Culture

Looking at Culture

It is important for each of us to step back and look at our organizational culture. What does it look like for a customer? Is it friendly and welcoming? Have you considered asking a visitor?

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Determining Success

“Your growth determines who you are.  Who you are will determine who you attract.  Who you attract determines the success of your organization.” – John Maxwell

What do you value? What does your organization value? How will those values lead to success?

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Bright Ideas:

Complacency develops for many reasons, with one being a perception that new ideas are unwelcome or even rejected. To combat complacency, consider ways you can encourage ideas from employees at all levels. Allowing employees to submit Bright Ideas to a peer group for review and implementation honors employees’ ideas while simultaneously improving the organization.

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Encourage Work Friendships

When people start a new job they are experiencing a transition; they’re introduced to a new role, coworkers, and environment. Paying special attention to a new hire’s first several months can positively influence their chance for success with your organization. Consider incorporating opportunities for new hires to bond with current employees and start developing friendships. Having work friendships is important, they help us feel connected and therefore motivated and productive. Gallup research has repeatedly shown a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their job.

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The Silent Start

To ensure productive meetings, Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos doesn’t use presentations. He recommends starting each meeting with at least 5 silent minutes for each member to review a memo in preparation for the discussion or meeting. Although this can sound awkward at first, Bezos notes several benefits: this time inspires the undivided attention of attendees, provides direction, reduces misunderstandings, and allows attendees time to think and make notes to contribute to the conversation. Leaders who have used this tactic with their teams have noticed more meaningful conversations, increased collaboration, and shorter meetings. Try a silent start during your next team meeting.

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Cast Vision for Change

Help your team members envision a brighter future, with the change in action. While being transparent, consider what positive outcome we can all focus on as a result of the change.

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Anticipate Conflict

High performing teams, and teams of individuals who are just getting to know each other may have different ideas, visions, and opinions. As the team leader, be prepared to manage all voices and conflicts that may occur as teams are beginning to build trust and execute together.

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Establish an Employee Onboarding Team

An employee onboarding team comprised of individuals who model the organization’s culture and values can be created to own the onboarding process for incoming new hires. The onboarding team can then work with each new hire’s leader to personalize an onboarding plan in which a variety of team members may be included. Does your department have a team with a variety of members to facilitate relationship building for the new hire?

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Model the Culture You Want

“You create the culture in your environment.” – Dr. Natalie Harder.

If you want a positive culture in your organization, as the leader realize you set the tone for the culture of your organization. Hold up the mirror and reflect on how you can model the culture you want for your organization. Culture change happens one interaction at a time and causes a ripple through an organization from person to person.

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Talk is Cheap

…unless it’s a manage up. Messaging and celebrating the impact of an individual doesn’t have to be elaborate. A simple manage up of an individual’s impact in front of the larger team means more to most than a purchased prize.

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A Journey

It’s easy to think that an organization can “arrive” at excellence and then take a breather. In reality, organizational excellence requires a constant effort and process of reflecting on where you are and where you need to be. Having a framework and set of principles to guide this effort keeps teams moving forward and aligned.

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How Can You Exceed Customer Expectations?

Start by asking your customers. Find out what their expectations are, and probe customers for ways your organization can improve the customer experience. Your current customers have the best insight into your customer experience, and asking for their feedback will make them feel valued and important. Don’t forget to thank them for their input.

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Empathetic Listening & Negotiating

Try your hand at empathetic listening and negotiating to strengthen team communication and relationships. During your next meeting, listen to other team members and strategies they are using or plan to use in the next 30 days. Before the meeting is over, communicate at least one way you will support that strategy.

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Analyze Your Communication

Barriers and silos often exist in an organization when there is a lack of effective communication. People in different departments aren’t sharing information, causing work to get repeated or the organization to send out mixed messages. Audit your communication to identify areas to eliminate barriers that are a result of inefficient communication.

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Lead by Example

Passively deal with a difficult employee by choosing to lead by example. You can’t expect others to act in ways you aren’t willing to yourself, and a positive role model just may be the push the difficult employee needs to change their behavior. Start role modeling by:

  • Using clear, consistent communication at all times.
  • Follow-up while working on projects.
  • Follow-through to meet your deadlines and commitments.
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Clear Language

The futuristic nature of an organization’s strategic plan can sometimes lead to ambiguous language and goals. Ensure statements like “Become the market leader” are replaced in the final version of the strategic plan with concrete statements like “Increase consumption of services by __ target customer.”

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Investing Your Time

As leaders working with individuals to support their growth and improvements it’s important to be aware of the time you are investing in each individual compared to the outcomes. There are some individuals that will reach the high-solid performance level but may not achieve the high performer level. Leaders have to decide if they can accept performance at the solid performer level, or if they have more time to contribute to investing in the individual.

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Who’s Doing What?

To increase accountability across a team, create clarity. Ensure roles, responsibilities, and goals are clear. It’s easier to be accountable when you know who’s doing what and where the team is going.

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Unmistakable Recognition

Remember to recognize those providing unmistakable value in your organization. This recognition can be as simple as a shout-out during the next team meeting. Recognizing an employee’s commitment to being unmistakably valuable to stakeholders encourages more of this behavior and mindset across the team.

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Less is More

When creating a scorecard, it is important to remember less is more. What are the most important indicators of success for each strategic area? What are the few measures that will indicate progress? What are the 1-2 actions that will get us closer to the goal? Most of us are responsible for a substantial number of projects and tasks. We don’t put all of these responsibilities on our scorecard. The scorecard is a tool that keeps us focused on the few that matter most. This doesn’t mean we don’t tend to the others, but it does help us prioritize.

