Tag Archives | Behaviors

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

Service Above and Beyond

SCE_0300aHere in the US we’re celebrating Memorial Day today. The holiday originated in 1868, after the Civil War, where an event called “Decoration Day” encouraged citizens to decorate the graves of those who died in that war.

It wasn’t until after World War I that the holiday expanded to honor those who died in all American wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday.

My dad served in the US Navy in World War II. Like many other members of the “greatest generation,” Dad didn’t speak of his wartime experiences with us. When we posed questions, he didn’t answer directly. He said he was proud to serve, that he was well behind the front lines, and that others had it far worse than he did.

Dad was proud that his service would enable he and my mother to be laid to rest at Riverside National Cemetery. When Dad passed away in April 2011, I arranged for Dad’s funeral service and burial there. The photo above is of two US Navy officers folding the American flag that was featured in Dad’s service that day.

Dad’s funeral service was a wonderful celebration of his life and his military service. We were lucky in that Dad survived his service days. Many families suffered the ultimate loss when their loved ones were killed in war zones.

Very few Americans have served in the military. One recent estimate is that 7.3 percent of living Americans have served in the military at some point in their lives. All Americans are grateful for their service.

The total number of Americans who have died in American wars is approximately 1,264,223 as of this date. The greatest majority were over 618,000 Civil War deaths and over 405,000 World War II deaths.

This holiday, we pause to celebrate their service, their courage, and their sacrifices.

The impact of combat on those who serve is significant – mentally, physically, and spiritually. The film American Sniper, the story of US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, is praised as an accurate depiction of the horrors of modern urban warfare.

It is a powerful film, showing the demands on service members in the midst of a seemingly unending war, on them as parents, on them as teammates, on them as trained professionals. What they experience in combat, in moment-to-moment live fire conditions, leaves a deep impression on their bodies, minds, and spirits.

Exceptional medical care in the field today enables wounded service members to return home, when in past wars their wounds would have caused their deaths. They return and attempt to put their lives back together among civilians who have never seen what they have seen.

I believe all service members deserve our gratitude for their willingness to put their lives on the line, every day, to serve their country. And, on this day, we remember and thank those who gave their lives in such service.

What is your experience? How can we civilians show our genuine appreciation to active and former service members appropriately? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © S. Chris Edmonds Photography. All rights reserved.

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The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


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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.”

A Cog in a Wheel

I interviewed a key leader in a client organization recently. I was gathering perceptions of the organization’s culture. I’d spoken to senior leaders and was now engaging with next level leaders for their insights.

This key leader was tired. His ten-member team had been running hard over the last year, shorthanded. They have three open positions. “Everyone is doing their fair share but the workload just doesn’t let up,” he told me. They’d been actively recruiting to fill the job slots but haven’t found qualified people to plug in. Many strong candidates had multiple offers for more money than their company was offering.

“This is a really good company but no one gives us any credit for the extra work everyone is doing,” he said. “We feel like cogs in a wheel. No one is paying any attention to us.”

Among other things, this leader is experiencing the negative impact of the improving job market. People are confident that they can get a better job quickly so are leaving their current, probably uninspiring roles by the thousands. A recent USA Today article noted that over 2.8 million Americans quit their jobs in March 2015, up from 2.7 million in February.

This leader – and his team – is also experiencing a lack of appreciation for their efforts, which recent studies have found – unfortunately – to be quite common. Tiny HR’s 2015 Engagement and Culture report found that only 21% of employees feel strongly valued at work. Over 25% of employees reported they don’t have the tools to be successful in their jobs.

That lack of validation and appreciation can definitely lead to employees deciding to look for a different job where their contributions are recognized.

Why do leaders ignore genuine contributions by teams and players? It may be that these leaders believe that effusive praise and encouragement is fluff. These leaders think, “I’m paying them fair wages. I don’t need to thank them every minute, as well, do I?”

Or it may be these leaders simply don’t think about praise and encouragement, at all. They didn’t get it from their bosses so they don’t think it’s important today.

Or, it may be that these leaders are spread thin themselves. They know that they’re not providing positive, validating feedback to their employees and they feel badly for it. They apparently don’t feel badly enough to change their behavior and proactively praise aligned contributions, though!

A cog in a wheel is an important element; it keeps the machine running smoothly. If it’s cared for – cleaned, oiled, and polished regularly – it will serve the machine well for years. If it’s not cared for, it will break – bringing the machine to a halt. The breakage may even cause greater damage to other parts of the machine!

Humans deserve to know where they stand, regularly. A leader’s time and energy invested in dialog, genuine appreciation, and validation of aligned efforts builds employee engagement and well-being. Those, in turn, inspire employees to apply their skills in service to team goals and customers.

Employees are not cogs in a wheel. They are the face of your company and the foundation of your organization’s products and services. Treat them well, daily.

What do you think? How did your best bosses express genuine appreciation for work well done? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © zarg404 – 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 my 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.”

Your Team Needs A Caring, Assertive Captain

Who is in charge of your business? Leaders, if you don’t act daily as a calm, assertive, caring captain, your “ship” – your enterprise – may go astray.

Every business needs a captain, a person that sets the stage for all actions that take place. If you, as leader, do not set the stage by defining and aligning practices to clear performance standards and values expectations, people will be left to “figure it out on their own.”

