“A culture is made—or destroyed—by its articulate voices.” ~ Ayn Rand
As an organizational leader, you can consider yourself to be a “cultural architect.” It is your job to create and sustain culture in an organization. Yet shaping the culture can, at times, be a heavy burden to carry.
Your organization’s culture is the foundation upon which your results sit. A weak, dysfunctional or misaligned culture will usually yield poor results. A strong, high-functioning, well-aligned culture, on the other hand, will typically bind people together to produce amazing results.
Organizational culture is generally defined as the values, beliefs, symbols and norms people follow in the execution of an organization’s day-to-day business transactions. It shows up in behaviors that are considered acceptable and unacceptable — behaviors that begin and end with the attitudes and actions of leadership.
6 Phases of Construction for Building Culture
So, as leaders, you can choose to either build a high-performance culture or allow a variety of destructive forces to tear down your culture. If we look at the raising up of an effective culture as a construction project, here are six phases of the job that you’ll need to complete:
1. Goal setting: The building plans. Every construction project begins with a plan, right? In the same vein, leaders must set specific goals to drive success and point people in the right direction. Goals can be thought of as the overall plan for what needs to be accomplished during a given period in order to achieve key organizational objectives.
To ensure buy-in and line-of-sight, be sure to allow employees plenty of input in establishing their own short- and long-term goals. In addition, ensure objectives are put in writing using the “SMART” criteria (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-bound), prioritized and regularly evaluated.
2. Expectation setting: The pre-project meeting. Before most construction projects, the contractor sits down with his project manager and workers and goes over the building plans. Why? Because putting something down on paper isn’t enough — expectations must be established. Clarify items such as:
Clear expectations are as important as the goals you set. In fact, research has shown that a lack of clear expectations is often the root cause of poor performance. Expectations can be thought of as the “means” or how one achieves his or her goals. Expectations set the boundaries of behavior so people can “play big” and “play fair” as they work to achieve their goals.
3. Continuous feedback and coaching: “The barking foreman.” When many of us think of a construction project in progress, we might think of workers clambering about a half-built structure, pounding hammers and carrying different building elements. But we may also picture a foreman or project manager walking around, barking orders to the hardworking crew.
Now the barking part isn’t advisable in most work environments. But your busy workers do need effective systems in place for determining whether they’re making progress and meeting stated goals and expectations. A few ideas might be:
Other key factors are verbal feedback and an open, two-way dialogue.
Leaders must create a feedback-rich environment where employees know where they stand. Course-correction feedback (when an employee has drifted too far from the goal) and acknowledgment and praise (for progress and momentum in achieving the goal) are equally important. In fact, studies have shown that a 5:1 ratio of positive interactions/feedback to negative promotes the most effective self-development and performance.
In short, communication is critical to creating and maintaining a high-performance culture. Leaders are visible, caring individuals who provide “state of the organization” information regularly and don’t shield employees from bad news. They share expectations, provide feedback and acknowledge strengths. High-performing cultures manage to strike a balance of both quality and quantity of information communicated.
4. Development: Raising the roof. As a construction project nears its finish, the roof — either literally or figuratively — is raised. The property is being developed into something new, useful and exciting.
So should it be with employees. Leaders need to create and execute an ongoing process to develop staff members in their areas of strength and interest. The best managers/leaders find ways to make every day a “development day” for their people. Specific ideas include:
Leaders have these and many other methods at their disposal to grow, shape and engage employees while improving organizational performance.
5. Performance appraisals: The punch list. At the very end of a project, most contractors must complete a “punch list.” This is an itemized document reflecting precisely what needs to be finished to truly complete the project. Similarly, performance appraisals provide a summary at the end of a given term that lets employees know how well they’re meeting expectations and progressing toward their goals.
In terms of driving performance, however, an annual appraisal is your least effective tool. People want to know how they’re doing in the here and now, yet such appraisals focus largely on the past.
