Top 10%: Deliver Performance AND Values

How can you differentiate your business from the many others that offer similar products and services in your market? How can you earn “provider of choice” status with your customers by being in their “top 10%” of providers? It isn’t about a flashy new marketing campaign or a spin on what your product or service does. It isn’t, in fact, about external communication at all – at least, not at first.

The secret to creating a sustainable business that creates passionate employees who exceed performance standards and consistently wow your customers is embedded in the graphic at left, which we call the “Performance Values Matrix.” This model is the core of Blanchard’s proven, award winning culture change process.

This model comes from Jack Welch, who, while President/CEO of General Electric, was the first corporate senior leader to formally hold leaders and managers in his organization accountable for both performance and values.

The model is a simple X-Y graph with the vertical axis representing PERFORMANCE and the horizontal axis representing the VALUES MATCH. The quadrants represent the four possible combinations of high or low performance and high or low values match.

Starting Point: Clear Expectations

The first step is to ensure that expectations are clearly defined and agreed to by all parties. That means all employees have formal performance plans that outline project, goal, and task expectations and those expectations are agreed to. In addition, it means that values are defined in tangible, behavioral terms, and those expectations are also agreed to.

The best place for staff (leaders, managers, supervisors, employees – everybody) to exist on this model is the upper right quadrant. That means they are meeting or exceeding performance standards and are consistently demonstrating desired valued behaviors. You should wildly praise and recognize the high performance, values aligned players that reside here!

A not-so-good place for staff to reside is the lower left quadrant. If they are here, it means these players fall short of performance expectations and do not demonstrate desired valued behaviors. What should you do with the “low performance/low values match” player? Lovingly set them free. Or, as WD-40 President Gary Ridge says, “Share those employees with your competition!” It is unlikely that time and energy spent to raise skills (to improve performance) and coach to modify behavior (to increase the values match) will pay off in the short run (or long run). It’s best to let these folks go work somewhere else. “Lovingly” set them free because the way you treat staff – those that are leaving and those that are staying – says more about your values than any published statement.

The bottom-right quadrant offers an interesting challenge. What should you do with the values-led players who are unable to perform? Train them, build skills, and even shift their roles to leverage their talents as required. You don’t want to lose the values-match! If they are unable to consistently perform in any role, then you need to lovingly set them free.

The upper left quadrant is where the most damaging players reside. The high performance/low values match players are poison in your organization. They exceed performance expectations (good!) while demonstrating a very different set of values from those you desire (bad!). What must you do with these players? Lovingly set them free. As fast as you can. Their existence in your organization erodes leader integrity and trust among staff and customers.

Accountability for both performance and values can occur only after expectations (for both) are clear and agreed to. It takes intentional effort to build the necessary foundation for applying this model and creating the high performance, values-aligned organization.

Once you have embedded the desired values and are delivering consistent performance, your customers will become a tremendous positive word-of-mouth marketing force for your business.

Client Successes: Profit, Service, Passion

Our culture change clients have enjoyed hard dollar benefits from our proven process, including increased profits, efficiency, product quality, employee engagement, and customer service rankings. They have also enjoyed reduced turnover and reduced conflict across their work environment.

To what extent does your organization hold staff accountable for both performance AND values? Add your thoughts to the comments section below.

How can we help you create a high performance, values aligned culture?


Subscribe to Chris’ twice a month updates! Text VALUES to 66866 or head here.


Chris’ new “Culture Leadership Charge” series and the rest of his video clips can be found on YouTube. Subscribe to Chris’ YouTube channel.


podcast_subscribeSubscribe to Chris’ posts via RSS.


itunes_subscribeListen to or subscribe to over 300 of Chris’ Culture Leadership Podcasts on iTunes.


The music heard on Chris’ podcasts is from one of his songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2017 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). He played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.

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, Chris will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, Chris only recommend products or services he uses personally and believes will add value to his readers. Chris is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Most Teambuilding Isn’t.

This is the time of year when managers and leaders are inspired by the summer weather. They decide that their team needs to do some outdoor bonding and celebrating, so they sign up for a “teambuilding” session. Activities such as paintball, whitewater rafting, ropes courses, simulations, cooking competitions, and the like are common team building exercises. The hope is that the team activities will help improve relationships across team members, increase cooperative interaction, and team productivity.

The reality is that many of these teambuilding programs do not generate long term benefits. How many of you have gone to a teambuilding program yet found that little changed when the team returned to their work environment?

