Creating Culture Confidence by Jim Johnson

In this final post on Culture Confidence, I want to share some practical things you can do to help build your company’s culture and by merely doing these, you will gain more confidence in becoming a team member who PROMOTES, PRACTICES, and PROTECTS your culture.

Just do it.  Intentionally, sincerely PROMOTE, PRACTICE, and PROTECT your company’s culture.  I know this sounds obvious, but we are all prone to getting in and remaining in a rut at work (and in life).  Watch and listen to your work environment and find ways to positively impact others.  Such as…

spotlight

 

Spotlight coworkers.  If your company periodically recognizes outstanding work coming from the team, do you part by nominating someone for this recognition. Even if the other person never knows you nominated them, do it!

 

High 5.  At my company, we have developed a way to send digital “High 5’s” to coworkers when we “catch them” doing great things.  This High 5 – one of our superstars created this process in Hyland’s OnBase – is a simple form filled out and then sent to the identified team member and sent to their supervisor.  The supervisor can then save this to our company’s performance software for review considerations.

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Thank You Notes.  Yes, actually sit down and in your own hand writing jot down your appreciation of someone and send it to them.  Or walk it to their desk and give it to them.  People LOVE to receive these.  Be thoughtful and specific.

 

“I appreciate you.”  This one may be a little bit harder for some of us, but actually tell someone you appreciate them – out loud.  Or at least write it down and send your thoughts to them in a note, email, instant message (not my favorite because it typically cannot be saved).  These are powerful words that can turn someone’s day around, lift their spirits, and build better relationships.

Assume the Best.  Too often, culture suffers because we assume the worst.  Turn it around.  Assume in best in what you are hearing or seeing.  If an email comes off fuzzy in its meaning, get up and go talk with the sender to get the clear meaning.  Assume the best.  And expect the best – from yourself and your team members.

 

questionsAsk Questions.  Asking great questions will help you get to the heart of an issue.  Asking great questions helps you learn more about a person’s role in a project.  Asking great questions helps you understand the other person’s point of view.  Ask great questions and listen carefully.

 

coffeeLunch/Coffee.  Ask a colleague out to lunch/coffee with no agenda other than to get to know them better.  How do you do that?  Ask great questions about them.  It may shock your colleague, but this earns great relationship dividends.

 

Self-Talk.  Be careful of what you say when you talk to yourself.  We so easily talk ourselves out of becoming more confident.  We talk ourselves down when considering our performance.  Your company hired YOU.  Step up and shine!  Reprogramming your self-talk will surely help you to become more confident in your work, your behaviors, your thinking, and your significance.  You are worth it.

We spend so much of our lives at work.  Let’s make that work meaningful by creating great company cultures.

You will benefit from this.  Your team will benefit.  Your company will grow.  Your community will be positively impacted.  Your customers will notice.

Culture Confidence.  We can do this.

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Protecting Your Company’s Culture – whose job is it? by Jim Johnson

In my last post, I introduced how team members can have confidence in building their company’s culture.  I shared about those critical moments when an employee has to make decisions about how to respond to counter-cultural situations.  The best course of action, in my opinion, is to do these 3 things as a matter of habit:

  • PROMOTE – This is where we actively, intentionally promote the very best of our company.
  • PRACTICE – The best way to promote a company’s culture is to practice it.
  • PROTECT

By protecting the culture I mean intentionally standing up for it.  Let me give an example.

You are in the company’s lunch room.  You hear one employee gossiping (assume negatively) about someone who is not present.  Others are around listening and sometimes joining in. Others are doing and saying nothing.

At that moment, what can you do to PROTECT your company’s culture.  You know what you are observing is NOT going build a healthy culture.  You know what you are hearing is hurtful and not helpful.  So what can YOU do?

protect

In my opinion, you have the right – and responsibility – to approach the gossiper.  Wait…what?!?!  Yes, YOU  have this right.  But take the right approach:

 

  • Approach the gossiper in private.  Don’t create even more negative drama by calling them out in front of a group.  That rarely, if ever, works.  Yes, what that person is doing is wrong, but professionally meet with them in private.  This will truly help “save face” to the one in the wrong.
  • Explain what you heard.  Tell them that the company’s culture is too valuable to make room for hurtful talk about each other.  Tell this person you believe they are better than they portrayed themselves to the group in the lunch room.  Maybe even ask them, “How do you think people perceived you when you talked about that other person in the way you did?  Do you think any of them may believe you’d do the same thing about them?  I want you to be better than this.  I hope you would want the same thing for me and others here.”  Help this person understand you care not only for the person being maligned but that you care for the gossiper, too.  Face it, most of us become blind to certain behaviors and attitudes.  But approach this person with the intent to help them become better.  
  • Tell them that you are not their supervisor, but as an employee of this company, you care about things that move the company forward.  And you care about things that hold the company back.  And you care about the people that work here.

