Tag Archives | Results

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. Subscribe to my weekly updates to get free resources, insights, and news on upcoming events.

Subscribe to Chris’ Updates for Free Resources, Insights, & News!

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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Out of Tune

F5L-mandolin-study“Change is the only constant in life” – Heraclitus, the pre-Socractic Greek philosopher

We experience this all the time in our workplaces, families, and communities. Yet we’re often surprised when things aren’t as we expect them to be.

In my free time, I’m a working musician. Summer is the Jones & Raine band’s busiest season.

One recent show was outdoors at Copper Mountain. Typical of Rocky Mountain summer weather, we enjoyed chilly winds, steady sprinkles, then the clouds would clear and we’d be in the hot sun for ten minutes. The cycle continued all afternoon.

I’d tuned my instruments before our set began and off we went. We move fast with little time between songs. The drawback is that, particularly outdoors, temperature and humidity wreak havoc on tuned strings. By the time I grabbed my 8-string mandolin for a song at the end of the hour-long set, it was no longer in tune.

“Musical” is not what I’d call the noise that emerged. When the first verse came around, I muted the mandolin and tuned as best I could in 20 seconds. It was better – but not fully in tune. I limped through the song.

In our workplaces, we expect everything to run smoothly. Yet just as temperature and humidity affects instrument tune, many variables can cause “out of tune-ness” at work.

Unclear goals. Personality conflicts. Changing customer demands. Selfish peers and bosses. Unfair expectations. All of these impact the quality of work done and the quality of the work environment.

If leaders make the assumption that everything is fine, they will miss the not-so-subtle cues of performance misses, team frustration, and poor service experiences for customers.

Leaders must be fully present and fully engaged to ensure the team – and every player – is playing “in tune.” They must notice gaps and issues, and promptly engage the team in resolving those gaps and issues. They must also notice and validate great team citizenship and cooperation so players understand how they are to work together to meet goals and WOW customers.

That’s what effective leadership is. It’s not purely about setting goals and monitoring results, though both of these are important leader behaviors. Leadership is about both creating workplace inspiration (with clear purpose, values, and behaviors) AND setting the course (strategies and goals) – every interaction, every day.

What do you think? When your leaders have let a team get “out of tune,” how did it impact team performance and engagement? How did your best bosses help keep the team – and its members – “in tune?” 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. Subscribe to my weekly updates to get free resources, insights, and news on upcoming events.

Subscribe to Chris’ Updates for Free Resources, Insights, & News!

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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The Leader’s Influence

4752463128_679877aa3f_zA recent 24/7 Wall Street article shared the top six-figure jobs in the US. Surprising (to me), six of the ten entries were managers of people. Managing people is a big responsibility, with a huge impact on team performance and team member engagement.

Leaders of others have either a positive or negative impact on team member productivity and engagement. A leader’s impact is rarely neutral! My best boss, Jerry Nutter, used to say, “A leader either helps, hinders, or hurts.”

The 24/7 Wall Street report indicates that people managers are paid well. Is the investment in people managers paying off for US companies? Let’s look at two factors – productivity and engagement.

A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that productivity growth in the US has declined by more than half since 2011. Historically (since 1948), annual US productivity grew at a 2.5% rate. Since 2011, that rate has fallen to only 1.1%.

The article points out a variety of contributing factors. One significant takeaway from this data is that people managers are not inspiring greater productivity in the US workforce.

On the engagement front, Blessing White’s 2013 Employee Engagement Research Report found that US engagement grew from 33% in 2011 to 40% in 2012. That’s very good news. However, it means that 60% of employees are not engaged. Team members do not believe their current work environment treats them with trust, dignity, and respect.

This data leads us to an undeniable conclusion: many well-paid people managers have a less-than-stellar impact on team member productivity and engagement.

How can leaders shift this tide? My research and experience tells me that leaders need to reframe their role and responsibilities as that of servant leaders. Their entire “reason for being” is to help team members build the right skills, to help team members apply those skills in service to team goals and team customers, and to create a safe, inspiring work environment for everyone on the team.

Leaders must coach well, listen well, redirect when needed – and trust team members. Engaged, talented team members deserve the responsibility and authority to act independently, in the moment. Engaged team members that are learning needed skills aren’t ready for independent action – they need mentoring and guidance to build needed skills.

If leaders are able to reframe their role and responsibility as that of servant leaders, productivity will grow and engagement will grow.

Team members, customers, and company stakeholders will all benefit, together.

How have your best bosses created workplace trust, dignity, and respect? How have your servant leaders helped you grow and thrive at work? 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, is available NOW. Get your free sample chapter here. Subscribe to my weekly updates to get free resources, insights, and news on upcoming events.

Subscribe to Chris’ Updates for Free Resources, Insights, & News!

Photo used under Creative Commons from https://www.flickr.com/photos/infusionsoft/.

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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Ground Rules

Mountain road lined with Pines & Aspen SMALLHow can you help teams and members stay on the desired path to high performance and values alignment?

If the team has clearly defined performance standards as well as clearly defined citizenship standards, the path is obvious. That defined path represents the easiest way to exceed performance expectations (results) as well as how the team must operate (values alignment) along the way.

However, most teams don’t have a clear path mapped out. Without defined performance standards or values expectations, teams and members struggle.

Let’s look at your team. How well defined and measurable are your team’s performance expectations? Can members immediately and succinctly explain what the team’s performance expectations are for this year?