To ensure teams benefit from teambuilding activities, spend time planning exactly what goals you have for the session (“what do you want to accomplish with this activity?”). Find a provider that has proven experience with intentional instructional design and focused facilitation to help embed take-aways, beneficial agreements, and help teams demonstrate desired behaviors back on the job.

Before you engage in teambuilding, consider a more foundational step first. Our research and experience tells us that teams need clarity of purpose, values, goals, and strategy as a foundation for team performance and team member morale. Chartering your team helps align team member skills and effort towards the accomplishment of agree-to goals and targets. In addition,  these clear agreements enable desired norms in how team members work with and treat each other as they  work to accomplish team goals.

Key Elements of a Team Charter

Your team charter formalizes performance expectations and team values, which clarifies what the team is delivering and how they’ll work to deliver those products and/or services. It is a working document that evolves as the team learns how to increase productivity and team member satisfaction over time. The main elements of a team charter include:

  1. Organizational Vision, Purpose, and Values – all teams are “sponsored” by the organization in which they operate. A team must understand the vision, purpose, and values of the company so that it can align team purpose and values with those defined organizational elements.
  2. Team Purpose – the team’s purpose statement identifies what the team does, for whom, and why it is important. A clear purpose provides direction for identifying team goals and the roles needed to accomplish those goals.
  3. Team Values and Norms – Values are the enduring principles that guide team and team member plans, decisions, and actions. Norms are the day-to-day ground rules that clarify appropriate behaviors for team members.
  4. Team Goals and Roles – goals identify the measurable outcomes and timelines that must be delivered upon to ensure team success. Roles define the individual responsibilities required for the successful operation of the team.
  5. Team Practices – this section defines the team’s strategies and processes that ensure the team stays on track to deliver promised outcomes. Practices include communication strategies, decision-making authority, and accountability practices.
  6. Team Resources – these are the tangible materials the team needs to accomplish its goals, including time, budget, people, equipment, training, etc.

Most teams get a goal or project and madly start working on goal accomplishment. Without these clear charter agreements, though, teams experience what Peter Drucker described when he said, “The only things that naturally occur in organizations are anger, frustration, and fear.” If your team would benefit from clear agreements and norms – if conflict, silos, and entitlement inhibit team performance – formalize a team charter.

Does your team have a formal charter? What norms help your team deliver on performance expectations WHILE modeling team values? Add your thoughts in the comments section below.


Subscribe to Chris’ twice a month updates! Text VALUES to 66866 or head here.


Chris’ new “Culture Leadership Charge” series and the rest of his video clips can be found on YouTube. Subscribe to Chris’ YouTube channel.


podcast_subscribeSubscribe to Chris’ posts via RSS.


itunes_subscribeListen to or subscribe to over 300 of Chris’ Culture Leadership Podcasts on iTunes.


The music heard on Chris’ podcasts is from one of his songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2017 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). He played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.

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, Chris will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, Chris only recommend products or services he uses personally and believes will add value to his readers. Chris is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Catch People Doing Things RIGHT.

During a coaching session with one of my culture change clients, the president of the organization told me that he’d recently had an epiphany (we love it when that happens!). Lee said, “I’ve been a manager for 30 years. All that time I thought my job was to manage processes and results. This culture change journey has helped me redefine my job. Today, my job is to manage people’s energy.

Lee and I talked for some time (and continue to do so today) about HOW Lee makes this shift. Today, Lee consciously refines his emphasis, his language, and his behaviors so that his interactions with followers across the company lead them to feel trusted, honored, and respected. He continues to thank them for their contributions to the organization’s success, as well.

Most senior leaders in Western organizations see their jobs like Lee did: managing processes and results. It’s no surprise that senior leaders do that, as they have been trained for decades by their bosses, stakeholders, and even Wall Street to deliver results, no matter what the human costs. This philosophy leads leaders to focus on what people are doing WRONG – to catch them at it (sometimes with a “gotcha” attitude), correct the problem, then move on to find someone else doing something wrong . . . and the cycle continues, day in and day out.

Our view at Blanchard is much different: leaders need to inspire followers with clear vision, formal goals, meaningful work, and a culture of gratitude (and even fun). Leaders need to manage by wandering around, looking for things that are working, and catch people doing things RIGHT – with on-the-spot praising and encouragement.