Please note:  this is NOT simple to do.  Too often things get in the way of us making the right choice to protect our culture:

  • Easy. It’s just as easy to not act as it is to act. Just like losing weight or exercising or reading or being intentional in a relationship….easy to do and not easy to do.
  • Fear. We fear taking a stand.  I’ll admit it, it is scary!
  • Deflection. “It’s not my job. I’m not a manager, VP, CEO…”
    • Since when is protecting our culture the sole responsibility of a supervisor?
    • If you saw someone trying to kidnap a child at the mall, you would step in, right? Or would you tell yourself, “hey, it’s not my kid…”?
  • Self-worth. Too many times, we don’t take a stand because of what we say to ourselves.
    • “I’m just a low-level employee.  I have no authority.”
    • “People will make fun or treat me badly.  I don’t want to risk that.”
    • “I’ve only been with the company for 18 months. I don’t know enough to speak up.”
    • Who am I to speak up?  What do I know? I should shut up.”

But your company’s culture is worth protecting and nurturing!  Every time to PROMOTE, PRACTICE,  and PROTECT your culture, you help build momentum.

And when momentum builds, it becomes the norm.

You help raise the standard.

You don’t settle.

You refuse to live to the lowest common denominator.

The culture becomes more alive.

You/We become the culture.

 

Next, I’ll share some practical ways to PROMOTE and PRACTICE the culture.

 

Why Your Company Needs Culture Confidence by Jim Johnson

Culture Confidence main screen

This past week, I had the privilege of presenting to a group of team members a topic that was inspired by one of my own department’s team members.  Stephanie and I had been talking about how to develop more confidence at a lunch we had weeks ago.  She asked me if I could address how to have more confidence in the process of building our company’s culture.  And that got me thinking…so, put together a presentation that I will be sharing here in a couple of posts.

I have been fascinated by confidence – who has it, how do I get more of it, how to temper it, why it is so important to have it in life, etc.

When thinking about a company’s culture, much of what I have read centers around the organization’s leadership and/or C-suite executives.  But I believe a company’s culture can be built and developed by all team members regardless of their position in the company.

You see, there are moments, many moments, that occur where a member of senior leadership are no where to be found.  If culture is left primarily to senior management, so many opportunities to build culture will be lost.  That is why I want ALL of our team members to own culture-building.

In practical terms, we have all experienced times when we heard/see one team member gossiping about another team member who is not present – they are being talked about behind their back.  And more times than not, the comments are not positive.

In THAT moment of observation, what can ANY employee do to turn that situation into a culture-building experience?

From my perspective, culture-building isn’t a mantra that we hear from leadership or see printed and framed on walls.  That’s the easy part.  Culture-building can be hard, messy, uncomfortable, risky – and it is WORTH IT!

So in the moment when we have to decide how we can build culture during a negative situation, we have 3 choices:

  1. Do Nothing.  Building culture is easy to do.  It is also easy NOT to do.  And for many people, doing nothing is the easy thing.  Say nothing.  Just walk away.  But this does not build a positive culture.
  2. Join In.  A lot of us, unfortunately, join in on the negative conversation.  We “gang up” on the person who is the subject of the gossip.  Group gripe takes over.  Is this a good thing to bolster your career path?  Will the company become stronger with this sort of interaction?  NO!  There is a better way.
  3. Promote, Practice. Protect.  I believe that every team member has the right and responsibility to do these 3 things.
    • Promote.  This is where we actively, intentionally promote the very best of our company. At our company, we have a way to give each other a digital “High 5” where we catch someone doing the right thing and then promote culture by sending them a High 5 which goes to that person directly as well as their supervisor.  Promoting the culture also means getting involved in the community as a representative of the company.  We offer many opportunities to serve in our communities and encourage volunteerism.
    • Practice.  The best way to promote a company’s culture is to practice it.  Be a cheerleader for a project you’re involved in.  Get results.  Encourage others.  Tell a team member that you appreciate them.  Send a team member a thank you note on work they’ve been doing.  Practicing a company’s culture helps build momentum towards the healthy and the positive.
    • Protect.  This is hard.  I can’t candy-coat it.  But this part of culture-building is vitally important and anyone in any position can practice this.

