Archive | November, 2012

A Deeper Look at the new #CoolCulture Research

Portrait of business colleagues holding each other and laughingIn October I released my new Performance-Values Assessment and invited readers (from my blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) to respond.

The initial responses are in. Last week’s post began our look at this data; this post continues that analysis. In addition, I present recommendations for boosting the health and effectiveness of your organization’s culture.

There are 71 global responses to the assessment so far, all drawn from people like you – social media-savvy folks who are interested in corporate culture. Therefore, the population we’re drawing upon is a small, un-scientific sample. And, I believe strongly that the insights drawn are worth your consideration, despite the small sample.

Each of the items (or questions) in the assessment describe desirable practices and behaviors. The rating scale includes scores from 1-6, ranging from “strongly disagree” (rating 1) to “slightly agree” (rating 4) to “strongly agree” (rating 6). Since each item states a desirable practice, the healthiest cultures generate ratings at the 5-6 level (“agree” and “strongly agree”). Let’s take a look at a few of these items . . .

“My direct boss provides me with effective performance coaching.” The leader’s role is to set clear goals, clear values, and coach team members to deliver on both, consistently. Therefore, this item provides insights on the performance side of the leader’s role. Scores are not good – only 6% of respondents “strongly agree” while 24% “agree.” That means that 70% of the respondents in this database do not receive effective performance coaching from their boss. That could be because respondents are specialists and their boss doesn’t have the technical skill to coach them. There is a strong likelihood that leaders are not doing the performance coaching team members need.

“My direct boss provides praise regularly for effort as well as accomplishment.” This leader behavior contributes to both performance and values – great leaders praise and encourage performance as well as values-aligned efforts. 57% of respondents ranked this statement “agree” or “strongly agree,” which is great – for those respondents! 43% of respondents do not have bosses that regularly praise effort and accomplishment.

“I am held accountable for modeling our team’s values in every interaction.” This item looks at how well the leader and team member peers hold each other accountable for demonstrating defined team values. (If team values are not formally defined, this item is difficult to answer!) Respondents see themselves as values-aligned for the most part – 62% ranked this item with “agree” or “strongly agree.” A great follow up to this question would be inviting feedback from respondents’ internal & external customers and gauging their perspective on the team member’s demonstration of team values.

“Organizational systems, policies, and procedures help me attain peak performance.” This was one of the three lowest scoring items of the twenty on this survey. Only 34% said “agree” or “strongly agree.” That means that 66% of respondents see systems, policies, and procedures as inhibiting their performance daily! This represents a huge opportunity for organizations – remove these hurdles and performance will skyrocket.

“I am proud to work for my team.” 42% of respondents “strongly agree” and 42% “agree.” The strong results here are gratifying. Despite some of the problem areas this survey identified, respondents still affiliate themselves with their team, the work they do, and the services they provide. Imagine, though, how much better employee morale would be if your culture worked so well that 100% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with this statement?

Join in the conversation about this post/podcast in the comments section below. How clear are performance and values expectations on your team? How well are staff held accountable to deliver on both?

There is still time to complete my #CoolCulture survey! Contribute your experiences in the Performance-Values Assessment. Further results and analysis will be shared on my blog site’s research page. Note that results will change as more respondents contribute to this database.

Learn how this new research can help you refine your organization’s corporate culture. Contact me for information on conducting the Performance-Values Assessment in your organization.

Photo © iStockphoto.com/yuri_arcurs

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes!

The music heard on these podcasts is from one of Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.


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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The First Look at the new #CoolCulture Research

iStock_000012604968XSmallAbout one month ago I released my new Performance-Values Assessment and invited readers (from my blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) to respond.

The initial responses are in; this post looks at trends from this early data. In addition, I’ll provide recommendations for boosting the health and effectiveness of your organization’s culture.

There are 57 global responses to the assessment so far, all drawn from people like you – social media-savvy folks who are interested in corporate culture. Therefore, the population we’re drawing upon is a small, un-scientific sample. And, I believe strongly that the insights drawn are worth your consideration, despite the small sample.

