A Culture of Integrity?

April 5, 2010

Lead With Love  Chapter 8 Pg’s 204-206 By: Gerry Czarnecki

 Have you ever worked for an organization whose values you thought were flawed? What did you do? Did you stay and just ignore the circumstances? Did you quit? This is a tough issue, and there are no easy answers. The dilemma we frequently face in the arena of ideas is there are many views, philosophic or simply opinion that differ. If I am a current-day political conservative, I probably believe in the primacy of the individual

and individual initiative. On the other hand, if I am a political liberal, I value the use of society to support the weak individuals collectively. These two positions establish likely behaviors and set up potential conflict for any individual who might have a view of society that differs from the one currently dominant in the political party in power. This difference in views has much to do with the political arguments we hear in a variety of public media. Which side is correct? On a more abstract level, this question cannot be answered. If I believe in the position of the conservative, then I am convinced I am right and that the society should follow the path that flows from my conviction.The other side of the argument is wrong, in the conservative opinion, and vice versa.

 The core lesson here is you do not need to have an untruth to create an integrity problem. A simple disconnect between the values of an organization and those of the individual could result in an integrity violation. Consider an organization with extensive behaviors that prove to you it does not honor its customers. You come to that conclusion because you see the organization always charges the highest price the market will bear. You, on the other hand, have a deep sense that all organizations must be committed to offering customers the very best service at the very best price. How do you reconcile the organization’s behavior with your own value? In this case, a classical economist could easily conclude that the organization has a core value of profit maximization and it actually has an obligation to its shareholders to charge the highest price the market will bear.

  Hence, the behavior of charging the highest price would be consistent with a core value of the enterprise, and yet violate your sense of values. According to your value of fairness, the corporation should charge a lower price and certainly not always all the market can bear. If you believe strongly in this value, you could potentially find yourself troubled by the organization’s decision making and might even view it as evidence the organization has low integrity. Ironically, an organization with this profit maximization goal would probably believe anybody not working toward maximizing shareholder profit would be committing a breach of integrity. Our philosophy on values and the core concepts of right and wrong may differ, but each of us in the workplace will eventually be faced with situations that require value-based decisions. There will be times when our personal values appear to conflict with the organization’s values. When they do, we will inevitably be faced with the need to reconcile that conflict, resolve it, ignore it, or walk away from it. The irony is many organizations do not have a clear expression of their values, and consequently, their employees or prospective employees have no way of knowing if the corporation’s values conflict with their own personal values. As an individual with a set of values, it is imperative you understand as much as possible about the organization’s values before you join it, because if there is a wide disparity, it

 will cause you great conflict and pain. A conflict of values is difficult to resolve. If you have a strong commitment to a value that is inconsistent with an organization’s values, it may actually be a personal violation of integrity for you to remain in the organization. The organization also would probably be better off if all those who did not subscribe to its values were to leave. Indeed, any employee who did not behave consistently within the value structure probably would be viewed as creating an integrity breach.

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Why Don’t We Use More Humor?

March 19, 2010

Chapter 8 Pg’s 183-184 Lead With Love By: Gerry Czarnecki

 If Southwest and other big-name organizations are using humor and succeeding, why are so many leaders reluctant to do the same? The first reason is perception. They mistakenly believe that humor and laughter in the workplace means associates are not doing their jobs. They may also feel it is inappropriate and unprofessional. The second reason is personal. Many leaders don’t consider themselves funny, don’t understand the value of humor, and don’t know how to incorporate fun into work.

 The first reason is simply a misconception. Humor does not undermine work. To the contrary, it enhances an associate’s ability to perform. Humor provides a physical and emotional release, a distraction from negative emotions, such as anger or stress, and it enables us to see challenges from a different perspective. Laughter is contagious: it elevates the mood of those around us and creates a positive social interaction. Whether one associate is having a bad day or a team of associates is facing a difficult situation at work, laughter will temporarily divert attention away from the problem. The diversion will likely improve their ability to cope with the challenge. According to Weinstein, the positive effects of fun can penetrate into the “heart and soul” of an organization: For too many companies, building a team means creating a high-powered, smoothly functioning

organization that has plenty of muscle, but not much heart. It is the absence of the human side of business that depletes employee morale, and contributes to job dissatisfaction and burnout. By adding an element of fun and celebration to a team-building program, you can take an important step toward humanizing your workplace and creating a sense of heart and soul in your organization.

 Humor in the workplace involves some risk. By incorporating humor, you lighten the tone of the work environment. If this is taken too far, it can spin out of control and result in reduced focus and productivity.

 Humor also has the risk of falling $at or being offensive. Humor in the workplace is not about practical jokes and should absolutely not involve off-color or politically incorrect statements or behavior. As described by Warren Shepell, an HR consultant, “Humor has nothing to do with taking your job lightly, joking about your company not being a good place to work or joking about its products and services… Humor that works in the workplace has to do with attitudes.”


