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Delightful Decluttering

PapierstapelMy storeroom was packed to the gills. My office closet was worse. It was time to clear some of my stuff out.

Today’s venture started with gathering and testing my old photo studio lights so my daughter-in-law can have an easier time taking pictures of products for her cool Etsy shop.

I’ve got a set of terrific soft-box, daylight studio lights that work beautifully. My old lights work fine and will serve her well.

Pulling out those cases required making room to get at those cases – then realizing the stuff blocking those cases was, well, more stuff.

I hadn’t touched a lot of that stuff in years. We’d moved this stuff across state lines multiple times – but I hadn’t referred to it or used it in a long, long time.

Clearing space in the storeroom prompted clearing books and materials from my office closet. Some of the storeroom stuff really belonged in my office closet. My wife needed more space in the storeroom. She helped pack boxes of college textbooks and course materials for the library, for the charity store, and for the dump. Her help made the work go quickly.

In two hours we got space cleared for her needs and for my needs – and we are donating things that others will benefit from immediately.

And, there’s much more stuff that needs to go. It’s plain to see that I keep stuff way beyond it’s potential value.

The problem with having all that stuff is that it requires energy to manage it. If I need something, I look through shelves of books and drawers of files. It slows me down – I have to stop writing (and creating) to sift through my stuff. Too often, I don’t find what I thought was going to be helpful. And, my train of thought, so strong just minutes before, is now derailed.

What clutter gets in the way of your clear thinking, clear creating, clear service, and clear contribution? Some clutter is literal – old files and books and boxes of stuff. Some clutter is figurative – but it disturbs our efforts just the same.

For example, do you rely on dusty, maybe even rusty knowledge or skills to get work done today? Have new, more efficient ways to contribute passed you by?

Do you rely on antiquated systems or processes to stay in touch with internal and external customers? Have new means to engage and connect with peers and customers not made an impression on you, yet?

Have you made assumptions about others’ skills or agendas that inhibit effective teaming and prompt resolution of issues?

In my work with leaders at all levels of organizations, I see this all the time.

If we’re not evolving, we’re eroding. Take the time regularly to clean the lenses, clear the clutter, and start a bit fresher than we were before.

What clutter gets in the way of your best work and your best self? Share your comments and insights on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google +.

How healthy is your team or company’s culture? Don’t guess – get the data with my online Culture Effectiveness Assessment.

Want hands-on guidance for building a safe, inspiring workplace? Join me in Denver for my Culture Leadership Roundtable. This one-morning-a-month series, based on my book, The Culture Engine, starts in March 2015 and ends in September.

Photo © hd-design – Dollar Photo Club. 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 © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

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.”

Behaviors Matter

ExploreLast week’s post shared the importance of clear values standards in business success. Values set the stage for workplace safety and inspiration.

However, setting values expectations alone doesn’t have much positive impact. What truly creates workplace trust, dignity, and respect is valued behaviors – values defined in observable, tangible, measurable terms.

Let’s look at performance management. Leaders have trouble inspiring teams to consistent performance without clear goals. Yet simply having clear goals doesn’t guarantee consistent high performance.

Effective leaders use a variety of performance-alignment behaviors – modeling, engaging, observing, monitoring, coaching, re-directing, celebrating progress, etc. – to ensure teams deliver on performance goals.

Managing desired values requires the same practices. Once values standards are clarified and defined in behavioral terms, effective leaders use a variety of values-alignment behaviors – modeling, engaging, observing, monitoring, coaching, re-directing, celebrating progress, etc. – to ensure teams deliver their goals in accordance with desired values.

In fact, once values standards and behaviors are published and communicated, scrutiny of valued behaviors increases, drastically. Leaders’ every plan, decision, and action are placed “under the magnifying glass” by other leaders and team members.

Is that scrutiny of valued behaviors fair? Certainly it is! Leaders are “changing the rules” when they add values standards to the mix. Humans don’t like change – even if they understand the rational reasoning behind the change!

Team members embrace change only 1) over time and 2) when they see their leaders and peers consistently embrace the new practices, right before their eyes, every day.

If team members can find examples of leaders’ behaving in ways that are inconsistent with the new valued behaviors, their resistance to the change grows stronger. They express their frustration with the new values “demands” because this or that happened, “which is clearly not aligned with the new values.”

Here’s an example from one of my culture clients. About six months into this client’s culture refinement efforts, the division president and three of his direct reports went to a conference. The president decided to take his wife on the trip – at his own expense – and spend a couple of days after the conference to enjoy a little down time with his spouse.

Within a week of their return, three supervisors told the president that some team members were complaining that the president took advantage of his position to have the company fund his wife’s trip . . . and that action didn’t align with the division’s new “integrity” value or behaviors.

