At a recent corporate culture keynote, my audience responded enthusiastically to a “best practice” recommendation.
Our culture change model requires that companies be very disciplined in setting expectations on two fronts: performance and values. These particular leaders have worked hard to increase performance clarity. As with most of our culture clients, though, they have not created clear values standards. Our discussions and activities helped increase their understanding of the importance of values clarity.
The tough part of culture change isn’t setting expectations; it’s holding all staff accountable for those performance and values expectations.
My “best practice” recommendation: leaders must change what they notice. Every day.
What Do Leaders Pay Attention To Today?
Most leaders in organizations have been trained to look at performance metrics. Organizational systems have been designed and refined to present up-to-the-moment data about performance metrics. Those metrics typically include:
- Widgets out the door
- Quality of products and services
- Financials, including revenue, expenses, and net profits
- Waste, scrap, and/or recovery
- Labor costs
- Raw materials costs
- Market share
- Customer satisfaction
These are important metrics to track as they all contribute to or erode financial success and the long-term viability of the enterprise.
However, they are not the ONLY metrics leaders must observe closely. And, suggesting that leaders spend 50% of their time and attention on things OTHER than performance metrics causes consternation (and worse) in audiences I speak to.
Why? Most leaders have not experienced an organizational culture that requires values alignment as well as high performance. Without relevant role models or “on the job” training for managing values AND performance, organizational leaders don’t know what to “do differently” to do those things effectively.
Pay Attention to These Metrics, Too
These values metrics provide insights into how well the employee population believes that their company trusts, respects, and honors them, day in and day out.
- Employee morale
Do employees believe the company is a good place to work? Do they recommend that others work there (or stay away)? Do employees apply discretionary energy to their work tasks and opportunities?
- Employee perceptions of the company’s culture
Do employees believe that the organization has their best interests at heart? Does the corporate culture enable staff to share hopes and dreams about the future? Are they happy about working in the company?
- Employee perceptions of the company’s leaders
Do employees believe leaders are credible, behave with integrity? Do employees believe what leaders tell them? Do employees rally around leaders during times of stress or do they disconnect?
How do you measure traction in these metrics? Wander around your workplace. Ask questions. Listen. Conduct regular employee surveys. Hold leaders and staff for values expectations.
To free up time, energy, and space to observe these values metrics, leaders must delegate some of what they’ve been doing to stay on top of performance metrics to trusted, talented staff. Very capable staff are ready to provide data that enables leaders to keep track of performance standards and accountability.
Great bosses create safe and positive workplaces that inspires high performance and values alignment. Results reported by our culture clients indicate consistent gains in employee work passion, customer devotion, and financial profits.
What do you think about “changing what leaders notice”? Add your comments below.
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