Each of the items (or questions) in the assessment describe desirable practices and behaviors. The rating scale includes scores from 1-6, ranging from “strongly disagree” (rating 1) to “slightly agree” (rating 4) to “strongly agree” (rating 6). Since each item states a desirable practice, the healthiest cultures will be rated at the 5-6 level (“agree” and “strongly agree”). Let’s take a look at a few of these items . . .

“I understand what is expected of me at work.” 39% of respondents “strongly agree” while 28% “agree.” That means over 2/3 of respondents understand what their performance expectations are. That’s terrific – high performing players and teams are explicit about goal expectations. Stated goals alone, though, do not guarantee delivery on performance expectations. Leaders must hold staff accountable.

“I am held accountable to meet or exceed performance expectations.” 25% of respondents “strongly agree” while 35% “agree.” So, of this population, 60% are held accountable – that’s good! And, that means 40% of respondents said they are not held accountable. Accountability falls on the shoulders of leaders. If performance expectations are not consistently met, it costs your company profits, customers, and employee morale. Leaders, consistently hold staff accountable for performance expectations.

“Fair consequences are applied if I miss performance expectations.” 11% of respondents “strongly agree” – 35% “agree.” A total of 46% of respondents experience fair consequences – from the boss or from the organization (peers, internal customers, etc.) – when they don’t deliver on agreed-to performance standards. That’s good! These totals also reveal that 54% of respondents do not experience fair consequences. This item doesn’t delineate if the 54% experience unfair consequences or no consequences; neither of those inspire the application of employee discretionary energy towards goal accomplishment.

“Our team has defined what a ‘good team citizen’ acts like.” This item takes us into values clarity. 9% of respondents “strongly agree” and 33% “agree,” totaling 42% in the desired rankings. Not bad – yet 58% of respondents said their team has not defined values for their team. In the absence of values standards, people do whatever they have to do in order to get ahead. Some of those behaviors are not fun to see or experience. Values clarity is a vital foundation for great team performance and cooperation.

“I demonstrate our company values in all interactions with bosses, peers, and customers.” This item had the highest desirable rating on the 20-item survey. 49% of respondents “strongly agree” and 40% “agree.” 89% of respondents model desired values; awesome. And, we’re rating self-perception in this survey. It would be interesting to gather input from respondents’ internal and external customers and gauge their observation of values demonstration. Hopefully it would be as strong as these self-perceptions.

Next week we’ll examine a few more of the items from the initial results from the Performance-Values Assessment.

Join in the conversation about this post/podcast in the comments section below. How clear are performance and values expectations on your team? How well are staff held accountable to deliver on both?

There is still time to complete my #CoolCulture survey! Contribute your experiences in my FREE Performance-Values Assessment. Further results and analysis will be shared in an upcoming post and podcast. Note that results will change as more respondents contribute to this database.

What is your company’s #CoolCulture score? Contact me for information on conducting the Performance-Values Assessment in your organization!

Photo © iStockphoto.com/yuri_arcurs

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes!

The music heard on these podcasts is from one of Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.


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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Change Your Perspective And Connect

2012-11-09 10.41.47I’d heard about our “pond beaver” for a year. My lovely bride (of 33 years) Diane has seen it. The neighbors have seen it. I’d never seen it, until this past Friday.

Since I’d never seen it, I didn’t quite believe we had a pond beaver. Our mountain community is remote but we live on a school bus route. Our road has regular traffic. The pond is 40′ from the road. I couldn’t imagine a beaver taking up residence in our little pond in an inhabited neighborhood.

I thought, “My wife and our neighbors have been seeing things.”

On Friday, I had a number of client calls. My cordless phone and headset allows me to be on calls and walk, stretch, and talk. I was upstairs on our deck. The phone was muted because of breezy conditions. And – there he was. Our pond beaver was real.

He (or she – we’re not certain at this point) is huge. His body is easily 3′ in length and his flat tail adds another 12″. He’s healthy – I believe he weighs 40 pounds.

He was waddling across the meadow, stocking up on fresh branches for his winter meals. He’d chew down a small, narrow tree then drag it into the pond and disappear into the lodge he’d built over the past year. A few minutes later he’d pop to the water’s surface again, swim around a bit to check out his surroundings, and head across the meadow for more provisions.

2012-11-09 10.43.34I grabbed my DSLR and took these pictures to document his activities.

