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Clear the Path

April 14, 2014 — Leave a comment

iStock_000001765937SmallHow easy is it for your team members to deliver consistent performance? How easy is it for them to act as great corporate citizens?

It’s possible that your work environment has hurdles and hindrances that inhibit team members from doing the right things the right way the first time.

I would go so far to say that it’s probable that your work environment suffers from some of these hurdles!

Clients report a number of things that get in the way of consistent performance by teams and members. The most common hurdles include:

  • Skill gaps – team members do not have the knowledge or skills required to deliver the products or services that have been promised
  • Resources – the right raw materials aren’t available when needed, or unrealistic deadlines frustrate team members, or there are too few team members to carry the load
  • Systems – policies and procedures are inefficient (at best) or downright broken (at worst)

Clients also report common hurdles to great corporate citizenship. They include:

  • Teamwork – team members don’t get along, don’t trust each other, and don’t cooperate
  • Incentives – individual compensation plans cause team members to ensure that they win while their peers lose
  • Tolerations – rude behavior between team members (and bosses and even customers) is not addressed; it continues because it is tolerated

There are dozens of things leaders and teams can try to address these hurdles and hindrances. What many clients have found beneficial is a change in perspective: don’t try to address all the hurdles – simply create a formal pathway to high performance and values alignment.

Make it Easy to Stay on Track

Imagine a wheat field, ready for harvest. The plants are thick, strong, and tall. Walking through that field would be difficult! The footing would be uneven. You’d have to push plants out of the way to make any progress. You’d struggle to walk on a straight line; you’d be focused on each step, not on the direction you’re heading.

Now imagine a smooth, paved path through the heavy wheat field. You’d easily traverse the acres. The direction you need to go is obvious. You’d not waste time or energy on the journey.

You’d rather stay on the paved portion than veer off into the plants. The paved portion makes your journey easy.

This is exactly what #GreatBosses do, every day. They smooth the path for teams and members towards consistent high performance and consistent great citizenship.

They smooth the way by:

  • Clarifying, communicating, and reinforcing their team’s purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals, every day.
  • Engaging with team members frequently to gauge performance progress. They listen and learn about performance hurdles and hindrances, and address them promptly if the team isn’t already doing so itself.
  • Modeling the team’s purpose, values, and behaviors in every interaction.
  • Celebrating team member’s demonstration of the team’s purpose, values, and behaviors – and coaching or redirecting misaligned behaviors.

What do you think? How clear is your team’s path towards top performance and great citizenship? What hurdles and hinderances do you see your team or team members facing today? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

Subscribe to my free weekly blog & podcast updates and enjoy two “fabulous gifts:” my Be a GREAT Boss ebook plus an excerpt from my new #GREAT Bosses tweet book.

Get your free copy of my ChangeThis manifesto, “What? Your Organization Doesn’t Have a Constitution?

Add your experiences to two fast & free research projects I have underway: the Great Boss Assessment and the Performance-Values Assessment. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

Photo © istockphoto.com/pelvidge. All rights reserved.

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 my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I 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.”

Contented Workers

April 7, 2014 — Leave a comment

Wellbeign at WorkHow happy are your company’s employees? The Gallup organization recently revealed the results of their research on the US communities with the most contented workers.

The Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index measures respondents’ perceptions in six areas:

  • Life Evaluation: Present life situation and anticipated life situation
  • Emotional Health: Daily feelings and mental state
  • Work Environment: Job satisfaction and workplace interactions
  • Physical Health: Physical ability to live a full life
  • Healthy Behavior: Engaging in behaviors that affect physical health
  • Basic Access: Feeling safe, satisfied, and optimistic within a community

Gallup and Healthways survey 500 Americans each day. They’ve conducted the Well Being Index since January 2008. The Well-Being Index is being updated in 2014 to assess respondents’ perceptions in five areas that analysis showed would be better measures of well-being. We’ll see these new focus areas in results issued next year.

The community with the most contented workers was Provo-Orem, Utah, with an overall well-being score of 71.4 on a 100-point scale. Rounding out the top three communities are Boulder, CO (with a score of 71.3) and Ft. Collins-Loveland, CO (71.1).

