Corporate culture geek S. Chris Edmonds helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work environments with an organizational constitution.
Culture Leadership Charge, Episode 107, December 2022: Build a Culture of Respect
3:45Most business leaders see their job as managing results. Results are important, but they’re only half the leaders’ job. The other half? Managing respect. Our experience and research lead us to this core truth of business leadership: Employes of all generations desire and deserve a work culture where they are respected and validated for their aligned ideas, efforts, and contributions, every day. When employees experience respect and validation, they bring their best. They proactively solve problems, work cooperatively, and wow customers. They feel a part of something positive and powerful - and they love working for you. So, they stay. When employees are discounted, dismissed, and demeaned, they disengage. They invest little. They spot problems but don’t fix them. They do the minimum - and look for ways out of the organization. Many quit and leave. Some quit and stay. Respected employees build your business. Disrespected employees have no compelling reason to do that - so they don’t. How can you build a culture of respect in the coming months? Define exactly what you mean by respect - then model it, celebrate it, measure it, and hold everyone accountable for it. A definition alone isn’t enough. You must formalize tangible, observable, and measurable behaviors that specify how you want people in your organization to demonstrate respect. Valued behaviors are “I” statements that describe how you want people to treat each other - in every interaction, every day. Here’s how one client formalized the valued behaviors that embody respect. 1. I communicate directly with the people involved at every opportunity. 2. I seek and genuinely listen to others’ opinions. 3. I come prepared and actively participate in every interaction. 4. I validate each person’s talents and contributions within the organization. When you read these valued behaviors, there is no question about how staff must interact to effectively model respect. Nothing is left to individual interpretation. There is no confusion about what “respect” means - it’s defined in behavioral terms. To build credibility and confidence, leaders must be role models of these behaviors. By demonstrating these behaviors, validating the demonstration of these behaviors by others, measuring these behaviors, and mentoring those who struggle to embrace these respectful behaviors, leaders Learn more about our proven approach and how to measure values alignment in our Amazon bestselling book, Good Comes FIrst at https://goodcomesfirst.com.
Culture Leadership Charge, Episode 106 - October 2022
3:26We’re not yet over the “Great Resignation.” The latest job report indicates that another 4.2 million US workers voluntarily quit in August 2022. LinkedIn’s 2022 Workforce Confidence Index found that nearly 25 percent of Gen-Z respondents and Millennials plan to change jobs in the next six months. This study found that Gen-Zs and Millennials deliberately seek careers that offer: Better alignment with their interests and values Opportunities to learn and practice new skills Better compensation and benefits A new industry or job function Opportunities to move up or increase responsibilities If your business doesn’t address these needs, you’ll lose talented people and have a tough time attracting younger generations. Here are three things business leaders must do to create a great place to work for Millennials and Gen-Z’s. Pay equity. Close gender and racial pay gaps. Pay at the top of the range. How will people know where they are in the ranges? Be fully transparent with ranges and with your compensation strategy. Some states now require compensation transparency, including Colorado (here’s one county’s example. This will cost your business money. You may have to raise prices or focus on products and services that are most profitable – and which can help cover extra costs. Ask staff for their ideas on reducing expenses. Career dynamics. Create job flexibility. Allow people (who want to) to change departments or divisions where they can learn new skills, work with experts in a different part of the business, and embrace new responsibilities. By creating career opportunities within your organization, Millennials and Gen-Z’s won’t have to leave your company to satisfy these development needs and desires. Love your people. Thanks to Tamara McCleary for this key strategy! Too many bosses over the past four decades don’t like their people much less love them. In today’s marketplace, if you don’t love your people, get out of leadership. You won’t be able to implement the changes noted above if you don’t demonstrate authentic care for those you work with.
