Tag Archives | Values

Values – espoused or desired in corporate culture

Everybody Knows Your Name

Group Of Friends Having Outdoor Barbeque At HomeHow well do your employees – team members in your organization – know each other? If you want a work environment that values positive relationships as well as top performance, this is an important question to consider.

Years ago I studied the W.L. Gore company. Their unique culture, based on a holacracy (no bosses), has served that company well since it’s founding over 50 years ago.

In discussions with key Gore leaders, I learned about another practice they embrace to this day. Their functional teams and plants are no larger than 300 people. Why? “When those units get too large, nobody knows your name,” one VP explained. “In smaller units, people feel more involved and connected.”

In a 2010 interview with Gary Hamel, Gore CEO Terri Kelly says that in big business units or plants, “the sense of ownership, the involvement in decision-making, the feeling that I can make an impact starts to get diluted.”

Tom Peters tells the story of a company that was facing a complicated project with aggressive deadlines. The company had brought in experts from other organizations from around the globe. The project team was really struggling to get clear on how they’d work together, on how they’d blend their various skills to deliver this project on time, under budget, and with a minimum of drama. Tom says, “They discovered a remarkable tool to get people to cooperate. The tool? A BBQ!”

Peters describes how this classic casual meal together helped team members learn about their project team peers away from the demands and pressures of the project. They learned about each others’ passions, hobbies, and stories. The BBQ’s worked so well, they held them each week. These BBQ’s became this team’s “community foundation.” Relationships improved. Cooperation improved. Solutions were arrived at and implemented.

Later, after the project was delivered to rave reviews, the company credited the team’s success to those BBQ’s.

My son Andy experienced the power of casual social gatherings recently. He’s a huge board game fan. He found peers at his job (in a big box home improvement store) who were also board game fans – so, he invited six people over for an evening of board games.

They had a ball. He said everyone “knew” each other from work but they hadn’t spent any time connecting or visiting beyond work responsibilities. They loved the games and truly enjoyed their new friends. Some had worked at the store for years and had never made these connections.

How can leaders of teams create a common bond among team members? I don’t think its mandatory that all team members are best buddies, but there is no question that common goals and shared values boost productivity, engagement, and service. Here’s proof.

No matter how large their organization, leaders can boost connection and cooperation by intentionally building community. Whether its BBQ’s or other activities together, such events help people know each other beyond their work roles. Those bonds can help accelerate cooperative interaction, innovative solutions, and meaningful contributions together.

What do you have to lose?

How did your best bosses create common goals and shared values? In what ways does your current team connect beyond work roles – and how does it help work get done? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © Monkey Business – 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.”

An Aligned Culture Creates Amazing Memories

1980 - Edmonds Family at Lost Valley Ranch

1980 – Edmonds Family at Lost Valley Ranch

What is your dream vacation? Is it world travel, exploring countries, people, and places you’ve only read about? Is it visiting our vibrant metropolitan cities, seeing great performances in great venues?

My “vacation” mindset comes from my non-profit executive career. I spent fifteen years taking kids to residence camps and travel camps. We traveled in school buses, vans, and – in the old days – cattle trucks.

Some of those kids had never been out of their own cities. We created teams to set up campsites, cook, serve, and clean up after each other. Many had never worked on an effective team before.

We challenged every camper to serve their families, friends, and neighbors in the years to come.

We awoke in some of the most beautiful places in the country – national parks, pristine beaches, rustic plains. We were coaching character while learning about our nation. It was gratifying work. For these kids and even for our adult volunteers, our trips were fabulous vacations.

I thought I knew a lot about creating inspiring experiences, but nothing prepared me for our family vacation in 1980 at the Lost Valley Ranch in Deckers, CO.

My dad called my brother and me to propose a family reunion at this dude ranch. Some of his business colleagues had raved about Lost Valley, so dad thought it’d be a great experience for everyone. The trip was mom and dad’s gift to us – and it’s a gift that continues today.

From the moment we arrived on the ranch property, everything the staff team did was focused on creating a relaxing and fulfilling experience for every guest. There were organized activities as well as a multitude of selections to suit one’s unique needs.

First, you went to the corral. The wranglers interviewed you about your horse sense and riding experience, and paired you with a suitable equine companion. Adults could choose from a variety of rides each day, some less strenuous, some more adventurous, guided by gracious and skilled wranglers.

Teens loved their full program of riding and even some “working ranch” activities, like moving the cattle from one grazing range to another. Younger children enjoyed activities that kept them engaged and entertained through the day.

Meals were delicious and served family style. Families typically ate breakfast and dinner together while lunches were served on the trail with your ride groups.

Evening programs featured the staff presenting a classic melodrama show or sing-alongs by the campfire. Staff members juggled multiple responsibilities – wranglers served time as cooks, wait staff sang and played each night as well as helped with trail rides during the day. Maintenance crew served as pool lifeguards.

There was nothing out of place, from the western cabins to the organized corral to the schedule of activities one could pick from. Every staff member was pleasant and focused on your needs. No question went unanswered. Every interaction validated your unique needs and opportunities.

It was an amazing time. The Lost Valley culture created a seamless vacation experience for us and our fellow guests. Mom and Dad brought us back two more times, in ’82 and ’84. It caused my family to fall in love with Colorado. Daughter Karin (on the right at sixteen years of age in the photo above) chose to go to college in Colorado. She married a local. Son Andy moved to Colorado a few years later and married a local.

