What Creates An Organizations Culture?

Leaders are facing enormous business challenges, and need to make changes in their organizations. Gain insight on how best to effectively make these changes and form a new culture.

Leaders at all levels are facing enormous challenges in achieving and sustaining planned operating results. Challenges are emerging from every business arena. Executives need to be cognizant about globalization, political opportunities, economic change, tariff negotiations, additional costs due to enforced regulations, and tightened accounting governance so that incidents such as Enron, World Com and the banking crises never occur again.  The CEO and his/her staff have one primary responsibility and that is providing shareholder value, yet this obligation has become even more difficult than in the past. CEOs are typically driving an organization’s culture and its associate’s sense of trust and well-being.

The way things are done in a company from recruitment, rewards, punishments, team building, achievement of goals and objectives, meeting management, handling conflict, dealing with competition and more are all a reflection of the organization’s culture. Yet, one wonders how does a corporation change the establishment’s culture when the business has become so challenging even for the best leaders.

Culture is the framework within which businesses operate and the binoculars through which others view an organization. If we view a business as a system of interacting and interrelated parts, then culture simply creates, defines and supports that philosophy. However, it is extremely unwise to consider that culture is only defined by what companies do today. This can lead to costly and painful problems for the company later. Cultural change efforts that focus only on the what are doomed to failure before the change ever begins. The greater question is why do organizations do things the way they do? One has to ask the question, is there a particular benefit of doing things in a certain way. Are we doing things this way because we have always done them that way and now the technology has changed to offer a better way? Culture can sometimes be described as an anxiety-reducing agent. Because of this phenomena, company cultures are extremely resistant to change.

Consider businesses that failed due to their inability to change their culture. IBM is a great example from the 1980s when the company ran into serious financial difficulties. Up to that point the company was unwilling to change the ways in which it was approaching the market even though the market was rapidly changing around it. Consider your own business. Are you willing to change even if it means breaking tradition?

To determine your readiness for change, take a few minutes and evaluate the organization’s characteristics. Consider each characteristic and how deeply rooted the current business practices are in the organization. Ask yourself, why do we do things the way we do on a particular trait. Then rate the need to change from one to ten. One should be an urgent need to change, while ten would represent no reason to change. Next, rate the ease of change from one to ten – one being the most difficult and ten being the easiest.

 

Organizational Cultural Characteristics

Characteristic Need to change Ease of change
Associate development
Leadership development
Team accomplishments
Innovation
Risk Taking
Stability
Trust in management
Attention to Detail
Meeting management
Project implementations
Managing and achieving goals
Total

Now compare the total score on the need to change to the total score on the ease of change. If the two scores are close together, your company’s ability to change should not be difficult. However, if you honestly evaluate each characteristic you will often find a behavior that needs to be addressed.  Unfortunately, what we often see is that there is a perception of cause and effect and that is enough to cause a behavior to become a cultural value. Assuming that the behavior and the result occur together often enough, the behavior will be taken for granted. Team members will no longer question the behavior because it is the culture and that is how their world works. Other cultural values will arise to support and enable the behavior and in the end, a simple behavior leads to an interlocking network of beliefs, assumptions, and values. Attempting to change any piece is extremely difficult because every other piece attempts to pull it back into place. Suffice it to say that cultures do not change easily.

Making a company cultural change takes hard work on everyone’s part but starts at the top. Initially, leadership needs to gain awareness across the company about the need for change. Doing so requires a solid communication plan and a management team that is locked arm-in-arm. The communication should be designed to create a desire in the enterprise for change. Many times this means educating the employee community about why change is needed and ideas that can help improve business but require acceptance. Once acceptance begins, workers need to be supported with training and education on policies, procedures, and systems changes. Knowledge of what is new must be tested regularly for the first year or more until change becomes the new culture.

Is your organization facing change? Contact Mary Kuniski at mkuniski@me.comor log on to http://www.goldenprofessionalcoaching.com to make an appointment.

 

 

 

 

 

Unrecognized Ineffective Habits of Successful Leaders – Part Four

Did you ever think upholding boundaries as a leader could hinder your leadership effectiveness? No, well think again. Read this blog to surface boundaries that may hurt instead of help!

