Tag Archives | Behaviors

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

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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Don’t Bump The Fishbowl

Gold fish in aquariumI was reminded recently of a Nutterism that really fit the struggles one of my culture clients is experiencing.

A little background is necessary. Jerry Nutter was my best boss ever. I spent 5 of my 15 years in YMCA management under Jerry’s tutelage – and I still reap benefits today.

Jerry had a way of expressing truths about people management that were a bit folksy. Us members of Jerry’s team called these “Nutterisms.”

The Nutterism that came to mind was “don’t bump the fishbowl.” When a goldfish bowl gets bumped, the fish are NOT happy. They scurry behind the fake plants (or the plastic castle) and huddle together in fear. Their world has been shaken (literally). They don’t know what’s coming next. They are unable to go about their business anymore – they can only huddle, and watch, and wait.

Leaders bump their employee’s fishbowls all the time! Leaders may not intend to disrupt employee’s work lives, but actions such as these do “bump the fishbowl”:

  • Announce changes but provide no context and no opportunity for questions
  • Make structural or staffing changes with no context and no opportunity for questions
  • Take credit for team or team members’ ideas, efforts, or accomplishments
  • Micromanage – attempt to control how team members do the work, even if team members are more skilled at the work than the leader is
  • Provide frequent critical and negative feedback; rarely validate team members’ efforts or accomplishments

What happens when team members have their fishbowl bumped? Typically, they scurry around and huddle together in fear. Their world has been shaken. Few are able to go about their business anymore – they huddle, and watch, and wait.

Change is constant. Leaders don’t need to insulate their team from change, but they need to reduce the negative impact of change.

So, how can leaders keep from “bumping the fishbowl?”

Plan. Map out a strategy – then explain the strategy. Be open and honest, consistently. Help team members understand what the issues, problems, or gaps are that need to be addressed. Tell them what you’re thinking of doing to resolve these issues.

Listen. Ask for their ideas and insights. Incorporate their good ideas. Reiterate that these changes are to address identified gaps and problems – and stress how their ideas are being embraced.

Implement and Adapt. Put plans into place and engage team members to learn if there is any unintentional “bumping” going on. Adapt the plan to gain the most benefit for everyone – team members, company, and customers.

How have past leaders of yours “bumped the fishbowl”? What team member reactions have you seen that I missed? What did your great bosses do to reduce the negative “bumps”? Please share your insights, comments, and questions 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, guides leaders to create workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution. Get your free sample chapter here.

Photo © istockphoto.com/bloodua. 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 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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Identity Crisis

Business problems and supportWhat is your team’s identity? It has one – it just may not be the one you want it to have.

I define identity as a combination of your team’s purpose and how team members see themselves contributing to that purpose.

Does your team have a formal purpose statement? Most teams and companies do not have a formal purpose statement beyond “making widgets” (widgets being whatever your team’s products or services are) and “making money.”

Delivering quality products and services is a very good thing, as is making a profit. The only way your team or company can sustain itself is to bring in more revenues than it spends.

Now, some of my non-profit and government clients push back on the “making money” requirement. I worked in non-profits for 15 years and in government for 3 years. If we didn’t generate revenues above expenses in those industries, we faced difficult decisions – laying people off, merging or closing business units, etc.

Call it whatever you want, but generating value in the form of hard dollars is a requirement for 99 percent of the businesses operating today.

However, “making widgets” and “making money” doesn’t address your team’s meaningful contributions very effectively. A purpose statement can.

A purpose statement is a description of your team’s present-day “reason for being” – what it does, for whom, and “to what end” – how a customer benefits from your product or service.

Here’s the purpose statement from WD-40, a terrific company that I’ve studied for years: “Our brands create positive lasting memories by solving problems in homes and factories around the world.”

Their purpose statement describes what they do (solve problems) for whom (people in homes and factories around the world) and to what end (create positive lasting memories).

Before you craft your team or company’s purpose statement, seek out purpose statements from companies you admire. Even your local independent coffee house or bookstore might have a terrific “reason for being” you can learn from.

Once your purpose statement is formalized and communicated, the hard part begins – aligning team members’ heads, hearts, and hands to that purpose.

Great bosses are constantly engaging in dialog with team members. They reinforce their team’s reason for being daily. More importantly, they’re helping each individual team member understand how their unique skills and passions align with the purpose statement.

Great bosses validate team members’ contributions and enthusiasm for the team’s products, services, customers – and purpose. The team’s identity is formed daily by employees embracing the team’s purpose as their own.

A perfect purpose statement alone will not inspire every team member. It takes intentional dialog, communication, and understanding between bosses and team members to create passionate players who are thrilled at their opportunities every day.

What is your team’s identity? What outcomes are measured, monitored, and rewarded daily? Please share your insights, comments, and questions 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, guides leaders to create workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution. Get your free sample chapter here.

Photo © istockphoto.com/ridofranz. 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 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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Prioritize Your Values

iStock_000017529275SmallWhen values are clear, decision-making is easy.

This week a Russian TV reporter quit her job over the coverage of the downing of a Malaysian Airlines passenger plane over war-torn Ukraine.