The president was surprised at their concern but understood it. Within a week, he held a town hall meeting to address their concern, showing that he’d funded her expenses himself. He thanked people for raising the concern.

How did people learn of the president’s wife’s attendance on the trip? It was a natural result of the increased scrutiny. People talk and people make assumptions.

The message is clear. Leaders must not only define values in behavioral terms, but they must model them, communicate them, and celebrate them, daily.

Are your team’s values defined in behavioral terms? Share your comments and insights on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google +.

How healthy is your team or company’s culture? Don’t guess – get the data with my online Culture Effectiveness Assessment.

Want hands-on guidance for building a safe, inspiring workplace? Join me in Denver for my Culture Leadership Roundtable. This one-morning-a-month series, based on The Culture Engine, starts in March 2015 and ends in September.

Photo © olly – Dollar Photo Club. 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 © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

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.”

Values Matter

Buffer-Values-e1417635934521-1024x897I’m always on the lookout for high performing, values-aligned companies. I’m inspired by leaders that choose to run their businesses with clear values expectations – and love sharing what I learn with you.

These businesses are successful. The benefits of values alignment on employee engagement, customer service, and results and profits are well documented.

And, you can bring values alignment into your team or department or company. It’s not difficult. It simply takes 1) a proven framework, 2) your intention, and 3) your time and energy to model and reinforce desired valued behaviors.

This week, Brian Fanzo introduced me to Buffer‘s values-based culture. In Courtney Seiter’s post, The 10 Buffer Values And How We Act On Them Every Day, she describes how Buffer’s founders built “a different type of company that focused not only on the progress of the product, but also the happiness of its users and team and personal growth during the journey.”

Courtney defines each of Buffer’s ten values and how they are demonstrated each day in their workplace. She explains, “It’s a unique privilege to work at a company that is guided by a true culture and set of values.” Buffer’s ten values are featured in the graphic that accompanies this post.

The second values-aligned company that caught my eye this week is Spectranetics. A Denver Post article describes a pretty miserable 2010 for the company, which makes laser-based devices that treat coronary and circulation disorders.

In 2010 the former CEO and three other executives were indicted on twelve federal counts of conspiracy to defraud the federal government and other charges. In 2011, new CEO Scott Drake began crafting a culture based on vision and shared values. Drake’s hands-on leadership style and the “simple formula” of values alignment has created a thoughtful and purposeful culture of empowered employees at Spectranetics.

Business performance since the dark days of 2010 has been spectacular. Drake says, “We’ve gone from three percent growth to twenty-seven percent growth, and not a lot of new products coming out to a whole bunch of new products coming out.”

Drake explains, “With the right team and the right strategy, we execute as if lives depend on it, because indeed they do.”

Values matter. And, whether you’ve been intentional with values in your workplace, they exist today. The problem is that the values that bubble up in a “results-only” focused workplace aren’t inspiring. Values like “I win, you lose,” withholding information, poaching customers, and worse can be the norm.

Be intentional with workplace values. Creating a cooperative workplace boosts performance, service, and engagement.

There’s no time like the present to start.

How do (or did) your great bosses create a safe, inspiring workplace? What values does your team or department live by today? Share your comments and insights on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google +.

How healthy is your team or company’s culture? Don’t guess – get the data with my online Culture Effectiveness Assessment.

Want hands-on guidance for building a safe, inspiring workplace? Join me in Denver for my Culture Leadership Roundtable. This one-morning-a-month series, based on The Culture Engine, starts in March 2015 and ends in September.

Graphic © Buffer. 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 © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

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.”

Want Engaged Performance? Show Respect.

Respect is the KeyI’ve not encountered a leader that wasn’t interested in improving their team (or department or company)’s performance. And it’s rare that I encounter a leader that doesn’t want team members to be engaged and inspired at work.

What is interesting is that most leaders spend much of their time and energy trying to boost performance and very little time and energy on the quality of their workplace environment. Yet their team culture drives everything that happens in their organization, good or bad.

If your work environment doesn’t demonstrate trust, respect, and dignity to every player, every interaction, every day, performance drops, service quality drops, and engagement drops.

Leaders need to shake up their routines and pay greater attention to the health and quality of their team culture. What should they do differently? If you’ve been reading this blog or my books, you know I’ve got a long list of behaviors that I recommend that leaders embrace.

Maybe a long list isn’t needed! A recent HBR study on leader behaviors found what may be the single most important leader behavior – demonstrating respect.

In a study of nearly 20,000 employees around the globe, no other leader behavior had a bigger effect on employee well-being and health (56% benefit), trust and safety (1.72 times better), enjoyment with their jobs (89% better), greater performance focus (92% benefit), meaning and significance (1.26 times greater), and engagement (55% improvement).