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Be Interested

Instead of focusing on the next thing you will say after the speaker is finished talking, focus on the messages being sent. Where do you need more clarification? What do you want to know more about? Develop probing and clarifying questions for the speaker to encourage them to continue communicating and facilitate deeper understanding.

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Idea Bank

As you meet with your direct reports each month, you may find you have more ideas than you can possibly implement. Come up with a system to put the best ideas in place. For example, at the end of each quarter, a leader may present the bank of ideas to their team and let them vote on which ideas to fulfill.

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Engaged Employees Inspire Loyal Customers

Employees who are engaged are more likely to be enthusiastic and emotionally attached to their work. They are fully committed to the organization and more likely to go above and beyond to provide excellent service. A positive employee experience directly enhances the customer’s experience, after all, it is your employees who create the customer experience. Take action by implementing one recommendation for increasing engagement on your team this week.

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One at a Time

After an initial communication of all organizational goals, consider focusing on one goal at a time during the next few team meetings. Use this time to help team members see how their roles connect to the larger aims and identify actions the team will take to support achievement of the goal.

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Connect Actions to Values

When discussing strategic direction and strategic actions with our teams, it’s helpful to connect those actions to the organization’s values to allow people to visualize the meaningful outcomes of their work.

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Analyze Your Complaints

Keep track of the complaints you receive and respond to. Every 6 months revisit that list and make note of the complaints that arise the most. Ask your team and yourself if there is a barrier in the process or if there is a change that can be made to decrease the most common complaints.

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If You’re in a Hole Stop Digging

Communicate about a crisis as openly and honestly as possible. Don’t try to leave out information, mislead the public or the media, or avoid owning up to the crisis. The crisis may feel detrimental at the time. However, in the long-run, the attempt to cover it up can leave an organization’s reputation in shambles.

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The Power of Silence

Silent feedback may seem like an oxymoron, but it can be a powerful tool for collective brainstorming and reflection. In a meeting, ask each participant to write his/her response to a given question or prompt. Then, ask them to pass their papers to right, read what their colleague wrote, and provide comments or a reaction. Continue rotating the papers until each paper gets back to its owner. Ask the owner to review all comments and provide a one-sentence summary about the contents of the entire page.

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Remember Why You Started

Don’t forget why you started on the path of continuous improvement. Regularly remind yourself and your team why changes are occurring, particularly during the tougher phases.

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Win Vs. Loss

When we’re trying to accomplish really important goals, it’s easy to forget to celebrate progress. For one week, keep a tally of the number of times you point out a set-back and a tally of the number of times you celebrate a win. Do the wins win? If you proclaimed the negative more often, try again next week. Build a habit of celebrating wins that matter.

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Master Storytellers

Always be on the lookout for opportunities to harvest stories for your organization. Whether the story is from a customer and can be used for marketing purposes, or from an employee and can be used to showcase company values, good organizations make an effort to collect and distribute these stories. Make it your goal to harvest at least 1 story per week.

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Question for Passion

During one-on-one conversations with potential new leaders, dig deep to learn about what motivates the individual. What part of their work do they most enjoy? What would they like to do more of? What skill areas do they think they want to develop? Connecting people with what they are passionate about at work increases results.

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Reward Mastered Skills

Monitor your aspiring leader’s progress and when a new leadership skill is mastered, recognize and reward the new leader. Individuals generally like to be recognized and rewarded in different ways, try to be as personal and specific as possible. If you are using or creating a formal new leader development program, incorporate regular reward and recognition into the program plan.

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Mirror Your Leader’s Style

When approaching a conversation with your leader about their performance, use their preferred communication method. Match their communication style and be mindful of your body language.

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Enlist Help From Your Team

The best person to improve a process is the person who carries out the process. Fully utilize employee skill-sets – can someone be doing more? If the process is improved, they will likely have time to take on higher level work.

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See it – Reward it

Recognize the right behavior right away. Don’t wait until it’s time for a quarterly or yearly recognition program. Make it a habit to recognize performance that deserves to be rewarded.

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Align Your Team One Step at a Time

Identify one thing at a time you can do, or stop doing, to make sure your leadership team is on board and then commit to taking action. It’s the senior leader’s ultimate responsibility to align the executive leadership team.

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Treat Every Interaction as a First Impression

It is often the small things that we remember during our experiences as a customer that form our long-term perception of an organization. Make every interaction a positive one, no matter how quick or seemingly insignificant it may be. You never know when a small gesture will make a big impact.

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Recognize the Good

Confronting organizational issues gives the leader the opportunity to teach important lessons about behavioral norms and living the values of the organization. Use positive examples of colleagues leading by example especially through a conflict or challenge. By recognizing and rewarding colleagues for living the mission of the organization, this clarifies the expectation for all employees in the organization by demonstrating what right looks like.

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Reach Out & Learn

Have someone you would love to learn from? Approach them! Be ready to make the commitment to bettering yourself and your career today.

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Round with Middle Leaders

Are your middle leaders confident in their abilities to execute your most recent goals? Could they use a hand? Take the time to find out what they need to feel confident in their ability to achieve their goals.

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Become an Active Mentor

Reflect on your current connections and pinpoint someone you think would love to establish a mentor/mentee relationship with you and set up a meeting to talk about the possibility.

