Tag Archives | Employee work passion

Feel How to Keep Culture on Track

iStock_000018271188XSmallI love old sports cars. Performance cars are very different, model to model – some have flat-out speed, some corner like slot cars, some have lively steering, etc. Few cars have “everything desired” – each model has strengths and compromises.

Autocross racing intrigues me – it’s track racing made accessible to enthusiasts like me. Early on, a peer coach helped me understand how to get the best performance and most satisfying experiences while racing.

He said, “It’s not about pure speed. It’s about feeling the car ‘in the moment,’ every moment.” The best drivers are very attuned to the subtle weight shifts that signal where and how a car is poised on the track. Driving straight is easy. When you’re passing cars or turning to find the most efficient line through a corner, the car’s subtle weight shifts give you clues about how it’s handling.

Feeling the nuances of weight transfer, and leveraging that weight transfer for efficiency and speed, is much more art than science.

Proactive Culture Management Requires “Feel”

Managing your team or organization’s culture is also more art than science. Vital culture elements – clear performance expectations, clear values standards, and accountability for both – don’t make a team’s culture perfect. Just like a track car’s weight shifts in the race, your team’s culture shifts, moment to moment. To ensure your culture is serving your organization, customers, and employees equally well, you must learn to “feel” the subtle shifts that provide clues about how your culture is operating. Where you see clues of aligned behavior, celebrate and praise. Where you see clues of “less aligned” behavior, redirect the culture back “on track.”

Here are the top three “culture shifts” I coach leaders to pay attention to:

  • Values Demonstration – Are valued behaviors modeled daily, no matter the temptations to short cut a process or gain an unfair advantage? Stay attuned to values by observing leaders working with team members and team members interacting with each other and with customers. Promptly praise raise aligned behavior and redirect mis-aligned behavior.
  • Promises Kept – Are commitments made by the team and by team members diligently honored? Any promise not kept is an unhealthy action that can lead to further eroding of your team’s integrity, as well as the integrity of individual team members. Every day, observe and inquire about team members doing what they say they will do.
  • Celebrate Progress & Accomplishment – Do team members praise and encourage each other, day to day, or are they more interested in catching others doing things wrong than in doing things right? A validating culture looks for and celebrates things done well and going well.

Please join in THIS conversation! What are the culture shifts YOU pay attention to? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Get your FREE EXCERPT from my new book, #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, written with the delightful Lisa Zigarmi. View our video on why we wrote the book, understand the research on positivity in the workplace, and more!

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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.”

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Great Bosses Connect Through Conversations

iStock_000012681402XSmallAre you your employees’ best boss?

If you’re not, you may be surprised how quickly you can become their best boss. It’s not complicated.

Think about your own best boss – the person you worked for who created an environment where you were immensely productive and you loved going to work every day. What did your best boss do to create that environment for you and your team members?

I’ve asked this question of clients for over 20 years. The answers are remarkably consistent across a wide range of industries, organization size, country of origin, even personality. From my research, these are the most consistently reported “best boss” behaviors:

  • They care. Each team member is a valued person.
  • They celebrate. They give praise, encouragement, and credit.
  • They listen.
  • They validate others’ ideas, efforts, and accomplishment.
  • They’re available.
  • They inspire increasing performance in service to customers.

Notice the pattern of these great boss behaviors. They are primarily about support, validation, and connection – not about, for example, pay, goals, or metrics. Certainly great bosses must inspire terrific consistent performance. And, for these “best bosses,” they spend more time creating and maintaining positive personal relationships than they do driving results.

The payoff for leaders that connect through conversations with employees? Better results.

Knowing these consistent great boss behaviors is one thing – demonstrating them every day with team members is another! The simplest, most effective avenue for leaders to connect to employees is through regular conversations.

Two colleagues have written a terrific book that helps leaders have more authentic conversations with employees. Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni’s book, “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go,” is available today. Beverly and Julie present a vibrant model that outlines the importance of proactive, frequent discussions about progress, opportunities, and career.

Their model describes conversations that engage leaders and employees in hindsight (learning from past effort and identifying what employees are good at AND love doing), foresight (considering the changing business environment and what those changes mean for the future), and finding insight, the “sweet spot” where hindsight overlaps foresight, illuminating paths to enhance employee skills, contribution, and career.

Being a great boss is not complicated. It simply requires proactive engagement on the leader’s part to invest time, attention, and conversation with each team member. Where those conversations enable the employee to feel cared for, listened to, validated, and inspired, the leader is on the path to being that team member’s best boss.