Performance comprises both results (what) and behavior (how). So, to do an appraisal right, you need to address both the “what” and the “how.” Set up appraisals on regular cycles and, of course, follow the golden rule: There should be no surprises! Always step in immediately when problems arise — don’t wait until the next appraisal.
6. Recognition and reward: Celebrating completion. The successful end of a construction project is generally referred to as “completion.” It’s something that contractors strive to reach efficiently and profitably. And, at least for large projects, they often celebrate when they get there successfully.
Encouragement and celebration in every organization are critical. Leaders must recognize progress as well as accomplishment of a goal, so employees know they’re on the right track and will keep striving for success. Recognition doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, what distinguishes recognition from rewards is the use of “I” words that create “intrinsic” rewards, which tend to last longer and be more meaningful to employees than monetary or “extrinsic” rewards. Intrinsic rewards include things such as:
Another good approach might be to share success stories during staff meetings or events or in company e-mails or a newsletter (if you have one). Oral or written praise delivered in this manner can serve as a real morale booster to recipients.
Whereas recognition tends to be intangible, rewards are generally tangible. They include statues, company merchandise or plaques. Of course, rewards may also be financial — such as spot bonuses, merit raises or other monetary incentives. Remember, the more timely the recognition/reward is given, the stronger the connection to performance.
The Demolition Crew
e’ve listed above the six phases of building a positive culture. But what about the behaviors that can tear one down? These are just as important to identify when trying to make productive changes to your organization. As you endeavor to raise up your organization’s culture, watch out for the demolition crew:
Flawed character. Dishonesty, intentionally poor communication and blame can sabotage any culture.
Fear. Organizations that refuse to take any risks and that avoid problems and tough decisions typically don’t get far.
Unchecked power. If leaders have or need complete control over others, a culture won’t thrive. Employees will feel that collaboration is pointless.
Arrogance. Anyone with too much pride, who is unable to admit mistakes, ask for help or recognize the value of others, is more than likely a liability. These individuals can poison even the best-intentioned culture.
Ineffective coaches. At the end of every season, no matter what the sport, a number of coaches (or, in baseball, managers) are usually fired. Most of these individuals may not have been bad employees, per se. But, in their employers’ opinions, they failed to develop a winning environment for their players. This dilemma can apply to any type of organization — which doesn’t necessarily mean you should fire a bad coach, but he or she may need additional training or, in worst cases, reassignment.
YOU Are the Architect
Leaders play a key role in the process of creating a positive, high-performing culture. You are, in fact, the architect. Your behavior, attitude, language or jargon, style of dress, decision-making process, everyday work practices and strategic direction create the cultural blueprint for not only your employees, but also clients, suppliers and anyone else who comes in contact with your organization.
Thus, as a leader and architect, you’ve got to recognize the boundary lines of your existing culture, align your strategies accordingly and always be on the lookout for ways to improve it. For help assessing your culture, determining whether your leadership style/habits are aligned with your organization’s strategic objectives, and targeting effective improvements for the future, please contact us.
Marketing gurus always tout that you get far more bang for your buck by developing existing customers than trying to find new ones. The same value and resulting higher benefit applies to developing talent internally rather than sourcing it externally. However, so many executives have experienced first-hand, the myriad of failed leadership development investments. That doesn't mean there isn't a good solution.
In fact, leadership development solutions that work are well documented. The requirements include the right balance of: assessment data, skill building, 1:1 coaching, peer solution development, real-world application, time, and accountability. But there are very few programs available to bring in-house, that integrate all of these areas, are proven, measurable, adaptable, and scalable.
The best organizations want development of leaders to happen internally, across teams, so they can work within their culture and learn from employees as they transform from manager to leader. But developing custom curriculum takes time and is somewhat unproven--ultimately a risky and hefty investment in today's agile, fast-moving corporate environment. The question is no longer "should we build or buy?" when it comes to strong leaders and middle management; the question is, "how do we build leaders in a cost effective way and show measurable results?"
