When Trust is Low


Trust is the cornerstone of any organization and the one thing that will bring it to its knees. Every relationship, team and organization has one thing in common. That is when trust is present it has the potential for unparalleled quality and when it is missing it can destroy the basis of its existence. In an organization suffering from low trust, leadership spend much of their time babysitting employees instead of giving employees the tools they need to and getting out of their way. Instead of leading the organization they have to micromanage and check up on their people. In opposition, an organization with a high trust culture the people supervise themselves and work together as a collaborative team to ensure the employee’s needs are met. ”An organization that has a high trust cultural level of trust has to behave in a trustworthy manner , but also be really good at trusting others,” says Charles H. Green , Founder and CEO of Trusted Advisors Associates, LLC.


What does it take to create a trusting environment?

  1. Purpose: Help employees know the purpose of their work and the affect they have on their customers.
  2. Transparency: Communication needs to be open and honest with no hidden agendas
  3. Competence: Your people need to believe that you are competent and can run the organization
  4. Consistency: Your people need to be able to trust that you will do what you say you will do


What happens then when something occurs that can have a negative impact on the trust within your organization. The individuals involved need to take responsibility for their choices and let people know what they are doing so it does not happen in the future.


With a little planning and consistent behavior changes over time, your people will begin to believe they can trust you. This is a difficult fix and you need to be vigilant to the process and in time a foundation of trust will be build.


Accountability and Morale


Good communication skills and accountability are key elements of good leadership, successful organizations, and happy employees. The key is to utilize communication to hold your people accountable for their job responsibilities. That doesn’t seem like rocket science and yet experience has shown me that often leaders fail to hold people accountable and let things slide. Even worse, they depend on their best employees to pick up the slack. When something needs to get done, who do you turn to and depend on to make it happen? When people witness others not pulling their weight when their plate is already full, morale plummets. The key is to hold all people accountable for their responsibilities. If some of your employees struggle to keep up, ask them what they need. Do they have the skills and materials to do the job? If so, communicate the desired outcome clearly, check with them periodically and hold them accountable if they choose not to follow-through. This may even mean a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) and a structured process to help the person raise their productivity, and the loss of their position if this process fails.


The key is people need to have clear expectations regarding job requirements. From day one they should receive written policies for your workforce, specific job requirements, and clear expectations for employee performance and behavior. These should be followed up with guidance and feedback regarding their performance. In order to promote accountability, those who have sub-par performance need to understand clearly what needs to change and the consequences of not following through.   This should include a road map for success, specific tasks they are expected to accomplish, and an understanding of what educational opportunities are available for their competencies.


In addition, it’s important to understand accountability does not begin and end with this information. It is also necessary that their manager communicate with them on a regular basis to ensure the project is on track and remove any barriers to success. This should come through periodic communication without micromanaging the employee. Leaders should provide frequent feedback and encouragement to the employee. They also need to give positive, timely feedback to all employees and not depend on a few to carry the load. This is critical to their overall success of a project and the organization.


“Success … Changing Your Mindset!”


Why do some people excel, and others do not? Is it their intelligence? Is it their technical ability? Is it their personality? Could it be luck? Try this on for size …. There are people who are extremely successful and yet did not even finish high school? I believe successful people are successful because they have confidence and a belief system which supports their success.



The beliefs we hold of ourselves influence our behavior. Some beliefs support success and others hold you back from being successful. When situations in our lives are not working well, it is very easy to blame circumstances outside of ourselves. The problem is then you have no power to change anything. The good news is, you are creating the world that you live in with your belief system and your beliefs are something you can change. Most of our beliefs are held in our unconscious mind and influence our behavior daily. This is because your beliefs create your thoughts, your thoughts create your behaviors and feelings and that is what creates your outcomes. Are your current beliefs working well for you?


The first step in any change is awareness, so you need to start by identifying what your beliefs are so you can change the ones which are not working for you. A belief, according to Schwitzgebel (2011) is a “mental state in which a person regards a particular proposition as true.” Many of your beliefs are formed when you are very young before the child can discern whether it is true. In fact, most beliefs are formed by the time a person is 6 years old. Think of the messages you received at that time in your life? What are your beliefs about your abilities, the roles of boys and girls, authority figures and how you “should” interact with the world? Were you given messages that negatively influence your mindset and consequently your behaviors? Your current life is a print out of your subconscious programming and if your life is not working the way you want it to then now is the time to make a change.


Begin by listening to the way you talk to yourself. Is it helpful of not? If not, try to think back to when your belief formed. Often when speaking to people I find that they are holding beliefs that they learned in grade school and the belief has no relevance today. What irrational beliefs are you holding on to? Those beliefs influence how you communicate both verbally and nonverbally and effect your outcomes. If you learn to change your beliefs you can change your outcomes and become more successful.