I’ll share more about how to protect your company’s culture in the next post.

Bottom line:  your company is worth doing the 3 P’s.  Your fellow team members are worth it.  Your customers are worth it.

 

 

People Follow Leaders with Vision by Susan M. Heathfield

​”When leaders share out a powerful vision and organize and staff the workplace to accomplish it, a powerful dynamic drives employee performance. When leaders walk their talk, it’s a demonstrated motivator for people. When leaders  share a strong vision, employees flock to it – even choosing the job in the company over other options.

These are the fundamentals necessary for a vision that excites and motivates people to follow the leader. The vision must:

  1. Clearly set organizational direction and purpose;
  2. Inspire loyalty and caring through the involvement of all employees;
  3. Display and reflect the unique strengths, culture, values, beliefs and direction of the organization;
  4. Inspire enthusiasm, belief, commitment and excitement in company members;
  5. Help employees believe that they are part of something bigger than themselves and their daily work;
  6. Be regularly communicated and shared, not just through monthly announcements and reminders at the company meeting, it must permeate all communication at every level of the organization;
  7. Serve as the reason courses of action are chosen, people are hired, markets are selected, and products are developed; 
  8. Challenge people to outdo themselves, to stretch and reach.”


Read the entire article here:  https://www.thebalance.com/leadership-vision-1918616


The Appreciation Circle by Jim Johnson

Yesterday in my team’s leadership meeting, I had them experience the Appreciation Circle.  We followed these simple instructions:

1. Have the team sit in a circle so you can each see each other face-to-face.
2. The leader starts by choosing 1 person and saying something specific about why they appreciate them. 
a. “I appreciate Bobby because…”
3. Then the person that was appreciated picks someone else and does the same thing.
4. No one can be appreciated twice during this exercise.
5. The leader will be appreciated last.

There were only 5 of us in the conference room so this didn’t take long. I paid close attention to the body language of my leaders as we went through this exercise.
I saw and heard:

• Lots of smiles
• Laughter
• Eye contact
• Heads nodding in agreement with other’s comments
• Sincerity in their voices

After we finished, I shared with them my past experiences in conducting an Appreciation Circle and how it, in many instances, changed the dynamic of my team. We then discussed the following benefits of doing this with their own teams:

Benefits:

• It focuses on the positive.
• Chances are others will remark “oh, I feel the same way about _____, too!” 
• We may think our teams feel appreciated, but this exercise verbalizes it from many points of view.
• This doesn’t negate any personal improvements that need to be made by a team member. 
• This can bring your team closer together. 

My leaders and I had a very positive, encouraging session yesterday.  This exercise took about 15 minutes.  I then talked about the 2017 budget process that I was implementing.  We all left smiling.  I heard them say they would be trying this with their teams. 

Mission accomplished.

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Doing & Being Anyway…by Jim Johnson

You know these people at work. They live under the radar. But more than that, they get special recognition and even rewards for things they do when many others in the organization consistently are doing the same thing. They get promotions. They get or give themselves new titles. They undermine the company culture, but somehow they are seen as the “darlings” of the executives.

Truth: doing the right thing and being the right person does not guarantee you will win at work. You’ve been around long enough to know that life is not fair and sometimes, you end up on the short end of the deal.

Question: is living up to standards, achieving and exceeding goals, being professional and mature…is it all worth it?

Quick answer: YES! Refusing to live and act to the lowest common denominator is worth it! Doing the right thing and being the right person is always right.

It is not easy, but it’s worth it. You know that. I know that.

Being reasonable with unreasonable people is difficult.

Being certain in an uncertain work environment is difficult.

Living up to standards while others around you are trying to constantly redefine the standards to make sure their behaviors fit it…that is difficult.

While I’m not that old, I have learned some things about folks who seem to “get by” and get ahead for all the wrong reasons. It will not last forever. It won’t.

Doing the wrong thing and being the wrong person will create:

* the lack of trust from others. That leaves that person having to constantly look over their shoulder as alliances change.