The three communities with the least contented workers are Huntington-Ashland, KY/WV/OH (this metropolitan area spans portions of three states) with a score of 59.5, Charleston, WV (60.0), and Redding, CA (62.0).

Numerous studies of well being and employee engagement prove that employees with high engagement and well being produce more, innovate more, and serve customers better.

What can leaders do to boost employee well being in these six areas?

Company leaders can influence communities to enact policies that inspire residents to engage in healthy activities. Getting communities to enact policies might take awhile.

Company and team leaders can certainly work to ensure job satisfaction and healthy workplace interactions. Check out my free ChangeThis manifesto to learn how.

Team leaders don’t need a formal mandate. They can enact informal approaches that inspire team members to embrace healthy activities. Arranging lunchtime or mid-afternoon walks with interested team members can inspire physical activity. Enrolling a team in a charity walk can inspire bonding, service, and physical health.

Bringing in a yoga teacher and providing space for interested team members to do a class before or after work is increasing in popularity.

Learning new and interesting things can be as simple as bringing in outside experts for lunchtime presentations. A nutrition expert can demonstrate simple, healthy meal preparation or inform about the season’s freshest produce.

Team leaders are only limited by their own assumed constraints. If they think healthy living is something team members must do on their own, they won’t try some of these approaches. If they believe that everyone (including themselves) can benefit from exposure to healthier practices, they’ll be creative with some of these approaches.

You want to create a variety of healthy approaches for team members. Don’t mandate these activities – simply make them available, easy, and interesting.

By arranging participation in these and similar activities, your own well being – and that of team members – will grow, right before your eyes.

What do you think? How contented are you? How contented are your work peers, today? How can leaders inspire healthier opportunities daily to boost well being and engagement? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

Subscribe to my free weekly blog & podcast updates and enjoy two “fabulous gifts:” my Be a GREAT Boss ebook plus an excerpt from my new #GREAT Bosses tweet book.

Get your free copy of my ChangeThis manifesto, “What? Your Organization Doesn’t Have a Constitution?

Add your experiences to two fast & free research projects I have underway. The Great Boss Assessment compares your current boss’ behaviors with those of great bosses. The Performance-Values Assessment compares your organization’s culture practices to those of high performing, values-aligned teams and organizations. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

Photo © istockphoto.com/olm26250. All rights reserved.

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 my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I 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.”

No Absolutes

March 31, 2014 — Leave a comment

IMG_1289Many of us think in terms of absolutes – despite the reality around us that demonstrates how this life is filled with nuances and subtleties.

I grew up in Southern California near the beaches of Orange County. I was a surfer who used to catch waves for a couple of hours before heading to class in high school.

I had no experience with real weather until moving to Colorado nearly ten years ago.

We experience “adventuresome mountain living” at 8400 feet above sea level. Snow, sleet, ice, etc. are a part of daily life for at least six months out of the year. To thrive here, you’d better embrace the reality.

The calendar shows we’re almost to April, yet we’ve still got snow on the ground in shady areas. Our pond is still frozen despite the 40-degree temperatures. On the north side of our house, the walkway is covered in ice – which totally confuses my “absolutes” brain.

How can ice exist when the outside temperature is well above freezing? Shouldn’t the ice and snow melt away once the temps hit 33 degrees?

The environment “is what it is!” The ground isn’t above 32 degrees. Overnight temperatures are still in the teens. Until the earth below the surface heats up, we’ll still have ice and snow.

Leaders think in absolutes all the time – despite the reality around them that demonstrates how their work environment is filled with nuances and subtleties.

Maybe the leader announces a new policy or new practices, yet teams continue to behave as if nothing has changed. The leader thinks, “What’s the matter with them? I told them what the new policies are!”

Maybe the leader asks teams to be self-directed, managing their day-to-day efforts independently to meet project deadlines. But if the team has never experienced self-directed teaming, they don’t know what to do. So, they sit, waiting to be told. The leader thinks, “What’s the matter with them? Why don’t they just get to it?”

Maybe the leader gives the “salesperson of the year” award to a player who exceeds their quota by 100% but who uses shady practices to reach those sales numbers. He or she might poach business from fellow sales team members. He or she might over-promise to get the sale, and frustrate the customer weeks later when the company can’t deliver on those grand promises.

