Archives For Values

Values – espoused or desired in corporate culture

Clear the Path

April 14, 2014 — Leave a comment

iStock_000001765937SmallHow easy is it for your team members to deliver consistent performance? How easy is it for them to act as great corporate citizens?

It’s possible that your work environment has hurdles and hindrances that inhibit team members from doing the right things the right way the first time.

I would go so far to say that it’s probable that your work environment suffers from some of these hurdles!

Clients report a number of things that get in the way of consistent performance by teams and members. The most common hurdles include:

  • Skill gaps – team members do not have the knowledge or skills required to deliver the products or services that have been promised
  • Resources – the right raw materials aren’t available when needed, or unrealistic deadlines frustrate team members, or there are too few team members to carry the load
  • Systems – policies and procedures are inefficient (at best) or downright broken (at worst)

Clients also report common hurdles to great corporate citizenship. They include:

  • Teamwork – team members don’t get along, don’t trust each other, and don’t cooperate
  • Incentives – individual compensation plans cause team members to ensure that they win while their peers lose
  • Tolerations – rude behavior between team members (and bosses and even customers) is not addressed; it continues because it is tolerated

There are dozens of things leaders and teams can try to address these hurdles and hindrances. What many clients have found beneficial is a change in perspective: don’t try to address all the hurdles – simply create a formal pathway to high performance and values alignment.

Make it Easy to Stay on Track

Imagine a wheat field, ready for harvest. The plants are thick, strong, and tall. Walking through that field would be difficult! The footing would be uneven. You’d have to push plants out of the way to make any progress. You’d struggle to walk on a straight line; you’d be focused on each step, not on the direction you’re heading.

Now imagine a smooth, paved path through the heavy wheat field. You’d easily traverse the acres. The direction you need to go is obvious. You’d not waste time or energy on the journey.

You’d rather stay on the paved portion than veer off into the plants. The paved portion makes your journey easy.

This is exactly what #GreatBosses do, every day. They smooth the path for teams and members towards consistent high performance and consistent great citizenship.

They smooth the way by:

  • Clarifying, communicating, and reinforcing their team’s purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals, every day.
  • Engaging with team members frequently to gauge performance progress. They listen and learn about performance hurdles and hindrances, and address them promptly if the team isn’t already doing so itself.
  • Modeling the team’s purpose, values, and behaviors in every interaction.
  • Celebrating team member’s demonstration of the team’s purpose, values, and behaviors – and coaching or redirecting misaligned behaviors.

What do you think? How clear is your team’s path towards top performance and great citizenship? What hurdles and hinderances do you see your team or team members facing today? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

Subscribe to my free weekly blog & podcast updates and enjoy two “fabulous gifts:” my Be a GREAT Boss ebook plus an excerpt from my new #GREAT Bosses tweet book.

Get your free copy of my ChangeThis manifesto, “What? Your Organization Doesn’t Have a Constitution?

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.

Photo © istockphoto.com/pelvidge. 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.”

No Absolutes

March 31, 2014 — Leave a comment

IMG_1289Many of us think in terms of absolutes – despite the reality around us that demonstrates how this life is filled with nuances and subtleties.

I grew up in Southern California near the beaches of Orange County. I was a surfer who used to catch waves for a couple of hours before heading to class in high school.

I had no experience with real weather until moving to Colorado nearly ten years ago.

We experience “adventuresome mountain living” at 8400 feet above sea level. Snow, sleet, ice, etc. are a part of daily life for at least six months out of the year. To thrive here, you’d better embrace the reality.

The calendar shows we’re almost to April, yet we’ve still got snow on the ground in shady areas. Our pond is still frozen despite the 40-degree temperatures. On the north side of our house, the walkway is covered in ice – which totally confuses my “absolutes” brain.

How can ice exist when the outside temperature is well above freezing? Shouldn’t the ice and snow melt away once the temps hit 33 degrees?

