3 Daily Actions That Set The Tone for Workplace Culture

Some leaders mistakenly assume that organizational culture is simply a social phenomenon. But culture is more about employees’ shared values, thoughts, rituals and behaviors. These factors wield enormous influence over employees’ actions and decisions.

Some workplace cultures motivate employees and fuel performance. Others drain employees’ motivation and make employees feel as though they have no control over their environment nor any incentive to perform.

Employees’ perceptions about their work culture hinge on leaders’ actions and words. In turn, employees’ perceptions sway their own engagement — for good or ill.

Architecting an engaging work culture can be daunting for leaders whose attention is on tactical and strategic matters. However, leaders can employ three straightforward daily behaviors that set the tone for the right workplace culture and lay the groundwork for exceptional engagement.

1. Be respectful toward employees.

The notion of being kind to employees should go without saying. Yet many employees feel disconnected from and disrespected by their leaders.

Leaders don’t need to become best friends with employees. But even with subtle outreach and interaction, leaders can dramatically shape their culture.

Simply being out on the floor and saying hello is a good starting point.

Employees like to see and be seen by leaders. They want their leaders to understand the stresses they face. They need opportunities to voice questions or concerns.

Leadership rounding programs (where leaders go out to interact with employees in their work environment) can help meet these needs — but only if all leaders are dedicated and consistent.

Acknowledging employees’ efforts and accomplishments is equally important.

In many less engaged organizations, recognition is absent or limited to formal programs or events.

A timely, genuine “thank you” from a leader goes a long way toward engagement.

2. Communicate what is happening in the organization.

Many leaders are guarded with their communication. This is problematic because employees tend to fill in the gaps — often with unfavorable assumptions.

Leaders should be open and transparent — particularly regarding changes and developments. This requires frequent communication across as many channels as possible.

Sharing what is happening is not enough; leaders need to explain why to foster an engaging work culture.

Employees are more likely to embrace change if they understand the motive — and can see how it furthers the organization’s mission and affects individual performance, too.

Communication is even more powerful when it occurs before a change, so employees can provide input. Employees want to have their voices heard. Tenured employees, in particular, want leaders to value their knowledge and experience.

After soliciting feedback, leaders must acknowledge and act on it — even if that action is explaining why they can’t do something.

If you don’t follow up, employees are likely to stop providing input — to the detriment of their engagement.

3. Promote accountability and fairness.

A common refrain in less engaged organizations is that accountability is relative. That is, most employees believe they are working hard and following the rules; it’s others who aren’t diligent or compliant.

A culture of accountability starts with clear performance standards that apply equally to everyone — including leaders.

This is especially true when there are few rewards for excellence or repercussions for slackers are similarly scarce.

culture of accountability starts with clear performance standards that apply equally to everyone — including leaders.

If leaders don’t model desired behaviors, employees get the idea that those rules are arbitrary.

Leaders also need to ensure that accountability doesn’t become synonymous with punishment. Employees need consistent feedback from leaders that emphasizes their strengths and recognizes successes.

Another challenge with accountability involves tension between work units, with employees perceiving another group as getting a “pass” or favoritism from leaders. This often stems from misunderstanding — that is, when people don’t know one another’s protocols or timelines.

In such instances, leaders should encourage cross-functional meetings and communication. This not only reduces distrust, but also helps streamline processes and boosts efficiency.

There’s no one recipe for engaging employees. But leaders who focus on their workplace culture can deepen buy-in at the local level and participation in an engagement initiative. In doing so, they set the stage for world-class engagement.


Mark Cuban and I agree on the change that has happened in the workforce

If you missed it below is Mark Cuban (Shark Tank & NBA owner) on what employers have to do with today’s workforce.

Mark CubanShark Tank investor and outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, recently took to his personal blog to comment on a major issue facing the NBA–and every employer in America.

There’s been a lot of talk regarding how NBA players have really taken control of their league, with the most talented players teaming up behind the scenes to play together or asking to be traded to a different team if they’re not happy with their situation.

“Some feel that the player movement we have seen … is a problem,” wrote Cuban. “I don’t. I think it is exactly what we should expect, and it reflects what is happening in the job market across industries in our country.”

Cuban goes on to talk about how changing times have affected the employer-employee relationship–particularly how graduates no longer want to spend their entire lives working for a single company. 

