Tag Archives | Values

Values – espoused or desired in corporate culture

A Cog in a Wheel

I interviewed a key leader in a client organization recently. I was gathering perceptions of the organization’s culture. I’d spoken to senior leaders and was now engaging with next level leaders for their insights.

This key leader was tired. His ten-member team had been running hard over the last year, shorthanded. They have three open positions. “Everyone is doing their fair share but the workload just doesn’t let up,” he told me. They’d been actively recruiting to fill the job slots but haven’t found qualified people to plug in. Many strong candidates had multiple offers for more money than their company was offering.

“This is a really good company but no one gives us any credit for the extra work everyone is doing,” he said. “We feel like cogs in a wheel. No one is paying any attention to us.”

Among other things, this leader is experiencing the negative impact of the improving job market. People are confident that they can get a better job quickly so are leaving their current, probably uninspiring roles by the thousands. A recent USA Today article noted that over 2.8 million Americans quit their jobs in March 2015, up from 2.7 million in February.

This leader – and his team – is also experiencing a lack of appreciation for their efforts, which recent studies have found – unfortunately – to be quite common. Tiny HR’s 2015 Engagement and Culture report found that only 21% of employees feel strongly valued at work. Over 25% of employees reported they don’t have the tools to be successful in their jobs.

That lack of validation and appreciation can definitely lead to employees deciding to look for a different job where their contributions are recognized.

Why do leaders ignore genuine contributions by teams and players? It may be that these leaders believe that effusive praise and encouragement is fluff. These leaders think, “I’m paying them fair wages. I don’t need to thank them every minute, as well, do I?”

Or it may be these leaders simply don’t think about praise and encouragement, at all. They didn’t get it from their bosses so they don’t think it’s important today.

Or, it may be that these leaders are spread thin themselves. They know that they’re not providing positive, validating feedback to their employees and they feel badly for it. They apparently don’t feel badly enough to change their behavior and proactively praise aligned contributions, though!

A cog in a wheel is an important element; it keeps the machine running smoothly. If it’s cared for – cleaned, oiled, and polished regularly – it will serve the machine well for years. If it’s not cared for, it will break – bringing the machine to a halt. The breakage may even cause greater damage to other parts of the machine!

Humans deserve to know where they stand, regularly. A leader’s time and energy invested in dialog, genuine appreciation, and validation of aligned efforts builds employee engagement and well-being. Those, in turn, inspire employees to apply their skills in service to team goals and customers.

Employees are not cogs in a wheel. They are the face of your company and the foundation of your organization’s products and services. Treat them well, daily.

What do you think? How did your best bosses express genuine appreciation for work well done? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © zarg404 – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

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The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


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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.”

The Role of Mood in Inspiring Aligned Behavior

Angry grumpy pissed off senior mature man gray backgroundMonths ago I was delivering a day-long leadership program for HR managers. The program was part of a week-long conference at the company’s headquarters. One hundred attendees were split among five classrooms.

Participants were excited about what they were learning and were very engaged. They clearly felt the program could help them not only with managing their own development but with coaching their internal clients to manage their direct reports more effectively.

In the midst of the afternoon’s main activity (structured rehearsals – we never call them role plays!), the senior vice president of HR popped in to my classroom to observe. He came in with a grumpy demeanor and a frown on his face, and leaned against the wall with his arms crossed.

Participants’ reactions were immediate and interesting. They all glanced up at their SVP’s entrance. They all noticed his posture and mood – and looked away. A few looked at their role play partners and rolled their eyes. Participants went on with the activity, but the volume in the room was much subdued after his entrance.

What caused this SVP’s unhappy demeanor? It’s impossible to guess; it could have been one or more of a hundred different variables.

What is important to understand is that a leader’s mood and tone impacts their team’s (or department’s or company’s) players. Leaders do not have neutral impact. Their plans, decisions, actions, and moods are scrutinized by their team leaders and team members quite frequently and quite carefully.

Leaders’ actions and moods either improve player engagement and contribution or they erode it. There is no middle ground.

Am I saying that leaders cannot show displeasure? No, I’m not. I am saying that leaders have greater positive impact by expressing disappointment from a servant leadership place rather than a frustrated parent place!

Think about your best bosses, those leaders that created a safe, inspiring workplace where you were immensely productive and thoroughly engaged. It is extremely likely that your best boss’ moods were positive and consistent; those moods didn’t fluctuate wildly.