“It’s the level of disrespect for the facts that really bugs me,” Sara Firth explained. She described that reporters were ordered to cast blame on the Ukrainian government or other factors instead of on Russia.

“I couldn’t do it any more,” Firth said. “We’re lying every single day … and finding sexier ways to do it.”

Sara’s values include respect for the facts. When confronted with a job role that demanded disrespect for the facts, she chose to leave.

Once you clarify your personal purpose, values, and behaviors, you can see plans, decisions, and actions in a very different light.

That intense light enables you to see values gaps with greater clarity. That brings you to a “fork in the road.” Will you follow your values or will you discount your values, “going along” with mis-aligned actions?

Sometimes the choices we face regarding values alignment are not quite so simple. You may hold values that compete with each other at times. How can you resolve that conflict?

Let’s say that you hold these three values: stability, integrity, and family. You work hard to provide stability for yourself and your family while demonstrating integrity at the same time.

Your three values are “all tied for first place.” You strive to behave in ways to honor these three principles in every moment. No one of these values is more important than another.

However, real life (and work) causes a constant push and pull on our values. They’re in “dynamic tension” every day!

If you find yourself in a similar situation to Firth’s – your job demands behavior that is not aligned to your values – you must choose how to respond.

You could quit your job – but that would severely impact your stability value for you and your family.

You could engage in discussion about the values conflict. The best scenario would be that you help your team or company change their approach so the values disconnect is diminished or eliminated.

The worst scenario is that the approach does not change – and you still face the values conflict.

A third response might be to put your head down and do your best – while beginning a job search for a more values-aligned opportunity.

To make our values more actionable, I believe we need to prioritize them. Prioritized values lets us prioritize values conflicts so we can address the most important gap first.

If you evaluated your three values in order of importance, you might come up with family as your first value, integrity second, and stability third. (Some of you are already debating these priorities in your mind! You might have a different order than what I’m suggesting.)

With these prioritized values, your response to the sample values conflict might be easier to justify and embrace. The third choice would seem to be the most aligned, to me.

Are there additional choices you would suggest? I would love your insights – add them 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, guides leaders to create workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution. Get your free sample chapter here.

Photo © istockphoto.com/BettinaSampl. 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 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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Job, Career, or Calling?

iStock_000006641794SmallHow do you view your work? Is it drudgery? Is it somewhat benign, somewhat engaging, or possibly even inspiring?

Most employees see work as a job, a means of funding life’s necessities. Some employees see work as a career, a profession they can contribute to for years. A very few see work as a calling, an avenue for meaningful contributions in service to others.

Jobs are a dime a dozen. People change jobs all the time. When one isn’t particularly engaged at work, there isn’t much lost when moving from one job to another.

A career brings a deeper level of commitment and engagement. A career requires long-term involvement, learning and progressing in skills over time. It’s a profession that requires investment of time, talent, and sacrifice.

Over the course of one’s career, one might work at a number of different companies that provide avenues for professional growth and development.

A calling is the deepest level of commitment and engagement. A calling is a purpose-driven, meaningful pursuit to improve the quality of life of others. It’s a service-oriented, heart-aligned, inspiring avenue. It may take years to discover your calling. Once you find it, time flies. Engaging in your calling recharges you and inspires you to your very core.

Some employees never find a calling in their workplace. They may find their calling outside of work – or they may never find their true calling, at all.

What causes employees to see work as a job, a career, or a calling? Leaders have a tremendous influence on employee’s perceptions of their work. Specifically, the leader’s plans, decisions, and actions, day in and day out, can make employees see their work as one of those three “levels” of inspiration.

Do leaders pay attention to their powerful influence on employee perceptions? Not really. Most leaders spend every waking moment on their product or service – developing them, marketing them, getting them into customers’ hands. Leaders put more thought into their products and services than into crafting a safe, inspiring team culture for employees.

Yet culture drives everything that happens in their organizations.

How can leaders ensure their work environment treats team members with respect and dignity, that inspires great performance, deep engagement, and WOW’ed customers?

Leaders do so through the creation of an organizational constitution. An organizational constitution is a formal document that outlines the business’ purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals.

Once these expectations are mapped out, leaders must model, coach, and reinforce them. Leaders must invest as much time and energy in team values and citizenship as they do in managing results. By doing so, they create workplace inspiration – not workplace fear and anxiety.

If team members are consistently treated with dignity and respect by bosses and peers, they actively engage in the success of the business. They apply discretionary energy. They have fun. They love serving customers.

Employees who act like that, who are engaged like that, feel called to their work.

Workplace inspiration doesn’t happen casually. It takes intentional effort on leaders’ parts, every day. Learn more about how an organizational constitution can change your culture for GOOD with my free ChangeThis manifesto, titled, “What? Your Organization Doesn’t Have a Constitution?

Add your comments, insights, or questions below. How do you see your work – as a job, a career, or a calling? What are you called to do on this earth?

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, guides leaders to create workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution. Get your free sample chapter here.

Photo © istockphoto.com/palto. 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 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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