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Four weeks ago, I began this series with a list of 20 ineffective (unrecognized) habits of successful leaders. This issue is the last installment of those 20 habits. This series is intended to provide, even the best leader, one or two ideas of areas in which he or she can improve his/her leadership style. To read the previous three blogs on this topic, log on to MaryKuniski.com and enter your email address to follow my blog. This week’s blog covers the problems that occur when leaders withhold the necessary information from their teams.

Upholding Boundaries

According to Z. Hereford in essential life skills, personal boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used, or violated by others. They allow us to separate who we are, and what we think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others. The presence of personal boundaries helps us express ourselves as the individuals we are, while we acknowledge the same in others. (Herefore, Z, www.essentiallifeskills.net)

In business, we see the strong need for boundaries, so employees understand his/her limit, which in turn helps them maintain focus on their tasks. Unfortunately, these boundaries sometimes get in the way of a supervisor in providing the employee with the best workplace they can have. For example, supervisors are often required to maintain certain secret information, and it is up to the manager to determine what that might be. Some leaders go so far as to stop communicating with their employees for fear they are crossing boundaries. Listed below are five common areas where supervisors should break through the barriers and recognize their employees.

Withholding Information

Leadership often assigns special projects or reports to their staff to develop the talent of the associate to move them to the next level. There is a delicate balance between giving the associate enough information to complete the task or project and not giving enough information so the employee cannot complete the project.

I once worked for a leader who refused to communicate with me. He had a picture in his mind as to what he was looking for as an output for a project he assigned to me but refused to share his thoughts with me. I spent many hours reformatting the same data over and over again and never did “get it right.”  The refusal to share information with me appeared to be intended to maintain an advantage over me. What was meant to be a learning experience became an immense frustration and all I learned was not to trust this manager when he assigned projects in the future.  What I should have asked him to do was sketch what he thought the output should look like so I had a starting point. Because I did not ask those questions, we both failed in our communication.

Failing to give proper recognition or express gratitude

Many managers cannot praise or express gratitude to their employees because they fear doing so will take away their power and break boundaries with the associate. This behavior is the most basic form of rude behavior, yet we see it all the time with leaders. According to Gallup, employee engagement has been static for the last three decades. Gallup also claims that one of the most common areas of employee dissatisfaction is the inability of their leadership to praise and reward them for a job well done. In our interactions with others, we often miss opportunities to show genuine appreciation and recognition. So often, the only time employees hear our praise is during their performance review. Recognizing the strength of others requires a conscious effort, and it does not take much time. If we commit to doing so regularly, we will find it becomes a positive habit, increases morale and creates a confident culture.

The best formula I have found for giving positive recognition is by using the acronym TAPE, written by Dale Carnegie. T stands for THINGS. Perhaps the individual is particularly proud of something they own – could be their baseball collection, jewelry or clothes. Leaders should be aware of their associate’s pride and joy activities and things and talk with them about their interests in day-to-day conversations.

A stands for ACHIEVEMENTS, which can be research, projects, or anything that takes a focused and concerted effort. These achievements are the most often the areas of praise given in the business world. Achievements should always be recognized publicly and promptly.

stands for PERSONAL TRAITS and are the favorable characteristics individuals possess that make them valuable to you and your organization. When leaders recognize their employees for these characteristics, they are providing the most potent praise of all. When giving praise to employees, one needs to be careful to include evidence of the reason for recognition. For example, if the leader walks up behind his/her employee and says you did a great job today, the employee may wonder whom he/she is talking to and what they did to deserve the praise.

Therefore, the final letter is and stands for EVIDENCE.  When offering praise or recognition to one’s employees, the conversation should go something like this: Look the employee in the eyes and state his/her name. Tell him/her what they did well and provide evidence that what you say is true. Close by thanking the employee one more time.

Example

Jane, you offered the executives an excellent presentation today on your project. I was pleased that you included facts, figures, and projections. When presenting to executives, it is vital that you always back up your theories with numbers. Thank you, Jane, for your hard work.

Punishing the messenger:

Have you ever gone to your leader, presented bad news and felt the lash of his/her tongue. This situation occurs much more often than we think. The poorly misguided manager feels like he/she needs to lash out to someone and attacks the innocent person who is usually only trying to help. The result is that the employee will most likely never present lousy news or offer a suggestion to that supervisor again.

