Tag Archives: culture

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workplace navigation

Workplace Navigation And Leadership Responsibility

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Workplace navigation is everyone’s responsibility. If you are identifying as a leader, or have the goal of being a better leader, it is even more important.

Many people quickly view the challenge of leadership as getting people to follow. Certainly, that is one idea. Yet, it is not the most important idea.

The most important idea may be the consideration of how you will navigate the environment, the culture, and set the example for everyone else. Then the following part develops more naturally. It isn’t forced.

Leadership Responsibility

Leadership is not as much about a position as it is about your behavior. Your position gives you a certain amount of authority. However, it is your behavior, even when no one appears to be watching, that gives you respect.

All eyes are on you when you are in a formal leadership role. Your boss, your peers, and even your direct reports. That isn’t everyone though, there may still be other employees, customers, and vendors who observe your behavior and style.

In today’s world and social climate, your authority often matters less. In addition to the observed behaviors it is about the relationships that you build.

The, “do it or die,” philosophy died long ago. Sure, there may still be pockets of that style of leadership. There may even be scenarios where that style is working. Yet, in the mainstream best practices approach, it is non-existent.

Workplace Navigation

Careful navigation is required. If you are in what may be labeled, middle management, you have important work.

You have to be able to bridge the gap between the front line and the C-Suite. Likely you won’t agree with everything. Likely you’ll face challenges, problems, and push back from both sides.

Winning is not about defeating the opponent, winning is about your careful and appropriate navigation. Being a bit diplomatic is a responsible and respectful approach.

Being a great leader is being a great navigator.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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Workplace Energy, What Are You Bringing?

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We have choices about everything. What are you bringing to work today? Are you bringing workplace energy or merely just trying to lay low and get through the day?

Many organization leaders blame the individuals. They believe motivation is intrinsic, you either have it, or you don’t. When it comes to workplace energy, they just leave it up to the employees to decide.

Energy of Culture

It may be true that at some level our motivation is intrinsic and it may also be true that each individual has responsibility for what they’ll bring. Does organization leadership have a bigger role?

Chances are good that leadership does play a role. Leaders drive culture. Culture has a direct impact on the performance, attitudes, and even the environment that employees walk into each day.

What do you do?

Workplace Energy

Are you bringing more to your workplace? Are you striving hard, working smart, and staying engaged?

Do you seek to create a bigger impact, be responsible and accountable, and help to stimulate a positive climate?

Some people will try to lay low. Stay out of other more assertive workers way, and watch the clock.

Others will insist that their performance and contribution is industrialized and systematic.

They have set the expectation, lubed the wheels and gears, and have made sure things are efficient. As a result, they can merely arrive and monitor. Anything outside of the established parameters and they’ll take action. Otherwise, it is just roll along and collect the paycheck.

It is a decision you make.

Workplace energy is contagious. Low energy and low output is as contagious as the opposite.

High energy contribution takes more guts. Be the role model you know you should be.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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work environment

Work Environment Can Sometimes Be An Illusion

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What is the work environment where you work? Does the environment match the culture or is the environment only a symbol disguising what is really going on? Is the environment only an illusion?

Low unemployment rates make hiring practices more challenging. Depending on your sector, you may have decided that getting people on board can be tough. Keeping them on board is often equally challenging.

When the economy is strong and the unemployment rates are low, people are often able to work at the best organizations. In other words, if your organization is not shiny, glamorous, and exciting, it makes getting and keeping talent tougher.

Environment and Culture

People often confuse the work environment with workplace culture. They tend to go hand-in-hand, yet they are not the same thing.

Work environment has more to do with the physical facility. Is it modern, trendy, and inviting? Does it encourage motivation? Is it reflective of the values and beliefs shared within the organization culture?

Certainly, much of this depends on the type of organization. Heavy industrial is going to be different from healthcare and the financial sector is different from retail commerce or academia.

Mike Rowe starred in a hit TV series known as Dirty Jobs. A show that often highlighted tough, sometimes disgusting work assignments that most people would not choose to do.

One of Mike’s more popular quotes, “Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs.” connects with the difference between environment and culture.

The most successful workplace cultures today do an excellent job of connecting values and beliefs with the work environment.

Work Environment

Building an environment is materialistic. It may involve capital, sometimes lots of it. Perhaps it connects with the location or history of the physical site. It is represented in the buildings, the furniture and fixtures, and other amenities.

One of the best ways to move towards an organization culture that you desire is to have an environment that supports it. It is always easier to flow with the environment instead of against it.

On the other hand, building the environment and assuming you’ve done the work required for culture is only an illusion.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace presence

Workplace Presence Is Required To Get Started

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Does everyone show up for the meeting? Are some people occupying seats but their intellectual presence is questionable? Workplace presence is where it all begins.

It seems there is always some question if the right people are at the meeting. Sometimes there are too many, other times too few. Meeting effectiveness is critical. Your presence may make a difference.

