Tag Archives | Behaviors

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

The Announcements Fallacy

AnnounceHow well are new policies and procedures embraced in your organization? If you’re like most companies, it all depends on how well – and how quickly – those new expectations are embedded as practices.

It doesn’t matter what the change is – it could be a new software system or a new purpose statement; what matters is what happens after the change is announced. Yet most leaders operate under the faulty assumption that telling people what is expected ensures alignment to the change.

This fallacy is known as “managing by announcements,” a virus-like plague that I call “MbA.” When infected with the MbA virus, leaders do a good job of defining purpose or policies or procedures. They then publish and announce the details – and expect that all employees will immediately embrace the new expectations.

Leaders believe, “We’ve told them what to do. Now they’ll do it.”

Defining and announcing the new expectations is the easy part! To ensure that desired changes take hold, leaders must spend time and energy to ensure people modify their behavior, adapt their approaches, and demonstrate the new requirements.

To build credibility for the desired changes, leaders must LIVE the new requirements – right out of the gate. They must model the changes, coach the changes, praise progress as others embrace the changes, redirect players who are not embracing the changes, etc. It’s called “holding everyone accountable.”

Yet we see indications of the MbA plague all the time.

Here’s a recent example. A multi-billion dollar company has their business principles and standards crisply defined and widely available. Their standards include:

  • Our clients’ interests always come first.
  • Integrity and honesty are at the heart of our business.
  • We take great pride in the professional quality of our work.
  • To breach a confidence or use confidential information improperly or carelessly would be unthinkable.

Their list of standards is extensive. Reading the full list, I believe you’ll be satisfied that this company has clearly defined what a good job looks like in their organization.

This problem? There was little accountability for these standards and practices. This came clear when in July 2010 the US Securities and Exchange Commission announced that this company, Goldman Sachs, agreed to pay a record $550 million fine to settle charges that the company misled investors in a subprime mortgage product just as the US housing market began to collapse.

Soon after, the company put a new business standards committee into place to emphasize collective accountability for demonstrating the company’s business principles and standards. At this point, the jury is still out.

How can leaders immunize themselves against the plague of MbA? Follow the prescription noted above – live the new requirements in every interaction. Model the new rules, coach the new rules, and hold people accountable for the new rules.

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

Photo © stillkost – 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.


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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Listen With Your Eyes

group of businesspeople having a meetingI was watching a sports newscast recently. An NFL team’s first year coach had benched their long-time quarterback and a young kid was handed the starting role.

When professional sports teams around the globe do not have the success that is expected, critics come out of the woodwork. This team was struggling and, for the most part, the members of the expert panel supported this coach’s move. Analyst Herm Edwards – a former NFL player and head coach – made a statement that rang very true for me.

Edwards said that effective coaches “listen with their eyes.” He explained that players in the locker room know who is putting in the time and the work to help the team, and they know who isn’t putting in that effort. Unless coaches are closely observing what’s happening day to day and paying attention to who is investing time and energy in contributing to the team’s success, they’ll make bad decisions. They may even – unintentionally – tolerate bad behavior from players because they’re not watching carefully enough.

When coaches “listen with their eyes,” they see proof of how players are behaving, of how players are interacting, of which players are working together to improve their team’s performance and teamwork.

My best bosses did the same thing. They used a variety of activities to stay connected to what was really happening in our team. They observed our meetings and our interactions. They watched our work with customers. They held informal meetings often, usually “spur of the moment” discussions in hallways or at a picnic bench outside our offices. They worked side-by-side with us to see what was going well and what was not going well.

They asked our opinions about how to improve the workflow, how to increase customer service, and how to work more effectively as a team. Even better, they listened to our ideas.

Not surprisingly, their decisions were almost always good ones! They based their decisions on the reality that they observed day in and day out. They set the context for decisions by explaining what they observed, what they learned, and how our suggestions influenced their thinking. They secured our support for the decisions swiftly because we could see that they understood what was really happening.