Those are impressive gains in critically important areas. The challenge is that 54% of employees report that their leaders do not regularly respect them. This represents a huge opportunity for leaders.

I know what leaders are thinking about now: “OK, tell me what I need to do to demonstrate respect to my players!” There’s no single “right” way to demonstrate respect! Respect means different things to different people.

To properly demonstrate respect, leaders must connect with the unique individuals on their team – not “team leaders” or “team members.” Some players may want a few minutes of face time to share an idea they have for boosting efficiency. Other players want a look in the eye, a kind smile, and a handshake. One player might appreciate being called out in a team meeting for a contribution – another on the same team with a similar contribution might be more embarrassed at being called out in a meeting!

Demonstrating genuine respect takes time. It requires personalization. It requires a servant heart. Without those things, efforts will look stilted and forced, not genuine and heartfelt.

I won’t stray from my “long list” of recommendations for leaders that wish to create workplace inspiration and performance. Those practices work! I will, though, happily recommend starting with – and continuing with – leaders demonstrating respect to their team leaders and team members.

How do (or did) your great bosses show respect to players in your team or department? What was the impact on you when he or she showed you respect? Share your comments, suggestions, and insights in the comments section below.

How healthy is your team or company’s culture? Don’t guess – get the data with my online Culture Effectiveness Assessment.

Want hands-on guidance for building a safe, inspiring workplace? Join me in Denver for my Culture Leadership Roundtable. This one-morning-a-month series starts in March 2015 and ends in September.

Photo © airdone – Dollar Photo Club. 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 © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

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.”

The Intention Resolution

Coffee and Book with Pen by Swimming Pool Travel Background“Happy New Year.” It is a well-used – and well-worn – greeting as December ends and January begins.

The language of this greeting is telling – it indicates hope and optimism for a better life and a better world.

A recent University of Scranton (PA) study found that 45% of Americans to craft New Year’s resolutions. Admittedly, 38% of Americans never make New Year’s resolutions – and only 8% are successful in achieving their resolutions.

The same study makes a vital point, though: people who explicitly make resolutions are ten times more likely to attain their goals than people who do not explicitly make resolutions.

So, making resolutions is a proven means to help us grow, serve, and contribute – at home, at work, and in our communities – better. IF we deliver on those resolutions, that is!

As you consider your resolutions for 2015, I’ve got one suggestion for us all (including myself).

This single suggestion has a number of important applications – AND it will boost the percentage of people who are successful in achieving their goals and resolutions. The suggestion?

Be intentional.

Setting goals or resolutions is one thing. Delivering on those promises is clearly a different requirement. Which is more important and impactful – setting goals or delivering on them? Which builds trust and credibility?

Delivering does.

Just as with culture refinement, delivering on resolutions requires three steps – define, align, and refine.

Being intentional about what (your goals and resolutions) defines the target; that is about ten percent of the whole process. Being intentional about how – aligning and refining behaviors and interactions so you attain your goals and resolutions – is where the real work happens! This is where ninety percent of your effort is required.

Intention begins with defining the goals and resolutions you desire. You need to ask yourself not only what refinements you wish to make – being nicer, exercising more, eating healthier foods, keeping your commitments, whatever – but also what investment of time, energy, and focus you’re willing to make to ensure you exceed those targets.

As you craft each resolution, note down the specific behaviors required to ensure you will align to your promises. How will you measure progress? How will you remind yourself daily about your targets and required behaviors? How will you celebrate goal traction along the way?

Here are some practices that have worked for me.

  • Share your resolutions with family, friends, and co-workers. By “socializing” your desired changes, you involve others that can give you feedback, encouragement, and re-direction to keep you on track.
  • Monitor your day-to-day behaviors. Use tools that keep tabs of key metrics and review those metrics daily. For example, I use a fabulous to-do app, Nozbe, to set reminders and tasks related to my commitments and the behaviors I have specified. I also use a Fitbit fitness tracker and dashboard to ensure I’m eating right, exercising right, and sleeping well. These tools were not the first ones I tried but they are the ones that have served me well for two years running. Experiment until you find tools that work for you.
  • Measure progress. By tracking your progress towards goals and resolutions, you will know if you are getting better, staying the same, or regressing on key metrics and behaviors. Reviewing your progress enables you to refine your behaviors, systems, feedback, etc. so you can stay on track with your promises.

What practices have helped you keep on track with goals, resolutions, and promises? Share your comments, suggestions, and insights in the comments section below.

How healthy is your team or company’s culture? Don’t guess – get the data with my online Culture Effectiveness Assessment.

Photo © viteethumb – Dollar Photo Club. 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 © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

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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