The costs of cultural ambiguity, or worse, conflict, are significant. Data shows a huge negative impact on productivity, stress levels, safety, health and profitability.
Health care expenditures at high-pressure companies are nearly 50% greater than at other organizations.
Source: American Psychological Association
What many leaders have written off as “the soft stuff” as opposed to focusing on balance sheets and profit and loss statements, is really the silent killer. Are you, as a leader, in touch with what is really driving the direction of your organization? Are you leading a company without being aware of cultural issues or are you leading the charge to greatness by focusing on what matters most to the health and integrity of your company and your employees?
Are you, as an employee, feeling the joy of working in a great culture or the pain of working in a high pressure, high stress environment? If the latter, is it worth it? What is it doing to your health?
Time to WAKE UP!!
Halloween is almost upon us. This seems like a great time to identify for the “scary” elements that have been haunting our business.
The past continues to haunt business. Old ideas, old fears, old practices and protocols. The ghost of business past causes leaders to hold on to those philosophies that might have worked a year age or even a decade ago because the thought is, “We have always done it that way.” As a result, innovation and creativity are scared out of existence.
Being beaten down. Now that is the tool of choice for the goblin. Every day a new “punishment” of choice is meted out. The goblin in the head says, “You’re not smart enough. Not good enough?” and so less risk is taken. The goblin paves the way for competition to take over and talent to leave.
There’s a spell that has been cast. Inviting and oh so attractive, the business has been mesmerized into ideologies that immobilize and ultimately destroy progress. The witch has taken control.
Wise and visionary, the wizard is one of the business’s assets. They find new ways to ward off the ghost of business past, conquer the goblins and destroy the witches. The road is revealed and the path cleared for success.
So what is scaring your business
What or who is:
Business and life would be so simple if one and one always added up to two. At least, that is what our logical brain seems to tell us. But what can happen when one and one don’t add up to two?
First, One and One Always Adds Up to Two. Really?
On the surface, there seems to be a great deal of evidence which would lead us to come up with one right answer. Customers can consistently expect a quality product or service, after all the product is always made the same way and the service is always delivered in the same manner. A leader can expect that employees fully understand their roles and expectations and deliver top performance. Employees consistently receive the same information, directives and are held accountable in the same manner.
After all, the following is generally true:
By now, I pretty sure readers are getting the idea that I might have lost my mind or am really out of touch with reality. However, just consider how the previous statements when laid out in front of us, may lead us to make unconscious assumptions which ultimately affect our relationships and results. If that’s the case, which unfortunately it often is, we need to rethink what we might need to consider how we have been conducting business.
Initially, when one and one don’t add up to two, the automatic conclusion is that someone or something is wrong.
The customer may have purchased the product or service for a very specific reason. For example, a customer may purchase hammer to drive nails. Later, having left it in a car used it to smash a window to escape if involved in an accident.
The leader has had solid, steady growth in one market. A new trend pops up and now there is an opportunity to expand into a new market, totally unrelated. Over night the business explodes or the opportunity passes and the competition takes over.
Employees are given the business objectives. The average employee doing day-to-day activities, not really making the connection with their roles and the success of the business. As a result business continues to limp along. Or, they can see that their current goals and roles need to be modified and they need to step out of the status quo to help achieve those objectives and push the business to new levels of success.
Finally, It’s Not Right or Wrong
Since life is not as simple as basic math. Often times, there are great rewards when one and one adds up to two. However, a lot of great things have happened when one and one don’t equal two and as a 720thinker, I would like you to consider the following questions:
What might happen with your customers if they believed that you offered more than just the basic service?
What might happen if your leadership found different applications or opportunities for a product or service?
What might happen with employees if they stepped out of their box and added some innovative ideas and actions to production or service?
Labor Day weekend seems to be a yearly turning point for many businesses. It is a time to shake off the business doldrums brought on by summer’s beautiful weather and the siren call of the beach and the mountains. It is a “get serious” moment as it signifies the push through the last few months of the year. Many leaders need to have a highly successful post- Labor Day to have a good year. There is a desire for renewed energy as everyone realizes they need a little bit of extra effort to hit their numbers.
This return to normalcy could be viewed in both a positive or negative light. On the positive side, leaders have recognized that their troops need some time to re-charge their batteries. They have planned out their year so the summer is lower key but still productive. They have carefully put things in place during the summer to enable their employees to successfully ramp up after the holiday. Most businesses have ebbs and flows in their calendars and utilizing them to be productive is critical. Taking inventory, cleaning or re-configuring warehouses, doing strategic planning, holding company outings- all can take place when things are a bit slower. Leaders shouldn’t waste this time. They should use it to go into the fall months with momentum. So summer is part of the yearly plan to achieve certain objectives.
