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The Authenticity Factor

Keep it real concept.To what degree are you genuine and authentic with your work colleagues – bosses, peers, and team members – in daily interactions?

Dictionary.com defines authentic as “not false or copied; genuine; real.”

If we ponder how our great bosses behaved with us, it is extremely likely that they were real. They demonstrated authentic care and service to us.

They interacted with no hidden agendas. There was no smoke and mirrors; there was simply honest discussion, transparent decision-making, and in-depth engagement.

Our great bosses kept their commitments, delivering on their promises. If they were unable to keep their commitments, they told us why, well in advance of the deadline. They also explained how they were trying to get back on track, as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, leaders that demonstrate authentic care are not the norm. For example, TinyHR’s 2014 engagement and culture survey found that 49% of employees are not satisfied with their direct supervisor.

In my work with clients around the globe, I hear about team member’s frustrations with their leaders all the time. These frustrations are often founded on the leader’s lack of consistent authenticity. Employees tell me, “I don’t know which boss is going to show up each day – Jekyll or Hyde.” Or “She says one thing then turns around and does the exact opposite. We see it every day.”

If leaders don’t demonstrate behavioral integrity – keeping their promises and modeling the organization’s espoused values – they erode team members’ commitment and contribution. Tony Simons’ excellent book, The Integrity Dividend, found that employee’s commitment goes up with observed behavioral integrity from their leaders. That causes employees to apply discretionary energy in service to their organization’s customers and goals.

The benefit? For one hotel chain, $250,000 annual profit growth for every 1/4 point gain on a 10 point scale!

There is another benefit to the leader’s authenticity. When leaders demonstrate authentic care, team members are much more likely to demonstrate authentic care with each other.

The coach of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, Gregg Popovich, is a player’s coach – team members love to play for him. He’s authentic and genuine. One way his genuineness plays out is that Popovich often devotes a portion of team meetings to the culture and history of team members.

Last June, in the midst of preparations for the championship series with the Miami Heat, Popovich opened a meeting by leading a team discussion about Mabo Day. Point guard Patty Mills – an indigenous Australian native – was surprised and honored by the coach’s actions.

Popovich believes that knowing one another’s stories off the court binds team members together on the court. “It builds camaraderie. They feel connected and engaged and do better work.”

Authenticity matters. Genuine care matters. Be real, be honest, be available, be present. Only then can you build positive relationships, serve others consistently, and inspire aligned behavior and contribution.

How did your great bosses demonstrate authentic care? How well do you know your colleagues’ history and stories? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Want hands-on guidance for boosting productivity while reducing drama at work? Join me in Denver for my Culture Leadership Roundtable. This series, based on my book, The Culture Engine, meets one-morning-a-month starting in April.

Photo © creative soul – 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 Hawthorne Effect and Your Culture

office ceilingWhat do you pay attention to in your work environment? Do you actively engage with players regularly to learn what’s going well and what’s not, or do they rarely see you? Or are you somewhere in between those extremes?

Interaction and attention from leaders can have a beneficial impact on employee’s feelings of contribution, value, and worth, which can boost productivity and service.

The Hawthorne Effect refers to a study done by Elton Mayo at Western Electric’s Hawthorne Works factory, outside of Chicago, IL, in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. The purpose of the study was to analyze the effects of workplace conditions on individual productivity.

Mayo and his team focused on two groups – a test group which endured the changes to their environment and a control group which operated in an unchanging work environment. Workers in the test group experienced a number of changes to their working conditions, including lighting, working hours, rest breaks, food offered during breaks, etc. Workers were involved in what changes were going to happen (how long and how frequently their breaks were, for example). Productivity was carefully monitored following each change. Workers were then asked if the change was beneficial, how it might be refined to test the change again, etc.

Mayo’s research found that, compared to the control group, nearly every change resulted in increased individual productivity. Even after all changes reverted to the original conditions, productivity increased.

The initial findings from this important study led to recommendations that leaders engage with members of the workforce. After all, it wasn’t the lighting or breaks that boosted performance, it was the engagement of the workers by the researchers.

Later analysis discovered some flaws in that original research as well as highlighting the social impact of workers being 1) experimented upon and 2) having a say in the changes that were implemented.

The test team bonded together like no other team in that factory. These women (all workers at the time were women) felt their ideas were valued. They were working together to help work conditions be more beneficial for their peers across the factory – that gave their efforts meaning beyond the day-to-day production activities they faced.