This is the reason we're suddenly seeing so much adoption of the LEAP University approach. While LEAP has historically been a "public" offering allowing organizations to send one or two leaders to be developed, we're seeing a significant uptick in organizations that are bringing the program in-house to develop a broader cross-section of their leaders from within.
LEAP University is scalable to fit organizations in two ways:
CERTIFY INTERNAL RESOURCES. Certify and develop internal experts to coach, facilitate, and manage unlimited LEAP cohorts internally, across the organization, gives you maximum flexibility and scalability. Additional benefits include:
ENGAGE AN EXTERNAL EXPERT. Sometimes, culture, quest for external knowledge, or availability of resources call for bringing in a third party professional. In this scenario, organizations contract with our LEAP Certified Coach/Facilitators to organize, assess, facilitate, and coach through the transformation. Benefits of bringing in an external resource include:
Buying talent is expensive and risky because ultimately you don't know what you will get. Building your existing talent is less risky and pays much bigger dividends to the business. Which pathway is right for your organization? There's no one right way, it's a decision best determined by honest reflection of your organization's needs, culture, and resources.
There are countless articles and conversations happening these days about leadership programs that do not work. On our blog, we've talked about the shift from the traditional 70-20-10 model to 52-27-21, and the recent article from McKinsey "Why Leadership Development Programs Fail", touches on this and three additional easy-to-overcome, but still prevalent issues.
We hear time and again from executives that leadership development tops the list for both current and future priorities, yet it's hard to measure and quantify change in leadership behavior, or whether the leadership program is focused on the right things for what the company needs. Generally, executives seem left to sum it up anecdotally as "it just doesn't work". But positive change in leadership behaviors and attributes CAN be measured. And well integrated and executed programs with tracking in place can and do show that leadership development does work.
How do you measure success in leadership development?
Through our LEAP cohort and LEAP University programs we're set to graduate more than 70 Leaders in 2016. We've graduated more than 450 since starting the program. Every single individual's progress has been tracked and measured. Here are the Top 5 Positive Changes reported by graduates (and their executive sponsors) during their transformation from manager to leader:
We can even quantify to what degree there has been positive change for the individual, via our Confidence and Competence Assessment. Back to the McKinsey article, matching the competencies of the leader to the needs of the organization at that time, can help make the investment in development more fruitful. But if the program doesn't measure the change in competency, then how would one go about matching and developing the right skills for the job? Knowing how a leader has developed through the program is a key component of measuring success and finding the right talent for the job.
Take this a step further and consider - would development initiatives be more successful if your organization could identify the competencies needed for the particular role, and focus on customizing the leadership program for that employee? It's totally doable with the right, integrated program that combines assessments, skill building, 1:1 coaching, peer problem solving, and real-world application. We know that it cannot be done in 2-3 day workshops or online training, so why are those options even being considered?
How do you feel about giving feedback? Do you dread it? Is it something you give daily, weekly, monthly? Or is the process just dead? Lately we’ve been doing a great deal of work with clients on Performance Management. The top question we’re asked is, “Should we even bother doing performance reviews?”
Managers and supervisors want them gone because they take up so much time. Employees want them because it’s the only time they get a “report card.” Are performance reviews worth the time and money spent?
When completed correctly, performance reviews play a key role in the achievement of business success. Organizations need to view appraisals as part of an overall performance evaluation process vs. a “fill in the blank” once a year report.
THE POWER TO INSPIRE
A review is a great communication tool that ensures that the manager/supervisor and the employee are clear about the requirements of the job. It has the power to inspire people to give their best effort, as well as to make them feel respected and important.
A meaningful conversation can connect an employee to the organization’s purpose – give them a sense of belonging and make them feel like part of the company’s future. Studies have shown how companies benefit when employees feel engaged and valued.
