Tag Archives | Trust

The One Thing Great Bosses Pay Attention To

SCE-CultureLabX-041416I love speaking about the power of positive workplace cultures. I had the chance to present to the Denver chapter of CultureLabX recently.

As I was building my slide deck for this presentation, adding updated research and examples of terrific cultures, I came to an uncomfortable conclusion. More on that in a moment.

I’m very careful about what organizations I recommend. A company culture can turn from great to grotesque if senior leaders aren’t diligent about the quality of their work environment every single day. An effective, inspiring, productive work environment requires constant tending and nurturing by leaders.

In my book, The Culture Engine, I feature a number of companies with high performing, values-aligned cultures. Two of those companies have experienced rough waters recently. My uncomfortable conclusion? I can’t recommend those two companies anymore.

Let me explain.

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The first is Southwest Airlines. They are a very good company. They continue to outperform nearly all of their competitors. Their culture remains strong; their employees love working for Southwest. Many customers wouldn’t fly on any other airline. The company’s employee rating on Glassdoor.com – 4.2 out of 5.0 points – is exceptional.

I fly Southwest at times.

The issue I have with Southwest Airlines is that they have been fined twice in the last two years by the FAA for maintenance violations. In addition the airline faces a $12 million fine over improper aircraft repairs dating back to 2006.

A culture that allows less-than-excellent maintenance to occur does not earn my recommendation.

The second is Zappos. Zappos is a very good company, as well. They have a very unique culture and have been a top performer since before Amazon acquired them in 2009. They had been recognized as one of Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For” for eight years in a row. This year, they missed the list.

In addition, nearly 30 percent of employees have left the company (in part due to a buyout offer) in the past year.

Why? Three years ago CEO Tony Hsieh implemented an organization structure called “holacracy.” In essence, holacracy is a system that replaces hierarchies and managers with self-managing teams. The problem? Employees don’t have confidence in the direction of the company anymore.

Zappos’ Glassdoor.com rating is 3.8, down from the mid-4’s a few years ago. Reading through comments of recent employee reviews one finds the holacracy experiment getting poor marks.

“A multi-million dollar company isn’t a high school economics project. It needs strong leaders and a clear direction to succeed.”

“No managers has really shaken things up – and not for the better.”

“Have a little more forethought about obvious questions that will arise from new initiatives. Morale is low because specific concerns have not been addressed.”

A culture that frustrates employees with a poorly implemented new structure and little clear direction does not earn my recommendation.

How can leaders gauge the quality of their work culture? What should leaders pay attention to?

The one thing great bosses pay attention to is the quality of their organization’s work culture. They invest time and energy every day in learning what’s working and what’s not. They spend 70 percent of their time listening to team leaders and employees.

That knowledge allows great bosses to quickly refine a dumb policy that pits people against each other or to promptly praise a team’s innovative response to a challenge or to redirect a leader who isn’t serving his or her team members effectively.

Great bosses listen, learn, and refine the practices of their workplace culture daily to ensure that everyone – employees, customers, leaders, vendors, etc. – is treated with trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction.

Don’t leave your team or company’s culture to chance. Pay attention to what’s working and what’s not. Nurture your desired culture with a servant purpose, values defined in behavioral terms, and clear goals.

How well do your leaders nurture a powerful, positive work culture? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo of me presenting at Denver’s CultureLabX © Patrice Lynn. All rights reserved.

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The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2016 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.


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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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What’s Your Organization’s Values Operating System?

Trust Concept in BusinessWhat values does your organization hold dear?

Every organization has values, just as every human has values. Some organizations have values that encourage an “I win, you lose” dynamic. Some embrace a “service to others” environment. Some emphasize “results, results, results” while others embrace a family and teamwork dynamic.

We see a wide range of values demonstrated in organizations, large and small, around the globe. Values are the foundation of an organization’s culture – for better or worse.

The challenge is that most leaders – senior executives, directors, small business owners, team leaders, regional heads, etc. – do not pay attention to the health and quality of their organization’s culture.

They’ve never been asked to do that. They may not know how. The vital metrics that leaders are typically held accountable for are performance metrics. It is rare for leaders to be held accountable for the quality of their work environment or for happy, engaged employees.

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Yet where employees are happy – treated with trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction – productivity grows.

For example, Parnassus Investments’ Workplace Fund – a mutual fund that invests in large American firms with outstanding workplace cultures – outperformed the S&P Index during the recent global recession with a 10.81% return compared to the S&P’s 3.97% return!

Focusing exclusively on results or profits can be a slippery slope, as Volkswagen and Turing Pharmaceuticals discovered last year. What is fascinating is that both of these organizations have published formalized values. Volkswagen’s values specifically note “environmental protection.” Turing Pharmaceuticals’ code of conduct specifically notes “treating each other and customers and patients with the respect they deserve.”

In Volkswagen’s case, the behavior of engineers to install software to cheat on emissions testing is clearly in violation of their values. In Turing Pharmaceuticals’ case, the code of conduct document is dated January 27, 2016. I cannot find references to a code of conduct in the company previous to that date. It seems that last year’s pricing debacle prompted the creation of this code.