Take Off Your Blinders

It is a thrill to see wildlife thriving in our mountain neighborhood. We see deer, foxes, ducks, and elk regularly, and bears periodically. And, this was a treat. It is my own fault for not noticing our new neighbor before now. I didn’t pay attention to the reality in front of me.

Leaders experience this all too often and may not be aware of it. Organizations and teams are constantly in flux. New processes, new services, new opportunities, etc. are exciting and threatening at the same time!

Leaders fall into routines that serve the daily activities and habits that “work” for them. They trust and act on what information is “in front of them.” However, we all have made lousy decisions when we are disconnected from the reality that others (employees and customers, for example) experience.

We need to “shake up” our routine, change our perspective, and learn as much as we can about what others are experiencing. Leaders must push themselves away from their desks, their keyboards, even their smartphones, and connect face-to-face with employees. Those connections shed light on refinements that can boost employee morale, WOW customers, and generate better profits for your business.

How can you change your perspective and connect more deeply with your people? Consider:

  • Take 30 minutes a day to “wander around” strategically. Connect with staff one on one. Ask, “How’s it going?” and “How can we make your job easier?” (Then make changes, where possible, that address employee issues.)
  • Do weekly breakfast or lunch with a random selection of 5-6 employees. Have no agenda other than to ask the two questions above.

Join in the conversation about this post/podcast in the comments section below. What are ways that you “shake up your routine” and learn other’s perceptions?

FREE SURVEY: What is it like to work in your company culture? Contribute your experiences in my FREE Performance-Values Assessment. Results and analysis will be shared in an upcoming post and podcast.

Photos © S. Chris Edmonds.

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes!

The music heard on these podcasts is from one of Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.


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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No Regrets: Live by Your Values

Dirt Bucket BrigadeRecently, a friend sent me a February 2012 article about the “Top Five Regrets of the Dying.” Nurse and songwriter Bronnie Ware originally shared these insights from her work as a palliative caregiver in an October 2010 blog post. The post went viral and led to her 2012 book.

The top five regrets from those at the end of their lives include:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish I had let myself be happier.

I see a common theme among these top five regrets – not living one’s purpose and values. Living a life others expected of them? Not true to their best self. Working so hard that they didn’t do things more in line with their life’s purpose? Not true to their best self.

Keeping one’s feelings bottled up? Disconnecting from friends? Curbing one’s day-to-day happiness? All indications that they’d not lived a life aligned to their true purpose and values.

We cannot be of service or of grace if we are not living our true purpose and values. Bronnie’s insights provide us the opportunity to change up our daily plans, decisions, and actions NOW – and live our best selves.

Be Your Best Self

Start with clarifying your purpose & values. For purpose, consider these questions:

  • What is my reason for being in this life?
  • What am I here to contribute or accomplish?
  • Who am I most inspired to serve?

Here’s my personal purpose statement: “To inspire and encourage others – life leaders and participants – to clarify their personal values and to serve with authenticity.”

For values, note the principles that you believe, in your soul, to be valid, right, and good. Define your values specifically. Then identify 2-3 valued behaviors that indicate the observable, measurable ways you’ll demonstrate your values.

Write these down. It may take a few drafts before you reach a purpose & values statement that you’re satisfied with.

Once your personal purpose and values are formalized, it is easier to assess ways you can demonstrate alignment to your best self. Where can you refine how you spend your time and talent to ensure you’re doing MORE values-aligned activities?

For example, could you carve out time to build a church foundation in Jamaica (like the gentleman in the photo above)? If you are a singer and/or musician, is there an organization like San Francisco’s Bread & Roses that provides free, live, quality shows to people otherwise isolated from society? Is there a soup kitchen in your city that needs your help?

There are hundreds of ways you can volunteer your time and talent, in and out of your workplace. Find one or two that inspire you, that help you demonstrate your personal purpose and values. Your spirit will soar and your regrets will be few(er).

What are your thoughts? Join in the conversation about this post/podcast in the comments section below. How do you live your true purpose and values? How does your best self serve others in your community?

FREE SURVEY: What is it like to work in your company culture? Contribute your experiences in my FREE Performance-Values Assessment. Results and analysis will be shared in an upcoming post and podcast.

Photo © iStockphoto.com/sframephoto

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes!

The music heard on these podcasts is from one of Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.


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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