Right Approach

The authoritarian approach seldom works in today’s society. Commanding performance is much less effective when compared with inspiring performance.

The seats are often occupied, but are the people present?

When the truth is known, much of what happens in the workplace depends on leadership and culture. When leaders are really present, things will happen. If they are not, much less will happen.

This doesn’t always mean the formal boss. This means people who are leading. Leading the meetings, setting the course, and navigating the tough spots. Presence is required.

Workplace Presence

Presence helps you actualize the vision which typically happens when you create compelling opportunities.

Taking initiative is important. Taking the right initiative is even more important. Workplace leaders help steer and navigate everything that happens, or everything that doesn’t.

Goals and objectives are accomplished by tactics. Tactics are how strategy is executed.

What is happening at your meetings? Are the right people attending the right meetings? Are the meetings effective or are they unproductive and energy zapping?

If you’re in the meeting then you have a responsibility to lead. If you called the meeting, that responsibility is even greater.

Make sure you do more than just show up.

Arrive.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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cultural words

Cultural Words May Matter More

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When you say, “soda,” someone else may say, “pop.” Do cultural words matter in your workplace?

When someone says, “Things don’t add up.” We assume that to be a universal truth. The saying, “Two plus two isn’t equaling four,” makes us believe something is off.

It is hard to dispute math.

Words Matter

Words always matter. They matter much more than most people realize. A simple change in our sentences, a word here, or a word there, often make a difference.

In workplace cultures belief is powerfully connected to words.

We have exceptional customer service.

We ship fast.

Patience is one of our core values.

Of course, the truth in each statement is subjective. Belief in these statements will matter for sales, operations, and brand.

Belief is part of your culture. The words used to describe how things happen, what will happen, and when, create images that form the culture.

Do you believe it?

Cultural Words

Everyone should get the same result when they add ten and five together. If you don’t believe it, check it on a calculator.

A twelve-inch ruler is a universal truth. It’s one foot.

When you suggest your workplace culture is diverse, committed, and engaged it is not a universal truth. It is a belief.

A great culture doesn’t come to life because of the technology, infrastructure, or a fancy conference room. You may have 80,000 square feet, but not much of that tells us the truth about your culture.

Words help create the image. After that, it is up to everyone in the community to believe, or not.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace environment

Workplace Environment and Culture are Different

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What is the culture of your organization? How would employees describe the workplace environment? An appealing environment doesn’t always signal an appealing culture.

Sometimes one or both are toxic.

When I speak with workplace leaders about culture, they often describe the environment.

We have an open floor plan, no one has an office.

Our break room has been remodeled, it is more friendly and more like a lounge, with televisions and Xbox.

We have loosened our dress code; people feel more relaxed that way.

In a general sense, these statements are more about environment than they are about culture. Culture can grow from an environment, but suggesting a remodeled break room is a description of your culture is a stretch.

Image of Culture

A remodeled break room that is more like a college recreation room or a hotel lobby doesn’t matter much when the rules (formal or informal) are so tight that the room isn’t used.

Sure, those who have successfully made it to the job interview can see the room and feel good, but the culture will decide how, when, and if the room meets the picture it paints.

Culture does have something to do with image. However, image is more about branding, culture is more about a feeling, a community.

Workplace Environment

Workplace pods instead of conference rooms sound inviting. Couch type furniture with coffee table style work space look appealing.

Only no one is there because it is presumed that you are goofing off when looking relaxed in that area.

The assumptions we make are, or can become, the culture. The furniture and fixtures are part of the environment.

Building a culture is about people, trust, and respect.

Building an environment is what you imagine based on what you see.

-DEG

CASE IN POINT: The Fremont Star Lily is beautiful, the root looks like a garlic or an onion bulb, but you can’t eat it.

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace opinions

Workplace Opinions Determine Fit

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Opinions, we all have them, right? Do your workplace opinions fit, or are they out of place?

For clarity, there is a difference between opinion and fact.

That’s a Fact

Suggesting that the pizza shop on the west side of town has the best pizza is an opinion. Unless, of course, the statement is, “Antonio’s Pizza won the best pizza in Clifton contest for the third year in a row.”

When we suggest that getting to work early is better than staying late, it is an opinion. The same is true for taking breaks, having background music in the office, and whether or not to have Hawaiian shirt Friday’s.

Opinions help form the culture. They help form what is symbolic about the organization, what stands out, and how outsiders remember or connect.

When you want to join the Facebook group, or when you choose to join an organized club or association, there is an expectation of conduct and fit.

Individual attitudes and perceptions help shape the image. They’re often based on opinions, not facts.

Workplace Opinions

There is more than a statement in, “This is the template for all corporate slide decks.” It is true for how visitors are treated, response times for customers and vendors, and how the pecking order of the parking lot works.