Culture Leadership Charge - BBCtv Interview - September 2022
4:14A month ago, the term “quiet quitting” hadn’t made much of a mark. A social media post on the concept went viral – and now everyone is talking about it. I was delighted to join BBC News’ The Context broadcast and speak to host Nuala McGovern about quiet quitting – and how business leaders can address it. This podcast includes the audio from the live broadcast on August 25, 2022. What is quiet quitting? It means employees are no longer going “above and beyond” – they’re doing exactly what their job description says they should do. They’re not taking on extra work; they’re doing what they’re paid to do. The pandemic – across the globe – has put tremendous stress upon employees, no matter the industry. People have been asked to do way above normal because of staffing shortages, people quitting, etc. Employees are emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted. We used to talk in the HR industry about people “quit and leave” and people who “quit and stay.” Quiet quitting isn’t the same as “quit and stay.” It is team members literally doing only what you paid them for. Nuala McGovern asked if quiet quitting is just a new term for an age-old problem within the workplace of having perhaps a non-motivated workforce. What’s different today is the impact of a crappy culture – and the choices available to employees in this market. Most business leaders don’t pay attention to the quality of their work culture, but employees really do. And so here in the US, we’ve had 60 million Americans voluntarily their jobs since January 2021. It’s particularly different now because people aren’t going back to work for companies or leaders they don’t respect. They’re not going back to work for companies where they were mistreated. For people who have not resigned – yet – quiet quitting gives them space and time to reflect. They’re doing the bare minimum because they don’t think they’re being treated fairly. They aren’t being respected or validated daily. Nuala asked how bosses and companies can turn that around. Business leaders have no choice. They must pay attention to the quality of their work culture. And again, most leaders have never been asked to do that. They’ve never been taught how to do if they find their work culture is lacking. The single best way to retain and attract talented, engaged team members is for business leaders to shift from a work culture where results are the only important thing to a work culture where respect is important as results. When employees feel respected, they bring their best thinking. They solve problems proactively. They go beyond the minimum because they love the company. They feel respected by their bosses and their colleagues in every interaction. Employers and bosses must take a hard look at the degree to which their people are treated civilly every day, and at the degree to which employees are respected every day for their ideas, efforts, and contributions. The reality is that many, many more organizations demean and discount employees rather than validate and respect employees. Thank you for listening! Learn more at DrivingResultsThroughCulture.com.
Culture Leadership Charge, Episode 105, July 2022 - How does your culture rate?
3:56Companies around the globe are short-staffed. Leaders have tried to boost hiring through higher wages and even bonuses, but staffing shortages continue. The problem? Many business leaders want to return to the “old normal” but employees and candidates don’t want “old normal.” A new Deloitte study found the top four things Gen-Y and Gen-Z workers want include work/life balance, development opportunities, higher salaries, and a positive culture. Money isn’t their primary driver. What must leaders do? They must build and sustain a work culture where employees of all generations are respected and validated for their ideas, efforts, and accomplishments. Let’s examine a shining beacon. Radio Flyer is a 100+ year old company famous for their original red wagons. For the last decade, they’ve been rated as one of the best companies to work for by Glassdoor, Crain’s, The Inc. 5000 list, and many others. Glassdoor tracks employee ratings in seven critical categories. Radio Flyer’s scores average a 4.9 on a 5-point scale. How did Radio Flyer’s senior leaders create their uncompromising culture? Mark Babbitt and I interviewed Chief Wagon Officer Robert Pasin for our 2021 book, Good Comes First. Their efforts followed our culture model. First, they defined their desired culture - with input from all staff. “We did a very intentional culture transformation where we started to articulate our vision, mission, and values,” Pasin explained. “We plastered the cafeteria walls with huge posters,” letting every employee participate by writing their thoughts. “This is when the behaviors we want were articulated,” Pasin said. Second, they aligned all plans, decisions, and actions to their desired culture. Robert said, “You get better at what you measure and become what you celebrate as a team. We started to develop a lot of awards and recognition for people who demonstrated our values.” Third, as the company articulated and celebrated its values and behaviors, Pasin said, “We had to have zero tolerance for bad behavior.” When people behaved in disrespectful ways, they were coached and mentored. If they aligned to desired behaviors, they stayed. If they did not align, they were lovingly set free. Pasin says, “People are so grateful to not have the distractions, the politics, etc., here because we have no tolerance for drama.” That’s what it takes to sustain an uncompromising work culture. It requires months of steady modeling, measuring, and mentoring of everyone - by every formal leader. This episode was published on https://DrivingResultsThroughCulture.com on July 10, 2022.
Culture Leadership Charge, Episode 104 - "No one talks about Bruno."