We still talk about the great times we had at Lost Valley. Today, our home in Conifer, CO, is only 24 miles from the ranch.

Your team’s interactions with customers leave lasting impressions, as well. Are they as powerfully positive as those we experienced at Lost Valley – or not so much? How might you build an aligned team that consistently WOW’s your customers?

Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © S. Chris Edmonds Photography. 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.”

Demand Ethical Behavior

crowded football stadiumThis week the world of football (soccer in the US) was shocked by the US Department of Justice indictment of 14 defendants for alleged FIFA kickbacks of more than $150 million over the past twenty years.

What was more shocking to me was the response of the FIFA president, up for re-election within hours, who said, “We cannot constantly supervise everyone in football . . . you cannot ask everyone to behave ethically.”

What an amazing admission by Sepp Blatter (who won re-election, despite the “distraction” of the arrests). Blatter believes he is not responsible – nor is any leader – if someone in their employ breaks the law (or bribes officials or launders money, etc.).

This is not just a FIFA leadership problem. Many company, region, department, and team leaders around the globe believe the same thing: “Leaders cannot ask their people to behave ethically. I am not responsible for whether my leaders or team members behave in an ethical manner.”

These issues are prevalent across the globe. For example, the CFO of the Phoenix VA hospital testified last June that the hospital environment was toxic, the “most dysfunctional place I’ve ever worked in my life.” She reported she was subject to sexual harassment, racial slurs, and bogus investigations during her two years there.

Phoenix VA administrators didn’t just focus on harassment of the CFO. They were apparently preoccupied with accusing and investigating one another for years – all while veterans awaited care in a system of backlogged appointments and fabricated wait-time reporting.

Here’s another example. In Denver, a former sheriff’s department investigator reported that he was told by his captain to avoid logging into evidence a videotape of inmate mistreatment that occurred last month. If the tape wasn’t logged into the evidence system, the incident would not be investigated further. The department has suffered systemic problems including poor training of officers and mistreatment of inmates for years.

The reality is that leaders are, indeed, responsible for the creation of productive workplaces that treat everyone with trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction.

Where leaders create clear performance expectations and hold people accountable for those, results and profits steadily grow. Where leaders create clear values expectations – like integrity, honesty, cooperative interaction, etc. – and hold people accountable for those, employee engagement and customer service steadily grow.

Where leaders do not create clear expectations of performance and of citizenship, a void is created. In the absence of leadership, we humans will fail. We are flawed beings. We make mistakes. We are tempted to take advantage of systems and circumstances. Most of us resist those temptations; some don’t.

Leaders can absolutely ask – yes, even demand – that everyone behave ethically. By formalizing performance standards and values expectations, the ground rules are clearly set. The hard work comes after these expectations are formalized. Leaders must then model the performance and values in every interaction, showing they are champions of their desired culture. And, they must hold others accountable for both performance and values.

They do that by gathering performance data, feeding it back, and coaching players to success. They do that by gathering values data – inviting feedback from peers, employees, and customers to assess the degree to which players are modeling desired values and behaviors – and feeding it back, and coaching players to desired citizenship.

It’s not easy, but it is the right thing to do.

What do you think? Is ethical behavior demanded in your organization? How did your great bosses demand integrity and honesty? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © Csaba Peterdi – 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.”

Service Above and Beyond

SCE_0300aHere in the US we’re celebrating Memorial Day today. The holiday originated in 1868, after the Civil War, where an event called “Decoration Day” encouraged citizens to decorate the graves of those who died in that war.

It wasn’t until after World War I that the holiday expanded to honor those who died in all American wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday.

My dad served in the US Navy in World War II. Like many other members of the “greatest generation,” Dad didn’t speak of his wartime experiences with us. When we posed questions, he didn’t answer directly. He said he was proud to serve, that he was well behind the front lines, and that others had it far worse than he did.

Dad was proud that his service would enable he and my mother to be laid to rest at Riverside National Cemetery. When Dad passed away in April 2011, I arranged for Dad’s funeral service and burial there. The photo above is of two US Navy officers folding the American flag that was featured in Dad’s service that day.

Dad’s funeral service was a wonderful celebration of his life and his military service. We were lucky in that Dad survived his service days. Many families suffered the ultimate loss when their loved ones were killed in war zones.

Very few Americans have served in the military. One recent estimate is that 7.3 percent of living Americans have served in the military at some point in their lives. All Americans are grateful for their service.

The total number of Americans who have died in American wars is approximately 1,264,223 as of this date. The greatest majority were over 618,000 Civil War deaths and over 405,000 World War II deaths.

This holiday, we pause to celebrate their service, their courage, and their sacrifices.

The impact of combat on those who serve is significant – mentally, physically, and spiritually. The film American Sniper, the story of US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, is praised as an accurate depiction of the horrors of modern urban warfare.

It is a powerful film, showing the demands on service members in the midst of a seemingly unending war, on them as parents, on them as teammates, on them as trained professionals. What they experience in combat, in moment-to-moment live fire conditions, leaves a deep impression on their bodies, minds, and spirits.

Exceptional medical care in the field today enables wounded service members to return home, when in past wars their wounds would have caused their deaths. They return and attempt to put their lives back together among civilians who have never seen what they have seen.

I believe all service members deserve our gratitude for their willingness to put their lives on the line, every day, to serve their country. And, on this day, we remember and thank those who gave their lives in such service.

What is your experience? How can we civilians show our genuine appreciation to active and former service members appropriately? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © S. Chris Edmonds Photography. 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.”

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.

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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