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A Fresh Take: Observe & Report

Conduct a Plus/Delta with the participants at the end of your next board or team meeting. Observe dynamics in the discussion, is every leader an active participant?

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There is Always Time for a Smile

Next time you’re rushing to that next meeting, look up and give the people you’re zooming past a smile or a quick hello. The difference it could make to their day, and your own, is bigger than you might anticipate.

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Give Trust to Get Trust

How do we get people to trust? We start with trusting first. Share a vulnerable experience with a colleague today that will begin building your relationship.

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Change Can Be Uncomfortable

The initial reaction is to slow down and back off because leaders tend to be uncomfortable with discomfort. This is the most important time to keep the throttle down.

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What We Permit We Promote

When you see or hear someone that is not adhering to the standards, speak up. At the same time compliment those that are living the values and mission of the organization and encourage others to recognize values-driven behavior as well. As a leader, you are not only obligated to live your mission, vision and values, you are responsible for ensuring others do as well.

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Strive to Inform

Executive leaders should constantly strive to keep their team informed, as well as the entire organization. Be certain your executive leaders have the necessary tools to make informed decisions in order to share out accurate information.

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Reflect on Turnover

Is your organization or department retaining talent? Is there room for improvement in your hiring process? Chances are there is ample space to make stronger hiring decisions. Apply just one new method to your next round of interviews.

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Schedule Time for Note-Taking

Set aside specific time in your schedule after meetings to take notes. You’ll be meeting with many people and you’ll want to remember the valuable information you learned about the organization and them personally. Looking back on these notes will help you take action after your first 100 days have passed.

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Get a Team Together

If your organization doesn’t have a peer interview team, determine how you can start assembling the right team for your next hiring process. If you have a team in place, consider adding new tools to make the process a smooth success.

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Non-Dominant Hand Practice

Time yourself writing your name with your non-dominant hand. Then, time yourself writing your name with your dominant hand. Relate that to the time wasted when we, or our team members, are asked to work outside of our strengths. Think about how you or your team members can spend more time working within their strengths.

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Reflect on Your Own Behavior

Take a moment to reflect on how well you are upholding your organization’s values… usually they match your own. Is there room for improvement? Take note of what could be improved in your own behavior.

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Make Meaningful Connections Simple

Connecting personally with your employees makes them feel heard and valued. Take the time to connect with one employee today on a personal level. For example, if you heard an employee got a new pet, ask about it.

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Communicate to Connect

The most effective communicators are those who can connect the dots for others in a way that creates clear understanding and leads to the desired outcome. After connecting with a group, our goal is always to accomplish three things:

1) make sure the listener understands the outcome or the results of the technique or tool,

2) explain how to implement the expected action, and then

3) tell a story that illustrates the impact. The key is moving from people to action.

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Celebrate the Small Steps

Use weekly adjustment meetings to celebrate wins and unify the team around priorities. Spend a few minutes at each meeting letting team members share successes from the week and meaningful progress.

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Lead by Example

Be aware of your actions as a leader but also be aware of the actions of the leadership team. All eyes in the organization are looking to you to commit to excellence and lead by example.

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Display Trust in Others

Start your day by speaking with each employee. Make a personal connection, know about them and their family. Ask colleagues how you can assist them in meeting their goals. Ask colleagues if they have the tools needed to be successful. Eat lunch in the break room with colleagues.

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Create Goal Champions

Identify an executive champion for each organizational goal. That leader works with the team to break the goal into smaller chunks and each person takes responsibility for part of the goal. On a weekly basis, talk about actions each person is taking to achieve the goal and celebrate milestones accomplished.

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Know Your Audience

Communication can be used to effectively lead change. To help craft key change messages and cascade them throughout the organization, executive teams must work closely together to identify the audiences within an organization that should be targeted and reached with consistent and accurate information. It is also the responsibility of leadership to draw clear lines that connect each employee’s role to the organization’s mission and strategic actions.

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Values Start from the Top

Team members look to the leader to set the expectation. Leaders must lead by example and align their actions to the values of the organization. To become a credible leader, you must genuinely and consistently stand up for your beliefs and principles.

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EQ is a Must-Have for Leader Success

“Emotional intelligence, not knowledge, education or experience, is the key driver in leader success. To excel in personal competence, one must exercise high levels of self-awareness and self-management. To achieve at high levels in the area of social competence, one must be skilled in social awareness and relationships management. Gaps in any of these 4 EQ skill areas could contribute to individual performance gaps that will negatively impact employee engagement and organizational results.”

Source: Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves

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Empower People to Solve Problems

Good processes arise when the workforce is empowered to identify and solve problems to achieve excellence. Process improvement reinforces and accelerates a culture of performance excellence. Encourage people to be problem solvers by bringing a solution with every problem.

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Grow Your Own Program

Set up an exploratory pipeline program for new leaders interested in building career options within the organization. Partner a potential successor with the leader serving in a position soon to open to complete current projects, especially ongoing or challenging projects, to learn about the position and processes. Conduct ongoing talent review discussions to keep options and opportunities open for rising talent. Invest in talent development training for rising successors.

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Utilize AIDET in Many Situations

AIDET® is a valuable tool for all types of interactions. Elements of AIDET® do not have to be delivered in any specific order, nor do all of the elements have to be included in every interaction. You can use AIDET for a brief introduction, to set expectations, or even to reduce anxiety. The possibilities are endless.