Two Proven Approaches to Catching People Doing Things Right

  1. Planned Spontaneous Recognition – Bob Lorber, a member of Blanchard’s board of directors, shared this best practice with us. Years ago Bob was impressed by a third-shift supervisor who transformed his team from the worst performing group to the best in less than a year. The supervisor, Sid, clarified performance expectations, monitored performance daily, and frequently praised and encouraged workers to help them stay on track.As performance improved, Sid added this new twist to his communications with his team. Every day while driving in to work, Sid would decide what he was going to look for that day. In his manufacturing environment, it might have been clean & safe work spaces or efficiency or information sharing, etc. Then, as Sid saw that “benefit” being demonstrated that day, he’d spring the “gift” on that team member or the group. It might be pizza for lunch one day or ice cream sundaes or movie tickets . . . whatever. Sid told Bob that he planned what he was going to look for and what he was going to “gift,” but it looked and felt to the team like it was completely spontaneous. Sid’s actions improved performance and commitment on the part of every team member.
  2. Six Pennies – I learned about this mechanism from one of my best bosses, Jerry Nutter. At the time, Jerry was the CEO of a large full-facility YMCA with child care, fitness programs, racquetball, indoor pool, etc. Jerry knew staff were doing great things every day with members – and that he’d miss those things if he was tied to his desk. Each workday morning, Jerry would put six pennies in his right front pants pocket. For an hour, he’d tour around the facility, looking for people doing things right. When he found one, he’d wait for the appropriate moment to pull them aside, praise what he saw, thank them, and move on. In two minutes, he validated their contribution and commitment.As he left, he’d take a penny from his right front pocket and move to his left front pocket.He kept meandering through the facility until he’d delivered at least six praisings in that hour. In the afternoon, Jerry would spend another hour again, praising RIGHT actions, moving pennies from his left to his right pocket. Jerry’s staff (I was one of them) LOVED him – they genuinely felt trusted, respected, and honored.

Your staff do a great number of things right every day. Stop and notice! You will enjoy better performance and better relationships when you catch people doing things right.

How do you ensure that you’re paying attention and validating team members that are doing things right? Add your thoughts in the comments section below!


Subscribe to Chris’ twice a month updates! Text VALUES to 66866 or head here.


Chris’ new “Culture Leadership Charge” series and the rest of his video clips can be found on YouTube. Subscribe to Chris’ YouTube channel.


podcast_subscribeSubscribe to Chris’ posts via RSS.


itunes_subscribeListen to or subscribe to over 300 of Chris’ Culture Leadership Podcasts on iTunes.


The music heard on Chris’ podcasts is from one of his songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2017 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). He played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.

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, Chris will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, Chris only recommend products or services he uses personally and believes will add value to his readers. Chris is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Two Steps to Help Senior Leaders Understand “It’s Time” for Culture Change

A recent lunch meeting with a colleague generated some great insights about how to help senior leaders make the decision to refine their organization’s culture (thanks, Melissa, for your terrific questions and enthusiasm for this topic!).

Previous blog postings have explained the reality of a senior leader’s world – they have been trained to primarily (OK, even exclusively) focus on performance, results, and financial targets. Most are unaware of their organization’s culture and too few senior leaders understand the impact of culture on performance, results, and financial success. If they are aware of the power of culture to drive results, most senior leaders do not know what to do to refine their company’s culture. Most senior leaders have rarely experienced successful culture change; even fewer have led successful culture change.

Two Steps Can Help Senior Leaders Understand “It’s Time”

Senior leaders are comfortable with data. They study performance data every day. We culture change consultants must leverage this highly-developed skill to educate senior leaders about the current conditions that exist in their culture. By clarifying exactly how their culture operates today, we can help senior leaders see the gaps between how their organization operates and the characteristics of high performing, values aligned organizations.

Step 1: Show them the Data! We need to help senior leaders discover:

  • Data from outside their organization that clearly describes the best practices of high performing, values aligned cultures, and
  • Data from inside their organization that clearly describes what’s happening in their company’s work environment and highlights what best practices are NOT in place in their company’s culture.

We want these leaders to realize that they have (intentionally or not) reinforced the current culture and the ways the business operates today. In essence,  they’re getting from their culture exactly what they should expect to get. It is what it is – the current operating environment has been reinforced (consciously or unconsciously) for years. And, what the work environment delivers today may not be good (culture, results, customer relationships, etc.) – and culture change is needed to enable that environment to deliver really good outcomes, consistently. Solid data can help “clean the eyeglasses” so that a senior leader can see why the business operates the way it does, and what needs changing.

Step 2: Show them the Cost of Doing Nothing!
Once senior leaders examine this data, they’re typically not satisfied with how the culture operates ( results, customer relationships, employee relationships, values alignment, etc.). They know the culture needs to change, but to do so they’ll probably travel down an unknown path. They’ll be concerned about what to do to change their current culture . . . and may prefer the safe path, staying with the current, known issues rather than embark on a path that (they feel) may not make the culture better.