A more appropriate response to this type of news is a simple thank you, and according to Marshall Goldsmith, is the only appropriate answer. Although I agree with Marshall that the response should be simple thank you, I believe asking additional questions, in this case, would be appropriate if asked in a respectful manner.

Not Listening

Not listening is likely the most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues. Why don’t leaders listen to their teams? The leader may be embarrassed by what he/she might hear. Alternatively, his or her ego is so immature that they think they know best. In Marshall Goldsmith’s stakeholder centered coaching program we show leaders how to listen and respond to their teams. Doing so is not easy. It takes hard work, humility, and discipline. If you are interested in experiencing Stakeholder Centered Coaching, contact me at mkuniski@me.com.

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.”   Brene Brown

Final Thoughts

Firm boundaries, such as prohibiting the use of inappropriate language or verbal abuse in the workplace are entirely appropriate. However, associates should be encouraged to speak in a respectful manner that is not condescending or abusive. With clearly defined boundaries regarding communication, associates use the appropriate tone and language with one another, which improves workplace interactions.

Boundaries discourage inappropriate behavior by setting rules of conduct within the workplace. Codes of conduct define what behavior is appropriate on the job and what behavior is unacceptable. It is a leader responsibility to set boundaries for all and then enforce them for all. However, leaders need to ensure their limitations do not take away from the ability of their workforce from receiving the required information and recognition to complete their jobs.

To find out more about Marshall Goldsmith’s Stakeholder Centered Coaching for leaders on the rise, contact mkuniski@me.comor go to http://www.goldenprofessionalcoaching.com.

 Presented by Golden Professional Coaching LLC

A Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching Company

cropped-Golden-with-plain-C-2.pngWe Build Tomorrow’s Leaders

Reference: “What Got You There Won’t Get You There.” Marshall Goldsmith, pg. 40

 

 

 

UNRECOGNIZED INEFFECTIVE HABITS OF SUCCESSFUL LEADERS – PART THREE

Having a bit ego is not necessarily a bad habit as long as the ego has matured. A leadership coach gives examples of how leaders can be more effective when working to mature his/her ego.

Empowering the Ego

Most leaders I have worked with have their egos in check, but we know they are proud of their accomplishments. Their behavior surrounding their ego is somewhat expected and helps drive their self-confidence. Conversely, when their ego gets in the way of humility, great leaders can fall very quickly. Last week we reviewed the behaviors of leaders who use anger, negativity, clinging to the past, excuses and playing favorites to rule their organization. This week we will study the effects of empowering the ego. To read last’s Part Two, click here https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/75996734

An excessive need to be “me”

Have you ever worked with someone who appears to know it all? To them, admitting they made a mistake is a significant challenge because they want to avoid “losing face”. However, in the eyes of other people, a person who can admit to mistakes and move on from them is more likely to garner respect than someone who blusters and pretends they weren’t responsible. Ultimately, continued refusal to face up to being wrong or causing a problem can take a toll on one’s reputation, relationships, work, or professional life. If a person is not already used to admitting their own mistakes this new skill can liberate them and allow them to move on to better relationships and outcomes.

Get ready to own your errors!

 Looking at many leaders, we have to ask ourselves, can his/her ego honestly think, feel, say, and act that way? They may think they can run the company by themselves and do any job in this organization that their team is doing today, but is that reality or just ego. Believing they are good enough to do it all is not necessarily a position of arrogance or superiority. Instead, assuming they can do anything can be representative of a mature ego. The ego needs to mature to build a leaders’ self-confidence. When a leader heals and develops their ego, their career begins to transform, and the way they view the world lifts to a higher octave.

A leader with a mature ego is done pretending they are not good enough, and he/she discovers something shocking. They have grown to the point that they are secure, creative, connected, confident, intuitive, and wise enough to do anything they want to do. They realize if they try and fail at something they do not lose face by admitting their mistake and moving on to the next idea. They only have developed a new habit that says I have the self-confidence to be a leader, make decisions, make mistakes and move on.

Passing the buck

“The most important mark of a leader other leaders can trust is never passing the buck.”