Rate this statement on a six point scale: “Our team has clearly defined and measurable performance standards that help our organization succeed.”

Score this statement a “1” if you strongly disagree, a “2” if you disagree, a “3” if you slightly disagree, a “4” if you slightly agree, a “5” if you agree, and a “6” if you strongly agree.

How well are your team’s desired values defined today? Rate this statement on the same scale: “Our team has clearly defined and measurable values expectations that describe the behaviors we desire from every member.”

What are desirable ratings for these two statements? You want scores at the 5-6 level: agree to strongly agree. If you’re doing well on these, you’ve got a score of 10-12 so far.

Now let’s look at accountability in your team. Defining these expectations is the first part of your clear path – holding people accountable is the vital part of your clear path.

Rate this statement: “Our team members are held accountable for performance expectations.”

Rate this final statement: “Our team members are held accountable for demonstrating our valued behaviors.”

If your team is exceptional, you’ve scored these accountability statements at the 5-6 level. Great scores for all four statements are 20-24 out of 24 possible points.

It is likely your scores fall below this desired level. That means your team is normal! Most teams do not embrace these standards very well or very consistently.

You could get a better, more accurate perspective by asking team members to rank these statements. They might be harder “graders” than you are!

Where can you start? Creating team ground rules can help create the foundation for workplace inspiration. They can help define your team’s desired path.

At a recent culture workshop with frontline leaders, I asked each table team to draft ground rules so that their team members could learn as much as possible over our two-day session. Each table came up with no more than four ground rules that they agreed to abide by and to hold each other accountable for during our session.

Their ground rules included items like, “Speak for yourself,” “Be on time,” “Be an active participant,” and “Be a problem solver, not a problem spotter.”

Once they defined their ground rules, they had to map out how they were going to hold each other accountable for these practices. Each table has a slightly different accountability plan. All of those plans defined a simple first step: “If you see a rule infraction, speak up about it. Challenge the behavior and honor the person.”

These leaders loved these ground rules. They helped create a better learning environment and reduce drama!

Ground rules might be an easy first step in creating your team’s clear path to high performance and values alignment.

Please share your team ratings, 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, is available NOW. Get your free sample chapter here. Subscribe to my weekly updates to get free resources, insights, and news on upcoming events.

Subscribe to Chris’ Updates for Free Resources, Insights, & News!

Photo © istockphoto.com/scedmonds. 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.”

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Cause and Effect

iStock_000011328804Small

My wife does our laundry. Recently she’s been frustrated that my t-shirts came out of the dryer inside out.

She’s said on more than one occasion, “I need you to put your t-shirts in the laundry right-side out. Would you please do that?”

“I do put them in right-side out,” I’d reply. “Really. I’m very intentional about doing that.”

“Then why do they come of the dryer out inside out?” she’d ask.

In the past, I never thought about how I tossed my dirty shirts in the laundry hamper. And, these past six months, I’ve been extremely careful to do exactly as my wife had asked: I ensured my shirts were right-side out.

My wife had her truth. I had mine. How could we resolve this issue?

This past week, I made a suggestion. I said to her, “Have you noticed if the shirts were inside-out in the dirty clothes hamper?”

“No, I’ve never checked,” she admitted.

I said, “How’s about this round you check the dirty shirts to see if they’re right-side out? I’ll help!”

She said, “That’s a good idea. I don’t need help – I’ve got it.”

Today she came in and showed me one of my t-shirts, fresh out of the dryer. It was inside out. She said, “All your shirts went into the washer right-side out. By the time they got out of the dryer, they’d inverted themselves!”

She apologized for blaming me for not doing what she’d asked.  “No worries,” I replied, adding “That is a bit weird. I wonder if the washer or dryer turns them inside out.”

Now, I don’t mean to infer that I listen to everything my wife says to me or that I do everything she asks me to do. I’m a normal, moronic husband. This time, though, I really tried. It wasn’t my fault – this time.

How often do you experience “competing” truths in your work environment? I see it happen all the time.

Disagreements about what the “real truth” is can evolve into major conflicts pretty quickly if they’re not resolved in a way that honors everyone’s truth.

Just like with the inside-out t-shirts, something in your organization is causing an undesirable result. In many cases, it’s not anyone’s fault – no one is intentionally causing the issue.

(If someone is intentionally causing the issue or is not honest about what’s happening, that’s a different problem entirely.)

Now things aren’t working as desired. Rather than blaming people, a better approach is to dig in and learn the process more deeply – and discover the root cause of the issue.

Your truth may be about the first part of the process (the t-shirts in the laundry hamper right-side out). My truth may be about the last part of the process (the t-shirts coming out of the dryer inside-out).

We’re both right, yet we still must resolve an undesirable outcome.

Don’t blame. Dig in. Examine the process and find the root cause. Address it if possible – without harming relationships.

If you can’t fix the issue, you at least now understand it. You might have to spend a little extra time with the t-shirts before you fold them, but people will feel heard and honored.

What do you think? What “competing truths” get in the way of performance and relationships in your work environment? How are those truths addressed in your work teams? Add your comments, insights, or questions 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. Subscribe to my weekly updates to get free resources, insights, and news on upcoming events.

Subscribe to Chris’ Updates for Free Resources, Insights, & News!

Photo © istockphoto.com/donstock. 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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