The environment “is what it is!” The ground isn’t above 32 degrees. Overnight temperatures are still in the teens. Until the earth below the surface heats up, we’ll still have ice and snow.

Leaders think in absolutes all the time – despite the reality around them that demonstrates how their work environment is filled with nuances and subtleties.

Maybe the leader announces a new policy or new practices, yet teams continue to behave as if nothing has changed. The leader thinks, “What’s the matter with them? I told them what the new policies are!”

Maybe the leader asks teams to be self-directed, managing their day-to-day efforts independently to meet project deadlines. But if the team has never experienced self-directed teaming, they don’t know what to do. So, they sit, waiting to be told. The leader thinks, “What’s the matter with them? Why don’t they just get to it?”

Maybe the leader gives the “salesperson of the year” award to a player who exceeds their quota by 100% but who uses shady practices to reach those sales numbers. He or she might poach business from fellow sales team members. He or she might over-promise to get the sale, and frustrate the customer weeks later when the company can’t deliver on those grand promises.

Peers complain about who won the award. The leader thinks, “What’s the matter with them? He sold more than anyone else – he deserves the award!”

There are rarely pure absolutes in our work environments. Leaders can’t just pay attention to the output – that’s hanging out on the edges of what’s really happening. #GreatBosses engage in the midst of the processes and work efforts so they understand the nuances and subtleties. Those leaders can then reinforce desirable nuances and quash undesirable nuances, day in and day out.

Over time, the right nuances lead to the right behaviors. Those right behaviors lead to promises delivered and WOW’ed customers . . . which is absolutely a desirable work environment.

What do you think? What absolute beliefs get in the way of your effective day-to-day contributions? How well do your leaders engage in the midst of processes and efforts to create #WorkplaceInspirationShare your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

Subscribe to my free weekly blog & podcast updates and enjoy two “fabulous gifts:” my Be a GREAT Boss ebook plus an excerpt from my new #GREAT Bosses tweet book.

Get your free copy of my ChangeThis manifesto, “What? Your Organization Doesn’t Have a Constitution?

Add your experiences to two fast & free research projects I have underway. The Great Boss Assessment compares your current boss’ behaviors with those of great bosses. The Performance-Values Assessment compares your organization’s culture practices to those of high performing, values-aligned teams and organizations. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

Photo © Chris Edmonds on iStock. 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.”

Suspect Component

March 17, 2014 — Leave a comment

iStock_000012618633SmallDoctors have found my “suspect component.”

I’ve had two back surgeries in the distant past. Over the past couple of years I have experienced some discomfort in my lower back.

I didn’t think much about it. I travel for a living so have accepted the impact that long plane rides and various bed qualities have on back health.

In fact, the Cleveland Clinic reports that lower back pain is the most common cause of disability in people below age 45. In the US, 80% of the population will experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime.

My physician referred me to a neurologist who ordered MRIs of my lower back. My “suspect component”? The disks in my lower spine are virtually gone due to degenerative disk disease. I met with a neurosurgeon for further review. He ordered more MRIs (of the cervical & thoracic spine and of the neck).

We’ll review those images in a few weeks. Spinal fusion is the surgical solution being discussed. I’m not jumping into that quite yet; we’ll see how it all plays out.

There are “suspect components” in many areas of life. In his book, Lone Survivor, Marcus Luttrell described how Navy SEAL boot camp was a ruthless elimination process for an elite fighting force that “cannot tolerate a suspect component.” The incredible physical and mental demands on SEAL candidates ensured that only the strongest made it through. The weaker candidates self-selected out.

I had the timing belt changed on my 2006 Honda Ridgeline last month. Though that critical part has an expected lifespan of 100,000 miles (and mine only has 89,000 miles on it), it’s age caused it to be considered a “suspect component” that could fail at any time. A broken timing belt can cause incredible damage inside a motor. Rather than risk the belt breaking, I had it replaced.

