Once your leadership team discovers your company’s Core Values, it’s time to start using them to lay the foundation of your organization’s culture. To do that, you must have a compelling Core Values Speech.
I was recently with the leadership team of a proud company that had a big challenge. They had been experiencing declining sales and profitability. The senior leadership team understood the gravity of their situation, but they couldn’t get the mid-level managers and the frontline employees to see a need to change day-to-day habits.
Like many companies, the culture of the organization had become stale. The employees had a lackadaisical, “So what?” kind of attitude: “So what if this order is not shipped on time? So what if the customer complains?”
My client was mad. I could read the body language in the room, and it was not good. It was plain to see she’d been hurt deeply by some unspoken slight from one of her team members. The two of them were sitting there with their arms crossed, facing away from each other. The rest of the team was fidgeting or wriggling in their chairs and not looking at anyone.
It was obvious there was an elephant in the room that all seven of them knew about, but were refusing to acknowledge. Knowing that a healthy team is critical for our success, I called out the issue.
What do you say when one of your team members asks you to keep something confidential? There’s a dangerous workplace situation that all leaders and managers find themselves drawn into from time to time. I call it the “confidential complaint” trap.
This happens to me when I’m working with leadership teams. Someone will stop me in the hall during a break and say, “May I talk to you for a minute, NOT in the room with the group?”
There’s a natural inclination to say yes to this kind of request. As leaders, we all want to be approachable. We may also want to find out what’s going on inside our organization. But promising blanket confidentiality for run-of-the-mill complaints can be a dangerous slope because it is diametrically opposed to creating a healthy workplace culture.
Two workers in the Operations Department of a company were working one Friday evening to push out a late delivery. One saw a problem about to happen and said to the other, “Look at that! We can’t ship this out. This order is not correct.”
“You’re right,” said the other, “But neither one of us can fix it. Nobody can fix it until Monday. The boss told us to get this shipment out tonight, and we’ll get yelled at if we don’t. Remember what he did the last time something like this happened?”
So out the order went, and in came an angry customer complaint two days later when the order was delivered. And then out went a chunk of the profits from the order because it cost the company three times as much to fix the error than it would have to get it right the first time.