This is the most significant finding – in my humble opinion – from the Hawthorne Works research. Making team members and teams feel valued as well as helping them find meaning and purpose beyond their own tactical skill application boosts employee well-being and productivity.

You don’t need a formal organizational initiative to value team members and help them find meaning – contribution to the greater good – in their efforts. It just takes time, energy, and engagement.

Leaders, that’s your job. Embrace it and enjoy it!

How do your leaders show team members they appreciate them? How is your team serving a “greater good” today? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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 boosting productivity while reducing drama at work? Join me in Denver for my Culture Leadership Roundtable. This series, based on my book, The Culture Engine, meets one-morning-a-month starting in March.

Photo © xy – 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.”

One Company’s Values Journey, Part II

Luck-02This week I continue my interview with the Luck Companies Chief Leadership Officer, Mark S. Fernandes. Mark is the person charged with transforming Luck Companies into a Values Based Leadership organization.

Last week we learned about the genesis of Luck Companies’ decision to change its culture. In 2004, senior leaders crafted four values – leadership, integrity, commitment, and creativity – and defined corresponding behaviors for each of those values. That was phase one, the foundation of Luck Companies’ transformation into a values based organization.

In 2009, senior leaders came to the conclusion that organizational cultures are shadows of the leaders. To have the culture that they wanted, Luck Companies’ leaders had to go first, modeling the way as an example for all others to follow. That was phase two, which they’re still engaged in.

I told Mark I loved the emphasis on defining their company values in measurable, behavioral terms. Mark said, “This became obvious to us in the first months of phase one. When we rolled our new values out to the company in 2005, outcome statements and corresponding behaviors were attached to each of the four values. These became part of every associates’ performance reviews that year.

In phase two, those behaviors became part of the Values Based Leadership 360 that all formal leaders complete annually.”

Accountability for values is much easier when you’ve defined specific behaviors for desired values. Typically when a company sets new values expectations, some leaders and players just don’t fit in the “new culture.” I asked Mark if Luck Companies’ had experienced that. Mark said, “We typically have 12-14 people on our senior leadership team. Over the past 11 years we have ‘lovingly set free’ eleven senior leadership team members.

Most were very smart people. They were wonderful human beings who performed quite well. It just became obvious by their attitudes, actions, and behaviors that their personal values did not align with the company’s values.”

If you’re not going to hold everyone accountable for valued behaviors, “your values are just words hanging on a wall,” Mark explained. “You’re better off not having them.”

How do leaders at Luck Companies know their culture is on track? Mark said, “We analyze trend data from our annual leader 360’s and our annual associate engagement surveys. We hold ‘What’s on Your Mind?’ sessions at all locations throughout the year.

We demand transparency and feedback. We train for it, assess for it, and reward for it through out evaluation process. There is daily dialog across the enterprise relative to our mission and values – our organizational constitution.”

The big question for any company and it’s culture is about the “big three” – engagement, service, and results. Culture impacts each of these, deeply. Mark said, “The impact of Values Based Leadership has far exceeded our expectations. In our most recent engagement survey, 91% of our associates said they were engaged! The Hay Group’s global average is 30-40%.

Our employee effectiveness score was 84% compared to the Hay Group’s top performing benchmark of 55%. Our customer satisfaction score is 76% compared to an industry norm of 55%. Our results show us outperforming industry norms by similar margins.”

I’m inspired by the work Mark and his peers are doing at Luck Companies. They are proof that being intentional about values pays off – in many ways.

I’m indebted to Mark and to Megan Dougherty who willingly and ably facilitated this interview.

What are your takeaways from the Luck Companies’ values journey? Share your 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 boosting productivity while reducing drama at work? Join me in Denver for my Culture Leadership Roundtable. This series, based on my book, The Culture Engine, meets one-morning-a-month starting in March.

Photo © Luck Companies and Values Based Leader. 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.”

One Company’s Values Journey

VBL-definitionIf you’re a frequent reader of these pages, you know I’m always enthused to discover high performing, values-aligned organizations.

I’m delighted to bring you the Luck Companies story. Over the next several weeks I’ll share my conversation with Mark S. Fernandes, Chief Leadership Officer, the person charged with transforming Luck Companies into a Values Based Leadership organization.

Most companies don’t start by being intentional about the culture they want. They have a desired product or service so they build their business around crafting those desired elements and getting them into customers’ hands, under budget and profitably. Only when company leaders stop to examine the health of their culture do they actively engage in making it better.