We see suspect components in workplaces. A team member who over-promises and under-delivers erodes team performance as well as team member confidence in his or her ability to carry their load. S/he is a suspect component.

Bosses who manage by fear and intimidation may generate short-term results from their team. Long term, though, they experience inconsistent service levels, team members quitting and leaving (or quitting and staying), and little proactive problem solving by team members. These bosses are a suspect component – a key but weak part that could break and cause significant damage.

How do you identify suspect components in your team or company? First you have to formally define expected performance and expected valued behaviors. This specifies what an “A+” contributor looks, acts, and sounds like.

With those expectations in place, you observe leaders and players closely. When you see missed performance expectations, you engage, investigate, and coach back to standard. When you see less-than-desired values and citizenship, you engage, investigate, and coach back to standard.

You don’t let up. You hold yourself and everyone else in the organization accountable for both performance and values, every day, in every interaction.

In that environment, suspect components must choose to step up and deliver or to self-select out. If they don’t step up and don’t self-select out, you must lovingly set them free.

What do you think? How have your great bosses dealt with suspect components in the past? What other costs have suspect components created in your work teams? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

Subscribe to my free weekly blog & podcast updates and enjoy two “fabulous gifts:” my Be a GREAT Boss ebook plus an excerpt from my new #GREAT Bosses tweet book.

Get your free copy of my ChangeThis manifesto, “What? Your Organization Doesn’t Have a Constitution?

Add your experiences to two fast & free research projects I have underway. The Great Boss Assessment compares your current boss’ behaviors with those of great bosses. The Performance-Values Assessment compares your organization’s culture practices to those of high performing, values-aligned teams and organizations. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

Photo © istockphoto.com/LeventKonuk. 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.”

iStock_000002117973SmallDo your company leaders create workplace inspiration or workplace drudgery, or something in between?

Do team members experience trust and respect in day to day interactions with leaders or do they experience something less?

If followers feel disrespected and distrusted, they won’t engage willingly in efforts to make the company successful.

My work with a culture client awhile back shed light on this issue. The first phase of any of my culture initiatives is one of discovery; I interview senior leaders, their direct reports, and select next level staff. These interviews help me understand how the culture operates, how leaders are perceived, how fair and just the culture is, and the like.

With this client, a new plant leader was seen as a strong driver of process improvement, yet his interpersonal reactions led staff to believe that he did not trust or respect them.

He would ask people’s opinions in a public forum, then would roll his eyes when he heard others’ ideas. He’d discount others’ ideas abruptly, strongly, and verbally. He discounted others’ concerns about safety during a major construction project.

He didn’t listen. He didn’t validate others ideas or concerns. He didn’t observe the clear indications that team members were distant and distrustful of him.

Performance and quality issues grew while team member engagement fell.

Other than that, things at the plant were great!

I truly do not believe this leader was trying to create a workplace of stress and dysfunction. I believe he was doing the best he could. And, he wasn’t paying attention to the quality of his relationships, to the presence (or absence) of trust in him.

Leaders can only have consistent, positive influence on productivity and engagement if they create followership – a willing, talented team that understands the leader’s vision and the customer’s needs, and delivers on both.

The newest Edelman Trust Barometer provides insights on the degree of global trust in business and government but also provides suggestions on how to boost trust in the workplace.

The new trust barometer indicates that engagement and integrity are powerful drivers of trust in workplaces. In one section of Edelman’s research, seven factors that boost engagement and integrity were analyzed.

These key factors rate the degree to which business leaders:

  • Are ethical
  • Listen to customers
  • Treat employees well
  • Put customers before profits
  • Act responsibly in crisis
  • Are transparent and open
  • Communicate often

Their research found that, today, business leaders around the globe fall short in each of these key factors – by 25% or more when comparing the business’ stated importance of each factor and the business’ actual performance on each factor. For example,  being “ethical” was reported as an important factor by 60% of respondents. However, those same respondents reported that their business’ actual performance on the ethical factor was just 29% – a gap of 31%.