“This reality has changed what it is like to be an employer,” explains Cuban. “In the past, the default was that the best employees would want a long career with their employers, because that is what you did. You kept your job as long as you could. No longer.”

And then, Cuban drops a major truth bomb that should wake up company executives across the country:

“Now the onus is on employers to keep their best employees happy.”

It’s a simple statement, with profound implications. Let’s break down why employers should take heed.

Why smart employers focus on employee happiness

Every year, companies spend billions of dollars recruiting and interviewing. Why? Because they want to make sure they’re hiring the best talent out there.

So why is it that once those employers get that talent, they don’t work as hard to keep their people around?

The NBA is a prime example. Top players are taking matters into their own hands, working with their agents (and sometimes fellow players) to get onto teams where the salary and company culture better fit what they’re looking for–even if they’re still under contract with their current team.

But this example is just a microcosm of the job market as a whole. The better you are at your job, the more options you’ll have. Every day, headhunters and rival companies are working hard to lure the best people away.

On top of that, recent research shows a major disconnect between how executives and workers view their workplace.

For example:

  • Gallup research indicates that a great majority of employees–about 70 percent–consider themselves “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” at work.
  • According to Google, while executives cared more about numbers and results, individual team members were far more concerned with team culture.

But all of this is great news for employees. 


Because, if you add the fact that the U.S. is currently experiencing its lowest rate of unemployment in 50 years, you realize that workers have more power than ever. In fact, Bloomberg reports that employees who switch jobs are getting paid more than those who choose to stay put.

“Mobility is the power that comes with being great at your job, whether it’s in the NBA or any other industry,” says Cuban. “If you are one of the best, you will have the ability to decide where you want to work.”

But while this is all music to employee ears, it should be a harsh wake-up call for company leaders.

As team leads or executives, ask yourselves if you and your company are providing the following for your people:

1. Good coaching

2. Team empowerment

3. An inclusive team environment

4. Good communication

5. A clear vision and strategy

6. Career development and support

Yes, it begins with making sure your salary and benefits are top-notch. But that’s just the door-opener. Beyond that, you’ve got to make sure you’re building a culture that rewards employees emotionally.

Because it’s not enough to lure top talent in. 

You’ve got to work to keep them around.

Does focusing on what is right with people vs what is wrong with them really help your bottom line? what do you think? Studies say….

Focusing on employees’ strengths does more than engage workers and enrich their lives…people who use their strengths every day not only increases their productivity at work but they are more than 3x more likely to report having an excellent quality of life and six times more likely to be engaged at work..  The proof is in the studies…

The study examined the effects those interventions had on workgroup performance. It included 49,495 business units with 1.2 million employees across 22 organizations in seven industries and 45 countries. Gallup focused on six outcomes: sales, profit, customer engagement, turnover, employee engagement, and safety.

On average, workgroups that received a strengths intervention improved on all of these measures by a significant amount compared with control groups that received less-intensive interventions or none at all. Ninety percent of the workgroups that implemented a strengths intervention of any magnitude saw performance increases at or above the ranges shown below. Even at the low end, these are impressive gains.

  • 10%-19% increase in sales
  • 14%-29% increase in profit
  • 3%-7% increase in customer engagement
  • 9%-15% increase in engaged employees
  • 6- to 16-point decrease in turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
  • 26- to 72-point decrease in turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
  • 22%-59% decrease in safety incidents

Turn over cost for a hair stylist

I was recently doing a seminar for small business owners and one of the questions I asked the group: “Do you know your turnover cost?” And everybody looked at me like, “What?” And nobody knew what their turnover cost was. Turnover cost is what it costs you, the business owner, when you lose somebody you didn’t want to lose, and the rule of thumb is one and a half times the person’s salary. At the break, I had a young lady who owned a hair salon come up to me and say, “Jan, help me out with my turnover cost.” She had lost a stylist that she didn’t want to lose, and I asked her how long it was going to take to replace this person, and she said, “30 to 45 days,” and I said, “Well, that’s simple enough. We can calculate the time it takes you to place the ad, interview the people, and get the individual onboarded.”

She says, “Well, that’s not my problem,” and I said, “What’s your problem?” And she says, “The vast majority of women who had that lady as a stylist followed her to wherever she went to next.”  Apparently, guys, women tend to follow their stylist wherever she goes. So now I have a different question I have to ask, and that question is, “How long is it going to take this new person coming in the door to get to a break-even of the person who left?” And the answer: two years.