Peers complain about who won the award. The leader thinks, “What’s the matter with them? He sold more than anyone else – he deserves the award!”

There are rarely pure absolutes in our work environments. Leaders can’t just pay attention to the output – that’s hanging out on the edges of what’s really happening. #GreatBosses engage in the midst of the processes and work efforts so they understand the nuances and subtleties. Those leaders can then reinforce desirable nuances and quash undesirable nuances, day in and day out.

Over time, the right nuances lead to the right behaviors. Those right behaviors lead to promises delivered and WOW’ed customers . . . which is absolutely a desirable work environment.

What do you think? What absolute beliefs get in the way of your effective day-to-day contributions? How well do your leaders engage in the midst of processes and efforts to create #WorkplaceInspirationShare your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

Subscribe to my free weekly blog & podcast updates and enjoy two “fabulous gifts:” my Be a GREAT Boss ebook plus an excerpt from my new #GREAT Bosses tweet book.

Get your free copy of my ChangeThis manifesto, “What? Your Organization Doesn’t Have a Constitution?

Add your experiences to two fast & free research projects I have underway. The Great Boss Assessment compares your current boss’ behaviors with those of great bosses. The Performance-Values Assessment compares your organization’s culture practices to those of high performing, values-aligned teams and organizations. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

Photo © Chris Edmonds on iStock. All rights reserved.

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 my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I 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.”

Your Right Path

March 24, 2014 — Leave a comment

Footstep on the sandWhom do you trust and respect? What about those people’s plans, decisions, and actions cause you to look up to them?

I’ve always been fascinated by the human condition and how us imperfect beings react to our circumstances.

We all face both desirable and undesirable scenarios each day. We experience bad breaks we don’t deserve and bad breaks we do deserve. We experience good breaks we deserve and good breaks we don’t deserve.

I’m inspired by people who remain calm, confident, and kind in the face of their circumstances, who ride out their good and bad breaks steadily, always moving forward on their chosen path.

How do these calm, aligned, kind players find their path? My studies have helped me gain some insights into proven avenues to that alignment. Many world religions outline very similar avenues. In Buddhist traditions, for example, it’s called the Eightfold Path (you can learn more here and here.

This path is intended as a guide to help us humans see life realistically. Exploring these areas can help us settle in to our right or proper path.

Ponder these eight areas:

  • Right (or Proper) View – Understanding that our personal views of the world may inhibit our ability to see the world clearly. Us humans have many beliefs that can cloud our ability to live in the present without mental noise and anguish. This area invites exploration to assess any beliefs that contribute to clouding our views.
  • Right Intention – If one’s intentions on this day are to treat others kindly and fairly, one typically does exactly that. If our intentions are driven by our anger, resentment, or greed, then we are more likely to treat others badly. Having wholesome intentions takes practice!
  • Right Action – Clear intention helps one demonstrate aligned actions. The right actions help us behave in ways that helps and doesn’t harm ourselves or others. We need to pay attention to the impact of our plans, decisions, and actions on others, not just ourselves.
  • Right Speech – In any communications one makes – speaking, writing, emailing, etc. – choose to not hurt feelings, lie, gossip, or intentionally make people angry or defensive. This doesn’t mean that you cannot share your ideas or opinions! It means that one ensures his or her communications are honest and helpful.
  • Right Livelihood – This area doesn’t mean that there are good or bad places to work. It means that we must be aware of how we behave in our workplace – how we treat peers, bosses, and customers. We can choose how to behave and how our workplace ethics are demonstrated.
  • Right Effort – Effort towards undesirable ends doesn’t help us. Aligned effort enables us to demonstrate compassion and contribution. It can help us step away from greed, anger, and fear.
  • Right Mindfulness – Pay attention to what you pay attention to! The little voices in our heads can distract us from being present. Mindfulness keeps one anchored in the moment, engaging with others kindly, and applying our skills in service to others.
  • Right Concentration – Multitasking doesn’t work. Concentration asks us to focus on one thing at a time. It lets us sharpen our thinking, refine thinking that causes us anxiety and stress, and contribute more consistently and kindly.

