it strongly contributes to the giver’s own psychological well being.

Giving Creates Positive Emotion & Positive Health

A 2007 working paper published by the Harvard Business School titled “Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior,” examined a variety of studies about giving and it’s impact. Their analysis validated that “happier people give more and giving makes people happier, such that happiness and giving may operate in a positive feedback loop (with happier people giving more, getting happier, and giving even more).”

Beyond happiness, giving creates well-being in both the receiver and the giver. In my studies of positive psychology, I have learned how vital positive environments are to human well-being. My upcoming book, #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, co-authored with the fabulous Lisa Zigarmi, provides insights on how leaders and team members can “tweak” their behavior to increase positive benefit to peers, followers, and themselves.

You don’t have to pay off someone’s layaway purchase to create positivity. Here are suggestions from our book that are easy to do and generate great positive benefit for you and others:

  • Express your appreciation, awe, and inspiration with people at work. This ups your positive emotion while strengthening your relationships.
  • Giving specific and authentic praise to others simultaneously affirms them AND awakens the best in you.
  • Make someone you work with feel like THEY are your priority today. Give them your FULL attention. Listen with the intent to understand.
  • There are 10 ways to give: celebrate, listen, generate, forgive, show courage, humor, respect, compassion, loyalty, or creativity.
  • Current research finds giving improves the givers’ energy, morale, self-esteem, positive affect, and overall sense of well-being.

What other ways can you give authentically to others? Please add your thoughts 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.”

Be A Values-Aligned Leader

The new year is only weeks away. Traditionally this is a time to reflect on the past year’s accomplishments and missed opportunities, then plan for a more effective approach for the coming year.

A few New Year’s Eve’s ago a culture client used this reflection time to design an approach for consistent values-aligned leadership. John’s thoughts became an important touchstone for their organization’s culture journey. I share these “best practices” to hopefully inspire your reflections and planning for a more values-aligned 2012.

Live Our Company’s Values & Behaviors, Every Day

Creating clear values expectations, defined in behavioral terms, is a foundational step for Blanchard’s proven culture change process. Defining behavioralized values is hard work. Once values are published, the focus shifts to holding all staff – including oneself – accountable for demonstrating valued behaviors. This requires constant diligence. John described three key drivers to demonstrating company values. A leader must:

  • reflect daily on his/her interactions with individuals, asking “to what extent did I consistently model our valued behaviors today?” Celebrate what s/he did well, then design an approach to align interactions where improvement is needed.
  • craft personal leadership stories from his/her interactions with others and share them with staff members and teams. His/her intent is to demonstrate that company valued behaviors are not just for him/her as a leader but they apply to everyone in the organization at all times, in all interactions.
  • ask for and authentically listen to feedback from others to learn what s/he does well and to identify ways to more effectively live company valued behaviors.

Create Meaning For Every Team Member

Reflect regularly to answer these questions honestly. A leader must ask him/herself, “In all interactions with individuals and teams, how well did I:

  • explain how their individual goals done well help enable team and company goals to be accomplished?”
  • describe how their work and their job, is worthwhile to company staff, customers, and stakeholders?”
  • demonstrate how all plans, decisions, and actions are guided by our values?”

Build A Skilled Workforce

Reflection continues: “In all interactions with individuals and teams, how well did I:

  • provide skill building where required so employees know how to do their jobs efficiently?”
  • delegate authority to talented and values-aligned employees so they can act ‘in the moment’?”
  • listen to and respect each team member’s thoughts, feelings, and needs?”

Celebrate Progress and Accomplishment

Reflection continues: “In all interactions with individuals and teams, how well did I:

  • praise team member’s efforts? (and not wait until the job is DONE before doing so)”
  • find and share success stories of teams throughout the company so all staff know we’re of ‘one mind, one heart, and one voice’?”
  • demonstrate optimism about goals, efforts, and opportunity?”

Take time before 2012 begins to reflect on these questions. Demonstrating values-aligned leadership leads to higher performance, better customer experiences, and passionate employees.

How might you be a more values-aligned leader next year? Share your thoughts 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.”

Poor Leadership Practices Cost You Money

In a recent webinar, Blanchard program director and senior researcher David Witt presented findings from his analysis of data from over 200 companies that have completed Blanchard’s “Cost of Doing Nothing” calculator.

The companies in this mix range in size from 10 employees to thousands of employees from across the globe, from dozens of different industries. What is startling is that – despite the vast differences in size, locale, and businesses – these companies share common issues driven primarily by poor leadership.

The High Cost of Poor Leadership

Dave reports that companies in this study average losses of $1,000,000 annually driven entirely by the impact of poor leadership. Let’s look more closely at this data. The “Cost of Doing Nothing” calculator is built upon three desirable outcomes for companies: customer satisfaction, employee productivity, and employee retention.