4:20About that title? We’ll get to Bruno in a minute. The foundational principle of our book, Good Comes First, is that today’s leaders must make RESPECT as important as RESULTS, every day. My colleague and co-author, Mark Babbitt, and I were keynoting a conference. In our presentation, we share this fundamental model - the Performance-Values Matrix. Once you formalize performance expectations AND values expectations, players categorize themselves into one of four quadrants. The upper right is where you want all players to operate. You want them to exceed performance expectations while demonstrating your positive values. You must recognize and retain folks in that quadrant. The bottom left is not a good place for people to operate. They’re missing performance standards and don’t model your values. You must give them a chance to align to both. If they do, great. If they don’t, they can’t stay in your organization. You must lovingly set them free. The bottom right is a slightly better place for people to be. These folks are role models of your positive values - but they’re unable to consistently deliver required results. You must guide them to contribution - through training, coaching, or even finding a role where their skills match needed results. If they boost contribution, great. If they don’t, they can’t stay in your organization. You must lovingly set them free. The upper left brings interesting challenges. Folks in this quadrant deliver the results you want - but they do so while treating others disrespectfully. This brings us back to Bruno. In our keynote, we asked learning partners to discuss the impact of players operating in any quadrant except the upper right. A few minutes into the pairs’ conversations, a loud voice said, “Nobody talks about Bruno.” We asked what this woman meant. She described a top salesperson in their company who always beats sales targets - and always bullies those around him. For years staff have complained about Bruno’s treatment of others - sexist and racist comments, yelling if he doesn’t get his way, etc. Yet, senior leaders don’t do anything. They don’t want to lose the profits this guy generates. So, nobody talks to Bruno - and nobody talks about Bruno. An uncompromising work culture is built and sustained by positive behaviors modeled and rewarded. An uncompromising culture is destroyed by the demeaning, discounting, and dismissive behaviors tolerated - of anyone, by anyone. For players who operate in the upper left quadrant, you must mentor them to alignment, to deliver needed results while treating others respectfully. If they do, great. If not, you must lovingly set them free. Only then will you sustain a purposeful, positive, productive work culture, every day. This is episode was originally published on https://DrivingResultsThroughCulture.com on June 12, 2022.
Culture Leadership Charge - Episode 103: Find Your Culture "Sweet Spot"
4:04Most of you know me as a speaker, writer, and consultant. Some of you know that I’m a working musician on the side. I grew up in California in the ’50’s and ’60’s. I watched great artists playing cool guitars - and I fell in love with stringed instruments. I’ve been collecting them since college. To stay healthy, stringed instruments need one thing every minute of every day: proper humidity. These instruments are made of wood - wood that reacts to the environment they’re in. Acoustic instruments have a sweet spot: they are healthiest when they exist in an environment with 45-55% humidity. If the air is too dry? The wood will shrink, split and crack. String tension will likely cause a significant break. If the air is too wet? The glue holding the instrument together will fail - and the string tension will cause an impressive implosion! In the California coastal towns where we lived for 30 years, the humidity was perfect for those instruments. In the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, that’s not the case. It’s dry here - consistently in the 20% range. To boost humidity, we use three humidifiers. They keep the humidity at 40—45%. We refill them with water 2-3 times a day. My Taylor guitars have a cool sensor that sends their current humidity to a smartphone app. That app pings me if the humidity gets too low or too high. Just like guitars, the employees of your organization operate most effectively when their environment - the work culture they live in - provides what they need to thrive: respect and validation for their ideas, efforts, and contributions, every day. Respect and validation require a leader to notice and then communicate appreciation for team members’ ideas, efforts, and contributions. Here’s the secret: employees have a sweet spot, too. The most positive impact of respect and validation occurs when the leader enables employees’ inclusion, involvement, and influence. Team members bring their best when they are respected and validated in ways that seamlessly include them . . . that involve them in options and decisions . . . and that gives them legitimate influence in their work and workplace. Anything less erodes engagement, service, and results, every time.