TIPS FOR BETTER REVIEWS
In a recent article “5 ways to evolve THE DREADED REVIEW,” Cornerstone OnDemand listed five tips that we agree will help you revive your organization’s performance review process:
1. Performance happens daily (and reviews should, too).
You won’t dread writing a performance review if you’re taking performance notes frequently – the review will write itself. Billions of dollars are wasted because companies “just do it” because they have to. If progress or challenges are tracked on a regular basis then nothing will be a surprise to the employee and the focus can be on improvements and growth goals.
2. Reviews should be conversations.
Try to make the review more natural, like a conversation rather than a form that you have to fill out. Give clear and concise feedback, so it’s information that the employee can use moving forward. Everyone appreciates a conversation, not a lecture. Address accomplishments first, and then discuss areas for improvement.
3. Reviews should have a purpose.
Managers need to see the value of performance reviews so they get done. Use the process as a way to collect useful information on performance so the employee can benefit, too. Indeed, when used correctly, reviews can enhance Performance Management throughout your entire organization. They can be looked upon as a “win win” opportunity for both the employee and the manager.
4. Embrace simplicity and consistency.
Why make a review lengthy and complicated? Stick to the basics and give shorter, more frequent ones. This gives a manager a good understanding of the happenings with their team, and it gives employees a chance to know how they’re doing.
5. Change the review experience.
How effective is your approach? Has your experience in the past been uncomfortable for yourself or your employee? Try to make the review a useful, positive conversation that infuses you and the employee with new energy.
A WHOLE SYSTEM
At PDG, we advise clients to think of Performance Management as much more than the basic “end of the year” appraisal. It should be a whole SYSTEM that includes the following tools that, when used in conjunction with the annual review, will heighten performance:
1. Goal Setting
2. Expectation Setting
3. Continuous Feedback & Coaching
5. Recognition & Reward
Performance Management raises individual performances within the organization and transforms goals into results. It focuses on the employee AND aligns them with the organization’s future plans. Performance Management improves morale and increases productivity. And it should all start the minute a new employee is on-boarded.
Make sure that you and your Leadership team is communicating the value and importance of this process within your organization. Start your performance planning today! For more information on how we can help you can create High Performing Organizations and Teams, please contact us or check out more information on our website.
Building teams is easy to talk about and difficult to accomplish. But there is a process to accelerate the learning curve for building team skills and collaboration. Teams do not just happen naturally. Teams are – in the truest sense – a volunteer organization. You can’t force someone to cooperate – you can’t mandate teamwork. A high level of cooperation is a product of choice. One step to predictable and enhanced team performance is understanding the common characteristics of teams that achieve exceptional results.
What do you think could happen if the individuals in your organization stopped dysfunctional behaviors and worked together cohesively?
LEAP® the Leadership Acceleration Program can help you (or someone you know) become more effective at creating and sustaining high performance teams. Our multi-dimensional approach includes the assessments, skill-building, peer-networking, and 1:1 coaching that is proven to help managers and leaders, learn and apply these critical learnings in their actual work environment:
Join us for an upcoming webinar to learn more about LEAP and how it can help your organization thrive.
Three challenges of running a coaching business, and how to grow without taking on too much.
If you own a consulting/coaching business, chances are, your business is you. And there’s only so much one person can do! Even though I’ve been running a successful consulting business since 1999, I still have peaks and valleys. And, I work with a lot of really impressive coaches and I see them struggling with the same challenges. After some reflection, I’ve boiled it down to three main struggles:
How can we grow our business from surviving to thriving when there’s only so much of us to go around?
When I created LEAP® the Leadership Acceleration Program it was to fill a gap in leadership development offerings. What I didn’t realize was that having a packaged leadership development offering that targeted high-potential non-executives, also helped me with these three business challenges.
If you’ve been looking for something to help you grow but retain your sanity, LEAP might be the perfect program. We recently added 5 additional LEAP Certified Coaches in Washington (now we’re at 12) and we’re looking to expand the reach of LEAP in new markets outside of the Pacific Northwest. I would love to talk with you!