Pay attention to what you pay attention to. Don’t rely on others’ opinions (no matter how confidently their ideas are presented). Listen with your eyes. Push yourself away from your keyboard and desk, and get close to your team’s real work. Engage with team members to learn their perceptions of the workplace and the work flow.

When you “listen with your eyes,” you’ll have a much better understanding of how things are truly operating within your team. Then, you can refine systems, roles, and skills to help your team serve others better with less frustration and less stress.

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

Photo © MichaelJung – 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.


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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Is Your Culture “Sticky”?

Businesswoman Solving a ProblemLet’s pretend for a moment. Let’s put you in the role of leading a large division within your company. And, you’ve done really well.

You’ve worked hard and crafted a high performing, values-aligned team. You’ve embraced your primary leadership responsibility of creating workplace inspiration.

You’re the champion of your desired culture. You’ve made values and citizenship as important as results and profits. And, team members and leaders have embraced the new culture.

Employees are happier. Customers are WOW’ed. Goals are exceeded regularly. Your team enjoys financial success.

Then, a new job offer drops into your lap. It’s a terrific opportunity for you. You can’t pass it up.

Taking the new job means that you’ll have to leave your current – and exceptional – division culture to whomever replaces you.

You’ve done all you can. You bid your old team goodbye and head off to your new opportunity.

What happens to the culture you’ve help craft? Too often, when the champion leaves, the culture struggles to maintain the new practices.

Unless the new leader is as committed to the current culture as you were, the culture “reverts to the norm.”

Typically, within a very short time (months), all the traction gained is lost. The values go back to “nice to have” status – not “must have” status.

One client experienced exactly this scenario. The champion moved on and the new leader of the division didn’t support “that culture stuff.” The gains the division enjoyed under the previous leader – 40 percent growth in employee engagement and customer service and 35 percent growth in profits – dissipated within four months.

People went back to old habits. The division “earned” exactly what it deserved – less than stellar engagement, service, and profits.

How do you, as a leader, ensure the desired culture “sticks”? These three practices will help your desired culture outlive the champion that moves on.

Embed your culture. This is a vital, foundational practice. Change systems and incentives to measure and reward both performance and desired values. Make valued behaviors important; talk them up, coach them up, and hold them up! Create a twice-a-year values survey that lets employees rate their bosses on the degree to which their bosses model your valued behaviors. Add rankings from this values survey in each leader’s performance (or contribution) review each year. Make the structure of your values-based culture as solid as the structure of your organization’s performance.

Prove the benefits. Measure the positive impact of your safe, and inspiring work environment. Carefully track employee engagement, customer service rankings, and results and profits. Help your bosses understand the net benefits of a workplace culture based on trust, respect, and dignity. SHOW THEM THE MONEY. Employees who feel trusted and respected bust their behinds for your team.

Share leadership. Don’t be the sole champion or the sole banner-carrier of your desired culture. Engage leaders at all levels in communicating why your culture is so important – to employees, leaders, customers, and company. Share “stage time” with every senior leader so they can be seen as the “voice” of the desired culture as much as you are. Celebrate teams and team leaders that “get it.” Let the “idea virus” of your desired culture infect everyone in your organization.

There are no guarantees these three practices will ensure your culture’s ability to stand the test of time – but they’ll certainly help.

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

Photo © PtnPhotof – 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.


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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Off Script with Liberating Rules

Scripted-LifeI love the new Audi commercial. You’ve probably seen it. Everyone has a written script. They carry it around and refer to it. They don’t think. They don’t act outside the scripted boundaries. They follow their script, no matter what.

They follow their script even as their engagement and spirit wanes.

The commercial wouldn’t be funny if it wasn’t based on truth!

I believe we all have scripts. We have scripts in our heads for our roles as team leaders, team members, family members, parents, neighbors, spouses, or partners.

Some of our scripts serve us well. Some of them don’t serve us well, at all. Even worse, some of our scripts don’t serve others well, at all.

I learned my scripts from watching others and being guided by others. I watched parents, teachers, coaches, friends, colleagues, etc. – and learned what was “nice” to say and do as well as what was “not so nice” to say and do. I learned how my actions, behaviors, decisions, and words could make others angry (hmm, that’s not very fun . . . ) or happy (OK, that’s pretty cool) or engaged (aha, we’re learning together) or disengaged (oops).