Why not make 2018 your best year yet. Take an honest appraisal of your gifts and acknowledge the way you can help individuals and organizations. Change the way you talk to yourself and focus on your success. The world will be better because of it!

Motivating with Noble Purpose


One of the most common questions I am asked is how to motivate people, especially the younger ones! Sometimes these questions come from leaders who are frustrated with their disengaged employees and other times it is from supervisors trying to motivate someone because they want them to do something. Sadly, you cannot motivate anyone to do anything, but you can create and environment in which people feel motivated.


Lisa McLeod’s book “Finding Your Noble Purpose” is a really good way to help motivate the youngest employees in your organization. To their credit, millennials want to ensure that their work is having an impact and making a difference. What is the true noble purpose of your organization? While interviewing executives from Great Places to Work, I interviewed Wes Cotter, Director Corp. Communications at Gilbane Building Co. Gilbane, Inc. is one of the largest privately held family-owned construction and real estate development firms in the industry who builds universities and hospitals. While discussing their work, Wes commented that they don’t just build universities and hospitals, they “help educate people and save lives.” Imagine how this would affect the way individuals thinks of their work.


As Lisa says, “employee engagement is not the root problem. It’s a symptom. The real problem is lack of workplace meaning.” When profits are placed above meaning, it erodes the very thing that makes an organization great. Giving bonuses to improve employee performance has not worked and only motivates for about 2 pay periods! Your youngest employees the millennials and the upcoming Nexters want to understand how their work is making the world a better place. Ironically it is purpose that drives engagement and thus profits!


Consider these studies:

  • A 10-year growth study of 50,000 brands found that companies that put improving their people lives at the center of all they do have growth rates that are triple than their competitors!
  • Deloitte’s 2015 survey of workplaces found a tight correlation between purpose and profit stating purpose increases customer, employee and shareholder engagement.
  • Lisa found in over 500 sales organizations that sales people who sell with Noble Purpose outsell salespeople focused on targets and quotas.

So, one of the best ways to increase the engagement of your employees and your bottom line is to create an environment where your people understand the true noble purpose of their work and feel valued. Develop a strategic communication process that will help them understand what they are truly doing and the outcome that is being accomplished. By showing them how their work influences the mission and vision of the organization, and improves the world you can help them to create a sense of pride in their work. These simple techniques don’t cost anything, but offer you a big payoff!

Recognition – Letting Employees Know They Matter


Leaders often say that workers today are not motivated and feel they are entitled. How then do you motivate employees? Sadly, you cannot do anything that will motivate another individual, because motivation is intrinsic. You can, however, create an environment in which an employee feels motivated. Helping your employees understand how they work influences the outcome is a huge piece of motivation and something missing from many organizations.


Too often employees work every day with no knowledge of how they are making a difference. They are given jobs to do, but never the understanding of how it helps their internal or external customers. They don’t talk in terms of who their internal customers are and rarely discuss needs of their co-workers who they depend on to do their job. Usually there are people who depend on others to be able to complete their work. Think of how much easier an organization would run if people took time to communicate to one another and helped them understand that their work truly matters.


Many of the best companies have found a way to do this. Each week Dixon-Schwabl has a short meeting with all of their employees hearing the same information at the same time. The first part of the sessions includes a information on the last week and the upcoming week. The last few minutes of the meeting is dedicated to employees who recognize others who helped them the previous week.


Recognition is extremely important and costs the organization nothing and yet in most organizations employees say they only receive feedback when something is wrong. Find simple ways to recognize workers on a one-to-one process as well as recognizing key accomplishments at organization-wide meetings.


Encourage managers and employees to hand out thank you notes to fellow employees who they believe deserve them. Then, during monthly team meetings or in other group settings have employees randomly read the recognition messages, and tell the affect of the person’s help. You can even create a “Go the Extra Mile” award to encourage people to help one another. After all, a little reward can go a long way.


It is not difficult to let your employee know that what they do matters. When thanking your employees be specific about what they did and the outcome that was achieved. Whenever a behavior occurs that you would like to continue, you must reinforce it. With upwards of 70% of Americans disengaged, these simple techniques can help keep your employees happy and reduce the huge costs of replacing employees. It is not rocket science, but the results can be earth shattering!


Holiday Get Togethers – The Good, Bad and Ugly


Has your family been used as the script on the Hallmark channel? If not, the holidays can be a stressful time. Relatives, mixed with alcohol and sprinkled with a bit of dysfunction can turn a wonderful time into a catastrophe. Often people talk about hating the thought of getting together due to critical and obnoxious relatives, with the same scene played out year after year with no resolve. Although you cannot change another human being, you can choose how you react. Remember, it takes more than one person to create an argument and you can make a choice to decide if you will get sucked into the old way of interacting.