This is what happens in your world all the time. Do you know how long it’s going to take somebody who is replacing the person who that you didn’t want to lose, to get back to the point of break even? And it is a longer time than you think, and you are bleeding money because you have less productivity during this time frame.
And so one of the things that I preach is for you to understand is it’s better for you to keep good employees than to find a new employee, and so developing a culture and a leadership style that helps people want to come to work for you, do quality work, and not leave, is paramount in today’s world.

Having engaged employees who want to come to work and do quality work is paramount to your viability as a business owner or manager. Less than 50% of all new business will be around in 5 years and one of the main reasons is the workforce management practices that are out of touch in today’s workplace. Many businesses today manage people the same way as they did post 2nd World War. Command and Control. That style didn’t work well for the past 70 years and it certainly doesn’t work today. Millennials won’t stay with your business and one of the 7 main reasons they leave is they want a coach and not a boss. You say I can’t keep younger workers I say well whose problem is that. They can leave you and go down the street because their earning expectations are inline with the market.   

3 Leadership Rules That Separate the ‘Good’ From the ‘Best’

Right out of the book It’s The Manager

Do you ever wonder why success is seemingly effortless for some business leaders?

It’s especially perplexing considering the challenges posed by the future of work (which is here, by the way).

Yet for leaders with the right rulebook, building a best-in-class workplace is as simple as 1-2-3. Their thriving organizations have over 70% of their workers ready to outperform the competition.

What’s their secret? Leaders who tackle the excessive demands of today’s workplace do so by following best practices that stand up to decades of rigorous scientific scrutiny.

These leaders live and breathe their playbook of precepts because they know that their leadership approach will determine whether their organization simply survives or slaughters the competition.

Abide by these three rules to start emulating crème-de-la-crème leaders.

1. Treat your workplace culture like a powerful, competitive differentiator.

By now, most business leaders know that culture matters. They might use basic culture survey tools or offer perks designed to create a fun atmosphere.

Still, only 27% of employees strongly believe in their company’s values, according to Gallup data.

Exemplary leaders view their culture as a baseline requirement and ongoing priority — not a “one-and-done” initiative. They use analytics to determine what makes their culture unique and how to make it stronger.

Further, they ensure their culture comes to life — every single day — in their employee experience. This requires consistent metrics and leadership commitment.

Ultimately, leaders who are culture champions help their company consistently win — for instance, by attracting the top 20% of candidates.

2. Don’t simply measure employee engagement; create a culture of high performance by focusing on development.

Many leaders have given employee engagement surveys a try. So why are only 15% of global employees engaged at work?

One underlying problem is that many leaders view employee engagement as the goal — an end in itself.

Excellent leaders recognize that engagement data are only the beginning. They consider engagement an ongoing, methodical exercise — one component of a holistic strategy for optimizing their culture.

The best leaders don’t collect data for data’s sake. They ask questions like, “What pressing problems do I need to address? What challenges are my customers facing?”

To this end, winning leaders enable their managers (who make or break engagement) to serve as coaches who use engagement insights to develop their team members for the future.

Great leaders also know that engagement surveys are a dime a dozen. They take the time to find scientifically and experientially validated approaches to engagement — interventions that are empirically connected to performance gains.

It’s an investment that pays off (and then some). With extraordinary engagement, organizations achieve top-shelf performance in crucial outcomes such as profitability, turnover and sales.

3. Become a data-driven decision-maker.

In today’s marketplace, simply having data isn’t enough. You need cutting-edge analytics to glean breakthroughs and discoveries from your data.

So it’s troubling that 85% of executives say they don’t know how to analyze the data they’ve collected, according to one KPMG study.

The best leaders don’t collect data for data’s sake. They ask questions like, “What pressing problems do I need to address? What challenges are my customers facing?”

That is, smart leaders are hypothesis-driven: They pinpoint their goals and run targeted analyses that address specific problems and objectives. With those insights, they recalibrate their vision and make razor-sharp decisions — in everything from succession planning to performance development.

As a result, their companies boast enviable agility. Data-driven leaders fuel outcomes with every action they take because they are empowered with predictive, forward-looking insights.

There is no magic wand for business excellence. Leaders must demonstrate persistence and courage. The courage to take risks. The courage to admit when you don’t have all the answers.

It’s a tall order, but leaders who are willing to go out on a limb will find that it’s worth it.