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To Be Great, Innovate

Nothing new or great is achieved by doing things the way they have always been done. Leaders that apply a results-focused approach are not afraid to experiment and take risks while understanding the importance of celebrating small steps of success.

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Build Strong Relationships

When you consistently treat people with respect, transparency, fairness, and gratitude, you’re building a strong emotional bank account with them. Our own happiness and success are largely dependent on the relationships we build with others. Having a good friend in the workplace increases satisfaction at work according to Gallup. Take one action today to build a stronger relationship with your coworkers.

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Be Specific with Reward and Recognition

As part of the Reward and Recognize principle, we encourage the development of systems and processes to notice and recognize great work. We know that to be most effective we cannot leave recognition to chance. Making reward and recognition is specific is key. To get started, set up a notebook to build on the processes you already have in place. Arrange tabs in the following categories and document processes as they are developed: Celebrating weekly wins, peer-to-peer recognition, individual notes of thanks, department/group celebration, and formal public recognition.

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Expressing Gratitude Becomes Contagious

Openly thank employees and provide specifics about why you are thanking them, or send them a “thank you” note. Place a “thank you” sticky note with specific feedback on someone’s desk or computer. Bring someone a cup of coffee from time to time or ask a colleague how you can be helpful to them.

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Serving with Excellence

Movement to excellence is first seen in our interactions with internal and external customers. This means we speak to people in the hall, or as soon as they approach our desk or office area. The tone of our voice is pleasant, and our intention from the beginning is to meet the needs of the customer by listening first, delivering the best possible experience, and providing something extra. This extra may not occur all the time, but often enough that it makes a difference.

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Connect to the Heart

Thinking about and plotting staff on a performance curve can feel a bit mechanical. While this task is guided by the head, it is a prerequisite for connecting to the heart of employee performance. The ability to have meaningful conversations that support growth of individual employees is only possible once a leader has an accurate picture of each employee’s current performance. Differentiating staff is not just about placing a name on a curve, but about reflecting on opportunities to maximize each employee’s potential.

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Boost Your Low Solid Performers

Low solid performers are important members of our team. While they might need coaching around a particular skill, they are often eager to grow. Low solid performers are committed to the organization, but can also be easily influenced by negative, low performers. To best support a low solid performer, partner them with positive, high performers for skill development opportunities.

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Grow Owners

Owners are deeply committed to organizational performance. They often take personal responsibility when things go wrong and immediately begin looking for solutions. This is the type of behavior organizations seek to replicate. To grow owners in your organization, find ways to deliberately and publicly highlight displays of ownership behavior in others.

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Engage at All Levels

An employee forum can either be viewed as a valuable learning opportunity or as a waste of time. To ensure your next employee forum is an engaging and informative experience, think about the message you want to send and how to make the message relevant for each employee group. Incorporate clear connections to the work of each group in your presentation. Ask yourself, “Does the message tell employees how their work contributes to the whole?”

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Getting Comfortable with Compliance Conversations

Compliance conversations are often uncomfortable. It’s important to be clear and direct about expectations and steps for correction. Avoiding the discomfort of compliance conversations by not having one only makes matters worse for you, the employee, and the team. To get comfortable and ensure you have the right words, consider scripting and practicing your compliance conversation.

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Break the We/They Habit

We/They is easy to do and often undetected. Bringing the practice to light and learning how to spot statements that paint others in a negative light is the first step to eliminating We/They from your organization. Model the expectation of eradication by admitting when you We/They throughout the week. The team will respect this open reflection and be more willing to hold themselves accountable.

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Devote Time to Listening

As leaders, we do some things well and others not so well. Our perception is not always the perception of others. When we ask employees what we can do to be a better leader, we build emotional bank accounts with them. Now is the time to listen rather than react to the problem. After the discussion, continue to leverage relationships by following-up with specific actions we will take to improve.

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Define Service Standards

Service excellence is about providing high-quality service to both internal and external “customers.” Leaders must define what excellent service looks like. They must also make sure they have best-place-to-work standards that define the way people are expected to behave in their work environment. Does your organization have clearly defined standards in order to deliver aligned services?

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It’s More than a Note

Organizations generally reward and recognize employees, but too often it has been the equivalent of a generic pat on the back. If we get specific about the behaviors we reward and recognize, we’ll go much further toward encouraging others to practice those behaviors. Plus, it’s important to create systems for recognition, such as writing a certain number of thank-you notes. Handwritten notes sent to employees’ homes can have a huge impact on their lives.

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Consistency Creates Excellence

Managing up ensures that the right behavior gets repeated—not just by the employee who originally performed the behavior, but also by those around that person who observe the reward and recognition. Recognizing people encourages others to do the right thing, and ultimately it encourages the consistency we need in order to create a culture of excellence. Does your organization have a system in place for employees to submit manage-ups?

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Take Time to Talk

Leader Connection Questions are key to employee satisfaction. The better employees feel about their work environment, the greater opportunity they have to achieve results. Why ask employees these crucial connection questions? They give employees the opportunity to provide input and share areas working well and processes to be improved. Employees feel like valuable members of the team. As we know, when employees feel valued, they will always do more than what is expected.

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Relationships Over Data

As a new leader in an organization or role, it’s important to gain a deep understanding of the data, measures, and goals related to your work. But remember the data is not more important than the people. Be aware of your attitudes, behaviors, and energy; these days set the tone for your future and establish credibility. Act transparently and be open with people. Avoid any temptation to isolate yourself or focus on data over relationships. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try inviting a colleague to lunch away from the office.

