Monday, March 19, 2012

Which Way Do Your Employees Park?

A recent IBM study, reports based upon face-to-face meetings with over 1,500 CEOs worldwide, creativity is the most important leadership quality. *

I disagree. If the organization does not have a nurturing culture, creativity is going to have a tough time taking root. People don’t care how creative you are until you create caring relationships!
Some business consultants say that they can get the pulse of an organization’s culture - positive or negative - by the number of Dilbert cartoons posted in people’s work space and the number of employee cars backed into parking spaces for a quick getaway at the end of the work day! 
Culture is made up of core values, beliefs, attitudes, and behavior that create either pleasure  leading to positive flow or misery leading to implosion. Good, believable, clear values and expectations guide an organization’s people in good times as well as bad. Passion permeates everything and everyone leading to greater creativity and innovation, reduced waste, fewer accidents, quick turn-around when failure occurs and a better financial growth. A nurturing culture directly feeds strategy and helps to not only implement strategy but do it more quickly.
Keys to a nurturing culture...
  • In the wisdom of author Jim Collins, Good to Great, get the right people on the "bus" sitting in the right seats. Do your homework and find the right people whose values and core beliefs are in sync with the organization. Do not hire warm bodies especially in times of greatest need. Do not allow the wrong people to remain in the wrong seats. Move them to where they need to be or remove them from the “bus.” FYI...executive coaching only works about a third of time.
  • Create an environment of questions rather than answers. Suspend judgment and ask for points of view. Don’t assume. Seek to understand. Communicate through as many channels as possible as often as possible. This minimizes the fear factor which is corrosive to a nurturing culture.
  • Ask for input from those in the organization on the organization’s vision and strategic plan. This does not mean you will use their ideas, but it does mean you value their perspective. Help people to understand their role in fulfilling the mission and living the vision. This demonstrates compassion, another building block for a nurturing culture.
  • Know your people including concerns and stressors. Inspire followers to work in their passion. Live the Golden Rule.
  • Leaders meet with their people regularly to discuss performance and create action steps for career development including succession planning. This act instills and fuels hope. Hope is a vital piece creating a nurturing culture. 
  • Minimize bureaucracy. Make clear job descriptions with input from those doing the work. Minimize the number of rules and let common sense prevail. Do not hover over them and tell how to do their jobs. Practice empowerment which means trust people to make good decisions.  This becomes a sign of valuing the whole person whose ripple affect models the way to better customer service.
  • Acknowledge shame, pain and weakness. When you don’t know something, admit it. Don’t be ashamed, but do your best to find out. Admit when you are wrong. Don’t point fingers. Learn from mistakes. Ask for forgiveness. Be forgiving. This does incredible things for culture.
  • Practice consistency which infuses stability. When a person reports to six different people in three years, instability abounds. Commitment and accountability are a two-way street. When times become tough, people will follow the leader through hell and back.
  • Encourage in as many ways as possible including failing forward. Remember the proverb, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”? It’s true! An encouraging culture creates flow and makes a heavy load easier to bear. 
Which way is your car parked?


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