* the lack of respect from others. They become a joke behind their backs.

* the manipulation of the numbers, goals, results (or at least the understanding of those things), and that will not last.

* isolation. The wrong people end up alone or with very few around them as other “followers” get tired of the games that get them no where. Followers don’t always win in these situations. It’s usually about the “wrong” leader getting ahead and no one else.

* a removal from power. When those around the wrong people have had enough, actions can be taken to remove that person from power.

The choice is yours. Do the right thing and be the right person. Looking in the mirror with no regrets is healthy and will lead to success. It will.

Is Good Enough Good Enough? by Jim Johnson

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Is good enough good enough? You’re tracking your results. You’re meeting some corporate goals. You’re exceeding others. You’re falling short on a couple. Overall, it’s pretty good. Your staff is happy. They’re feeling good about where they are. If things stay this way, the year could end good enough.

Is that good enough?

Does good enough foster new ideas and innovation?

Does good enough prepare your company for any unseen obstacles (i.e. gov’t regulations, economic sharp turns, major employer lay-offs, war, etc.)?

Does good enough build your company’s culture?

How does good enough protect your team from complacency?

What is the motivation to go out and find new business?

Believe me, I am a HUGE supporter of celebrating achievements! When your team has reached and surpassed new goals, party! I’m not talking about that here.

What happens when good enough (keep on keeping on) becomes good enough?

What I’m wondering is this:
* Will maintaining current sales levels be enough to grow your company?
* Is good enough enough momentum?
* Given your competition, the economy, your talent pool, will good enough keep you in business in 5 years?
* How will you fight stagnation with your staff? If there is no call to keep growing, pushing, reaching, stretching, achieving, what else is there?
* When does good enough become a decline in growth?
* When did good enough give cause for creating pride in the company? (Who cheers, “We’re #3! We’re #3!”?)
* Where is the line between perfection, excellence, and good enough?

I would love to read your insights on this.

“My Co-Workers Are Like Zombies” and Other Survey Items I’d Like to See by Dr. Marla Gottschalk

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Over the years, I’ve reviewed (and written) my fair share of items for attitude surveys and culture assessments. These instruments can be pivotal — serving as a barometer of sentiment within an organization. The data can help us understand shifting attitudes among contributors and the general state of “well-being” within an organization. Moreover, the data sets are often utilized to explore dynamic constructs such as job involvement, organizational commitment, job satisfaction and engagement — topics which we strive to fully understand.

The best of survey items are honest, to the point and utilize a “conversational” tone. It actually takes quite a bit of thought to write an item that effectively “captures” the spirit of a construct — and in this medium, items can sometimes appear uninspired or “flat”. Avoiding this problem often involves creative strategies. Stephen Race, an organizational psychologist who crafted a culture assessment for Jiibe, contracted a TV and film writer to edit the items he created to become more engaging. (A great idea. You can see examples of the items below marked with an asterisk.) Interestingly, each writer has their own style — some direct — some incorporating a bit of dry humor behind the core message. A few of the more “direct” items about leadership that I have drafted have been met with a moment of pause. (But happily, the items were eventually included in the final survey instrument.) Ultimately, the hope is to connect with employees and attain an honest view of their work environment.

Classic items such as “Overall, how satisfied are you with your job?”, will always prove useful. However, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the more candidly worded items I’ve seen over the years — and a few I’d like to see going forward. The items touch on varied workplace topics; leadership, feedback, decisions, work spaces, stress, and engagement.

A few items to consider, for your next survey:

I honestly don’t know who is running the show around here.
People don’t speak up here, even if they have something valuable to add.
My work aligns with my strengths.
I do the same mind-numbing tasks, over and over again.*
My colleagues are like family to me.
I avoid my boss.
I brag about the work we do in this organization.
I’m not sure that my boss knows my last name.
There are so many interruptions during my day, I find it difficult to work.
Sometimes we are so tired around here that we can’t see straight.
My boss asks me how I am doing.
I dread going to work.
People here say they are teams players, but in reality they are not.
I wouldn’t recognize our company CEO, if seated next to me.
The organization learns from its mistakes. It makes changes based on what it has learned.*
No one stops to say “thank you” in this organization.
It has been forever since my manager has told me I have done a good job.
I am recognized for what I am doing right, not wrong.
If I had my way, I wouldn’t work on another team.
I can expect to be rescued by my coworkers, if I’m drowning in work.*
People in this organization have a high level emotional intelligence.
Meetings around here are so useless, that I often feel like screaming.
My ideas are valued.
As far as the quality of my work goes, I have no idea where I stand.
I often leave work thinking that I never want to go back.
I’ve grown as a contributor since I’ve worked here.
In my opinion, open offices are “for the birds”.
Sometimes I am so focused on my work, that I delay using the restroom.