The absence of formalized values in an organization – or the absence of accountability for published values – can be interpreted to mean that any path – including lying, cheating, or stealing – is OK.

You don’t “assume” that everyone in your organization knows their performance standards and delivers them without any discussions, do you? Performance clarity and accountability requires formalized goals and targets, with dashboards and metrics monitored closely, every day.

You must not “assume” that everyone in your organization knows how you want them to treat other people at work, either. Values clarity and accountability requires formalized values and behaviors, with interaction quality monitored closely, every day.

To ensure citizenship is as important as performance, you need a values operating system – a VOS – in the form of an organizational constitution that is lived and demonstrated by everyone in your organization daily.

An organizational constitution is a formal statement of your company’s present day service purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals. This statement defines what contributions are needed and what citizenship is needed from every player, every day.

Most organizations have strategies and goals defined; these represent your company’s performance standards and expectations. Very few have values defined in observable, tangible, measurable terms – which is the only way you can build a values operating system in your organization.

Crafting and communicating your VOS – through your organizational constitution – is the easy part. The more complex part is aligning all plans, decisions, and actions to your VOS.

When employees are treated with trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction, they’ll treat your customers like gold. They’ll proactively solve problems. They’ll demonstrate pride in their work. And – they’ll deliver performance gains of 30 percent or more.

Don’t wait. Formalize your values operating system with an organizational constitution and align behavior to it every day.

What is your organization’s values operating system like today? Does it inspire cooperative interaction and proactive problem solving or not so much? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © Olivier Le Moal – Adobe Stock. All rights reserved.

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

The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2016 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

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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Are You a Trusted Agent?

I’d just finished a four-day program in China for a long time culture client. The work with the Asia region leadership team couldn’t have gone better. I was packing for the next day’s flights back to the US and called my wife, Diane, to check in.

Diane had experienced a gallstone attack the previous day. She felt terrible and was at risk of going into septic shock. And I wasn’t there to help her.

Diane’s adult kids – my step-children – live close by us. Daughter Karin and son Andy – and their spouses – were totally on top of things. They got her checked into the hospital, coordinated with the nurses and doctors, communicated with me with detailed information about the plan, and stayed with Diane through much of her hospital stay.

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Diane had an endoscopic procedure to pull the gallstone on Thursday (Friday in Asia, when I was flying home). That procedure went well. The doctors then decided to remove her gallbladder as they were confident there were more stones “ready to block the bile duct again.” That laparoscopic procedure was scheduled for Saturday.

I returned to Denver late on Friday night and was able to see Diane before her surgery Saturday, along with the kids and spouses. We hung out and visited Diane after she was returned to her room after recovery. Diane was released from the hospital two days later and is recovering nicely.

Our kids acted as “trusted agents” for Diane in my absence. They didn’t miss a beat. They coordinated with Diane, me, the hospital staff, and many more players, seamlessly. They were active participants in discussions and decisions. They were dedicated to Diane’s care and acted as a unified team with “one mind, one heart, and one voice.”

They had my back – and Diane’s.

I learned about trusted agents from a fine man and good friend, transitioned US Marine Raphael Hernandez. The US Marine Corps is one of the most values-aligned, high performance organizations on the planet. Their operating teams are crisis response expeditionary forces focused on specific threats and tasks around the globe. Marine Corps members align to this important, great purpose.

Raphael explained that trusted agents are like-minded players – peers and bosses – who have common values and shared goals. You trust them with your ideas and hopes – and they don’t use either against you. Trusted agents act in service to each other, all the time, every time.

While deployed in Iraq in 2004, Raphael worked with one of his best Marine commanders. Raphael was the director of operations, responsible for transporting 2500 Marines to Kuwait then to bases throughout Iraq. Raphael’s boss trusted him completely. Raphael shared ideas, concerns, plans, and questions with no fear whatsoever – and with no negative repercussions from his boss.

Improvised explosive devices (IED’s) throughout the country caused the team to fly most Marines to their bases for their safety. Approximately 100 Marines were transported via convoy to escort heavy equipment that could not be flown in Marine C-130 fixed wing aircraft. Raphael’s commander could have taken the safer route by flying. Instead, he chose to ride in the convoy with his Marines, along with Raphael, facing IEDs all along their route.

They arrived safely. By the commander’s choice to put himself in harm’s way, trust in him and in his decisions skyrocketed.

Convoys may not be part of your daily operations like they are with US Marines. You can, however, act as a trusted agent – serving others, supporting others, valuing their ideas, efforts, and accomplishments, at work, at home, and in your community, every day.

Who are your trusted agents? What do they do – how do they act – to deserve your trust and confidence? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © ALDECAstudio – 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 my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2016 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

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 Happiness Factor

Male Owner Of Coffee ShopIt was nearly dark when I arrived at the resort in Colorado Springs. I was there to speak with veterinarians, practice leaders, and team leads who were attending an annual leadership institute.

Since the resort was only 90 minutes from our mountain home, I could drive. No airplanes, no security lines – just driving.

When I parked to go check in, I noticed someone in the brightly lit offices in front of me. An employee – a woman – was in her office, probably wrapping up her day.

