Archives For Behaviors

Behaviors desired in the corporate culture. Valued behaviors are those that are observable and measurable demonstrations of desired values.

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.”

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.”

Character Matters

February 17, 2014 — 1 Comment

Ethics Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.Two recent news items caught my eye. Both shed light on the critical importance of character in organizations.

The first story came from a designer named Jordan who was thrilled to get a job at one of the most successful technology companies on the planet. He felt like getting an offer from this company validated his talent as a designer.

On-boarding was “super bumpy.” The long commute and rigid hours meant Jordan hardly ever saw his new daughter during the week. It took nearly a month to receive his credentials to log in to the main server.

There were meetings all the time, which inhibited everyone’s productivity. But, Jordan thought, meetings are a “necessary evil in a company that’s so large with such high-quality products.”

Then Jordan’s immediate boss began making direct and indirect insults to him. The boss reminded Jordan that his contract wouldn’t be renewed if he missed performance standards. The boss’ habit of making personal insults shrouded as jokes to anyone below him meant all of Jordan’s team members received the same treatment.

It didn’t make Jordan feel appreciated or valued. The jokes, insults, and negativity from his boss distracted Jordan from getting work done. Jordan “desperately wanted Friday evening to arrive” and he “dreaded Sunday nights.”

When Jordan’s boss hit him with yet another weird low-blow insult, Jordan made the decision to leave his lousy boss – and he quit.

The second story described how the number of US soldiers forced out of the Army because of crimes or misconduct has soared in the past several years. The number of officers who left the Army has tripled and the number of enlisted soldiers forced out has doubled.

There is no question that long, repeated deployments to the front lines have placed great burdens on the Army’s soldiers and their leaders. And, as General Ray Odierno (the Army’s top officer), explained, “Sometimes in the past, we’ve overlooked character issues because of competence and commitment.”

Other branches of the US military have experienced high profile scandals (sexual assault, mistreatment of the enemy, etc.), so it’s not just the Army that has suffered these character issues.

In the high-tech company, the boss’ character was revealed in the serial mistreatment of staff members. In the US Army, character issues have caused leaders and soldiers to be tossed out of the service.

These stories note character issues with ONE high-tech company leader and character issues with a very small percentage of Army personnel (in 2013, 387 officers and 11,000 soldiers). There are thousands of high-tech company leaders, Army officers, and Army soldiers that demonstrate impeccable character as well as high competence and high commitment.

And – when ANY leader or team member in your organization demonstrates low character, it erodes team member well being. It erodes confidence. It inhibits performance. It quashes the application of discretionary energy by team members. It damages your organization’s reputation.

Character matters. Demand it. Model it. Observe it. Celebrate it.

What do you think? What character issues have you experienced with bosses or team members over your career? How do your best bosses model great character? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

Subscribe to my free weekly blog & podcast updates. Subscribers 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 organizations. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

Photo © istockphoto.com/feverpitched. 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 Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Be Intentional in 2014

December 30, 2013 — Leave a comment

iStock_000020422405XSmallDo you go with the flow or do you map out a path and follow it, intentionally?

For many of us, we go with the flow. We let others create the environment we live or work in. If the flow aligns with our needs and hopes, that’s not a problem.

When the flow doesn’t align with our needs and hopes, we get frustrated. Too often in that scenario, we see ourselves as “pawns in the game of life,” with little ability to influence our less-than-perfect environment.

Yet some players consistently thrive in this life and at work. They effectively work through the hurdles that life (and others) throw at them. What do they do differently? What enables them to plot their course and stay on it, no matter the variables they face?

My research and experience tells me that these players have clarified their personal purpose and values. Then they are intentional about aligning their plans, decisions, and actions to their purpose and values each day.

A story might be insightful here. In a previous life, I spent years as a lifeguard. Ocean shores are a complicated environment for keeping swimmers safe. One of the biggest complications were rip currents or riptides.

Riptides are powerful tidal flows that draw water – and any swimmers in that flow – away from the shore, out to the sea. Swimmers caught in a riptide often fight it, trying to swim directly to shore to escape the current. They panic when they realize they are not strong enough to counter the flow.

