Celebrating and hoopla at work are important ingredients of a respectful culture …how can we each have an impact? Just do it.
As the CEO, I have the ability and resources to make celebration and hoopla a part of our culture. Last week the company I lead had our annual awards night where excellence was recognized. However it was much more than dinner, drinks, and individual/team recognition. It was a companywide team-building event!
Great teams and companies have the ability to celebrate as a way of reflecting the respect they have for each other. At this event, my team showed a very funny video spoofing the Character Triangle, where they depicted the Chairman and Founder of the company and I in dispute over a parking place. It brought the house down in uproarious laughter. My VPs also did this silly dance with the fog machine pumping out a cloud to the beat of rock and roll, each wearing a t-shirt emblazed with respect, accountability, and abundance. The entire company had a blast; every person side by side regardless of position or tenure.
I’m a fan of celebrations and also day to day hoopla. I’m in favor of celebrating mini milestones, birthdays, customer wins, etc. So here is my challenge. Regardless of your role, celebrate something with your teammates. Workplaces are meant to achieve a mission, often measured in commercial terms. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun …everyday. It reinforces, when done in good taste, the respect we have for each other.
Action: What are you going to celebrate this week? And oh yeah …music and dancing at work celebrations are good things in my opinion.
Each of us better know how our roles make a difference financially. If it’s not obvious, we have a responsibility to find out.
Business processes in companies change all the time. Therefore roles and positions change regularly and for most of us, what we do today has likely changed in the recent past. Organizations must be respectful but cannot be sentimental. Each role must add value, or be changed to add value. If the activity doesn’t count in measurable terms, then the organization will eliminate it sooner or later.
I challenge every team member in the company I run to personally connect their roles with the company mission and yearly objectives. Each of our jobs should have metrics that directly or indirectly connect with the commercial viability of the organization, whether we’re in a business or nonprofit. Having the right attitude is vital but not sufficient. Each of us must produce measurable value. Do you know what the key measures in your role are? Can you write them down right now? Do you know how you score? Are you meeting or exceeding the desired measurable targets? What is your personal action plan?
Please don’t be complacent on this. If you or I can’t answer in crisp and clear terms, it will be only a matter of time and our role will be changed, eliminated, or both.
Action: Be accountable. Outline what you believe the key measures are, and confirm with your boss. Stay tuned to how you are doing. Proactively work to improve and define and connect what you do with the organization’s purpose.
There are important places to visit in your organization. Have you been there?
Over the last few days I’ve run into a few articles regarding “best places to travel to in 2011.” Of course this usually involves a sun-soaked beach or hip European metropolis. However I began thinking about this concept and wondered about the positive benefit of applying the same approach at work. So here are my choices as “places to go” in your company. If you take these trips over the year I promise you that you will learn a lot and be able to do your job better. Ok, we’d all rather be in Maui but work with me on this:
Customer Service. See if you can meet with someone from CS to learn about the concerns expressed by customers. Even better… get on the phone with them for an hour or so. Customer complaints are great vehicles for learning.
Order Processing. Someone processes the orders customers make. Do you know how that happens? What can you learn from seeing an order fulfilled?
Accounts Receivable. What is it like to follow up with customers who are late payers? What process is used? How is this done with respect?
IT Helpdesk. What is it like being on call at the help desk? What do they do daily?
Coffee with a Senior Leader. Pick one leader you’ve not spent much time. Tell them you’d like to learn about their leadership philosophy. Ask for 15 minutes over coffee.
What other “vacation” spots, unique to your company, can you visit?
You and I likely have our hands full with our own work assignments. It may seem presumptuous to want to spend time to learning about other areas. However I believe “traveling to another viewpoint” over coffee or lunch is very rewarding. It is very respectful to genuinely learn from others in our workplace. It helps us understand our work more in relationship to others. We’ll all be better because of it.
Action: Let’s you and I get our passports stamped around our workplace. Let’s learn by visiting colleagues.
We learn a lot by observing how others get treated. How do we rate ourselves as consistently respectful towards others?