Luck Companies is a 92-year-old organization based in Richmond, VA. On first glance, you’d see Luck Companies as a stone company – crushed stone, architectural stone, and even clay courts. A deeper look finds an organization that is intentional, focused, and committed to igniting human potential through Values Based Leadership (VBL).

I asked Mark, “What was the genesis of Luck Companies’ decision to change it’s culture?”

Mark explained, “When Charles Luck IV became the CEO and President in 1995 – our third generation leader from the Luck family – we were a small, tight-knit, family owned and operated organization. We decided to grow the company, and grow we did!

By 2002, we had close to 1,300 associates and sales had quadrupled. Cash flow increased by nine times during that timeframe.”

Along with that growth came organizational stresses and dysfunction. Mark explained, “We no longer looked like the company Charlie’s dad and grandfather had built. We brought in a consultant to work with our leadership team.

That first morning, the consultant introduced himself and asked us to take out a piece of paper and to write down everything we wanted to change about the company. He gave us ten minutes. With all the dysfunction, we each had a lot to say!

The consultant then asked a vital question: ‘How many of you wrote down yourselves?’

That question changed our lives forever. We began our values journey soon after and in 2009, we amped up the expectations and became a Values Based Leadership organization.”

I asked Mark to define VBL. He said, “Values Based Leadership is living, working, and leading in alignment with your core values, principles, beliefs, and purpose to in turn ignite the extraordinary potential in those around you.

Our company values are leadership, integrity, commitment, and creativity. We began our values journey by defining corresponding behaviors for each of our four values. We wanted to innovate for the future while preserving our values core. We felt that commitment and integrity were values that had existed in the organization since its founding. We wanted to preserve those going forward.

Leadership and creativity were two values that would carry us into the future.

We’ve had two phases in our journey. The first was to become a Values Based Organization (2004-2009) and the second as a Values Based Leadership organization. The distinguishing point came from learning that company cultures (defined by values) are shadows of the leaders.

To have the culture we wanted, leaders had to go first, modeling the way as an example for all others to follow.”

My interview with Mark continues next week.

How well are your team or company’s values lived in your organization? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google +.

I’m indebted to Megan Dougherty who willingly and ably facilitated my conversation with Mark – and added to my understanding of values-based leadership at Luck Companies.

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 boosting productivity while reducing drama at work? Join me in Denver for my Culture Leadership Roundtable. This series, based on my book, The Culture Engine, meets one-morning-a-month starting in March.

Photo © Luck Companies and Values Based Leader. 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.”

What I Do and Why

Dollarphotoclub_77730279a-2I’m a rational thinker. There are times it helps me serve others well. And, there are times when it becomes a hurdle to helping others truly understand what I do!

When I’m not able to clearly and simply describe what I do, that’s not a good thing.

For example, when people ask me what I do, I typically outline my culture change process. I describe the logical phases of how I help leaders create and manage to an organizational constitution – and what the benefits are to them as leaders, to their team, to their customers, etc.

When I’m done explaining what I do, I am rather pleased with myself. I’m convinced that I am being clear and concise. The reality is that I’m not being clear, at all.

My response actually inhibits others’ understanding, because my answer assumes they know a LOT about team dynamics, servant leadership, and the powerful impact of team culture. Those are unfair assumptions on my part!

I needed guidance to craft a clear, pure description of what I do and why I do it. That description needs to reflect the beneficial impact I have on clients.

That description needs to stand alone, without the requirement of background knowledge to “interpret” what I’m saying and what I mean.

I’m grateful to David Greer and Mark Deterding for helping me reach this clarity. They are outstanding coaches who didn’t let me off the hook when I kept returning to my comfortable process description.

Here’s my current thinking on my value proposition.

I get people to embrace a better way of living, leading, and serving.

I help people transform from a task-driven, competitive existence to a purpose-driven, values-aligned existence.

I accomplish these beneficial impacts by walking beside each person I counsel, first guiding their understanding of this better way, then guiding their embracing of this better way, in every interaction with family, colleagues, neighbors, and strangers.

When a client internalizes this better way, he or she confidently navigates the challenges, temptations, and opportunities that arise daily at work, at home, and in their community.

My strongest contribution to others is my ability to enable that internalization.

This description of my value proposition feels good and feels right to me. I know I’ll continue to wordsmith it – but the core of it feels right.

How do you describe what you do and why you do it? How clear and concise is your description of your beneficial impact on people every day? Share your 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 boosting productivity while reducing drama at work? Join me in Denver for my Culture Leadership Roundtable. This series, based on my book, The Culture Engine, meets one-morning-a-month starting in March.

Photo © ra2 studio – 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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