And, “going with the flow” in this scenario is really dangerous. A rip current can take swimmers a half a mile offshore in minutes! If swimmers fight the current, they will quickly become exhausted.

Swimmers educated about rip tides don’t fight the current, they move with it. They keep their eyes on the shore (their goal) and swim steadily parallel to the shore, not towards it. Graceful, steady effort enables these swimmers to break free of the rip current, which is moving away from the beach. Once free of that powerful force, the swimmer is able to swim to shore.

They will likely find themselves far along the beach from where they started, but they’re safe!

Start the coming year by being intentional about who you are, what you value, and where you want to go. To go about defining your personal purpose and values, I suggest three steps:

Clarify – Start by formalizing your personal purpose and by defining your values in observable, tangible, measurable terms. It may help to review questions I pose here and here.
Align – Once your personal purpose, values, and behaviors are defined, scrutinize your daily plans, decisions, and actions to ensure they’re aligned with your personal “constitution.” Where you find mis-alignment, point yourself towards alignment. Clear that path and stay on it.
Refine – Over time, as you learn more about yourself living an aligned life, you may find that your purpose, values, or behaviors need tweaking. Wordsmith where needed, at least once a year. Then, align daily.

Make 2014 your year of aligned, intentional living and working.

What do you think? What is your “current draft” of your personal purpose, values, and behaviors today? What techniques do you use to ensure you live in alignment with your personal constitution? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

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

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 organizations. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

Photo © istockphoto.com/zizar2002. 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 Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Spiral in handsTwo-thirds of Americans believe people can’t be trusted.

So says a recent AP/GfK study. When this survey was first conducted in 1972, half of Americans felt that people were trustworthy. The current numbers, showing Americans believe only one third of people are trustworthy, are the lowest trust rating in the survey’s history.

Globally, trust takes a beating, as well. The Edelman Trust Barometer 2013 data shows a global trust score of 57 on a 100 point scale.

This trust deficit is repairable – over time, one person at a time.

You can choose to eliminate behaviors that erode trust between you and those you live with and work with – and demonstrate behaviors that build trust.

Consider using these trust building behaviors in every interaction:

  • Be Civil.
    This is the most powerful of the trust building behaviors in this list. Treat others kindly, even if they’re treating you or others unkindly. Look people in the eye. Debate ideas while honoring the person. Say, “Thank you.” Say, “I’m sorry.” Honor others’ efforts as well as their accomplishments. Act on the belief that everyone is doing the best they can under present circumstances.
    I often get push back when I propose civility. “What about people who call you names, who say you’re stupid, who belittle you with every breath?” We interact with challenging folks sometimes. I believe in others’ rights to their own opinion but choose to insulate myself from those who act out, who must make others look bad for them to feel good. I can’t fix them – it’s not my job to fix them. And, I can be consistently civil to them while I disengage from them.
  • Do What You Say You Will Do.
    Choose to be responsible and accountable for what you’ve promised to do or to deliver. Demonstrate commitment to your commitments! Make promises intentionally and clearly, and follow through on your promises.
    You can control only what you can control, AND, you can communicate progress or possible issues proactively. If plans go awry and you’re at risk for missing a commitment, inform all key players as soon as possible. Map out a plan to deliver, then keep that promise.
  • Expect the Best and Give the Benefit of the Doubt.
    We create self-fulfilling prophesies in our world all the time, for better or worse. If I believe, for example, that my step-daughter will not do her chores on the day we’re hosting a big party, I’ll be on the lookout for her doing anything except what I think she should be doing. And, I’ll call her out on it. (This is a completely hypothetical scenario, of course. NOT. I did this more than once, years ago.)
    Create positive self-fulfilling prophesies! Set people up for success when giving them a goal or task. Clearly outline the standard that’s needed for that goal, then ask what they need to meet that target. If a milestone is missed, don’t assume this person “has it out for you.” Simply check in, verify the milestone, and ask for an update.

What do you think? How do you “keep it civil” with family, work colleagues, community members, and even strangers? In what ways do you keep your commitment to your commitments? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

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

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 organizations. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

Photo © istockphoto.com/style-photographs. 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 Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”