Category Archives: #WorkCulture
Gene was a new area manager and part of his new territory was to oversee the team at the largest revenue store in the company.
His first day was to tour each store for a few hours and introduce himself to the management and team members there. The store had great potential but the team was struggling and had new supervisors assigned in the last few weeks.
One of the key supervisors, Sherry, was on duty that day. As they were talking, Sherry who was very skeptical on the new management changes, asked Gene point-blank “So what changes are you going to make?”
Almost without thinking, Gene responded “Not sure, Sherry. What changes would you like to see?”
Instantly, Gene could see Sherry’s defenses drop. Her face became relived and her eyes opened with hope. She immediately and enthusiastically gave him her thoughts. Gene eagerly wrote it all down then proceeded to follow-up on her ideas over the next couple of weeks.
What Gene exhibited here was being others-aware in his servant leadership. He knew that while he had ideas and those whom he reported to had ideas, he needed to consult those closest to the customer and find the best solutions to allow all parties to be aligned.
But the most important thing Gene did, and quite consciously, is give Sherry a voice for her ideas. Many times, leaders in a new role or assignment will impose changes first to right the ship, then work on building the relationships afterwards. In this case, he made the team first by asking Sherry and each of her colleagues about their thoughts then immediately started to act on them.
Many times, leaders in a new role or assignment will impose changes first to right the ship then work on building the relationships afterwards.
By creating a priority of hearing, and acting, on the voice of their people, a leader can gain instant credibility of their team to ease the transition process of their new role and better align everyone by building trust.
It’s a simple, effective and proven principle of servant leadership. Serving your people with their best interests will allow a leader to develop a strong sense of teamwork and rapport.
Once a leader does this, they also set the stage for consistent action along these lines as well. People will see through the leader who is receptive at first then changes color afterwards (kind of a bait-and-switch style of leadership) and that will decimate a leader’s effectiveness and reputation quickly.
A leader who is resolute in displaying and continuing a servant leadership style will start out with strong alignment, a high degree of trust and a more engaged team of performers that will enable them to attain better levels of achievement in the organization. It sets a delicate balance for the leader in which their true colors and agenda will be measured to the baseline they set. Servant leaders at their core will be able to measure up while others will struggle.
A leader who is resolute in displaying and continuing a servant leadership style will start out with strong alignment, a high degree of trust and a more engaged team of performersTweet
While I believe people can overcome a bad first impression, that first interaction with a new team can be an essential step towards success if handled with the correct mindset.
With Sherry’s help, Gene was able to guide the team to understand their opportunities for development which enabled them to meet their goals consistently for the coming years. He realized it was that team-first mentality that got the team committed to him to make the changes that were asked for. The store’s sales and sense of pride soon became the model for the organization as a result.
Handle your new role and/or new team with care. If done correctly the results can be tremendous in creating a company or department of deep trust and commitment.
“Meetings, bloody meetings”.
John Cleese parodied the typical meeting structure many years ago. And that same dread of meetings still holds on today, over 20 years later.
Many companies, such as 3M, create a culture of productive meetings. Others such as OneMonth, reduce meetings by having them only on certain days, and very few at that. While these strategies are helpful, there is still a gap in many companies as to how they hold truly effective meetings. Most meeting outlines don’t prepare for what you could call a different approach to great meetings:
“Make Meetings Matter“Tweet
Meetings matter for many bosses. They create a framework and summarize actions for the staff (their new “to do list”) and then close the meeting. What should be a team building opportunity becomes a monologue of staff being told what they’re doing wrong or what they should be doing more of. This results in a one-sided drill-down that leaves staff burdened and further drives a divide between leadership and their people.
But do meetings matter for your people? Do they learn, get valued information, and feel as part of a team? Do they regret going to your meetings with the takeaway that nothing changes or it was a complete waste of their time?
Your employees count on you to value their time, and know that they matter to you. With that premise in mind, and yo get meetings to matter more to your people, consider these strategies to build your teams and culture:
- Talk with your people, not to or at them. Build two-way dialogues and meeting structures that allows everyone an opportunity to talk. Studies show that having conversations with your employees is far more effective than a lecturing style.
- Get their input ahead of time for agenda and hot topic items. Many times meetings are used to bring everyone up to speed on policies, new events, and other items that the managers’ feel need to be addressed. However, employees may have other pressing topics that need addressing that the leader does not notice. Get their input and commit to reviewing those items.
- Build connection and trust and commitment. If you fail to enhance the relationship you have with your team during a meeting, then you have squandered a great opportunity. Meetings, done right, can be a fantastic outlet for people to let their guard down and show their concerns. Building these connections takes setting your agenda aside and working towards the best interest of your people. Find genuine ways such as icebreakers, break times, and casual conversations to get to know, truly know, who your people are.
- Infuse missions, values, and cultures that shape the workplace. This focus should be the core of every meeting (and every day-to-day interaction) you facilitate. A meeting without your core mission to anchor is gives the leeway for drift of culture down the road. Shore up your values each meeting and work ways to repeat them throughout to ingrain them into your team’s cultural psyche.
- Structure the speaker(s) more intimately. Some of the best meetings and classrooms I’ve seen are where the presenters walk around the entire room and every aisle. They meet everyone close and engage in meaningful eye contact and dialogue. Arrange the room in such ways to allow (or even make) whoever is speaking roam or even be in the middle of the group and be accessible. This type of approach not only transcends physical barriers but also roles and positions and makes for more comfort and personal interaction.
- Develop ways for others to present, teach, debate, or train during the meeting. As a leader, you should make the meeting about your most precious resource – your people. In so doing, get them involved more and more in every aspect of planning, facilitating, and presenting topics or speaking. When your team feels that they are truly part of the meeting process, they will walk away with a greater satisfaction of the meeting’s usefulness and solicit their buy-in more readily.
Make your meetings matter the most to your people. An effective environment means an effective use of everyone’s time and effective results because of how you make the meeting matter to your people – by making it theirs.
In Michael Lee Stallard’s book “Connection Culture“, he alludes to three types of organizational culture.
Those cultures are: control, indifference and connection. Here’s my thoughts on each one:
Control based cultures are where the demand for task excellence is preeminent. Micromanaging at any scale persists. And the fear of reprimand, performance improvement plans, demotion or job loss exists in perpetuity. People are not valued in these companies, but rather commoditized.
Cultures of indifference are where the voice of the employee is disregarded. Open door policies are mere semantics, or great for attracting angel investors money into the company. Employee concerns are countered with directives to figure it out or work harder. Changes are not made from the voice of those who don’t have the degree or level of knowledge to offer any valuable input.
Connected cultures are different. These companies ascribe not only a high value on their people (for real and not for show) but also allow their voice to be heard, and a part of the process. But even more, a connected culture shares a strong vision with all employees. It’s not sufficient to be first in a market, to merely win, but to have a strong enough shared vision that enriches both monetarily and communally with everyone as to what the impact of the organization will have for the improvement of all involved, customer, leadership, employees and community.
Connected cultures serve the vision, value and voice of their people first, knowing that the investment in created connected individuals and teams far surpasses any task excellence and superior performance metrics.
The demand for high performance only lasts as long as the motivational fear can carry the spirit of their people. But the organization that has a deep connection culture will always persist and find success in the best and worst of times. Connected people are statistically more committed and productive versus those people in companies that are driven to be committed and productive.
Are you fostering a culture of control, indifference or connection? The choice is up to you. As well as the results from that culture as well.