Much of the dysfunctional dynamics are rooted in the past, unresolved hurts that rear their ugly head when people get together. Be aware that this might happen and plan to deal with situations before you arrive. Every relationship you have is like a dance and often people share the same dysfunctional dance for years. Decide that you are going to change your dance this year and respond differently. Don’t be surprised if people try to get you back into your old way of behaving as that is what they know. With a little prior planning you can change how you choose to interact and perhaps change the dance for years to come.


Here are a number of suggestions about how to deal with those difficult personalities.


  • First, if arguments always start over a particular topic, suggest calling a truce during the holidays. This is especially true this year when it comes to politics!
  • Before you arrive, decide not to get caught up in any drama. If it starts just leave the room, or find a reason to go to the store or outside.
  • Don’t try to avoid an obnoxious relative in a small setting and take charge of the situation. Walk up to them with a pleasant greeting, make some small talk and walk away. They will then need to make an excuse to come up to you and you may have avoided the usual hassle.
  • If a relative asks a rude or inappropriate question respond, “Why do you ask?” and never answer the question. Know that their rude comment has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them and their issues.
  • Alcohol takes away inhibitions so do not indulge too much as you may say something that you will later regret.
  • Stressful interactions can cause us to go into a fight or flight response with the emotional control of a rhesus monkey. Take a moment to stop if even for a couple seconds, to give you time to respond not react.
  • If perfectionism is an issue for you …. Relax. Things do not need to be perfect and you can dramatically reduce your stress level if you go with the flow.


Finally, decide on an exit strategy. When you have reached your limit and need to take a break, find a reason to leave. The cost of a hotel room can be a welcome investment in your mental health and you can simply say it would be easier for your host or hostess. In any case, with a little planning you can enjoy the holidays and leave without needing to patch things up. Every situation needs a hero… this year let it be you! Happy holidays.


4 Keys to Resolve Fire Fighting



Do you spend your days trying to get product or services out of the door by firefighting? Too often leaders spend too much time on present day issues that stop them from looking forward and leading the organization. To meet customer needs the first priority, fingers get pointed, and everything becomes urgent. People do whatever it takes to get the job done and pour all their resources into getting the product out the door. Unfortunately, issues that caused the problem are not resolved so it is only a matter of time until the organization faces the situation again.


When chronic fire-fighting occurs the operation’s resources become consumed and productivity and morale dramatically decline. Managers and employees rush from problem to problem often not completing one before another interrupts them. A band aid is put in place and the underlying cause is never resolved. If this is a problem that reoccurs with different employees then the issue is a process problem that needs to be resolved not a personnel problem. The key is to create a process to fix issues so your customers receive the experience they deserve.


To improve your customer’s experience and minimize fire-fighting, there are 4 keys to resolving reoccurring issues.

  1. Customer Expectations: First, do you have a clear understanding of the customer’s needs and expectations? Was communication clear between the customer and sales department to ensure the finished product is what the customer needs? This means training your sales people to ask clarifying questions and follow-up orders with emails and/or proofs to confirm the request. Once an order arrives, make sure all departments receive clear communication regarding the expectations and timeline. Interdepartmental communication is often where problems occur, so it is vital to create a process to minimize miscommunication.
  2. Supervisor Support: Secondly, are your supervisors judged on fast results regardless of how they get things accomplished? The mentality may get them through today, but leaves the problem to reoccur later. Then time is wasted dealing with the same issue repeatedly. The organization needs to develop a process to deal with underlying problems to save your organization time and money.
  3. Problem resolution: Once an organization gets to the root cause and resolves the issue, it is important to document how a problem was resolved. Great organizations do a good job of documentation and communicates the resolution across the organization to help save time if for some reason the same issue reoccurs elsewhere. Some organizations even have a portal on their website that lists problem resolution, so people go there for answers which saves time and money.
  4. Customer Communication: Communicating with the customer is extremely important. When a problem occurs, it is essential the customer is notified immediately, and told the plan to resolve the problem and what is being done so the problem does not arise in the future.

This will help not only to serve your customers in a more efficient manner but help to improve morale throughout your organization. When problems are resolved take time to recognize those who helped in the process. When supervisors spend all their time fighting fires, they don’t have time to resolve issues and develop their teams. A business that takes time to resolve issues and gives their supervisors the skills to lead will become a better place to work in which people work together to create satisfied customers.


Three Keys to Getting Heard


Have you ever felt like you are talking, and no one is listening? You state your opinion and either it falls on deaf ears or soon someone else says the same thing and people rave about the idea. You sit there dumb founded because when you said it no one appeared moved by the idea. Why is it some people get their ideas heard and others do not?