Our best bosses validated our efforts and accomplishments promptly – and they redirected our efforts when we missed the mark. They expressed their disappointment firmly and kindly, asking us to shift our actions. They did not discount our value as people while doing so.

All of us experience disappointment and frustrations. When we take our frustrations out on our colleagues, family, or friends, we create dissonance and distrust, not respect and dignity.

I coach leaders to “put on a happy face,” to act positive and optimistic even when things are not going as planned. It requires effort to wear that happy face. It may require that leaders insulate their teams from the confusion going on outside their team.

Leaders need to be honest with how things are going – don’t say things are fine when they’re not. Do, however, present the realities from an optimistic viewpoint, not a depressive one.

Even if a bad mood arises, the most effective leaders set that mood aside, and present a kind, pleasant, and non-judging approach in every interaction.

What do you think? How did your best bosses manage their moods to reduce negative impact on team members? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © pathdoc – 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 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


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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.”

Your Team Needs A Caring, Assertive Captain

Who is in charge of your business? Leaders, if you don’t act daily as a calm, assertive, caring captain, your “ship” – your enterprise – may go astray.

Every business needs a captain, a person that sets the stage for all actions that take place. If you, as leader, do not set the stage by defining and aligning practices to clear performance standards and values expectations, people will be left to “figure it out on their own.”

When people “figure it out on their own,” you end up with widely varying practices – not aligned, proven practices. That lack of clarity and alignment erodes consistent performance, service, and results.

Whether you are the captain of a cruise ship, a call center, a flower shop, or any other type of business team, you need to guide your team proactively.

How do you do that? An effective, inspiring captain first creates and communicate the team’s plan, then implements the plan through role modeling, coaching, and celebrating progress daily.

First, you must craft your plan. What should your plan include? All of the vital elements are easily found in an organizational constitution. An organizational constitution is a formal statement of your team or company’s present day purpose (its reason for being), values and behaviors, strategies, and goals.

An organizational constitution is a crisp and simple declaration of your team’s desired destination as well as defining how people are expected to behave and treat others along the way.

Your purpose and values are strategic elements that don’t change much over time. The more tactical elements – valued behaviors, strategies, and goals – will likely evolve as your business evolves, as markets evolve, as customer needs change, etc.

Then, you must model and coach the plan. Setting the plan is step one. Communicating the plan is step two. The real work happens with implementing the plan – steps three through one hundred!

Announcing the plan doesn’t guarantee that team members will embrace it. The captain’s role and responsibility is to model the plan and to coach the plan, every day.

An effective captain doesn’t simply communicate the plan then sit in his or her office, studying spreadsheets or answering emails all day. An effective captain reinforces the plan by being on the move, observing how the team is interacting and operating, moment to moment.

A cruise ship’s captain spends time on the bridge, ensuring that the team there is in tune with each other, with the ship’s power plant, with the direction the ship is moving, etc. The captain also spends time observing team members interacting with passengers and with each other, validating aligned team member behaviors and redirecting misaligned ones.

You must do the same. You must be visible, present, and engaged, every day.

The only way that team members can be assured that they understand the plan and are aligned to the plan is by the captain’s calm, assertive modeling and coaching of the plan.

How much time will it take each week for you to effectively model and coach player’s practices to your organizational constitution? Spend at least an hour a day and work yourself up to two hours a day.

Your team deserves nothing less from you than a calm, assertive, caring hand on the tiller of your enterprise.

What do you think? How have your best bosses “captained” your team or department in the past? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © dvoevnore – 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 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


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.”

The Purpose of Leadership

Businessman Making Presentation To Office ColleaguesWhat is the leader’s reason for being? I see quotes and posts from all corners of the globe on this topic.

I’ve been lucky enough over the years to engage a number of leadership thinkers on this idea. The range of responses is wide!

Some suggest that the purpose of leadership is to deliver results through others. Others see the leader’s purpose as developing more leaders. Even others see the leader’s primary responsibility is to make the vision come to fruition.

I believe that effective leaders do all these things and more.

What is missing for me in most of these responses, though, is the answer to this vital question: “To what end?” Who or what is changed when “leadership” happens? Who is being served when “leadership” efforts are applied?

If the outcomes of leadership efforts primarily serve the leader (in the form of bonuses, credit, promotions, etc.), others enjoy fewer (or no) benefits from those efforts.

If leadership activities discount or erode employee contributions or value, that inhibits employee engagement. Team members who feel discounted or taken advantage of won’t serve customers kindly or respectfully, nor will they willingly apply their skills in service to team or company strategies and goals.