I recently made the mistake of renting the movie Dinner for Schmucks. I’m not in the business of reviewing movies but I thought it was weak. I believe the premise of the show is that rich, “smart” business execs have dinners to make fun of unwitting participants who are labeled as “schmucks.” In the end the “idiots” turn out to be the extraordinary people and the “rich/smart guys” show themselves to be in the reverse role. The message: we need to respect the unique angles each of us brings to the table. Although the box office performance of this movie reinforces its limitations, there is some merit in reminding us of the importance of the message it was trying to convey.
I was at breakfast with a number of execs the other day. The waiter who was taking our order was struggling. He mixed up orders and was stumbling over himself. One person at our table began to ridicule the waiter behind his back. I refused to participate. Hey, I’m no saint. But I find it flat out wrong and disrespectful to diminish others. Yes their performance for one reason or another may be substandard. And as customers we have a right to respectfully point out behavior that is not meeting expectations. Making fun of others is just not cool. There is zero value in doing it. In fact I wonder if this person includes me as an “idiot” when I’m not around. Frankly I wonder what merit or value he gets in acting that way?
Action: Applying a belief involves connecting our head, heart, and action. If we have a belief, we have to have the courage to help align into everyday action; in our small way change the world. Ask ourselves if we treat all people respectfully; whether they’re serving us breakfast or signing our paychecks. Set the example of what we believe in action. Others will watch and learn. Our everyday thoughts and actions will define what we really believe.
Understand that every world view, including yours and including mine, has limitations. Listen, learn, be humble …be respectful.
The tragic shooting in Tucson has raised the issue of intolerance and acceptance of diverse viewpoints; including but not limited to the provocative and potentially dangerous aspects of name calling and labeling. Unfortunately we have people with very public platforms making a living out of intolerance rather than promoting dialogue and understanding. They often argue that THEIR world view is not only the right way but that it’s the only way.
Cindy Wrigglesworth the Founder and CEO of www.deepchange.com has done some important work on spiritual intelligence. She describes it as follows:
Spiritual Intelligence: “the ability to act with Wisdom and Compassion while maintaining equanimity (inner and outer peace), regardless of the circumstances.”
She and her organization measure 21 attributes that they believe capture progress on the spiritual leadership continuum. Just ONE measurement area of spiritual intelligence is around the notion of world view; the way one sees the world. A well developed mind set regarding this world view, according to the people at Deep Change, is, “Everyone has a world view and that every world view has limitations. This keeps us humble and open to learning. We genuinely value other people’s perspective.”
The RESPECT value as defined in the Character Triangle fully embraces the critical importance of valuing other people’s perspective. The elements of respect as I define it overlap with many of the dimensions that Wrigglesworth and her team believe leads to greater spiritual intelligence.
The workplace is often filled with a my way or the highway perspective. This is especially dangerous when authority is attached to intolerance. Of course there are rules and policies that need following. Chaos and anarchy aren’t very practical. However the ability to really value other people’s perspectives is vital to a respectful and healthy organization culture.
Action: Take an honest look at where you may not be genuinely valuing another person’s perspective at work. Is there anywhere that you are intolerant? Why? What might you learn if you open up to better understand the other view?
Remember that every world view has its limitations. Be respectful.
Conflict is a normal part of work. How did you and I handle it this week?
Ok, you came to work every day in this new year with a smile and growth mind set. You’ve been reading my blogs and you are committed to living the Character Triangle. Then it happened. It set you and me off. What was it and what did we do about it?
The very first thing to remember is that every thing is a process. Most times conflict at work happens because of a process break down. Rarely do people do things intentionally to screw us over. (If that is their intention, they usually need counseling.) So the first thing to do is to observe and describe the process that failed, and outline the consequences of the failure. If we can unemotionally and objectively do that we can usually have a constructive dialogue with those that are part of the process. We learn to attack the process and not each other. We learn to have what I describe in earlier blogs as being capable of having a crucial conversation.
So what did we do this week, when IT happened? Did we document the process problem? Did we positively engage our team members in addressing the situation? Or did we get mad and stew? Complain to others who have no influence? Whine to our boss? Avoided it all together?
Action: Let’s chose to act as leaders and use conflict as an opportunity for process improvement and personal growth. Let’s minimize the amount of time we avoid or allow conflict to boil. Let’s learn from the conflict that happened this week and apply lessons through the rest of the year. So conflict can lead to constructive might rather than the shortcomings of flight or fight.