Tag Archives | Results

Positive Proof that Culture Works

Group of co-workers standing in office space smiling (I’m a culture geek. I’m bold with leaders, telling them they’re leaving money on the table if their team or department or company culture isn’t based on trust, respect, and dignity.

My ideas are not always embraced with open arms! There is a natural cynicism about culture change. Leaders are used to dealing with facts and hard data. So, I share the facts and hard data about the benefits my culture clients have enjoyed.

One client came to us because of low employee engagement survey scores. They scored 32 out of 100 possible points, the worst score of the eight business units owned by their corporate parent. This plant’s senior leadership team embraced our culture process fully and promptly.

They defined values with observable behaviors so everyone – leaders and employees – understood what the rules were for effective daily interactions. They increased performance accountability across their production lines. They measured how well leaders lived the organization’s new valued behaviors. They praised leaders who modeled their values, coached leaders who struggled, and redirected leaders who didn’t model or manage to the new values.

Within six months, conflicts, absenteeism, re-work, and grievances dropped by 60 percent. Within twelve months, efficiency had improved by over 40 percent. Customers reported amazement at the “new service attitude” that company staff displayed.

When the next “all company” employee engagement survey came around twelve months later, their plant scored 62 out of 100 points! Theirs was the biggest gain in engagement scores of any of business unit in their company system. And, their plant earned the top score across the organization.

At the eighteen-month mark, employee engagement had grown 45 percent, customer service rankings had grown 45 percent, and hard dollar profits gains surpassed 35 percent.

Plant leaders gave all the credit to every leader and employee’s alignment to their organizational constitution.

Another client, a seven-state region of a large retailer, embraced our culture change process because the new senior leader’s vision wasn’t taking hold fast enough.

Joel, the region’s senior leader, believed and preached “People with Passion drive Performance!” Joel’s messaging and coaching in his first 18 months in the position helped some store managers “get it.” However, most store managers did not.

Twelve months after creating their organizational constitution and managing to it (with our guidance), Joel’s region enjoyed 40 percent gains in employee engagement, 40 percent gains in customer service, and 30 percent gains in profits.

Another client, a manufacturing plant in the Midwestern USA, discovered a fabulous peripheral benefit to their organizational constitution. Their small town suffered flash flooding one spring, which caused tremendous damage in their community. Families were evacuated with little time to gather necessities.

Within hours, plant employees banded together to provide food, clothing, and transportation for their neighbors. They volunteered hundreds of hours for the Red Cross at the evacuation center. They secured funds from the plant’s parent company to rebuild homes and businesses in the following months.

The plant manager said in the 40 years that plant had been operating in that town, no one had ever seen employees rally so quickly and confidently to serve their fellow community members. Some of the employees who volunteered to help had also suffered significant losses in the flooding. “Our values and behaviors didn’t just apply inside the plant. These employees made sure they applied in our town, too,” she said.

The reality is that your culture drives everything that happens in your organization, good or bad. If you’re only paying attention to results, you’re leaving money on the table.

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

How healthy is your team or company 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 © 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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Your Brand On Purpose

personal brand in wood typeThis week I jumped at the chance to interview Dan Schawbel, author of the New York Times Bestseller, Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success. Dan is an expert on personal branding – and I think every one of us needs to be intentional about our personal brand.

Why is personal branding so important today?

Everyone is trying to stand out online and offline and the best way to do that is by establishing your personal brand. Your brand identifies you and positions you for specific opportunities that align to your strengths and interests. In the workplace, 65% of managers are looking to hire and promote subject matter experts. Online, if you aren’t positioned as a niche expert, then you won’t appear high in search engines and will be passed over. With so many people having online profiles and websites now, the impact of branding becomes much more important.

How have workplace rules changed – and how can people take advantage of the new rules?

First, your personal life is now public. Anything you publish about yourself, or that other people publish online about you, is visible to your co-workers and can be used against you. Second, you need to effectively work with people of different generations, including Gen X and Baby Boomers and Gen Z, sometimes all at once. Third, the one with the most connections wins because social currency is more important than anything else. The stronger your network at work, the more successful you will be.

Millennials as a generation have a less-than-stellar reputation as being “entitled” or “not team players.” What are the facts about this generation and their contributions to work & society?

In the study I did for the book with American Express, we found that millennials have a positive view of their managers, while their managers have a negative view of them. Their managers view them as entitled, lazy, and not focused. Millennials, compared to older generations, want companies to give back to society, not just make money. They embrace equality, diversity and team collaboration. While some millennials might be stereotypical, others are already starting businesses or working extremely hard to improve their work culture and performance.

Is personal branding primarily for millennials or might other generations benefit from promoting themselves?

Personal branding is for everyone, whether you’re a student or a CEO or a musician. The main premise behind personal branding is to become the best at what you do for a specific audience. In order to do that, we have to think like entrepreneurs. We have to figure out what makes our “product” different in the market and then capitalize on that. Branding yourself helps you stand out in the job market or build your business.

What is a first, easy step that someone can take to promote themselves in their workplace today?

The first step to promoting yourself in the workplace is mastering your current role. If you aren’t an expert at what you were hired to do and have proved your worth, then you are unable to expand your role at work. Once you become an expert in your role, people will take notice and your value will increase. In addition, people will be more likely to trust you with additional work and if you have a great idea, you might be able to test it out. By becoming the expert, you are trusted and are able to further build a brand at work.

What do you think? Add 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, The Culture Engine, guides leaders to create workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution. Get your free sample chapter here.

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

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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