Further exploration of these areas will benefit me. I have much to learn before I act calmly, confidently, and kindly in every circumstance!

What do you think? What causes you to trust and respect certain people you interact with or observe? To what degree have you engaged in any of these areas to be more calm, confident, and kind? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

Subscribe to my free weekly blog & podcast updates and enjoy two “fabulous gifts:” my Be a GREAT Boss ebook plus an excerpt from my new #GREAT Bosses tweet book.

Get your free copy of my ChangeThis manifesto, “What? Your Organization Doesn’t Have a Constitution?

Add your experiences to two fast & free research projects I have underway. The Great Boss Assessment compares your current boss’ behaviors with those of great bosses. The Performance-Values Assessment compares your organization’s culture practices to those of high performing, values-aligned teams and organizations. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

Photo © istockphoto.com/Malbert. All rights reserved.

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 my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I 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.”

Suspect Component

March 17, 2014 — Leave a comment

iStock_000012618633SmallDoctors have found my “suspect component.”

I’ve had two back surgeries in the distant past. Over the past couple of years I have experienced some discomfort in my lower back.

I didn’t think much about it. I travel for a living so have accepted the impact that long plane rides and various bed qualities have on back health.

In fact, the Cleveland Clinic reports that lower back pain is the most common cause of disability in people below age 45. In the US, 80% of the population will experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime.

My physician referred me to a neurologist who ordered MRIs of my lower back. My “suspect component”? The disks in my lower spine are virtually gone due to degenerative disk disease. I met with a neurosurgeon for further review. He ordered more MRIs (of the cervical & thoracic spine and of the neck).

We’ll review those images in a few weeks. Spinal fusion is the surgical solution being discussed. I’m not jumping into that quite yet; we’ll see how it all plays out.

There are “suspect components” in many areas of life. In his book, Lone Survivor, Marcus Luttrell described how Navy SEAL boot camp was a ruthless elimination process for an elite fighting force that “cannot tolerate a suspect component.” The incredible physical and mental demands on SEAL candidates ensured that only the strongest made it through. The weaker candidates self-selected out.

I had the timing belt changed on my 2006 Honda Ridgeline last month. Though that critical part has an expected lifespan of 100,000 miles (and mine only has 89,000 miles on it), it’s age caused it to be considered a “suspect component” that could fail at any time. A broken timing belt can cause incredible damage inside a motor. Rather than risk the belt breaking, I had it replaced.

We see suspect components in workplaces. A team member who over-promises and under-delivers erodes team performance as well as team member confidence in his or her ability to carry their load. S/he is a suspect component.

Bosses who manage by fear and intimidation may generate short-term results from their team. Long term, though, they experience inconsistent service levels, team members quitting and leaving (or quitting and staying), and little proactive problem solving by team members. These bosses are a suspect component – a key but weak part that could break and cause significant damage.

How do you identify suspect components in your team or company? First you have to formally define expected performance and expected valued behaviors. This specifies what an “A+” contributor looks, acts, and sounds like.

With those expectations in place, you observe leaders and players closely. When you see missed performance expectations, you engage, investigate, and coach back to standard. When you see less-than-desired values and citizenship, you engage, investigate, and coach back to standard.

You don’t let up. You hold yourself and everyone else in the organization accountable for both performance and values, every day, in every interaction.

In that environment, suspect components must choose to step up and deliver or to self-select out. If they don’t step up and don’t self-select out, you must lovingly set them free.

What do you think? How have your great bosses dealt with suspect components in the past? What other costs have suspect components created in your work teams? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

Subscribe to my free weekly blog & podcast updates and enjoy two “fabulous gifts:” my Be a GREAT Boss ebook plus an excerpt from my new #GREAT Bosses tweet book.

Get your free copy of my ChangeThis manifesto, “What? Your Organization Doesn’t Have a Constitution?

Add your experiences to two fast & free research projects I have underway. The Great Boss Assessment compares your current boss’ behaviors with those of great bosses. The Performance-Values Assessment compares your organization’s culture practices to those of high performing, values-aligned teams and organizations. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

Photo © istockphoto.com/LeventKonuk. All rights reserved.

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 my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I 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.”