Please join in THIS conversation! What did your best boss do to create an inspiring work experience for you? How do your great bosses engage you in career conversations? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Get your FREE EXCERPT from my new book, #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, written with the delightful Lisa Zigarmi. View our video on why we wrote the book, understand the research on positivity in the workplace, and more!

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Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes!

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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.”

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A Safe, Inspiring Culture or Not So Much?

Closeup of a business man climbing rope and business people tryiThis week 247WallSt.com released it’s newest rankings of the worst companies to work for in America. 24/7 Wall St. examined employee reviews of companies at glassdoor.com.

To be considered, companies had to have at least 300 reviews posted. 202 companies made this list. At GlassDoor, employees rate their organization on a 1-5 scale (5 being best). The 11 worst companies to work for in America scored 2.7 or worse on that five point scale.

The lowest scoring company on the list was Denver, CO-based Dish Network. In an article in the Denver Post, Dish CEO Joe Clayton is quoted as saying, “I’ve worked in lots of worse places – this isn’t one of them.”

“This Place Isn’t Nearly As Bad To Work In As . . . “

I don’t believe Mr. Clayton thought through the core message of his comment. When the Denver Post reporter asked about the “worst company” ranking, Clayton had a huge opportunity to say, “We’ve got work to do to make this a more safe, inspiring work culture.” Instead, he qualified Dish as not-nearly-as-bad-as-some-companies, by saying, “I’ve worked in lots of worse places.”

In other words, “No, it’s not a good place to work, but it’s not the worst.” That’s not a resounding validation of their corporate culture.

To management’s credit, Dish is conducting a first-ever employee survey of the company’s 30,000 team members. Clayton says the survey will serve as a benchmark moving forward. The management team will analyze the results of that survey to “see where they can improve.”

That’s a really good step to take. In our experience and research, “best practice” senior leaders continually assess employees’ perceptions of their work culture. If it’s safe, inspiring, even fun, productivity goes up, employee satisfaction goes up, and customer experiences are rated higher.

In order to generate valid, reliable data from employee surveys, it is vital to have the standards you desire formally defined first. Asking broad questions like, “How is our team working?” typically results in broad answers. Boldly state what your culture standards are – in behavioral terms. Then, survey questions are derived from the observable, tangible, measurable behaviors you’ve defined. Questions like these provide much clearer indications of employee perceptions – and the answers are actionable, highlighting gaps that must be addressed. Use questions like:

  • My boss keeps his/her commitments; s/he does what s/he says s/he will do, every time.
  • My boss “catches me doing things right” – praising & encouraging – as often as s/he “catches me doing things wrong.”
  • My boss does not tolerate team members being rude or aggressive with peers, staff, or customers.

Answers to these specific questions will also identify the leaders in your organization who demonstrate desired values AND inspire top productivity from team members. Those folks need to be celebrated regularly.

To be credible, survey results must be published promptly, noting action steps leaders will take to address gaps. Surveys should be done regularly, every six months or so.

Don’t aim for the “middle of the pack” of lousy places to work. Aim for a safe, inspiring work culture.

Join in the conversation! How safe, inspiring, and fun is your work culture? Share your insights in the comments section below.

Get your FREE EXCERPT from my new book, #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, written with the delightful Lisa Zigarmi. View our video on why we wrote the book, understand the research on positivity in the workplace, and more!

Photo © iStockphoto.com/yuri_arcurs

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes!

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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.”

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21 Days to Better Well-Being

Father teaching his son to ride a bikeI love learning. I was “over the moon” when the amazing Lisa Zigarmi agreed to co-author the #POSITIVITYATWORK tweet book with me. Lisa is one of the smartest and kindest humans I know. Her understanding of the science behind happiness and well-being is deep and wide! I’m grateful and inspired for all she’s taught me.

One critical understanding I have gained is that each of us is responsible for our own well-being. Others – parents, coaches, teachers, bosses, organizations, teams, etc. – cannot boost our well-being. They can choose to create an environment where our well-being activities are supported, but they are not responsible for it. We, as individuals, are.

Increased personal well-being has been proven* to generate benefits beyond happiness. People with high personal well-being:

  • Deliver 31% higher productivity
  • Demonstrate 3 times higher creativity on the job
  • Are ten times more engaged by their jobs
  • Are 40% more likely to receive a promotion within a year
  • Generate 37% greater sales figures
  • Are three times more satisfied with their jobs

* The Economics of Wellbeing by Tom Rath & Jim Harter and Positive Intelligence (from the Harvard Business Review‘s January/February 2012 issue by Shawn Achor

Create the Habit of Proactive Well-Being Management

The research on how many days it takes to change a habit is challenging the initial work in the 1960’s. It seems that a range of 21 to 66 days is more accurate, depending on the lousy habits being quashed, desirable habits being embraced, the complexity of the new behaviors, and the habit-resistance of the humans involved. The following “boost your well-being” suggestions are actionable and can be implemented quickly. AND, making them a habit will take you somewhere between 21-66 days.