MICHAEL HYATT

 Blaming others for their own mistakes is the antonym of leadership and a mature ego. How often do we face employees who are afraid to admit to their errors for fear of the punishment? I once talked with a CEO who was frustrated because her team was afraid to use their critical thinking skills and make logical decisions. The employee’s lack of self-confidence put a significant burden on the CEO because her employees would ask her advice on every single decision, which wasted a tremendous amount of her time. They feared deciding on their own because her punishments were harsh.

As leaders, we need to evaluate the method in which we communicate the action we asked our employees to take and reframe the communication in our mind to determine if someone less experienced than we are would perceive the conversation in a different way. Real leaders need to take complete ownership when things go wrong. That’s what a leader does even if it means getting fired. If a leader throws someone under the bus, they lose the trust of his/her team making it impossible to lead them.

Refusing to express regret

 The inability to take responsibility for our actions and admit we are wrong eliminates our ability to recognize how our actions affect others. Leaders often fear to show regret thinking falsely that a regret is a form of weakness.

Often as leaders, we are required to take actions we don’t necessarily want to make, but it is our job to do what is expected of us. I can think of many occasions over the years when I had to lay employees off due to a change in the business. When I was young and had an immature ego, I was able to complete those lay-offs without any thought to the individual.  I realized how important it was to consider the reaction that would come from the employee and allow them to save face as my ego became more mature.

 Winning too much

 

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Can you think of any sports professionals that need to win at all costs and in all situations? They go after a win when it matters when it doesn’t matter, and when it’s entirely beside the point. Have you experienced any leaders that will take the opposite view of any discussion point and fight to win it even if they don’t care about the solution? I have difficulty thinking about my college football coach, who was a revered faculty member. I worked in the dining hall during college, and we were not allowed to enter the room when the football team was eating for fear we would overhear strategy and pass it on to the competition. At one point, the milk ran out in the dining area, and no one would go out and fix it for fear of the coach. Since I didn’t care much about football at the time, I took the initiative to go milk the cow. Such meritocracy was just uncalled for but was a regular occurrence during that time.

Now, years later we find out that the assistant coach was molesting boys in the football locker room and the coach knew all about it. Rather than go to the police with the information, the coach chose to force the retirement of the assistant coach and continued to coach his precious team to protect them from the scandal. The evidence is clear that many individuals were aware of what was going on and gave no thought to the young boys who had their lives ruined.  Where was the coaches’ ethical values and where were the rest of the coaches and players? Think about Lance Armstrong and Tonya Harding; where were their values when they decided to do whatever they had to do to win.

The challenge is not with the desire to win. We all should want to win and increase the visibility of our business due to our success. The challenge is winning while maintaining our ethical values and validating that our winners are doing so honestly. Leaders have to own the integrity of their business and win but not at any cost.

Telling the world how smart you are

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Do you remember the international game show called,  “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” This was a show where contestants were asked trivia questions and had the opportunity to call a friend or use the audience’ response to win the million dollars. The show aired for months before the first winner was announced. The first winner, who happened to be an IRS agent,  was a true expert on all facts. His answers seemed to come out of nowhere. On the final question, he used his lifeline to call his Dad and rather than ask him a question he said, “ hey Dad I am going to win a million dollars, the answer to the question is x.” Confetti flowed from the ceiling and it was an exciting moment.

We often face individuals who appear to be self-proclaimed experts and talking with them can be extremely irritating. However, let’s be clear that there are true experts in every field. As a leader, we are much better served to show off our listening skills than our expert skills. However, if you really want to be an expert on anything simply google “how to be an expert on anything” and you will come up with over a million hits telling you how to do so.

Final Thoughts

This week’s’ blog has everything to do with our ego. As leaders, it is important that we build a mature ego.  Some individuals take offense to leaders who have egos. However, it is my contention that natural leaders start with an immature ego that allows poor behaviors like winning at all costs, controlling every conversation, acting like they are an expert at everything, or refusing to express regret. If a leader will allow their ego to mature as described in this blog, they will be rewarded with faster and larger success as an executive.

Are you looking forward to Part Four? Next week will review upholding boundaries. Be sure to click follow to be notified of a new posting.

 Presented by Golden Professional Coaching LLC

A Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching Company

We Build Tomorrow’s Leaders

Reference: “What Got You There Won’t Get You There.” Marshall Goldsmith, pg. 40