Our LEAP Coach Certifications happen 2-3 times per year. Learn more about the business model that makes this such an attractive program for coaches and consultants.
1. STOP – When you sense you’re being ‘triggered’ or know what your triggers are and want to interrupt the pattern so you’re not sucked into an emotional or ineffective response.
2. FOCUS on breathing. Get oxygen to the brain in order to function most effectively.
3. REFRAME the assumptions and REGAIN perspective. Work to suspend judgment and keep from jumping to conclusions. Be curious and move away from “right/wrong” thinking. Questions such as these will help:
Know someone who needs to beef up their emotional intelligence muscle? With LEAP, the Leadership Acceleration Program, we work with managers/leaders to do just that.
Remember that you think and therefore you feel. There are many choices when thinking about any given situation. By changing how you describe the event to yourself, you can alter how you feel. Use the scenarios below as a guide to identifying what's happening in a given situation and then practice changing your thinking about events. It will take work and practice before some of these skills begin to become more automatic. Challenging and examining thoughts can lead to increased emotional contentment and happiness.
Perceiving the world as black and white: Not everything in the world is right or wrong, or black or white. There are many grays and many choices. Some are partly right or a better, if not perfect, choice.
Perfectionism: Everyone makes mistakes. Only through failure can we learn. Edison tried many filaments to create the light bulb. It may have taken you many tries to learn to ride a bicycle.
Pleasing others: It is pleasant when others are pleased; however, it is not possible to please everyone. Not everyone is going to like you no matter what you do. The most important thing is to like YOU.
Catastrophising: It would be nice if everything were to go well, however, it often doesn’t. If negative things happen, it is very unfortunate and even sad, but it is not usually a catastrophe.
Dependency: Everyone can learn the skills necessary to be independent unless they have suffered a major stroke or other debilitating illness. Learning new things takes time and practice; however, the effort pays off in feeling more positive about oneself.
Collecting Blame: It is not possible to control other people’s behavior and decisions nor is it possible to resolve emotional issues for them. The only one you can change is yourself. It is possible to support others emotionally, to care about others, and to offer some assistance. It is not helpful to anyone if you become overly responsible or emotionally consumed by others.
Dwelling on the dangerous events in the world: Constantly thinking about the negative produces anxiety. Worry ahead is not helpful.
Labeling: Calling others names (you jerk) may be momentarily satisfying; however, this process maintains anger and depression. Describe the event rather than label. (He dropped the ice cream on the floor.)
Life Must Be Fair: It would be nice if things went our way. However, life is filled with unfairness and unfortunate events. The more important focus is how to cope with life when it isn’t what we want.
Know someone who needs to beef up their emotional intelligence muscle? With LEAP, the Leadership Acceleration Program, we work with managers/leaders on these very things.
Emotion is an ever-present energy in the workplace. Harnessing this untapped resource in a positive way can have a tremendous impact on the reasoning side of business.
The EQ Competence Framework includes 3 foundational areas: Attitude, Feeling, and Behavior.
Within these lie three “Personal Intelligences” and three "Interpersonal Intelligences” which can also be thought of as competencies because all of these can be developed by anyone who chooses to develop them.
IQ has long been an important factor in the business world. However, when we look at the most successful leaders, we see more than IQ—we see EQ.
Know someone who needs to beef up their emotional intelligence muscle? With LEAP, the Leadership Acceleration Program, we work with managers/leaders on these very things.
One step to predictable and enhanced team performance is understanding the common characteristics of teams that achieve exceptional results. Characteristics of an HP team:
One of the best models we’ve seen for creating HP teams is from a book called “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni.
Know someone who needs help creating and sustaining high performing teams? LEAP the Leadership Acceleration Program is the answer!
Lynda Silsbee is Founder and President of the Alliance for Leadership Acceleration. She has spent more than 30 years creating and leading high performance teams. Along with the other LEAP Certified Coaches, she reports that helping managers make the LEAP to leader is one of the most fulfilling aspects of her work.