  • Intentionally apply your skills to serve team colleagues, goals, and customers, every day.
  • You are not what you DO. Consciously BE your best self, daily.
  • Be a source of kindness and grace to others, in every interaction.
  • Experience joy and pride in your work done well.
  • Don’t make your challenges anyone else’s issue. Seek help and guidance, but proactively deal with challenges.
  • Attune to and express delight with things that go well in your world every day.
  • Express gratitude and appreciation for others’ effort AND accomplishments daily.
  • Be optimistic. It promotes positive coping, action, initiative, better moods, and sociability.
  • Give of yourself – volunteer to help a colleague with a big project or volunteer to help others in your community, regularly.
  • Clarify your personal mission, values, and life themes. Act on your strengths and purpose.
  • Create connections. Most workplaces create isolation. Humans are social beings that thrive on connection.
  • Struggles are an opportunity to learn. Find the learning and move through.
  • Manage distractions effectively so you can focus for 15 minutes straight on one key task.
  • Your fingerprints are on every activity, goal, and task you manage. Work so you are proud of every personal output.

I post actionable suggestions for boosting personal well-being (like those above) in my Twitter feed every day. Follow me for regular prompts to take responsibility for your own well-being.

Join in the conversation! What proactive habits or practices help you manage your well-being? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

Get your FREE EXCERPT from my new book, #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, written with the delightful Lisa Zigarmi. View our video on why we wrote the book, understand the research on positivity in the workplace, and more!

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Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes!

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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.”

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Corporate Culture Drives Success or Mediocrity

iStock_000005390942XSmallMy mission on this earth is to help leaders to 1) understand the incredible power of corporate culture to drive performance and employee work passion, and 2) proactively manage their desired culture, every day.

Two very relevant articles caught my eye this week. Both articles highlighted senior leaders who, in their vastly different organizations, created corporate cultures that resulted in poor performance, poor morale, day-to-day frustration . . . and worse.

The first article described how the head of the USA’s Missile Defense Agency mismanaged his office, harassed and bullied senior staff, and failed in his leadership of the Pentagon’s largest program. A scathing investigation and report found the commander regularly yelled and screamed obscenities at subordinates (too often in public), demeaned employees, and created such a difficult work environment that at least six senior staff have left the MDA under his regime. Particularly telling: in 2011, the MDA was ranked 228 out of 241 “best places to work in the federal government” according to the Partnership for Public Service.

The second article described how the ex-CEO of France Telecom was indicted by a court in Paris this week over allegations that he “led a culture of bullying and harassment that resulted in the suicide of at least 35 employees.” Many employees felt desperate and depressed during the CEO’s aggressive restructuring. Most of those who died left notes blaming pressure at work for their actions. We will see how this court case plays out – but the fact that an investigation found evidence supporting these charges is truly astounding.

How Safe and Inspiring is Your Organization’s Culture?

Most bosses are not tyrants – yet some can have very negative impact on employee performance and work passion. Margie Blanchard, co-founder of The Ken Blanchard Companies, strongly believes that “people are doing the best they can” at work every day. I believe that is true – and, unless bosses are tuned in to employee perceptions, workplaces may not be as safe and inspiring as their leaders think they are.

Influencing efforts by senior leaders don’t always have the expected consequences. Leaders must check in on how employees are doing AND feeling to ensure the leader’s efforts are helping, not hurting or hindering, employee performance and passion for their work.

What separates mediocre or even OK bosses from great bosses? Great bosses demonstrate servant leadership. Servant leaders know that their effectiveness is solely measured by their employees':

  • Understanding of the business’ vision (future state) and purpose (present state)
  • Continued refinement of skills to meet/exceed customer requirements of company products and services
  • Satisfaction with work relationships (with peers and boss), and
  • Feeling of safety and inspiration at work, every day.

How well does your team or organization’s culture inspire employee connection, performance, and work passion? Tell us in the comments section below.

Get your FREE EXCERPT from my new book, #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, written with the delightful Lisa Zigarmi. View our video on why we wrote the book, understand the research on positivity in the workplace, and more!

Photo © iStockphoto.com/yuri_arcurs

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes!

[mejsaudio src="http://traffic.libsyn.com/drivingresultsthroughculture/070912_DRTC_Podcast.mp3"]

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.”

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