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TCFP179: Dry Socks and Water

Thank you for listening to the Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Heavy turnover over the last two years has unfortunately created many leaders who are willing to compromise their standards. Leaders blame toxic work environments and poor customer care on turnover when it is another symptom. So how does this relate to dry socks and water? Tune in to find out what this old military advice has to do with today's business practices and how to protect your team from themselves.


Dry Socks and Water

Soldiers in basic training are often taken on long marches. A common expression in the military is dry socks and water. Drill servants use this phrase to remind their soldiers to stay hydrated and clean to avoid blisters and muscle aches. Failing to follow instructions would hurt the individual and prevent the group from moving quickly. Ultimately, this military motto is a way of setting standards that help protect people from their bad decision-making.


But for the rules to protect the people, they must be the same for your CEO and your college intern. Culture is just as important as individual talent! Culture determines the talent you attract, how well your employees perform, how long they will stay, and your company's success.


Q: What rules do you need everyone in your organization to follow? Are there any rules specific to your team? Why or why not? What do these rules protect?


What are you willing to tolerate?


Decide what not to do.

Visualize what will happen if you continue to ignore the behavior. Problems don't get easier. Refusing to deal with one negative person can cause peak performers to seek other employment opportunities and hurt your company's culture.


Clarify what you want.

Focus on specific behaviors and expectations, not just what you want to see.


Move quickly when the boundaries are crossed.

Resist the urge to ignore a bad moment. It's much easier to handle the first offense than to wait until it has become a habit that affects the entire team.


Recognize positive behavior.

What you reward will be replicated.


Q: Do you do anything else to help reinforce your company's culture? What has been successful? Do you think your team has a good understanding of your expectations? Why or why not? How can you address any blind spots?


Application Activities:

  1. Develop a recognition system for positive behavior. I recommend finding ways to publicly and privately praise people. For example, you can start by recognizing one person from your team during your weekly meeting or giving an award for embodying company culture at your year-end banquet. But don't forget the power of sending a thank you note to an employee or their family.

  2. Some leaders struggle to address bad behavior because they don't see the negative consequences of their own actions. Think about what will happen if you refuse to address bad behavior. What will your other employees think? What will they do? How will it affect talent acquisition or turnover? A clear picture of the consequences of inaction will help you act, even if you dread it.

  3. Some leaders fail to address bad employee behavior because they simply lack time. Remember, dealing with people is a crucial part of being a leader. If you don't have time to stop and make corrections, you are too busy. Evaluate your schedule and determine what it would take for you to free up two 15-minute periods during your day to talk to your employees. If you don't have anything to address, use this time to invest in your employee relationships. You will be glad you did!

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