Over time, I think I’ve refined my scripts so I’m less of a thorn in others’ sides and more of a willing partner to those with whom I share this daily journey. I still screw up but I’m trying to be nice and of service, every day.

Where this gets interesting is in a work team. Let’s say you have six people on a team, one of them the team leader. Each individual on that team has their own scripts happening in their heads & hearts. Everyone comes to the team with their own experiences and their own “experience-modified” scripts. Everyone is doing the best they can – but that’s a lot of competing scripts, expectations, rules, and noise happening every day.

How can the leader help the team go “off script” – to step away from each individual’s embedded scripts – and create a safe, inspiring workplace where players serve the team’s purpose, common goals, and shared values? Where every team member acts to apply their skills alongside trusted colleagues, WOW’ing customers consistently and delivering expected results?

With an organizational constitution.

An organizational constitution is a formal statement of the team’s purpose (reason for being, today), values and valued behaviors, strategies, and goals. When players have a hand in crafting these agreements and “sign up” to abide by these expectations in every interaction, they change the “scripts” experience. These expectations create liberating rules that help create workplace trust, respect, and dignity.

An organizational constitution helps these players go “off script” – away from their personal scripts – and embrace effective scripts that boost engagement, performance, and customer service.

What do you think? What scripts do you follow – and do they serve you and others well? How might “liberating rules” help your team or family behave in alignment? Add your insights or questions below.

My latest book, The Culture Engine, guides leaders to create workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution. Get your free sample chapter here.

Don’t guess about the health of your team or company’s culture. Get the data with my online Culture Effectiveness Assessment.

Photo © Audi USA. 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.


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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How is Your Culture Engine Running?

share_12What critical success factors do you monitor closely in your business? What “select few” metrics do you watch carefully to ensure your organization’s health?

Most leaders I have worked with tell me they primarily watch performance metrics. Customer service rankings come in a distant second.

Both of those factors are important. Organizations must be profitable and must have loyal, happy customers.

Over three decades of research and experience have taught me that there is a third factor that deserves a leader’s focus and attention: the degree of workplace inspiration in your organization.

The fact is that the health of your organization’s culture – the extent to which your work environment consistently treats team members with trust, dignity, and respect – has a huge impact on team performance and customer service.

The culture of your team (or department or division or plant or region or whole company) is the engine that drives your team’s success – or it’s lack of success.

Unfortunately, most leaders do not know how to proactively manage their team’s culture. They’ve never been asked to do that. Most have not experienced successful culture change. Even fewer have led successful culture change.

What leaders need is a how-to guide to crafting workplace inspiration, an approach that helps leaders make values, citizenship, and teamwork as important as performance.

My new book, The Culture Engine, offers a proven, step-by-step framework that helps leaders define a healthy team culture with an organizational constitution – and then helps leaders align plans, decisions, and actions to that constitution.

An organizational constitution specifies your team’s purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals. It creates “liberating rules” that help leaders and team members understand exactly how they are expected to treat each other and their customers.

For example, when your team’s “integrity” value is defined in observable, tangible, measurable terms, it is easy to see when leaders and team members are modeling those behaviors, when they are living your team’s desired values in every interaction.

Culture change is not a quick fix. It takes time – but the time is well worth the effort. Our culture clients consistently enjoy 40 percent gains in employee engagement, 40 percent gains in customer service, and 35 percent gains in profits, all within 18-24 months.

Pay attention to how your “Culture Engine” is running. It’ll do you, your team members, your customers, and your company GOOD.

What do you think? What is the condition of workplace inspiration in your team, department, or division? What do your bosses pay attention to most – performance, service, or culture? How did your best bosses create a safe, inspiring work environment? Note your thoughts and insights in the comments section below.

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.

My new book from Wiley, The Culture Engine, is available NOW. Get your free sample chapter here.

Photo used under Pinterest Copyright from Chris Edmonds on Pinterest.

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 play 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.”

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