March 1, 2010

Chapter 7 Pg’s 173-174 Lead With Love By Gerry Czarnecki

 The role of the leader, at any level in an organization, is to energize and focus the staff toward achieving goals. Every leader must have the ability to connect with the staff and to lead them to results. The principles defined in the chapters on expectations, assignment, development, evaluation, and rewards all focus on the people who are being led.

In this chapter, we have focused on the systems that are required to support that leadership. Even the best “leader” in the world of work will not be successful in achieving peak performance if he or she does not have the systems in place to assure the success. Leadership is a necessary condition for success; it is not a sufficient condition.

Many leaders of large organizations, including political entities, even countries, frequently forget this and find themselves energizing and developing great strategies, only to find they fail because the energized cannot execute. Great leadership, combined with effective systems and process management principles, enables the leader to deliver on the vision. Without these, the vision, and the passion to achieve, will be an unfulfilled dream. Systems are intended to make work run more smoothly and efficiently, with less effort and less chance of error. They need to be constantly checked against actual work achievement, as well as updated and maintained to assure they are relevant and current. A calendar that isn’t updated with new appointments and deadlines is ineffective as a system of time management; likewise, a database of client and vendor contact information is ineffective if changes and additions are not entered on an ongoing basis. No matter how well an automated system functions, it does not allow an individual to function on autopilot. If autopilot were an option, then a human would not be required to do the job.

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Have Others Who Love You Give You Feedback

January 4, 2010

Chapter 5  Pg 139  Lead With Love By Gerry Czarnecki

Once you have given yourself a thorough look, you should then begin the painful process of asking others around you for feedback. If your organization has a 360-degree system, that will help, but what you really want is for peers and subordinates alike to feel comfortable enough with you to tell you what they perceive as your strengths and weaknesses. However, you must be ready for almost any comments. Some will tell you only, “You’re great.” Others will tell you only what they know you want to hear. Still others will hint in some small way about a weakness, saying it is really nothing significant. Some will flatten you with criticism. Try to be calm and receptive. Of course, if one of your weaknesses is that you cannot accept criticism, then that will be very difficult.

 Feedback from associates and peers can have as much, if not more, significance than your boss’s feedback. If you are doing a good job in your current assignment, you are likely to get positive feedback from your boss. If, however, you are doing a great job at the expense of your relationships with peers or associates, you might be creating an environment where your current boss thinks you are great and everybody else in the organization is unhappy with you.

Keep in mind, you must carefully choose which colleagues from whom to request feedback. Getting a friend to tell you what you want to hear may feed your ego, but it will not help you focus on those areas you should be addressing. Also, asking people who do not know your boss’s expectations, no matter how objective they might be, may lead you to erroneous conclusions, no matter how sincere the feedback.

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Evaluation: Evaluate Yourself / Try Your Boss

December 22, 2009

 First If you are getting little constructive evaluation or feedback on your performance, what alternatives do you have? You cannot develop yourself if you have no idea how you need to improve. Evaluation is intended to offer that insight to your associates and, in this case, to you. How often have you received a performance review that really had an impact on you? Probably very seldom. Consider simply asking your boss for feedback. One bad result that could happen is that she will say no. More likely she will dodge and weave but ultimately give you at least some type of evaluation. You may not like what you hear, but that is what you need to know. If you do get some troubling news, then you will have some advanced warning your job may be at risk. This is a real possibility that happens every day in the world of work. Your goal should be to avoid the ultimate surprise of being terminated for failure when you thought that you were doing a great job. Find a way to get feedback that can help you improve since it might also save your job. A more likely scenario for your attempt to get an evaluation from a reluctant boss is for you to hear, “Oh, everything is great. Just keep up the great work!” This is actually your worst-case scenario because in all likelihood it is simply not the truth. The comments may be well intended, but they are not enough. You need to receive

constructive criticism or compliments that will help you improve. The “everything is great” answer only makes you feel good about everything, and that means not one positive behavior was reinforced and not one negative behavior was corrected. In short, you got nothing but a comment that made you and your boss feel good about her failure to communicate. Keep trying, but this boss is unlikely to give you much more. Most bosses who are reluctant to give feedback are eventually forced by the organization to do something, but if that process fails, then try writing your own appraisal. How to do that is another question. A good place to start is the performance review forms your organization already uses. Fill out a formal review of yourself using that form. Put yourself in your boss’s shoes. Write the review based on what you think her perceptions are, not what you believe to be truth. Most of us know others have different perceptions than we have, and we are usually convinced those perceptions are in error. They are not. Like it or not, your boss’s perception is reality for her. Your view is reality for you, but it is irrelevant. When she talks to you, when she talks to others, when she thinks about your performance or potential, she will base those conclusions and comments on her perceptions, not yours. Perception is important because we all work in a world based on what others believe about us.