When people “figure it out on their own,” you end up with widely varying practices – not aligned, proven practices. That lack of clarity and alignment erodes consistent performance, service, and results.

Whether you are the captain of a cruise ship, a call center, a flower shop, or any other type of business team, you need to guide your team proactively.

How do you do that? An effective, inspiring captain first creates and communicate the team’s plan, then implements the plan through role modeling, coaching, and celebrating progress daily.

First, you must craft your plan. What should your plan include? All of the vital elements are easily found in an organizational constitution. An organizational constitution is a formal statement of your team or company’s present day purpose (its reason for being), values and behaviors, strategies, and goals.

An organizational constitution is a crisp and simple declaration of your team’s desired destination as well as defining how people are expected to behave and treat others along the way.

Your purpose and values are strategic elements that don’t change much over time. The more tactical elements – valued behaviors, strategies, and goals – will likely evolve as your business evolves, as markets evolve, as customer needs change, etc.

Then, you must model and coach the plan. Setting the plan is step one. Communicating the plan is step two. The real work happens with implementing the plan – steps three through one hundred!

Announcing the plan doesn’t guarantee that team members will embrace it. The captain’s role and responsibility is to model the plan and to coach the plan, every day.

An effective captain doesn’t simply communicate the plan then sit in his or her office, studying spreadsheets or answering emails all day. An effective captain reinforces the plan by being on the move, observing how the team is interacting and operating, moment to moment.

A cruise ship’s captain spends time on the bridge, ensuring that the team there is in tune with each other, with the ship’s power plant, with the direction the ship is moving, etc. The captain also spends time observing team members interacting with passengers and with each other, validating aligned team member behaviors and redirecting misaligned ones.

You must do the same. You must be visible, present, and engaged, every day.

The only way that team members can be assured that they understand the plan and are aligned to the plan is by the captain’s calm, assertive modeling and coaching of the plan.

How much time will it take each week for you to effectively model and coach player’s practices to your organizational constitution? Spend at least an hour a day and work yourself up to two hours a day.

Your team deserves nothing less from you than a calm, assertive, caring hand on the tiller of your enterprise.

What do you think? How have your best bosses “captained” your team or department in the past? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © dvoevnore – 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 my 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.”

Poor Practices Doom Workplace Inspiration

frustrated young business manI’ve been helping leaders create high performing, values-aligned organizations for over 17 years.

My first blog post – on April 17, 2010 (I was slow coming to the blogosphere!) – outlined the foundation of my proven culture refinement process: crafting clear performance expectations and clear values expectations, then holding everyone accountable for both.

This is my 263rd weekly blog post – and 178th weekly podcast. All of those efforts have promoted one big idea – that leaders must be as intentional about values as they are about performance.

My latest book, The Culture Engine, describes how leaders can create workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution. It’s all about clear expectations then ensuring accountability for both performance and values.

The benefits of aligning practices to an organizational constitution are astounding. Clients see 40 percent gains in employee engagement, 40 percent gains in customer service, and 35 percent gains in results and profits, all within 18 months of starting their culture refinement.

The increased interest in organizational culture enables some cool conversations. In one recent exchange, a journalist asked my opinion regarding employee engagement policies in organizations. My answer was that if an organization has policies that encourage employee engagement, that’s great – but that daily practices are much more important than policies alone.

Why? Practices – the daily plans, decisions, and actions by leaders and team members in an organization – either create workplace trust, dignity, and respect in every interaction or they don’t.

Companies should have policies that outline desired interaction quality – respectful treatment no matter what. But aligning practices to those desired behaviors is what creates workplace inspiration and trust.

Policies alone create awareness of desired behaviors. They don’t, however, guarantee aligned behaviors.

To ensure practices are aligned with policies, leaders must be role models and champions of employee engagement and workplace inspiration. To be a proactive champion is not a passive responsibility. It requires intention, time, energy, modeling, coaching, and redirecting by leaders to align plans, decisions, and actions to those policies, in every interaction, every day.

I don’t think organizations intentionally craft policies that erode employee engagement or workplace inspiration, but many policies do exactly that!

Most organizations and their leaders focus exclusively on results. It’s all they know. Their role models (bosses from their past and present) focused primarily on results. The metrics and dashboards in their organization measure and reward exclusively results. Policies reinforce this focus: set goals, then measure progress towards those goals.

Don’t misunderstand me: results are important! But when leaders put 100% of their focus on results, people will get those results in ways that may not be kind, considerate, or always ethical.

There is a better way. Our best bosses created a safe, inspiring work environment by making values as important as results. They gave us clear values expectations as well as clear performance expectations – and held us accountable for both.

How we behave to get desired results is as important as the results themselves.

Companies that are intentional about performance and values see the gains I note above – huge growth in employee engagement, customer service, and results.

Too few companies are intentional about values. Leaders think that people will behave nicely. Yet people behave badly (some worse than others) when the only thing that is measured, monitored and rewarded is results.

Policies that encourage employee engagement are a good start. The hard work comes after the policies are published, when every leader and team member aligns to practices that not only deliver on results, but do so in ways that treat everyone with dignity, trust, and respect.

How clear are values expectations in your organization? To what degree are team leaders and team members held accountable for both performance and values in your organization? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © .shock – 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 my 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 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.”

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