Every business goes through seasonal cycles. People are excited at the start of the new year. The first quarter’s results and happy customers can raise spirits and hopes across your organization.
And summers can be hot and muggy, causing team members to be less inspired and less energetic.
This year in particular has brought a wicked summer – from the Arctic to Greece to Asia to the UK to North America, high temps and wildfires have been the norm.
There’s good news this quarter, as well – the global economy is booming and unemployment is low.
In the midst of these highs and lows, your team may be less than fully engaged.
Great bosses are sensitive to the business cycles their team experiences. They pay close attention to team member well-being, cooperation, creativity, satisfaction, and productivity – and they refine their approach and messaging to meet each team member’s needs and to validate the contributions that the team makes to their company and customers daily.
Mediocre bosses focus entirely on productivity. Results are certainly important – but managing results is only half the leader’s job. The other half? Managing workplace inspiration – through values and validation.
The benefit to leaders proactively managing values and validation is that trust and respect increase, which leads to higher engagement (gains of 40% or more), better customer service (increases of 40% or more), and – not surprisingly – better results (by 35% or more). I can prove it. Positive Proof that Culture Works – Purposeful Culture Group
These three steps can help you invigorate your team this summer (or any season):
Clarify your team’s servant purpose
Start with formalizing your team’s present day “reason for being” besides making money. Making money (through selling cars or coffee, etc.) is certainly important for the long-term success of your business, but your company making money does not have an immediate positive impact on most of your team members . Your team members know that making a profit is important to the success of the business, but a more natural motivation can make a huge difference.
A servant purpose describes what you do (your product or service), whom you do it for (your customers or consumers), and “to what end” – how what you do improves customers’ quality of life every day.
Most company mission or purpose statements don’t meet these criteria – and they don’t have a positive effect on employees. Here’s an actual purpose statement for a real company:
“Creating superior value for our customers, employees, partners, and shareholders.”
Is it clear what they do? No (they are a tire company). Is it clear who the company’s primary “customers” are? No. Is it clear how what the company does improves others quality of life? No.
Compare that to this purpose statement from a pharmaceutical company (Bristol -Myers Squibb):
“To discover, develop, and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases.”
Is it clear what they do? Absolutely. Is it clear for who they do it? Absolutely. Is it clear to what end employees are toiling – how they improve customers quality of life? Absolutely.
A purpose statement like this one creates clarity on how their customers benefit which creates meaning and significance for employees every day.
Specify how “great team citizens” treat each other – then model those values and coach those values
Just as you’ve formalized your team’s servant purpose, you need to make values as important as results. Values must be observable, tangible, and measurable – just as performance standards are observable, tangible, and measurable. If your company has values defined, they probably are not measurable. They are attitudinal (“We act with integrity”) as opposed to behavioral (“I do what I say I will do”).
Only when values are behaviorally defined do they become actionable. Behavioral definitions shift values from vague ideas to clear requirements for good citizenship.
One culture client, a seven-state region of the world’s largest retailer, defined their customer service value with behaviors like these:
- I initiate friendly hospitality by promptly and enthusiastically smiling and acknowledging everyone who comes within 10 feet.
- I ensure that each customer is assisted in finding requested items.
- I deliver a clean, fast, friendly experience to each customer.
What you notice about these behaviors is they are measurable. Someone could observe me working over a week’s time and be able to rate the degree to which I model these specific behaviors.
Validate team members daily for values, efforts, and accomplishments
Finally, pay attention to what you pay attention to. Don’t just notice results – notice and compliment team members every day for modeling your valued behaviors, for their efforts (even if every effort doesn’t succeed as well as hoped), and for their contributions and accomplishments.
These three steps will help boost your team’s confidence, enthusiasm, and contributions as you head into the fall.
About the Author
For over 28 years, S. Chris Edmonds has helped senior leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures.
He is a speaker, author, and executive consultant who is the founder of The Purposeful Culture Group Purposeful Culture Group | S. Chris Edmonds. He’s one of Inc. Magazine’s 100 Top Leadership Speakers The Top 100 Leadership Speakers for 2018 | Inc.com and was a featured presenter at South by Southwest Driving Results Through Culture|SXSW 2015 Event Schedule.
Chris is the author of the Amazon best seller The Culture Engine The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace: S. Chris Edmonds: 9781118947326: Amazon.com: Books and five other books. He tweets on organizational culture, servant leadership, and workplace inspiration at @scedmonds S. Chris Edmonds (@scedmonds) | Twitter.