Tag Archives | Values

Values – espoused or desired in corporate culture

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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A Choice of Gratitude

"Gracias" (In Spanish - Thank you) road signIt’s Thanksgiving week here in the US. This holiday is founded upon each of us taking time from our hectic lives and expressing thanks for the things we have, the people we love, and the opportunities that lie ahead.

The reality for many, though, is these holidays are filled with stress. Family bickering and arguments are more frequent than diplomacy and kindness during these events!

I’m blessed to have had many people in my life who have helped me see the benefits of simply being nice. I’ve learned great practices from some of the nicest people on the planet, including my wife, Diane, Ken Blanchard, and others. I’ve learned the science of positive psychology and well being from the wonderful Lisa Zigarmi.

I’m fascinated at the work of organizations like the Greater Good Science Center to advance the concepts of well-being and positivity with hard data, not just pithy recommendations.

I’ve also learned a great deal from people in my life who are not nice. I’m grateful to have had those experiences and for the mindset that allows me to decide that 1) behaving that way doesn’t help in the long run and 2) I need to insulate myself from people who do not share my values.

Ultimately, the choice to be kind or not, to be thankful or not, is mine alone. The more I learn – from my own experience, from research, and from observing others in this fast-paced world – the more I know that there is but one rational, beneficial choice for me to make.

I choose gratitude. I believe the greatest benefit to you will occur when you choose gratitude. Make a conscious choice to be healthy, happy, and inspired.

Living from a “space of gratitude” means, to me, that you consciously do three things daily – not just during the holidays! Those three practices are:

  • Knowing & Loving Yourself.
    Formalize your personal purpose, your “reason for being” on this planet. Outline how you’ll serve others. Define your personal values and the behaviors you choose that will ensure you’re living your values daily. Give yourself a break! Kindness begins with loving yourself. Leverage your strengths and develop further skills and opportunities to be of service.
  • Observing & Valuing Others.
    Humans are social animals. Pay attention to who you hang out with. Surround yourself with people who share your purpose and who hold common values. Be a source of kindness to others – family, friends, neighbors, and even perfect strangers. Don’t take others for granted. Don’t tolerate others’ bad behaviors. Coach them if they’re able to learn from you. If they’re not, insulate yourself.
  • Demonstrating Kindness & Grace.
    Gratitude is not a private experience – it is a social experience! Don’t just think to yourself, “What a great job that person just did with that difficult customer!” – reach out and tell them they did a great job. Open doors – literally. Smile. Say, “Thank you.” Don’t be a source of judgement to others – be a source of acknowledgement and validation.

These practices require discipline, persistence, and commitment. I invite you to choose gratitude and begin demonstrating these practices daily. You might find your Thanksgiving – and your daily living – is less stressful, more meaningful, and more peaceful.

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

Photo © gustavofrazao – 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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Is Your Culture “Sticky”?

Businesswoman Solving a ProblemLet’s pretend for a moment. Let’s put you in the role of leading a large division within your company. And, you’ve done really well.

You’ve worked hard and crafted a high performing, values-aligned team. You’ve embraced your primary leadership responsibility of creating workplace inspiration.

You’re the champion of your desired culture. You’ve made values and citizenship as important as results and profits. And, team members and leaders have embraced the new culture.

Employees are happier. Customers are WOW’ed. Goals are exceeded regularly. Your team enjoys financial success.

Then, a new job offer drops into your lap. It’s a terrific opportunity for you. You can’t pass it up.

Taking the new job means that you’ll have to leave your current – and exceptional – division culture to whomever replaces you.

You’ve done all you can. You bid your old team goodbye and head off to your new opportunity.

What happens to the culture you’ve help craft? Too often, when the champion leaves, the culture struggles to maintain the new practices.

Unless the new leader is as committed to the current culture as you were, the culture “reverts to the norm.”

Typically, within a very short time (months), all the traction gained is lost. The values go back to “nice to have” status – not “must have” status.

One client experienced exactly this scenario. The champion moved on and the new leader of the division didn’t support “that culture stuff.” The gains the division enjoyed under the previous leader – 40 percent growth in employee engagement and customer service and 35 percent growth in profits – dissipated within four months.

People went back to old habits. The division “earned” exactly what it deserved – less than stellar engagement, service, and profits.

How do you, as a leader, ensure the desired culture “sticks”? These three practices will help your desired culture outlive the champion that moves on.

Embed your culture. This is a vital, foundational practice. Change systems and incentives to measure and reward both performance and desired values. Make valued behaviors important; talk them up, coach them up, and hold them up! Create a twice-a-year values survey that lets employees rate their bosses on the degree to which their bosses model your valued behaviors. Add rankings from this values survey in each leader’s performance (or contribution) review each year. Make the structure of your values-based culture as solid as the structure of your organization’s performance.

Prove the benefits. Measure the positive impact of your safe, and inspiring work environment. Carefully track employee engagement, customer service rankings, and results and profits. Help your bosses understand the net benefits of a workplace culture based on trust, respect, and dignity. SHOW THEM THE MONEY. Employees who feel trusted and respected bust their behinds for your team.

Share leadership. Don’t be the sole champion or the sole banner-carrier of your desired culture. Engage leaders at all levels in communicating why your culture is so important – to employees, leaders, customers, and company. Share “stage time” with every senior leader so they can be seen as the “voice” of the desired culture as much as you are. Celebrate teams and team leaders that “get it.” Let the “idea virus” of your desired culture infect everyone in your organization.

There are no guarantees these three practices will ensure your culture’s ability to stand the test of time – but they’ll certainly help.

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

Photo © PtnPhotof – 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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