Culture Leadership Charge - Define & Align to Servant Purpose
3:45In our new book, Good Comes First, co-author Mark Babbitt and I propose four culture cornerstones that are the foundation of an uncompromising work culture. These cornerstones help align people and practices to your ideal work culture. Our first cornerstone, “Live Our Servant Purpose,” enables leaders, employees, contractors, and even customers to see that your company serves a purpose other than just making money. What is a “servant purpose”? A servant purpose describes how or what your company does and how it improves the quality of life for employees, customers, and the communities served. Essentially, your servant purpose is your company’s present-day reason for being—other than making a profit. That higher purpose shifts your organization’s primary focus from making money (or making red wagons, circuit boards, or sandwiches—none of which are innately inspiring to employees) to serving others: generating tangible benefit to your customers and your communities. When a leader lives her servant purpose, she doesn’t just serve that servant purpose—she also acts daily in service to her people. In a Good Comes First company, a leader must ensure she is not the only leader in the organization modeling its servant purpose. Unfortunately, too many employees experience a crappy boss who is more concerned about compliance and conformity than creative work—a boss who doesn’t care about their people (respect), only about their bottom line (results). In today’s world of work, this is a significant reason far too many of our workplaces suck (and why many of those 48 million US workers voluntarily left their crappy jobs—and crappy bosses and crappy colleagues—in 2021). Good Comes First companies employ and promote the leaders who are fully capable of embracing the servant purpose—and their people. Moreover, those servant-first leaders genuinely care about personal and professional growth and see each employee, contractor, vendor, and partner as an integral part of that growth. Just as important, these leaders treat any sign of inequality and bias as the cancer they represent in any workplace. And they insist their fellow leaders do the same. Soon, the entire leadership team is focused on not just results but on making people’s lives better. That, in turn, inspires your team members to model the servant purpose, as well. This episode was first published in video format on DrivingResultsThroughCulture.com on April 12, 2022. All rights reserved.
Culture Leadership Charge - Preconceived Notions May Steer You Wrong
3:34Business leaders today have a lot on their minds – and on their plates. They juggle hiring challenges. Mask mandates. Retaining talented players. Vaccine guidelines. Supply chain issues. Generating revenue. All these tasks are demanding, requiring attention and intention every minute. Yes, these are important considerations in today’s business environment. However, they are not the ONLY important considerations. Leaders may have a preconceived notion about these considerations: “This is my sole job: managing results.” When leaders are immersed in tasks like these, they may ignore reports that things aren’t going well in their work culture. If leaders learn about bosses behaving badly, most don’t want to deal with it. Another preconceived notion takes over: a perception that “managing results is more important” or “it can’t be that bad” or “HR will handle it.” Such preconceived notions are deeply flawed. The reality is that there is NOTHING more important for leaders to pay attention to than disrespect in their workplace. Here are two recent examples where preconceived notions may have contributed to bad boss behavior was enabled. Eric Lander, the top White House scientist, resigned on February 14 after a months-long investigation found he regularly bullied subordinates – particularly women and people of color. It’s good that Lander resigned. What is not good is how long it took to address his toxic behavior. Complaints were filed last year – yet Lander’s was not challenged to treat people respectfully. It is likely a preconceived notion that “Eric is rough around the edges” allowed him to stay in his role. California State University chancellor Joseph Castro resigned on February 17 after an investigation found he mishandled years of sexual harassment, bullying, and retaliation complaints against a senior administrator while Castro was president of CSU Fresno. Castro hired this administrator. A preconceived notion that “Frank means no harm” would explain Castro’s lack of interest in addressing the problem. Don’t let preconceived notions dissuade you from engaging willingly in workplace issues that arise. Results are certainly important – and they’re exactly HALF the leader’s job. The other half? Ensuring everyone is treated with respect, every day. This is episode 101 of my Culture Leadership Charge video series. In these concise videos, I share proven practices for building and sustaining a purposeful, positive, productive culture – where good comes first. You’ll find my Culture Leadership Charge and Good Comes First episodes and more on my YouTube, iTunes, and Amazon Podcast channels. If you like what you learn, please subscribe. Have you responded to this month’s culture leadership poll? Add your ratings to two questions. It’ll take less than a minute. Once you vote, click “results” to see the responses from around the globe.