The companies in this study described gaps in each of these key areas:

  • A 14-point customer service gap – organizations that completed the calculator determined that they were operating at a 75% positive customer satisfaction rate. Their desired positive customer satisfaction rate was 89%.
  • A 16-point employee productivity gap - companies in the study reported a 70% employee productivity ranking yet they desired an 86% employee productivity target.
  • A 45-point (!) employee retention gap – companies reported average employee turnover at 62%. The desired maximum employee turnover target for these organizations was 17%.

What is hopefully apparent to you as you look at these three desirable outcomes – customer satisfaction, employee productivity, and employee retention – is that each of these is highly driven by individual employees choosing to apply (or not apply) their discretionary energy.

Leaders have a HUGE impact on employee discretionary energy. When leaders demonstrate these proven behaviors, discretionary energy soars:

  • Trust and respect
  • Listening skills
  • Relationship skills (they get along with others)
  • Frequent recognition and celebration of staff effort & accomplishment
  • Hold themselves and their staff accountable

One more benefit of the above behaviors – when employees are treated this way, they have an easy time treating their customers the same way.

Leadership Effectiveness Creates Positive People, Passion, & Performance

Blanchard’s experience and research indicates that most organizations operate today with a 5-10% productivity “drag” that more effective leadership practices can eliminate. In one of our client organizations, analysis revealed that the company achieved a 5-12% increase in productivity among direct reports of managers who attended Blanchard’s leadership development program and began using the new skills they had learned.

Imagine the positive impact that consistent effective leadership behaviors can have on your organization’s people, passion, and performance!

Leadership effectiveness doesn’t happen casually. Organizations must be very clear about their strategy (vision, values, focus) then ensure leaders, managers, and supervisors consistently educate, delegate, inspire, cheer, and challenge their staff to make that strategy come to fruition. When leaders value and honor the contributions their team members provide, traction and momentum towards service, productivity, and retention occurs.

What is your experience with the impact of effective (or not so effective) leadership in the workplace? Add your thoughts 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.”

Make Sure You’re Spinning the RIGHT Plates

When I was a little boy, our family gathered around the black-and-white TV set on Sunday nights in Southern California to watch The Ed Sullivan Show. Sullivan hosted a variety program that exposed American audiences to dozens of stars, novelty acts, and bands over the years.

One particular act stands out in my mind. A vaudeville performer came out on stage where there were at least a sixty 5′ tall dowels in stands. This gentleman – with a lovely assistant – had 3 minutes to SPIN PLATES on the end of these dowels. ON NATIONAL TELEVISION. Watching this guy, I was convinced that I, too, could be a big star! (That never quite worked out for me.)

You’re “Spinning Plates” in the Workplace

Every one of us – from senior leaders to front line staff – spin plates at work. Our plates represent key goals and tasks we’ve been charged with. Our plates might also include activities like teamwork, good corporate citizenship, office politics, putting up with stupid policies and procedures, etc. Positive things and not-so-positive things.

With the global recession, staffing has become leaner in many organizations. Running lean means all staff spin even more plates than in the past.

We spend a great deal of time at work trying to keep all these plates spinning. It’s no wonder many people leave work at the end of their day or shift exhausted.

Which Plates DESERVE Your Attention?

Every player in an organization needs to proactively evaluate whether or not they are spinning plates that no longer serve their company, their customers, and their stakeholders. Often staff don’t even realize that they are investing valuable time on activities that do not actually provide value. They’re doing things because “they’ve always done it that way.”

How does one know which plates deserve the time, energy, and brain cells you’re expending?

Consider these key elements to assess which plates deserve your attention:

  • Do these activities align with your organization’s core purpose & values? Every organization needs to have a stated “reason for being,” a statement that describes why it exists, how it serves customers, etc. In addition, every organization needs to define HOW it will go about delivering on their “promise,” their reason for being. With these statements in place, they can be used as the foundation for assessing what activities deserve time, energy, and focus. If activities do not have a direct positive impact on the daily demonstration of organization’s core purpose and values, those activities may not deserve your attention.
  • Do these activities align with your organization’s defined strategies? With clearly defined strategies communicated and agreed to, one can evaluate the extent to which daily activities contribute to traction on those strategies. If activities do not demonstrate direct benefit to defined strategies, consider them for the “don’t do” pile.
  • Do these activities align with your personal purpose & values? With your personal purpose & values defined, you can assess the degree of alignment you have with the organization’s purpose and values. You can assess the degree of alignment with the organization’s strategies. If you find poor alignment, you may choose to remove yourself, at your earliest convenience, so you may find a more aligned workplace.

If these foundational pieces are NOT in place, EVERY ACTIVITY may seem beneficial. Do the analysis and invest in beneficial activities.

What is your experience with “spinning plates” in the workplace? Add your thoughts 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.”

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