Finally, here is one from the Jiibe culture assessment, that captures a telling observation.

My co-workers are like zombies — at least like the kind of zombies who don’t joke around or have any fun.*
What are the best (and worst) items that you’ve seen? What items would you like to see? Share them with us.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She also writes The Office Blend.

https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130628141223-128811924-my-co-workers-are-like-zombies-and-other-survey-items-i-d-like-to-see?utm_source=buffer&utm_campaign=Buffer&utm_content=buffer6f4e9&utm_medium=twitter&_mSplash=1

The Most Common Leadership Model – And Why It’s Broken

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by Mike Myatt

When organizations’ hire, develop, and promote leaders using a competency-based model, they’re unwittingly incubating failure. Nothing fractures corporate culture faster, and eviscerates talent development efforts more rapidly, than rewarding the wrong people for the wrong reasons. Don’t reward technical competency – reward aggregate contribution.

Any organization that over weights the importance of technical competency fails to recognize the considerable, and often-untapped value contained in the whole of the person. It’s the cumulative power of a person’s soft skills, the sum of the parts if you will, that creates real value. It not what a person knows so much as it is how they’re able to use said knowledge to inspire and create brilliance in others that really matters.

We live in time that has moved well beyond competency driven models, yet organizations still primarily use competency-based interviews, competency-based development, competency-based performance reviews, and competency-based rewards as their framework for doing business. It remains the best practices mentality that rules the day, when we’re long overdue for a shift to next practices. It’s simply not possible to change current behaviors by refusing to embrace new paradigms.

Sure corporations know the right buzzwords – they pay lip service to things like character, trust, passion, purpose, EQ, collaboration, creativity, etc., but they really don’t value them in the same way they value competency. One of the problems is competency is predictable and easy to measure, and corporations like predictable and easy. However just because something is easy to measure doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to measure, and certainly not when measured in a vacuum.

Competency should represent nothing more than table stakes – it should be assumed. Having the requisite level of competency to do your job is not to be rewarded – it’s to be expected. The train is really off the tracks when being technically and/or functionally qualified to do a job makes you a high potential.

The value organizations should be cultivating and curating in people is their ability to align purpose, vision, values, character, and commitment with demonstrated competency. Competency isn’t the entirety of a person’s worth, and it certainly shouldn’t be the gold standard of their measurement. It’s a small part of the equation, but in many cases corporations treat it as if it’s the only thing that matters.

Here’s the thing – you can possess the greatest technical wizardry under the stars, but that doesn’t make you a leader. If you don’t care, aren’t collaborative, can’t communicate, fail to take input and feedback, and allow your hubris to overshadow your humility, you might be intelligent, but in my book you’re not very bright. The really sad part of this story is how often this type of person is rewarded in a competency-based system.

We must recognize competency-based leadership models simply don’t work. They are deeply rooted in the foundations of command and control structures, and they’ve outgrown the value they afforded organizations as nations moved beyond the industrial era. Competency based models simply create alignment gaps at every level – organizational gaps, talent gaps, leadership gaps, cultural gaps, diversity gaps, positional gaps, value gaps, operational gaps, execution gaps, and the list could go on. A leader’s job is to close gaps – not create them (the subject of my next book – Hacking Leadership due out this Fall).

If you want to create a true culture of leadership, it’s necessary to actually lead. Smart thinking and acting must start to take precedence over soaring rhetoric. It takes more than paying lip service to a few soft skills on a performance scorecard to get the job done. It will take a cultural shift in actually understanding, recognizing and rewarding what we say we value. The bottom line is this – the people who spend the most time complaining about the lack of talent are the ones who don’t recognize talent to begin with – don’t be that person.

Thoughts?

Follow me on Twitter @mikemyatt

http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt/2013/03/28/the-most-common-leadership-model-and-why-its-broken/