Organizations often promote the idea of change. Yet, largely, their opinions and beliefs about whether the clock pendulum ticks left before right, or right before left, is deeply rooted in the culture.

Opinions often determine fit. Opinions also tend to steer the direction of culture.

The next time you give a presentation to the C-Suite, request a lunch appointment with the CEO, or decide to wear flip-flops on Friday, you may want to check the culture for fit.

If it is important that you fit, it is best to develop an understanding of the cultural opinions first.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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organized change

Organized Change May Not Be Organized.

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Are you seeking a change in your workplace? Is the chatter in the lunch room, vending area, or staff meeting about workplace change? Is organized change possible?

It seems almost everyone is seeking some change. Personally, we may seek to get in better shape, lose a pound or two, or quit some bad habits.

Workplaces seek change often. Changes to adapt to customer needs, changes because of economic conditions or government policies.

Do People Change?

It doesn’t take long in a conversation about change for someone to suggest that people often don’t change. Discussions normally center around whether the individual desires the change or not.

It seems then that the trick of having organized change is the organization part. This where change is planned, it is organized. It isn’t spur of the moment, such as a flat tire that alters your plan, or a bad storm halts things at the airport.

Are people going to change to the needs of the organization?

Perhaps, if they become interested enough to be pulled (compelled) to change.

There were the days when people didn’t want to give up their typewriters, fax machines, or corded phones. Eventually, for many, but not all, change won.

Was it organized?

Organized Change

Every individual in the organization has the power to change. They can arrive with a different attitude, pivot bad habits to good, and learn new things. Arguably, if they want to.

When everyone is convinced change won’t happen and change cannot be organized there is still an opportunity. The opportunity is to establish the change in a compelling manner such that the change is better than the alternative.

Change shouldn’t be threatening or bullying, rather a desirable force of the individuals.

Sometimes we call that culture.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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customer service authority

Customer Service Authority, Do You Have It?

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Nearly every business will tell you that they are in business because of the customer. Whether business-to-business or business-to-consumer, people often believe it is true. However, customer service authority may be missing. Have you found this to be true?

Most organizations are built on the premise of growth. They seek the wealth and riches of a thriving customer base and strong reputation. They are building their brand.

Many mission statements include a mention of the customer. The question is, “What happens when the relationship is tested?”

Service Focus

I’ve heard so many stories of customer service strategy. Including stories of a hands-off strategy that insists the more attention you pay to a customer in crisis, the more they’ll ask for, so don’t pay so much attention. Indeed, that is seeing things through a different lens.

What really happens when your brand is tested? Do your CSR’s (customer service representatives) have the authority to manage the crisis?

Customer service is often referred to, or culturally thought of as a department or work group within the organization. In a literal sense, it may be truth, in a cultural sense, it shouldn’t be true.

Things are often great if the system is never tested. People can rave about the quality, craftsmanship, or attention to detail. They can insist that the service is, the best!

What happens when it is tested?

Customer Service Authority

Everything may be fine until tested. Everyone may agree that the organization cares, has their back, and stands behind their product or service. Until they don’t.

The service your organization provides is about cultural attributes, not a department. Your CSR’s represent all that the organization is, and does. Pretending doesn’t work, talk is cheap, and promises are sometimes broken.

The organization that grants high authority to the people who directly serve the customer, especially the customer in crisis, will have better service. If they don’t have the authority, perhaps the culture is missing its mark.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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Workplace accomplishments

Two Paths for Workplace Accomplishments

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In life it seems we often have at least two choices. Since childhood we’ve often embraced it as good or bad. When we consider workplace accomplishments, there are at least two paths for getting the job done.

Which path are you on?

Your Choice

Imagine there are two organizations. Both employ a sizable number of people. You have a choice about which organization to join.

Inside the first organization you see people interacting. As you listen in, you notice the talk is about short-comings, observations of work are critical and not highly appreciated. Days are spent in defensive postures, covering up mistakes, and hoarding work.

You look to the second organization and peel back the cover. You look inside and you see energy, excitement, and congratulatory appreciation for work accomplished. The environment appears supportive, hands are helping hands, and the work is largely accomplished in teams.

Now for your choice. Which one would you join?

Seems pretty simple and clear, right?

If so, then why do we engage and help co-create the type of organization which no one would really enjoying working in?

Some may quickly suggest money. Perhaps one pays more.

Someone else may suggest one organization has a better work schedule, benefits, or is a slightly shorter commute.

What are your trade-offs?

Workplace Accomplishments

One organization is going to accomplish more.

One organization is built on purpose, values, and the consideration of a long-run game.

The other is built on drama, criticism, and blame. No one is interested or understands the path to the future because the spotlight is on the past, self-protection, and playing defense.

Both organizations have movement, yet only one is accomplishing something important and valuable.

How would you assess your workplace accomplishments?

Life is about choices.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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