Culture Leadership Charge - Learning from a Chiropractor
3:34I’m old. Over the years, back and neck pain caused me to hold my neck & shoulders & back very tightly – so moving wouldn’t hurt. Those tight muscles learned to be inflexible and immovable – so I wouldn’t hurt. Muscles are incredibly powerful. If they learn to be inflexible and immovable, they act like bones – firm and solid. That firmness causes muscles to adhere to other muscles (for greater inflexibility) which compresses nerves. The result was a pinched nerve in my neck. Two surgeries in the last two years helped reduce the pain but my hands still didn’t work right. My neurosurgeon said to find a good chiropractor. I found Dr. Eric. He’s been working on getting my neck and shoulder and back muscles to let go. He’s working to release those adhesions for greater strength and flexibility. His efforts have made my hands work better! The thing is – he couldn’t fix my muscles in one visit. It’s taken 27 weekly visits so far – and we’re not done yet. So, Dr. Eric makes changes a little at a time. He’s releasing muscles and retraining muscles. Slowly, the muscles learn to trust the “new normal,” working together rather than binding together. Changing the nature of a work culture requires the same approach. Just as muscles can become inflexible, organizations can become inflexible. Systems that made sense in the ’70s may not serve well today. Policies and procedures drafted decades ago may not enable the nimbleness needed to wow your customers now. Leadership beliefs that are embedded in the autocratic, command-and-control Industrial Age do not inspire employees of any generation. Many of our organizations – and our leaders – are stuck . . . immovable and inflexible. Just like Dr. Eric, leaders must work steadily and slowly to break down lousy structures and practices and build up respectful and validating practices. Some leaders might start with modifying policies and practices that pit people against each other. Others might begin mentoring leaders who rely on bullying to “inspire” results. Don’t wait. Begin the subtle refinements that will build clarity, commitment, and cohesion across your organization to sustain a work culture where respect is as important as results. This is episode one hundred of my Culture Leadership Charge series. In them, I share proven practices for building and sustaining a purposeful, positive, productive culture – where good comes first. You’ll find my Culture Leadership Charge and Good Comes First episodes and more on DrivingResultsThroughCulture.com and on my YouTube, iTunes, and Amazon Podcast channels. If you like what you learn, please subscribe. Have you responded to this month’s culture leadership poll? Add your ratings to two questions. It’ll take less than a minute. Once you vote, click “results” to see the responses from around the globe.
Culture Leadership Charge - Leaders, Here's Your 2022 Call to Action
3:23I’m reflecting on an anniversary this month. Twenty-eight years ago this month I had a heart attack. It was not how I planned to spend the day. Thanks to exceptional health professionals, dedicated family, and the grace of God, I survived. Like many others who have experienced a significant health issue, my heart attack caused me to reflect on my life. I knew my job at the time was not a great fit for me. I was not using my talents to proactively serve others. So, I left that role and started on the culture educator and consultant path. I am grateful to help leaders build and sustain workplaces where everyone is respected and validated for their ideas, efforts, and contributions every day. I pray you never have a myocardial infarction. Maybe my story can inspire reflection and action in the coming months. The world is going through a “heart attack” today. The pandemic has caused employees to reflect – and many have come to the conclusion that their workplaces are not healthy. So, they resign. Since April, more than 24 million US workers have voluntarily quit their jobs. Of those employees who have remained at work, a new global McKinsey study found that 40% of employees are likely to quit in the next three to six months. These numbers tell a sorrowful tale: our workplaces suck. Why? Because leaders don’t make respect as important as results. When leaders tolerate bad behavior — bullying, harassment, and worse — that’s what they’ll get across their work culture. If they define good behavior — respect, validation, and more — and hold everyone accountable for that good behavior, that’s what they’ll get across their work culture. The reality is leaders build a healthy work culture upon the constructive behaviors rewarded. They destroy a healthy work culture based on the deconstructive behaviors tolerated. Don’t wait. Don’t let your organization be another statistic in the tsunami of resignations in 2022. There is a proven pathway to creating an uncompromising work culture where respect drives results. Learn more at GoodComesFirst.com. This is episode ninety-nine of my Culture Leadership Charge series. In these concise recordings, I share the best practices for creating and sustaining a purposeful, positive, productive culture – where good comes first. You’ll find my Culture Leadership Charge and Good Comes First episodes and more on my YouTube, iTunes, and Amazon Podcast channels. If you like what you learn, please subscribe. Have you responded to this month’s culture leadership poll? Add your ratings to two questions. It’ll take less than a minute. Once you vote, click “results” to see the responses from around the globe.