On the other hand, if the summer months have been treated as down time for the company as a whole, without thought or planning, it is awful hard to start September with all cylinders firing. Just as you never see a pitcher going into a game without warming up or an orchestra start a concert without tuning up for fear of disastrous results, business leaders need to recognize that a warmup is important. Failure to do a re-set on the year’s goals and objectives could leave employees without sufficient focus. It could be like returning from a long trip in a very different time zone. Folks are a bit disoriented and not quite with it. The time it takes to get up to speed is lost time for a company, time that cannot be recovered. Those who believe that things can get back to normal automatically after being in first gear for a couple of months are fooling themselves.
Summer can be viewed as an attitude. Leaders can make it a positive one by allowing employees the time they need to get away from work, pursue their interests and enjoy their families so they bring energy to their work when they return. But there also has to be an ongoing sense of purpose and business as usual which is part of that. And those returning from vacation need to be brought back into any new initiatives or processes quickly so they can be motivated and engaged.
The fall is usually a busy time in business, but there are obstacles. Think about the next big time challenge- Thanksgiving to the end of the year. For retailers (including e-retailers) it is make or break and there is no thought of slacking off. Their teams need to be ready and excited for that. For many businesses there is a belief that nobody is available to do business during that period so they think of it as a slow time. Many think their deadlines are “soft” rather than “hard”, assuming the customers or clients are taking it a bit easy. That is an old wives’ tale. Make sure that business goes on, calls are made, meetings are held and commitments are kept. At the very least you will be setting up the first quarter of next year. The more excuses you make, the more you will find, and soon you will be in full swing only half of the year. Picture what that could do to your numbers.
Businesses cannot afford to ignore the opportunities that exist in their perceived slow times. There is always much to do, even if key people go on vacation. The work of the organization should not stop. We always complain there is never enough time. There would be more if people used what is there more effectively. Company core values and the behaviors that support them need to be followed year round.
On another note, there was a story in a recent Wall Street Journal article that had a headline that started with “Wouldn’t it be nice…” It led me to think of a few things that fall into that category.
Wouldn’t it be nice if:
I know there are a lot more. Any suggestions?
Businesses rarely fail because of talent or resources. Actually, there is plenty of that to go around. Failure happens because of each individual’s motivation. It’s not a leader’s job to motivate. Motivation is an intrinsic factor that only comes from within. And although motivation is not the leader’s job, it is their job to inspire.
To clear up some confusion in the words, here’s the definitions according to businessdictionary.com
Motivation: Internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continually interested and committed to a job, role or subject, or to make an effort to attain a goal. Motivation results from the interaction of both conscious and unconscious factors such as the (1) intensity of desire or need, (2) incentive or reward value of the goal, and (3)expectations of the individual These factors are the reasons one has for behaving a certain way.
Inspiration: The act of influencing subordinants to perform and engage in achieving a goal.
Leadership that Inspires
Yes, lions roar. Research shows that lions roar to communicate, to claim their territory and as a strategy to distract or confuse their prey. While we may not want to focus on distraction and confusion, roaring can and does provide focus on top priorities.
I believe the real inspiration comes from the lion’s slow, dignified lift of the head as it surveys its surrounding to the power exuded in every muscle as they calmly, confidently, gracefully navigate through danger. They are often alone and apart from the crowd as they continually scan, survey and plan. Only theirs eyes in motion capturing all the potential dangers as well as the capabilities of their pride.
Appreciating that a lion’s motivation is much less complex than people, with food and safety as the primary motivator, leaders can still see the value to inspire as they communicate expectations, while calmly and critically surveying their organization’s climate and environment to more fully understand the underlying motivators of their team.
Dreams. A leader that inspires people to proactively discover their dreams and their passions will also help them to connect those dreams to the company’s vision and purpose. An inspirational leader helps to challenge people’s interests and ideas to come into alignment fully engaged and motivated to, not just do the jobs they have been assigned, but to actively become more innovative, creative and adaptable to change.
As each motivated individual sees opportunities that bring their closer to their dreams, they embrace learning new skills, becoming more resilient and taking more initiative to be more and do more within the organization. The inspirational leader now can rise above the day-to-day operations to take the business and their employees dreams to new heights.
Courage. Leadership can be really scary, especially if one is being held accountable for the actions of others. One of the greatest challenges that strong, successful , self-motivating individuals possess is the ability to delegate. It takes courage to delegate.
When I was in the corporate setting, I was offered a newly created Chief Operating Officer position. One of the first gifts that I received as a COO from the CEO was a little statue that said, “I believe in you.” This act tapped into my strong motivation to succeed in spite of often difficult and overwhelming odds. These acts of courage -taking the risk and believing in the unknown ME – inspired persistence and commitment, because I was NOT going to let her down.
We. For me, this quote offers a great summation to this blog. Fully understanding motivation serves to support individual beliefs and knowledge that significant contributions to the relationship, the project, the event, the business endeavor have been made.
Although it’s not a leader’s job to motivate. It is essential for leaders to inspire others to new heights of success. We would love to learn your thoughts on inspiration and motivation.