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Initiating Change

When communicating any organization goals or changes start with explaining the reason why it is necessary. Make changes only after you fully understand the process, you can’t fix what you don’t understand, and you risk alienating staff.

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If It Isn’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

Sometimes when new leaders are getting started in their role, they feel pressure to make changes, get quick results, and prove their worth. The most successful new leaders, however, know to focus instead on building trust and relationships with the individuals they work with and lead. As a new leader emphasize:

  • Learning the organization’s pace and norms
  • Focusing on identifying short term priorities, and making note of focus areas for the next year and the following year
  • Empathy and Compassion. Change often makes people uncomfortable, avoid making sudden changes especially during your first 100 days
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New Leader to the Organization?

Spend as much time as possible observing and learning.

  • Review all of your organization’s content possible such as training manuals, and reports
  • Set up meetings with employees at all levels of the organization
  • Seek to learn and understand as much as you can about practices, processes, the organization’s culture, and the employees personally
  • Discuss what’s working well, areas that could be improved, and personal and professional goals
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Empower Employees

Give individuals on the front lines the authority to do what it takes to make customers happy, so their issues are solved the first time. Employees closest to the customers are most in tune with customer pain points and how to solve them. Harvest this information for continuous customer service recovery and improvement.

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Remove Service Barriers

The number one complaint customers cite is the difficulty of resolving their problems. Analyze your customer service process. Are there obstacles your customers must face to resolve their issue? How can you make it easier for customers to have their complaints resolved?

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Consistent Poor Performance

We give people every opportunity to improve their skills and choose to change their behavior through coaching, performance conversations, and development opportunities. When people aren’t compliant, don’t live the standards, or become toxic to our organization, it’s time to take steps to transition the individual off the team. If you’ve had multiple performance correction conversations with the same individual, take the next step today to moving them out of the organization.

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Win Vs. Loss

When we’re trying to accomplish really important goals, it’s easy to forget to celebrate progress. For one week, keep a tally of the number of times you point out a set-back and a tally of the number of times you celebrate a win. Do the wins win? If you proclaimed the negative more often, try again next week. Build a habit of celebrating wins that matter.

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Build Culture Daily

Use quick huddles or short beginning of shift meetings to culture build by highlighting one of the organization’s values or standards. Tell a story about the value or standard in action and discuss common barriers to living the value. Let a different team member lead the conversation each day.

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Consult Current Employees

While creating job descriptions or new job roles, ask your current employees for their opinions and feedback. It’s likely that current team members have a unique perspective on what a role will require and what skills the company should be looking for.

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Develop Specific Job Descriptions

When crafting a job description, be as clear and detailed as possible. Provide an accurate picture of what’s required for the position. Avoid using terms such as “ninja,” “rockstar,” “guru,” or “wizard,” which are vague and do little to contribute to the actual responsibilities of the job. Think carefully about the words you use, and whether or not they deter applicants from applying for the available position.

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Re-Connect with an Old Friend

Reach out to a colleague at a previous job, an old friend from college, or someone else you’ve lost contact with. Spend time listening and catching up. The sole purpose of this connection is to start rebuilding your relationship. Listen for ways you can be helpful or provide value to your old friend and then follow through.

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Hold “Renters” Accountable

Identify employees you lead who could improve their ownership behaviors and help them develop plans for improvement. Clearly explain the impact of their behavior on the organization, their colleagues, and those they serve. Set clear expectations for adherence to ownership behavior.  Establish a timeline for improvement and clearly communicate the consequences of continued negative behavior.

 

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Find Ways to Be An Owner

Seek out ownership opportunities within your organization. You don’t need a specific role or job title to be an owner. Adopt a “that’s my job” mindset. Be willing to help and execute in areas other than your assigned responsibilities.

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Guide Employees to Connect to Purpose

To help employees better connect to their purpose, ask them purpose-related questions during one-on-one meetings. Here are a few examples:

  • What do you most enjoy about your work with us?
  • Is there anything you wish you could contribute to?
  • What do you value personally and professionally?
  • How can I as your leader better support your purpose?
  • What about your role are you most proud of and least proud of?
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Address Poor Performance

High performers want to work in organizations with other high performers. When leaders avoid addressing low performers, high and solid performers notice sub-par performers aren’t keeping up and can become frustrated, sometimes to the point that they will choose to leave the department or organization. It’s not fair for your team of high and solid performers to carry the low performers, its crucial to address low performer behavior quickly and effectively to retain high performers.

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Meet with High Performers Monthly

50% of high performers say they expect at least a monthly sit down with their managers, but only 53% say their manager delivers on their feedback expectations. High performers want feedback. They want dialogue with you as their leader. Make monthly meetings with high performers a priority.

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4 Steps to Re-Recruit High Performers

  1. Thank them for their contributions.
  2. Ensure that the employee is informed of the direction of the organization.
  3. Review the characteristics that make the individual valuable to the organization, be specific.
  4. Ask what can be done to ensure you do not lose the employee as a member of the team; reiterate that person’s importance to the organization’s mission.

Listen carefully and follow through with any requests for support.

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Rejuvenate High Performers

Conversations to re-recruit high performers are intended to have the high performer leave the conversation feeling appreciated, rejuvenated, and with a renewed sense of purpose. How would you express to a high performer they are a valuable member of your team?

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Daily Gratitude

Take 30 seconds out of each day to record one thing you are grateful for. You can use a gratitude journal, a word document, or even a voice or video recorder on your phone.

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Specific is Authentic

Generalized appreciation doesn’t feel authentic and may even come off as just going through the motions. Instead, use details and be specific about the person and their actions. This will show you are really paying attention and value the receiver.

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Design a Gratitude System

While everyone will appreciate a random act of gratitude, to ensure gratitude is a part of the culture, a system must be in place for expressing gratitude. Some ideas include: peer-nominated opportunities for employees who go above an beyond, establishing a gratitude station for thank you notes, ending each meeting with time for gratitude, etc. What system can you establish for your team or organization?

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Create an Appreciation Board

Write one thank you note thanking one employee for extra effort at work, post the note on the board, and provide blank cards and pens for others to add their own notes. Intentional expressions of gratitude by leaders provide opportunities for peers to express gratitude and help employees reconnect to purpose and worthwhile work.

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Change Begins with Honesty

To affect change, we must be honest with ourselves and with others. Explain to stakeholders why their feedback is important and necessary to help the organization improve.

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Service Sets You Apart

Think from your customer’s point of view; what does your organization do to provide its customers with unmistakable value? How do your employees create loyal stakeholders? Do you see room for improvement?

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Recognize Service Excellence

Who provides unmistakable value within your organization? Who follows the standards for service excellence? When you see it, recognize it! Thank this person for living the organization’s values and being an example of what right looks like. You can let them know on the spot, or bring it up during your next team meeting. Recognizing the behavior and actions that are most important to our organization’s success positively reinforces the performance we want to have continued.

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Connect to Serve

When leaders help their teams connect their daily work to a greater purpose, people become motivated to serve. Behind all of the daily tasks, what is the ultimate outcome and what actions can your team take to get there? Help your team connect to purpose while providing clear directions for serving stakeholders.

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Salute Customer Praise

Collect customer comments that reflect the unmistakable value your organization provides. Share those comments with your team to open up team meetings or as a quick email to remind them of the difference they make by providing unmistakable value to those they serve.

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Standards Guide

Standards of service describe what it looks like when we are living our values. The standards guide employees on how they should treat each other and those they serve. To create standards, start with what the organization’s values and define those values. Next, determine what behaviors and actions align to living those values with our stakeholders. Finally, share the standards with your teams.

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Measure to Provide Unmistakable Value

To illustrate to teams the value of their service, it’s critical to measure progress, gather feedback and share that information with employees and customers. Having conversations about those numbers will enable you to identify opportunities for improvement. These conversations facilitate how to get better at providing stakeholders with unmistakable value.

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Leaders in Service

Team leaders and organization leaders set the example for how customers are treated. When leaders connect with employees, employees learn how to connect with their stakeholders. Connect with at least one employee each day this week.

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Commit to Mentorship

Becoming a mentor shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s a big commitment. Mentors ensure professional development happens at the right pace and the individual has the right tools to succeed. They devote their time, energy, and accumulated knowledge to inspire mentees towards their goals. Before you agree to become a mentor, consider whether you’re able to make the commitment to the relationship your mentee deserves.

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Reduce Communication Barriers

What communication tools, procedures, or standards are causing a barrier in your workplace? Is there a better solution for that communication tool or process? Take the steps to reduce the barrier and increase the quality of the communication tool or standard being used.

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Communicate Consistently

Offer a consistent place for your internal audience and your external audience to find information about your organization. The internal and external communication spaces can be separated, however, they should both contain honest, open, timely communication. It’s important to include meaningful updates on issues stakeholders care about, upcoming events, insight into the company’s strategies and processes, upcoming changes, and challenges within the industry.

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Tell Stakeholders What they Want to Know

What is important to the organization’s stakeholders? Do you gather feedback from the stakeholders (the physical community that surrounds the organization, its investors, its customers, anyone that benefits from the service it provides)? Analyze stakeholder feedback to develop a plan to communicate openly with stakeholders based on the information they want to hear. Stakeholders want honest updates from the source.

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Approach Transparency Proactively

Reacting to a negative situation isn’t transparency. To build trust and loyalty with employees and the organization’s community, leaders can use open, honest communication to let individuals know about your processes, values, and the customer or employee experience, therefore holding it accountable. How can you approach transparency in a more proactive manner? What will you do this week to promote open, honest communication?

 

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Work for Good

Does your organization benefit society while also doing business? If your organization operates in a sustainable way or benefits humanity, it’s important to create a strategy for communicating that with the public. Choose at least one way to convey honest, open information about how the organization operates that will be most meaningful to your customers.

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Clarify Decision Making

Be open with all employees in the organization about the decision-making process. The more information an individual has about why and how a decision was made, the less anxious and uncertain they may feel. During conversations with your teams this week, make it a point to be transparent and start by explaining the why.

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Harvest Wins from Data

One way to use data you’ve collected is to identify wins from the results and follow-up with a celebration. When you begin to review your data, start by looking for 3 wins you can pass on to your teams and celebrate.

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Sharing Data

After we have gathered data, it’s important to close the feedback loop and share the results with our organization’s stakeholders, such as employees and the community. Conversations with stakeholders around the data provide opportunities to gain additional information and identify wins, gaps, and possible strategies for reducing gaps.

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Culture of Care

Employees who feel that they’re cared about by their leader are far more likely to be engaged with their daily work and continue to work for the organization. Listen to individuals, tell them why you value them, and have empathy for their situations.

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Commit to Monthly Meetings

Employees want leaders who are approachable, work alongside them, provide training and development opportunities, build a relationship with them, and utilize efficient systems. These needs can be met by participating in one-on-one monthly meetings with individuals you supervise. Make a commitment today by scheduling monthly meetings for next month.

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Offer to Help

Reach out to a coworker and ask, “What can I do to help you today?” Execute the help they need without criticizing or becoming a distraction or a burden.

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Recognize Performance

Plan to recognize at least three individuals or teams for their exceptional work at your next employee forum. Include results harvested from your leadership team. Consider opening with these “wins” to begin the forum on a positive note.

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Increase Engagement

Ask employees you supervise what is one of their strengths or talents. Find a way to incorporate their strength into their responsibilities. According to Gallup (2014), focusing on individual strengths makes employees “six times more likely to be engaged.”

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Reflect on Service

Gather data from your customers and front-end employees about their service experience with your organization. Listen to the feedback and analyze it to identify themes. Then discuss this information with your teams and brainstorm ideas to improve the experience. Choose 1-3 actions for improvement and decide which team members will own them.

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Recognize New Team Members

While introducing new team members to other employees in the organization, boast about their previous success, experience, and how they are a great asset to your organization. Reduce any anxieties and confirm that you are happy and the new employee is a good fit for your team.

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Satisfaction Surveys

How do you know your stakeholders are satisfied? The best way is to ask. Create a stakeholder feedback survey and distribute it to customers, clients, the community, parents, etc., to gather essential data used for decision making and future success.

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Evaluate Your Recognition

Is recognition in your organization leader-driven or employee-driven? Do rewards align with the recommended behaviors and values of the organization? How often do individuals get recognition? More than once per year? Evaluate your recognition processes at least once per year and strive to make recognition as employee-centered and engaging as possible.

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Recognize Using Social Media

Incorporate rewarding and recognizing team members into your social media strategy. People are attracted to their ’15 minutes of fame’ and sharing a post recognizing team members publicly is an easy way to make them feel appreciated and a way to show the community what you value. If your organization doesn’t use social media, consider a consistent spot in the newsletter instead.

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A Handwritten Thank You

Observe the right behaviors. For example: When employees are doing exceptional work, being especially helpful to others, and living the values/standards of the organization, then act. Hand-write a genuine, thank you note with specific details and send it to the team member’s home. Thank you notes are meaningful and are saved over time by those on the receiving end.

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Stay True to Your Organization

Employees feel valuable and motivated when they are recognized for their contributions. Authentic, consistent, and specific recognition aligned with the organization’s values is the most effective. Aim for recognition that feels organic rather than forced.

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Harvest Stories

Ask team members to participate in sharing their ‘connect to purpose’ stories regularly – weekly/monthly meetings, all company emails, and during quarterly or yearly leadership development institutes or strategy sessions. Keep a collection of these stories to share with your organization’s newbies and those that need a little reminder of how their work makes a difference.

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Value Based Recognition

Recognize an employee of the month for living out organizational values or create an opportunity for peers to reward each other monthly for living out values.

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Reflect on Values

What does your organization value? How do you role-model one of the values? How do those you work with role-model this value? How can your organization strengthen its commitment to living out the values?

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Offer Freedom within the Fences

The most successful organizations are those that offer employees “freedom within fences.” The standards and expectations are collaboratively set, based on the organization’s goals. Then, leaders and employees creatively operate within the fence. This type of structure is not about control. Progress is monitored and direction is provided for how to achieve success.

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Be Aware of Nonverbal Communication

During conversations with your team members, pay close attention to their nonverbal communication. If a person’s body language and their verbal responses don’t match, this could be a sign to clarify what the person is trying to say.

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Encourage a Welcoming Culture

Have a plan in place for welcoming new team members. Don’t allow them to wander alone on their first day. Let them know where to park, how to dress, what the lunch policies are and, if possible, partner the newbie with a seasoned team member to show them around the office and introduce them to all of their coworkers. Ask your team to contribute their ideas for welcoming new members.

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Recognition Team

Establish a service team of individuals who are responsible for creating reward and recognition programs and ideas for your organization. Individuals respond differently to various forms of recognition. By using a team to create reward and recognition programs there will be a greater variety of them.

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Engage People with Feedback

Formal and informal conversations with individuals provide us with feedback we can immediately use to improve employee engagement. If an employee expresses a need for a tool to get their job done, provide the employee with a time frame for when they will receive what is needed. Follow-up on the information you gathered to close the loop.

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From Feedback to Actions

Identify 1-2 specific, high-leverage next steps from stakeholder feedback that will make the biggest difference to those you serve and drive the results you aim to achieve.

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Forward Virtual Wins

When you receive an email from a customer or client celebrating an individual who makes a difference in your organization, spread the love. Forward the email to your entire team. Not only does it provide an example of what the right behavior looks like, but it will also help the team stay connected to their purpose.

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What is Their Preference?

Do your customers prefer an email or a phone call? Do they prefer 1 email a week, or 1 email a month? Learn your customers’ preferences and use the information to ensure they’re engaged the way they prefer.

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Develop Norms for Emails

Create organizational standards for email communication. Should the sender receive a response within 24 hours? Are your employees expected to answer emails after-hours? After email standards have been created, leadership will set an example by role-modeling the expected behaviors.

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Align Awards to Performance

Everyone makes a difference in the organization. Spend time during quarterly strategy sessions awarding individuals who have reached specific performance outcomes.

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Discussion for Improvements

Strategy sessions provide a forum for open and honest conversation about challenges and resources. The more we involve the entire team in the discussion, the richer the options for improvement.

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Use Strategy to Inspire

Celebrating success maintains the focus for improvement and provides others with stories of success. Listening to the “why” of success during a strategy meeting may provide others with strategy or process improvement ideas.

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Quick Wins

Invite a coworker to have a cup of coffee or bring them a small gift to celebrate a job well done or personal accomplishment.

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Communicate Neutrally

When speaking about challenges, stop and think, “How can I phrase this in a way that doesn’t put others down – even subtly?”

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Be Prepared

Research what’s trending in your industry and anticipate what problems you will encounter for the projects you’re currently working on and brainstorm 3 potential solutions for each scenario.

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Ask Your Boss

“What is the one area in which you would most like me to place an extra focus?” and proceed to exceed their expectations.

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Be Open to Feedback

Thank your colleague who cares enough to speak up and provide you with feedback. Feedback is a caring gesture meant to help you grow.

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Go Where You’re Happiest

Today spend more time with people who bring out the best in you, not the stress in you.

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Feedback to Inspire

While giving critical feedback, remind the recipient that you believe in them and their abilities, the goal you are collectively trying to achieve, and the new information they need to drive to excellence.

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Role-Model Pride

List what makes you feel valued. What gives you a sense of pride? Do more of those things.

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Use Fun to Motivate

Come up with a way to incorporate ‘FUN’ into a workday. To get people excited, you have to be excited. Why shouldn’t work be fun?

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Learn Values to Reward

Take the extra step to find out what each of your teammates value when being recognized and reward them with it.

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Value People’s Ideas

When someone comes to you with an idea, sincerely thank them for it. We give others value when we let them know their ideas are important.

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Show Value by Asking Questions

Learn something new about an employee by asking them about their family or interests. Value is created when we show interest and concern for their well-being.

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Improve Yourself First

Identify one thing you will learn this week, and set aside the time needed in your schedule. Improve yourself before you attempt to improve those you lead.

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Celebrate Your Newbies

Welcome new members of your team before they begin their first day. People want to go where they are celebrated, not merely tolerated.

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Show Your Team They Fit

Ensure everyone on your team has a place, a purpose, is prepared, and is passionate about what they do.

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Connect by Relating

Relate, don’t compare. During every meeting and interaction this week, identify how you can transfer and implement an idea or best practice to your team.

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Invite New-Hires into the Story

Stories build legends and legends build legacies. Share the stories that shaped your company and values with a new-hire.

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Positive Communication

“Bring 3 times the number of good things as to the number of problems.” – Quint Studer

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Develop Yourself to Develop Others

Choose a skill you need to develop further as a leader and set aside 30 minutes each day to practice. We can only take someone as far as we’ve taken ourselves.

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Support Your Colleagues

Add time in your meetings today to give the opportunity for others to share their ideas. This will encourage diverse thinking and problem solving.

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Everyone’s a Leader

Think about how you impact the culture and climate of the organization. Identify and commit to role modeling an element of your culture today.

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Best Practices Out-Perform

Identify a best practice that’s currently being used by another unit or department that your team can implement to improve performance.

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What Gets Recognized Gets Repeated

Set clear expectations by immediately recognizing individuals who are doing the right things in the right way.

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Live Your Values

Identify what it looks like to model one of your organization’s values for all of your employees. Values shouldn’t live on paper. They live in your actions. Your core values set the expectations for behavior for everyone to model.

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Give Trust to Get Trust

How do you get people to trust? Start with trusting first. Share a vulnerable experience with a colleague today that will begin building your relationship.

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Catch Them in the Act

Look for who is modeling what’s right today, and thank them. “The key to developing people is to catch them doing something right. Catching people doing things right provides satisfaction and motivates good performance.” Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson – The One Minute Manager

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Leading Change

Do one thing today outside of your comfort zone. “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw

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Authenticity Creates Followers

Make pausing a practice in your communication. By taking time to consider what we are communicating, we become more authentic and those we lead are more likely to trust us.

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Craft your character

You cannot pick your talents or IQ, but you can choose your character. You can’t separate a leader’s character from his or her actions. As you live your life and make daily choices, you are continuing to create your character.

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Create a Vision

People follow leaders that can see beyond today’s problems and visualize a brighter future. Show your team the connection between today, the future of the organization, and how they fit in.

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Back Pocket Ownership

We/They is the act of passing blame to others. Increase ownership behavior and eliminate we/they by visualizing your supervisor in your back pocket.

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Finding Meaning

All of us want to be a key player on a team that achieves something meaningful. Take time today to connect your team to the deeper purpose of the work you do. Reveal a deeper meaning behind your business strategy and actions the team carries out on a daily basis.

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Celebrate people

Recognizing when things go well is one of the most effective ways to get more of what we want. Publicly recognize a member of your team for a job done right.

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Guide to Purpose

Leaders help all employees find purpose in their work. Connect employees to what’s most meaningful to them. Ask, “What did you enjoy working on this past year? Why?” Then, help them align their upcoming goals to the organization’s overall strategy, using their response.

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Building Trust

Whether it’s the strategic direction or leadership decisions, building trust in an organization takes a consistent demonstration of action aligned to words. It also requires that trust first be given. Do you trust your team to do what they say they will do?

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