Tag Archives | Results

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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Common Ground

Businesspeople Giving Each Other High Five In Office LobbyDo you experience workplace fulfillment in your job? Apparently, not many of us do. For a recent study, the Energy Project interviewed over 12,000 employees and found that 50% report a lack of meaning and significance at work.

According to a June 2014 Fast Company article, increasing a sense of meaningfulness at work is one of the most potent ways to increase engagement and productivity.

What do we mean by workplace meaning and significance?

  • When workplace efforts serve others, tangibly and effectively, beyond “making money,” workplace meaning and significance grows.
  • When team members understand how their efforts improve the quality of life for customers and community, workplace meaning and significance grows.
  • When there is a strong link between what team members do and serving a greater good, workplace meaning and significance grows.

Here’s a great example. In Ft. Collins, Colorado, yesterday, a teenager who fell 80 feet from Horsetooth Rock in August was able to meet and thank the 47 rescuers who took part in getting her off the mountain and to the hospital for treatment.

It was an emotional reunion for Hannah Schall and the rescue personnel. One search and rescue team member said “It’s rare that we get to meet someone we rescued, to see that they’re doing fine. It’s really good.”

Some of you are thinking, “It’s easy to see how rescue workers serve the greater good! What about me?”

For many of us, our day to day work activities aren’t about saving lives or teaching kids. Our work activities are about finishing reports, waiting tables, driving busses, fixing computers, holding meetings, and the like.

We each, individually, can choose to engage in meaningful activities outside the workplace. We can volunteer, we can deliver meals, we can collect goods for the homeless, or we can take our dog to a nursing home to raise spirits.

That’s definitely a way to serve the greater good, individually. What about our teams at work, though? Does it require changing the company’s business model to boost workplace significance?

It doesn’t – but it may take some creative thinking and rallying of energy towards suitable activities.

There are many events and organizations that need volunteers to provide needed services for kids, families, seniors, etc. in your communities. For example, at VolunteerMatch.org, over 99,000 organizations have placed over 8 million volunteers – and have over 90,000 opportunities available.

You could organize a “fun run/fun walk” team to raise funds for local charities. You could organize a team to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity to help build homes for needy families in your community.

You can even engage people in serving the greater good right at work. The Ken Blanchard Companies created a program that, when profits exceed a certain percentage, each employee is able to provide a gift to a charitable organization of their choice at year end. The grant amount per employee averages about $1,000. Multiply that times over two hundred full-time employees and that’s a lot of money going to charities.

Throughout the year, employees keep a close eye on expenses and they are proactive in finding ways of saving money. Those efforts help boost the funds available to the charity grants.

Give people in your organization a firm foundation of meaning and significance – a common ground of service to others.

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

Photo © Monkey Business – 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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Culture Audit

trend analysisWhat metrics to you scrutinize frequently? If you’re like most leaders, you pay attention to performance metrics – quotas, service ratings, market share, profits, and the like. What you probably don’t have metrics for – but you need metrics for – is the quality of your team or company’s culture.

To create high performing, values-aligned teams, leaders must spend as much time and energy on driving workplace trust, dignity, and respect as they do on driving results.

The reality is that very few leaders around the globe have been asked to do this. And, too few leaders have had role models that did this.

The great news is that leaders can learn how to create safe, inspiring work environments. With the right structure, effective modeling, and coaching to alignment, leaders can shift their team’s culture from dull and frustrating to engaged and inspiring.

My new online Culture Effectiveness Assessment can help. The CEA survey is based on the concepts in my latest book, The Culture Engine.

The CEA compares your team’s (or department or division or company’s) work environment to the best practices of high performing, values-aligned workplaces. The assessment gathers team leader and team member responses quickly and reliably. Results are presented in an electronic profile that explains how well your team culture ranks on five “culture health” levels: dysfunction, tension, civility, acknowledgment, or validation (the highest level).

The CEA includes ten sections with five questions each. Each question is rated on a six-point scale. The sections include practices like workplace attractiveness and safety, the leader’s personal purpose, values, and leadership philosophy, clarity of the team’s purpose, specificity of the team’s values and valued behaviors, accountability for values, values feedback, and hiring for values.CEA-1

The snapshot at right shows the CEA score summary page for a real leader and her team members. This page presents scores on the overall assessment for the team leader (189 out of 300 possible points – 50 questions worth a maximum of six points each) and an average score for all team members (181). These two scores fall into the “civility” culture health level – below what is desired. There is a line on the graph at the 250 point mark, which is where the “validation” level begins.

This graph also shows the lowest and highest individual team member scores (166 and 196, respectively). This particular team has very consistent team member scores, all in the “civility” level. I’ve seen teams with much wider responses, from dysfunction to acknowledgment levels within one team.CEA-3

The profile presents summary scores by section plus response detail for each question. The snapshot at right shows this team leader and her five team members’ responses to the question “Team members are role models of the formalized team purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals in every interaction and in all plans, decisions, and actions.” Desired scores are at the 5-6 level. The team leader scores it a 2 and the average team member score is a 3. There is clearly an opportunity for this team on these practices.

The CEA profile enables leaders and teams to prioritize the work to be done to improve the quality of their work environment. Clients that embrace these best practices enjoy consistent increases in employee engagement, customer service, and profits.

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

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

Photo © Paulista – 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 © 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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