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Make Values As Important As Results

| | General Leadership
Organizational Culture

S. Chris Edmonds believes that great culture drives great performance – an idea he develops in his latest book, The Culture Engine. For an organization to fulfill its potential, the culture must truly reflect the heart of the company from leaders to team members. Here’s one way leaders can inspire their teams to increased potential and higher performance.

How is “leadership effectiveness” measured in your organization?

If the only thing people pay attention to is results, you might be reinforcing behaviors that erode trust, respect, and dignity.

A friend told me recently about a challenging situation her company is facing. One of their plants is run by a bully. This plant employs over 600 team members. About 80 of those team members are team leaders, supervisors, or managers. Every one of those leaders knows that George, the plant manager, doesn’t treat people fairly – or well.

George admits he’s lousy with people. In fact, he says he’s an “a-hole” most of the time. He says he can’t help it. Staff members do something stupid and he blows up.

He’s been plant manager for over 7 years. Turnover of the plant’s senior managers – George’s direct reports – is nearly 100% over the last three years. Yet, George’s plant meets performance expectations. So, George’s bad behavior is tolerated.

George has been warned. He’s been told to “clean up his act.” Yet he still bullies his people. And – nothing happens. He still has a job. He still gets paid.

Some of you are likely asking yourselves, “Why don’t they hold George accountable?”

The thing is, they are.

The only thing this organization demands from its senior leaders is results. Performance metrics are very clearly defined and frequently measured. George is accountable only for those results – and he’s delivering.

George and other senior leaders across this company have no formal values standards, no expectations of workplace dignity, trust, and respect.

Now, this company does have stated values as part of their mission. Their core values are service, teamwork, and ethics. The definitions of these values are rather vague and there are no behaviors outlined for each value.

Without observable, tangible, measurable valued behaviors, this company can’t hold leaders or team members accountable for service, teamwork, and ethics.

Consistent high performance demands more than an exclusive focus on results. It also requires a work environment that treats team leaders and members with trust, dignity, and respect, in every interaction. tweet this

In safe, inspiring work environments, team leaders and members align not only to team goals but to team values. They treat each other with respect. They cooperate to solve problems and to WOW customers. They set high standards for performance AND for values – and hold each other accountable for both.

How can you embed values like teamwork, integrity, passion, and service?

By formalizing an organizational constitution, a document that specifies the team’s (or company’s) purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals.

The real work comes with holding everyone accountable for these agreements by managing to that organizational constitution, every moment, every day.

The benefits are astounding. Clients who manage to an organizational constitution see gains in employee engagement of 40 percent, in customer service of 40 percent, and in profits of 35 percent, all within 18-24 months of engaging in the culture refinement process.

Can George be “rehabilitated”? Maybe. He’s never been asked to deliver results while creating a safe, inspiring work environment. He might embrace these new rules. He might not.

There’s only one way to find out: hold everyone accountable for performance AND for values.

photo credit: Nguyen Vu Hung (vuhung)

S.Chris EdmondsS. Chris Edmonds is the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. After a 15-year career leading and managing teams, Chris began his consulting company in 1990. Since 1995, Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies. Chris provides high-impact keynotes, executive briefings, and executive consulting. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Leading At A Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Find his blog, podcasts, free assessments, research, and videos here.

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Nisha   |   05 November 2014   |   Reply

I agree 100%. I love this post.

Susan Mazza   |   11 November 2014   |   Reply

Thanks for the comment Nisha. Chris’ book is great too!

Dean Vonderheide   |   19 November 2014   |   Reply

Holding leadership accountable for modeling the behaviors, principles, and core values of the organization creates a culture highly regarded by customers, employees and by business partners. Trust is critical and can’t be undermined by corporate roles filled by non-leaders. Metrics should be in place to ensure a “broad view” of expectations important to the long-term success of the organization are achieved. Thank you for sharing.

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