She was having a fine time – dancing boldly through her office. Dancing! She probably didn’t realize that the office lighting meant her moves were clear for anyone outside to observe. And, she acted like she didn’t care if others could see in.

She was grinning from ear to ear. I couldn’t hear any music but she was bouncing to the rhythm of whatever she heard! She’d pick up a file and dance across the office to the cabinet where she stored the file. Then she’d dance back.

I watched for a couple of minutes. It put a smile on my face. “There,” I thought, “is someone who really loves their job.”

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Happy employees generate great returns for your business. Yet many work environments are dull and frustrating for employees. Many work environments are so competitive that they are cut-throat. Employee engagement suffers.

Trust suffers! A 2014 Interaction Associates study found that only 40 percent of employees trust their leaders.

How can you gauge the health or quality of your work culture? Observe how leaders and employees interact with each other for a few days.

If employees in your company gossip . . . bend the rules to benefit themselves . . . withhold information that could help others . . . or worse, most employees are not going to be happy.

If leaders in your company discount or demean others or others’ ideas . . . spend more time and energy finding fault then praising effort . . . don’t delegate authority and responsibility to talented, engaged employees . . . or worse, most employees are not going to be happy.

When employees are happy, productivity goes up. A 2014 study by the University of Warwick found that happy employees outproduce unhappy employees by 12 percent.

When employees are happy, customer service goes up. Clients who implement my proven culture framework see customer service rankings rise by 40 percent.

When employees are happy, my clients have seen results and profits improve by 35 percent.

Some organizations really get employee happiness. The see employee happiness as the first step in creating a vibrant, successful, sustainable company. They align practices to ensure great performance by happy employees.

One of those companies – Madwire in Loveland, CO – was recognized by GlassDoor as the best small & medium company to work for in 2016 – as rated by employees. Madwire’s employees rate the company at a 4.9 on a 5.0 scale. 100 percent of employees would recommend the company to their friends, and 100 percent approve of the co-CEOs.

Employee happiness is within reach. It demands that leaders be intentional about the health and quality of their team or company’s work environment.

By observing how leaders and employees interact, you’ll see gaps. You’ll see that your culture doesn’t treat players consistently with trust, dignity, and respect.

How can you refine your team or business’ culture? By crafting an organizational constitution and holding everyone – including yourself – accountable to living those agreements, every day.

Do you dance at work? Do your leaders and team members enjoy work so much that their smiles shine brighter than the sun? Or are employees happiest when they’re leaving work – to go serve their passions? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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 my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2016 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

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 “AM” in TEAM

You’ve seen the poster that states “there is no ‘I’ in TEAM.” That statement promotes the absence of individuals on effective teams.

That’s a crock. Every team has individuals. When those individuals align to the team’s purpose, values, behaviors, strategies, and goals, you have a shot at that team being productive and inspiring to serve upon.

When those individuals don’t align to the team’s purpose, values, goals, etc., you have a shot at being one of the world’s worst teams.

We need to look at the “AM” in TEAM. What do I mean by that?

I mean that individual behaviors of team members are critically important. Every individual team member acts the way they think they should, daily. If some act in self serving ways, they do so because they think that’s the way they should act. Their self-serving behaviors are probably being reinforced daily – by being rewarded, by being tolerated, etc.

If some act in cooperative, aligned ways, they do so because they think that’s the way they should act. Their serving-the-team behaviors are probably being reinforced daily.

The “AM” in TEAM means that individual team members need to look at their own behaviors – their individual plans, decisions, and actions – as team members. They need to ask themselves, “How AM I behaving as a team member today?”

If individual team members answer this question honestly, they may discover “I AM protective. I don’t share information or my mistakes with team members.”

Or “I AM indirect. I don’t clarify exactly what I need from my team mates, so they frequently don’t give me what I need.”

Or “I AM clique-ish. I support my two friends on the team and withhold support from team members who aren’t my friends.”

Or “I AM critical. I frequently and loudly point out other team members’ mistakes and short-comings.”

An aligned individual team member, answering this question honestly, may discover “I AM supportive. I praise others efforts and accomplishments promptly.”

Or “I AM involved. I coordinate efforts with team members so we’re all in sync with our projects, deadlines, and customers.”

Or “I AM connected. I make it a point to learn about my colleagues outside interests – be it their kids, running, snowboarding, football, whatever – and engage with them about their interests regularly.”

Or “I AM kind. I smile when I see teammates. I say ‘Hello.’ I wish others well, regularly.”

This powerful question – “How AM I behaving as a team member today?” – can help individuals understand the degree of their cooperative interaction across their team. Once they understand how cooperative they are (or aren’t), they can shift their behaviors to be more aligned, more cooperative, more of service to their team.

Effective teams don’t happen by default, they happen by design. Leaders must engage team members to examine their behaviors to ensure everyone is productive and aligned while being treated daily with trust, respect, and dignity.

And – leaders can be proactive by crafting an organizational constitution for their team, and ensure everyone aligned their behaviors to it.

How would you answer the “AM” question? What aligned team member behaviors were demonstrated in your “best ever” team? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © Kzenon – 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 my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2016 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

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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