Organizational Culture – Part 1

Every Organization has a ‘Culture’ and as I’ve discussed in previous blogs – that culture is either by design or it is by default. In any case, the Culture exists.

What is the present ‘Culture’ of your organization?

I define ‘Culture’ as a being made up of three components:

Beliefs
Behaviors
Common Language

It is a rarity, nowadays, that I would get to help create a company culture from scratch – before any employees are hired – before any defacto culture exists. Most of the time, our starting point is two fold from the outset. 1.) Present Culture 2.) Desired Culture.

There are many reasons for Present Cultures: adaptability of the people to work problems, differing perspectives between team performers and team leaders, communication competencies (or lack thereof), aligned (or mal-aligned) incentive/compensation programs, layoffs, cutbacks, growth – and, probably, a hundred more… The Reason(s) are an important piece – as the Root Cause – of any issue is DEEPLY important to change.

So if you took a few minutes today – and simply walked the halls of your office or sat in the break room of the manufacturing plant – What would you hear? What would you see?

Like it or not – this is your present Organizational Culture.

Are your people tired? Does their behavior align to the Company values? What are their individual and collective beliefs? And what does their communication look like?

It is a great exercise to sit, watch, listen, and record the beliefs, behaviors, and conversational language that occurs in your company. It can be VERY eye opening.

You say, “How do I know what my people believe?”

Easy… Watch their actions, listen to their communication.

Belief Drives Behavior.

I could say that phrase a thousand times over – People will reveal what they believe by their actions and by their speech. Their actions are, usually, a truer representation of their beliefs.

Over the next few days (with as much objectivity as possible) just listen, just watch, just record.

Is the Culture Proactive? Or Reactive? Owners? Passengers? Victims? Engaged? Disengaged? Empowered?
The work comes into play once the present ‘Culture’ is discovered – and we’ll discuss that in the next blog!

In the meantime – checkout one of the previous blogs on Culture – Have a great day!

More on Moving ‘Anchors’ to ‘Racers’

Leadership and connectedness is a process. It doesn’t happen in a day – it happens every day.

I’ve said it so many times, it’s almost become cliché – “Leaders go for the heart, Managers go for the hands.” And along with that, “We Lead People, we manage things”

Are there any among us that woke up this morning with the thought, “I hope my boss manages me today!” or “If only my boss or spouse would just manage me more!”

Doesn’t that just raise the hair on the back of your neck? People, as a general rule, have no desire to be “managed”. They are built with that internal desire to be free and independent… yes we have some level of a herd mentality – and yes, some people do need more hands on attention than others – but that does not mean that the majority want us to “Manage” them.

What I have found in people is that they welcome caring counsel, or advise from a trusted source – they hunger to be inspired and for someone to live a true model in front of them. In fact, they will gladly follow the ‘lead’ of someone that meets that criteria!

In the 2000 Goleman study, it was discovered that 70% of Employees perception of their working climate was tied to their leader’s Emotional or Relational Intelligence – their leader’s ability to connect with them relationally. If 70% of their job satisfaction and motivation is tied to our ability as leaders to connect with them – beyond just “managing them” – how profound of an impact can it make when we as leaders grow our relational skill set? Or determine to connect more authentically with our people? I believe that we would have far more racers than anchors!

People will follow – bigger, better, further, and faster – when we connect with their hearts instead of just trying to leverage their hands – when we aim for their heart – we get commitment – when we aim for the hands – the best we can hope for is compliance. How much more will our people ‘race’ when their hearts and hands are committed and connected to the mission?

So, how do you connect and lead your team?

“When it comes to team leadership, you lead your people one person at a time.”

Each person’s needs vary in some way or another – they will view life and business just a little different than each coworker – and the more diligent we are at connecting with them as individuals with their unique nuances– the more influence we will have with each – and “Leadership is Influence”

Consistently, I ask leaders what business they are in – and after they reply – I suggest that their response may be their product – but as leaders – we are all in the “People” business.

Maybe, just maybe – if we learn our people and connect with our people – they will be inspired to give more. How can they not be? They will be more connected and, relationally, when we are more connected we feel more obligated to not let our friends down.

Have a great weekend!

Unleashing the power of the team… Gaining employee engagement

As much as a leader is a ‘commander’ of people, he/she is, also, a servant of people. Engagement is not so much about commanding as it is connecting.

Bottom line(s): Valued, engaged people lead to Satisfied Customers and together, they will gladly and consistently contribute to a great BOTTOM LINE…

The Gallup Organization has consistently surveyed employees and businesses in the arena of engagement and the corresponding effects on the “Bottom Line”. They divide employees into three areas that in ‘Iditarod Leadership’ are classified as: Racers, Loafers, and Anchors.

Racers are between 25 and 30% of the average company. They are enthusiastic, committed, and run with passion and purpose. They feel deeply connected to your race! They consistently run at high performance levels and hunger to use their talents and strengths every day. They fuel creativity and move the sled forward.

Loafers are roughly 50 to 55%. They are trotting through the days, content to ‘go with the flow’. They are fairly neutral about the mission and the sled. They tend to take a “wait-and-see” attitude towards it all – sort of a, “if it looks like we may be in contention for something great – I may get excited – but until then I’ll just punch the clock”.

Anchors can range from 15 to 20% on average. Sleds, normally, have anchors(or hooks) that keep the sled in place as you’re lining up the team, but these folks are Anchors that actively dig in their heals as the rest of the team attempts to run. They, literally, drain the team of its energy and actively seek to spread their ‘Rabid” discontent.

Gallup estimates that the ‘Bottom Line’ effect of ‘Anchors’ in 2006 cost the US economy about $328 Billion in lost productivity and the corresponding ripple effects.

So, how can we develop a team full of ‘Racers’ and ‘Unleash the power of the team…’? Here are a few ideas to implement in your kennel for some immediate effects:

  • Clarity expectations – when dogs or people are unsure of their roles and expectations – they cannot race with their full strength. Learn to line out in simple language exactly what you want them to ‘DO’ and they will run faster.
  • Grow, Equip and Empower – Use training runs and growth exercises to teach them what they need to know , to stretch and grow them, and to equip them for the journey. When the time comes – set them free to run. The best days in a sled dogs life are when the musher says, “Hike” and takes away all hindrances to their running!
  • Leverage their Strengths – put them in the right spot on the team – where their personality and strengths will fit perfectly. When they are placed well – they will run well.
  • Be liberal with treats and ‘Ataboys’. Is there anyone among us that won’t pull harder when we know our efforts will be recognized or rewarded by our leader?
  • Connect on a personal level with them AND help them connect with the mission of the race – give them your heart and go for theirs. Once you know their heart, you’ll be able to see where their heart aligns with the overall mission and you’ll be able to help them connect and run with purpose.
  • Excellence and Contribution. We all want to know we are a part of something that is excellent – something of quality –AND that we have a valued contribution to that end. Set the standard for excellence on your team and when they contribute ideas – affirm their valuable input and seek to implement where possible. It will increase their self esteem and create bold and daring team members that pull voraciously.

As we serve, value, equip, and empower our teams – we will be astonished at the power that is unleashed and stretched as leaders as the sled starts to reach top speed!