 If their perceptions are different from our view of the truth, then either we are wrong or their perception is wrong. In either case, the disparity between the two must be eliminated. Either we must change their view of us, or we must change our own self-view. Usually you will benefit more from accepting the boss’s perception and attempting to correct or improve your performance. Self-evaluation is tough to do and takes some practice to get it right. The irony is once you take it seriously, you will be more critical of your performance than others might be. Once you begin, this process will be very therapeutic. Start now, and put in motion the forces for improvement. Your best improvement will come from responding to your most significant challenge. How will you know what you should focus on first or most? The answer is to focus on the observation that is the hardest to accept, the one you are least able to look at objectively. If it truly is the most painful, then it is probably the most significant, deep-seated issue. Starting there can make the largest difference.

Love Means Honesty and Candor—Not Brutality

December 16, 2009

Chapter 5 Pg’s 133-134 Lead With Love By Gerry Czarnecki

Love Means Honesty and Candor—Not Brutality Giving effective feedback is hard work, but taking it is too. Hearing negative words about our behavior or performance is painful. Consequently, when we are in a position to give feedback, we usually attempt to couch the words in the most appealing fashion we can.

If you have been exposed to any formal sales training, you were probably taught you should always deal with negatives in a sales situation by attempting to focus on the positives instead. You were also probably told you must make yourself communicate in a positive fashion in order to get a resistant buyer to buy. In this case, there is no doubt the recipient of constructive feedback in an evaluation session will be a “reluctant buyer.” Such training gives you all the more reason to walk carefully through the feedback minefield.

 However, providing candid and direct insight is better than trying to mask the truth and spare people the pain of confronting their weaknesses. Don’t give associates an excuse to argue that they did not hear what you said. However, in spite of the need to be forthright, there is no reason to be brutal. Statements like, “That was stupid,” are cruel and confrontational and will elicit a strong reaction. Saying, “You have failed,” may be truthful, but it may also be so devastating that the associate may simply not listen. Try statements like, “I think you have some areas that could be improved.” This approach shows you believe the associate can fix the problem and the short-term failure can be overcome. It provides hope that the feedback will constructively improve the performance. Your goal should be to clearly and directly communicate the constructive evaluation, but you must continue to take all actions based on love.

Andy Grove, in High Output Management, offers sound advice about delivering the assessment. “There are three Ls to keep in mind when delivering a review: Level, Listen, and Leave yourself out.” By “level” he means to be honest; by “listen” he means just that. “Leave yourself out” means try to avoid the bias of your own thinking.

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The Process Is Critical

December 15, 2009

Chapter 5  Pg’s130-133 Lead With Love By Gerry Czarnecki

Always begin a trait review with an introduction explaining to the associate that you are not a psychologist, but rather a leader who has great interest in understanding her so you can help her grow and improve. Then give a general review of the categories you will discuss and the reasons for discussing them.

 I. The Mind Mental skills certainly affect job performance because most jobs today can be viewed as “knowledge worker” positions. How the individual uses mental skills is critical to the ability to learn and execute job functions. In this part of the trait review, give the associate feedback on abilities such as: a. the ability to achieve effective reasoning; b. problem-solving skills; c. systematic and logical thinking; d. the ability to employ analytical skills to create new approaches; and e. the speed with which the associate learns new ideas.

 II. The Emotions Emotional stability and control is a critical requirement in any job environment because the individual must be reliable over an extended period of time and in a variety of situations. In this part of the trait review, you will give the associate feedback on characteristics such as: a. the ability to maintain emotional control; b. the ability to deal with constructive feedback on work performance; c. commitment to work; d. self-confidence; e. the ability to deal with change and stressful situations; and f. the ability to avoid personal problems that affect on-the-job performance.

III. The Knowledge Every associate must be able to demonstrate a core knowledge and understanding of the work they are doing. In this part of the trait review, you will give the associate feedback on how you evaluate his or her job knowledge, such as: a. understanding of business principles in general; b. understanding of the specific work unit activities; c. knowledge and understanding of the organization as a whole; d. knowledge of the specific job the associate is assigned to accomplish; and e. the application of knowledge that contributes to required job skills.

IV. The Relationships Any person in the workplace must ultimately deal with co-workers in order to be effective. In this part of the trait review, you will give the associate feedback on abilities such as: a. working with colleagues; b. developing a sound working relationship with you, the boss; c. working as a team member; d. leadership; e. developing cross-organizational relationships; and f. effectively handling customers, vendors, or any other professional relationships that impact the ability to achieve success on the job.

V. The Future Any associate who is to be a star in an organization needs to be able to think about the long run. In this part of the trait review, you will give the associate feedback on abilities such as: a. seeing and understanding business growth opportunities; b. developing plans for improvement in the organization; and c. establishing plans for personal development. When you take the time to discuss these key characteristics, you demonstrate to an associate you are committed to feedback. By sharing these thoughts, you give associates an opportunity to understand how you perceive them and how you believe others in the organization perceive them.