If we think about our great bosses, it is very likely that we experienced those great bosses demonstrating every one of these key factors.

Leaders, it’s not that complicated. Do the right thing, daily. Value team members’ efforts and ideas as well as their accomplishments.

What do you think? Which of these key factors did your great bosses demonstrate? To what degree do your leaders today model these key factors? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

Subscribe to my free weekly blog & podcast updates. Subscribers enjoy two “fabulous gifts:” my Be a GREAT Boss ebook plus an excerpt from my new #GREAT Bosses tweet book.

Get your free copy of my ChangeThis manifesto, “What? Your Organization Doesn’t Have a Constitution?

Add your experiences to two fast & free research projects I have underway. The Great Boss Assessment compares your current boss’ behaviors with those of great bosses. The Performance-Values Assessment compares your organization’s culture practices to those of high performing, values-aligned organizations. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

Photo © istockphoto.com/jchang2. 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 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.”

Old Dog’s Tricks

March 3, 2014 — Leave a comment

iStock_000012297017SmallOne of the biggest hurdles a culture change champion faces is the “seen it all” group. Every organization has them.

These long-time leaders and employees have been around for a decade (or two . . . or three). They’ve heard it all before. They’ve lived through “reengineering,” “total quality management,” “seven habits,” “good to great,” and all the rest.

They’ve learned through experience that most of these initiatives don’t last. The initial enthusiasm wanes when the champions don’t see any traction on the new culture.

These old-timers don’t have to actively fight the initiative; that takes too much energy. All they have to do is nod their heads when the champion speaks – and keep on doing what they’ve always been doing.

The new culture might sound vibrant and exciting, but the old-timers are fully committed to the old ways. They’re motivated – to keep things the same.

They’re not motivated to embrace the new practices and behaviors.

If the old-timers don’t change their behaviors, the culture change won’t likely take hold. The initiative will die.

Can Old Dogs Learn New Tricks?

Culture change isn’t easy. The champion is asking people to step away from time-honored practices. (It doesn’t matter if those practices don’t work well. They’re “the way we’ve always done it.”)

How can leaders inspire every member of their organization to embrace the new culture, to demonstrate desired values and behaviors and practices? These three approaches will help.

First, set the context. Tell them why you’re making this culture change. What is it about the industry, the marketplace, your customers, and/or the opportunity that demands a shift in the way your team or company operates? Tell the story and define the path towards the high performance, values aligned culture you require.

Second, define the new rules. Tell them what the new rules are. Clarify the team’s purpose, it’s reason for being today – from the perspective of your customers. Formalize performance standards by defining what an “A+” job looks like daily. Formalize values standards by defining values in observable, tangible, measurable terms. Explain that the rules apply to everyone in the company, top to bottom.

Third, align players, plans, decisions, and actions. Show them how to live these new expectations; model the new behaviors in every interaction. Teach them how to live these new rules through your new valued behaviors. Hold people accountable. Promptly recognize aligned effort & accomplishment. Promptly redirect mis-aligned activity. Keep at it, every day – celebrate, coach, refine.

Your old dogs will have to choose: embrace the new direction – or separate themselves from your team, finding roles in other companies. Either way, you’re team or company will evolve.

Care to comment? What is your experience with old-timers holding on to old ways? What did your best bosses do to inspire aligned action and behavior? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

Subscribe to my free weekly blog & podcast updates. Subscribers enjoy two “fabulous gifts:” my Be a GREAT Boss ebook plus an excerpt from my new #GREAT Bosses tweet book.

Get your free copy of my ChangeThis manifesto, “What? Your Organization Doesn’t Have a Constitution?

Add your experiences to two fast & free research projects I have underway. The Great Boss Assessment compares your current boss’ behaviors with those of great bosses. The Performance-Values Assessment compares your organization’s culture practices to those of high performing, values-aligned organizations. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

Photo © istockphoto.com/eriklam. 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 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.”