We need to create an urgent insight that “staying the course” will not serve senior leaders well. A great way to do that is through Blanchard‘s online Cost of Doing Nothing Calculator. This easy tool enables leaders to enter real data from their organization and, in minutes, establish the hard-dollar costs of keeping the current conditions in place.

Once senior leaders understand the costs of “status quo,” they are typically ready to dive in to culture change . . . guided by experienced culture change consultants who created a proven, award-winning process.

What indicators do you look for that let you know your team’s culture needs refinement? Share your insights in the comments section below.


Subscribe to Chris’ twice a month updates! Text VALUES to 66866 or head here.


Chris’ new “Culture Leadership Charge” series and the rest of his video clips can be found on YouTube. Subscribe to Chris’ YouTube channel.


podcast_subscribeSubscribe to Chris’ posts via RSS.


itunes_subscribeListen to or subscribe to over 300 of Chris’ Culture Leadership Podcasts on iTunes.


The music heard on Chris’ podcasts is from one of his songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2017 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). He played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.

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, Chris will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, Chris only recommend products or services he uses personally and believes will add value to his readers. Chris is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Five Critical Success Factors for Culture Transformation

My work with culture change clients is some of the most gratifying of my career. Guiding committed senior leaders to define their desired culture and to rally their staff to embrace desired values and behaviors is marvelous to observe. If done properly, their culture refinement efforts generate higher performance . . . increase genuine consideration of bosses, peers, customers, and stakeholders . . . and create a values-aligned work environment where players are  trusted, honored, and respected.

In our meta-analysis of culture research and in reviewing our work with culture change clients, my co-author colleagues (of Ken Blanchard‘s award-winning, proven culture change process) and I have identified five factors that were present in every single successful culture transformation we’ve guided. These are also posted in the culture change section of Blanchard’s web site.

Organizations that successfully create high performing, values-aligned cultures share these five critical success factors:

  1. The senior leadership team must demonstrate commitment to the long-term process. The culture change process must be embraced and championed by the entire senior leadership team. They must lead this effort with “one heart, one mind, and one voice.” Senior leaders cannot delegate the responsibility for culture creation, maintenance, or refinement any more than they can delegate the responsibility to breathe! They will be held to high standards as desired values are defined (in behavioral terms) and communicated. Cultural transformation is an ongoing project that will never go away.
  2. Values must be defined in behavioral terms. This is the only approach that makes your desired behaviors observable, tangible, and measurable. Ultimately, you don’t care about someone’s beliefs or attitude – you care that they demonstrate desired valued behaviors with every boss, peer, customer, and stakeholder, every day, in every interaction.
  3. Accountability for delivering promised performance and demonstrating valued behaviors is paramount. Consequences must be swift and consistent. Positive consequences for meeting performance and values expectations must be described and demonstrated. Praise and encourage the performance and values demonstration you want! Negative consequences must be applied when performance is below standards or valued behaviors are not demonstrated. You must not tolerate undesirable behavior from anyone at any level.
  4. It is vital that all staff are involved in and buy into the culture transformation at every phase. This process is not about “managing by announcements,” where leaders tell everyone what the new expectations are but don’t invite thoughts or hold people—including themselves—consistently accountable. For all staff to embrace the desired culture, they must be included in the clarification process. They must help define and commit to what the new culture will demand of them (and their bosses and peers).
  5. One step at a time. Find a manageable scope for the change initiative. Don’t try to change the entire organization at once; move at a pace that the organization can tolerate. Start with a distinct part of the organization—a department, division, plant, or regional office—to learn how the process flows. Then select another distinct part of the organization and begin the change process there, modifying and refining the roll out based on what you learned with the first group. Continue until you’ve “digested the entire elephant.”

If you skip any of our process phases or key activities or do not have these critical success factors in place, you will not gain traction on your desired culture. If you’d like to see a higher performance, values-aligned culture in your organization, let us know – we’d love to help guide you.

What success factors would you add? Contribute your thoughts in the comments section below.


Subscribe to Chris’ twice a month updates! Text VALUES to 66866 or head here.


Chris’ new “Culture Leadership Charge” series and the rest of his video clips can be found on YouTube. Subscribe to Chris’ YouTube channel.


podcast_subscribeSubscribe to Chris’ posts via RSS.


itunes_subscribeListen to or subscribe to over 300 of Chris’ Culture Leadership Podcasts on iTunes.


The music heard on Chris’ podcasts is from one of his songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2017 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). He played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.

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, Chris will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, Chris only recommend products or services he uses personally and believes will add value to his readers. Chris is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes