Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! If you are like most leaders, you are constantly trying to improve the culture of your organization. You know that a strong culture will help you retain your employees and improve your employee experience. But if you are like many leaders, you are not sure how to start building a better culture. In my experience, I have seen that it all comes down to two things: 1) your actions and 2) your words. Today on The Champion Forum Podcast, we’ll discuss the most avoidable culture blunders leaders make and show you how to correct them.
Mistake #1 Failing to communicate what is happening in the organization.
Many leaders guard their communication to protect their position and the organization. However, this approach causes their team members to make unfavorable assumptions! It is much better to communicate clearly and openly with your team. In fact, you should be prepared to communicate not just once, but over and over. Restate the vision, retell the story, and equip your employees.
This approach is especially important when your organization is undergoing change. Remember that people are not afraid of change so much as they have fears and concerns about new ways of doing business. They also have some dedication to the way in which they have always done the work before. In change, you are asking your employees to leave their comfort zones. In these situations, you should communicate not only what is happening but also why it is happening. People are more likely to embrace change if they understand the motive behind it.
Q: Describe a time when you did not receive clear communication from your leader. How did it affect your confidence in the organization? What assumptions did it cause you to make? How would clear communication have changed your response?
Factors to consider when choosing when and how to communicate:
Timing - Sometimes you will have to react to emergency situations, but in general, communication should be proactive. If the rumor mill is already in action, you have waited too long to communicate.
Location - Your employees' location may affect this selection. Are all your employees in one building, at multiple sites, or situated globally? Do they work virtually?
Message - Consider the sensitivity of the information. Who needs to be involved in the conversation?
Mistake #2 Failing to promote accountability and fairness.
Your organization will suffer if you are not consistently applying the same expectations to all of your team members. If you want to create a culture where everyone feels like they are respected and held to equal standards, you will need to define the expectations, gain your employees’ commitment, and create and reinforce consequences.
Define Results and Expectations
Set clear standards and expectations before the work even starts. Make sure all employees understand the results the organization is trying to achieve and what their expectations are for all employees.
Without commitment, leaders get either compliance or resistance. Be direct and ask: “Do I have your commitment?” and listen to any concerns. Work with the employee to overcome barriers and figure out how to obtain their commitment.
Consequences and Reinforcement
Ultimately, there must be consequences for consistently poor performance and reinforcement for positive results and behaviors. Without reinforcing your expectations, employees will soon catch on that accountability is all talk and no action.
Q: What does commitment to a standard look like to you? How can you tell if an employee is committed? What do you think you should do the first time someone fails to meet the standard? How would your response change if they missed the standard again?
Be honest with yourself about your current level of communication with your team. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate yourself? Consider the following: How long does it take you to communicate new information? In what medium do you best community? Do you adjust your strategy based on the information you are giving?
What happens when a team is not held accountable to their expectations? Ask your leader, co-worker, or mentor what they have seen in their leadership experience. Was it a communication or accountability problem? Then ask them what they think could have been done differently.
If you wanted to improve one area of your team, what would it be? Create a plan for communicating this improvement by first connecting it to the vision. Then set a time and a place to communicate it. Finally, decide how you will reinforce your new habit or plan. Keep this area of improvement in front of you by scheduling 10 minutes to review it at the beginning of every day. The more you are aware of the improvement, the more you will be able to help your team uphold the new standard and create new habits that will benefit the organization.