In 25 years of consulting with leaders, I’ve never observed self-serving leaders positively impact my “big three” – employee engagement, customer service, or results and profits. They might get short term results, but over the long term, each of the big three are negatively impacted.

Can a single, all-encompassing purpose statement for leadership be crafted? Here’s my best thinking at this point in time.

In The Culture Engine, I present a template for creating an effective organizational purpose statement. Let’s refine that template for leaders. We need a succinct declaration that explains what effective leaders do, for whom, and “to what end” – how employees and customers are positively served by leadership efforts.

What do effective leaders do? They set performance targets. They demand cooperative interaction. They validate efforts. They celebrate accomplishments and team work. They listen and learn. They refine policies and procedures to make employees’ jobs easier. They hold themselves and all others accountable for performance and values expectations.

Whom do effective leaders serve? Their primary customers are their team members. Their secondary customers are those who purchase the team’s (or company’s) products and services.

To what end do effective leaders serve? They inspire aligned contributions by all team members in a trusting, respectful work environment.

By combining these answers into a crisp statement, we arrive at this purpose of leadership:

“Effective leaders set high standards for performance and values, validate efforts and contributions, and ensure cooperative interaction and performance in a trusting, respectful work environment.”

Does this statement align with how your most effective leaders behaved? What is my leadership purpose statement missing? 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 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


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.”

Poor Practices Doom Workplace Inspiration

frustrated young business manI’ve been helping leaders create high performing, values-aligned organizations for over 17 years.

My first blog post – on April 17, 2010 (I was slow coming to the blogosphere!) – outlined the foundation of my proven culture refinement process: crafting clear performance expectations and clear values expectations, then holding everyone accountable for both.

This is my 263rd weekly blog post – and 178th weekly podcast. All of those efforts have promoted one big idea – that leaders must be as intentional about values as they are about performance.

My latest book, The Culture Engine, describes how leaders can create workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution. It’s all about clear expectations then ensuring accountability for both performance and values.

The benefits of aligning practices to an organizational constitution are astounding. Clients see 40 percent gains in employee engagement, 40 percent gains in customer service, and 35 percent gains in results and profits, all within 18 months of starting their culture refinement.

The increased interest in organizational culture enables some cool conversations. In one recent exchange, a journalist asked my opinion regarding employee engagement policies in organizations. My answer was that if an organization has policies that encourage employee engagement, that’s great – but that daily practices are much more important than policies alone.

Why? Practices – the daily plans, decisions, and actions by leaders and team members in an organization – either create workplace trust, dignity, and respect in every interaction or they don’t.

Companies should have policies that outline desired interaction quality – respectful treatment no matter what. But aligning practices to those desired behaviors is what creates workplace inspiration and trust.

Policies alone create awareness of desired behaviors. They don’t, however, guarantee aligned behaviors.

To ensure practices are aligned with policies, leaders must be role models and champions of employee engagement and workplace inspiration. To be a proactive champion is not a passive responsibility. It requires intention, time, energy, modeling, coaching, and redirecting by leaders to align plans, decisions, and actions to those policies, in every interaction, every day.

I don’t think organizations intentionally craft policies that erode employee engagement or workplace inspiration, but many policies do exactly that!

Most organizations and their leaders focus exclusively on results. It’s all they know. Their role models (bosses from their past and present) focused primarily on results. The metrics and dashboards in their organization measure and reward exclusively results. Policies reinforce this focus: set goals, then measure progress towards those goals.

Don’t misunderstand me: results are important! But when leaders put 100% of their focus on results, people will get those results in ways that may not be kind, considerate, or always ethical.

There is a better way. Our best bosses created a safe, inspiring work environment by making values as important as results. They gave us clear values expectations as well as clear performance expectations – and held us accountable for both.

How we behave to get desired results is as important as the results themselves.

Companies that are intentional about performance and values see the gains I note above – huge growth in employee engagement, customer service, and results.

Too few companies are intentional about values. Leaders think that people will behave nicely. Yet people behave badly (some worse than others) when the only thing that is measured, monitored and rewarded is results.

Policies that encourage employee engagement are a good start. The hard work comes after the policies are published, when every leader and team member aligns to practices that not only deliver on results, but do so in ways that treat everyone with dignity, trust, and respect.

How clear are values expectations in your organization? To what degree are team leaders and team members held accountable for both performance and values in your organization? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © .shock – 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 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


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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