Michael Landrum quoted Kristin Linklater as saying, “”To free the voice is to free the person.” So how does one go about getting his/her voice heard? Your gifts and opinions are what got you to your current position and your organization needs to hear your creative ideas in order to move forward. Although it is much easier to get your voice heard in a culture that values it, you need to find ways regardless of where you work, and it is all in the way you approach things.


When you have a great idea, and want to get your leadership’s attention it may mean doing some homework. Gather some information regarding current challenges facing your organization and see if your idea in any way helps to minimize the negative impact that your organization is facing. Next, gather research that backs what you are saying and will help leadership understand why it is in their best interest to pay attention.


Often, a good way to get leaders thinking is to ask questions regarding the current circumstance. Ask questions regarding the negative effect the current circumstance is having. For example, if there is a large amount of scrap or waste being produced ask about what it is costing the organization. This will help leaders to start thinking about the urgency of the situation. If the company is thinking of downsizing you could ask, “Have we given thought to the overall effect on the bottom line considering all the aspects that research states are affected by downsizing?” That may open the opportunity to let them know what research says.


It is also helpful to frame your comments helping them to understand what you are trying to accomplish. For example, “Understanding that we are trying to reduce costs to positively influence our profits, have you considered some alternatives that may reduce the negative influence on our reputation, such as voluntary layoffs or job sharing?”
By taking time to think through what you hope to accomplish and planning how you will approach the topics, you can influence how you are perceived. With a little attention, you can turn that place at the table into an influential spot and free yourself in the process.

“3 Keys to Creating an Umasked Environment at Work”


When you hear Unmasked environment, what comes to mind? Think of someone wearing a mask. At Halloween it may be someone trying to portray themselves as someone else. When you think of a bank robber wearing a mask are they not trying to hide their identity. These same things happen when a person wears a mask at work. They are either trying to hide who they are or portray themselves as someone else. A person who shows up as they believe others would want them to be instead of being authentic.


To create an environment in which people feel comfortable to say and do what they feel is right takes work on the leadership level. The environment must support honesty and open communication instead of punishing people for telling their truth. Although an unmasked environment helps to support honesty, it is not an excuse for disrespectful behavior or telling people what you think of them. It is an environment in which people share honest communication about issues of importance to the organization and let their leadership know when problems arise. Too often however, a person who tries to do the right thing is berated and punished, so they quickly learn to keep this very important information to themselves. Here are 3 keys for leadership to create an unmasked environment at work:

  1. Let people know that honesty is not only the expectation, but people will be held accountable for not sharing information about issues that have arisen. Leaders need to model transparency and open and honest communication needs to be communicated through interdepartmental and plant communication.
  2. Recognize employees and use people as stellar examples who do take the opportunity to share information. Help others to understand what problems were averted and how it impacted everyone when a person chose to communicate openly.
  3. Changing a culture takes time so it is imperative that over time your people receive the message of what is expected and consequences if they choose not to follow through. The cultural transformation will only take place when your people understand that it is safe to communicate transparently.

Most organizations promote a culture of open and honest communications, and yet it takes more than naming it as a value within your organization. Leaders need to not only talk the talk but walk the walk if they want managers and employees to share ideas and opinions. Employees will need to witness an unmasked communication environment by leaders modeling the behavior. Leaders must create an environment where everyone clearly know the corporation values communication and employees feel comfortable sharing information.

Social Awareness – A Key Emotional Intelligence Component


Social awareness is your ability to understand and respond to the needs of others. It is about taking time to notice how your behavior is influencing others and utilizing that information to change the way you choose to interact. This will Improve your social skills and help you to gain the respect of others. Too often we only think of ourselves and our needs and do not slow down to notice how our behavior is affecting others.


There are many competencies associated with being more socially aware. For one, empathy or understanding another person’s concerns and goes a long way toward helping to improve the relationship between you. All too often we are only concerned with our needs and do not take time to pay attention and listen to others. By carefully considering what other people want you can determine if there is common ground. By communicating with them so they understand that you get what they need, you can begin to build a foundation of trust between you. Consequently, when there is not empathy or social awareness, there is a significant loss of trust.


You can also increase your social awareness by putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. To develop authentic relationships where honest communication can take place you need to be more empathetic. Think of how you might feel in a similar circumstance then paraphrase what you hear the person say and add a feeling word. Do not be concerned that you will tag the wrong word, because they will correct you if you are wrong and will understand that you are really trying to recognize how they are feeling.


Next, identify the behaviors in other people that may cause you to have a negative response. You cannot change others, but you can change how you choose to react. Once again try to put yourself in their shoes then modify your behavior to try to find that common ground. If you do negatively respond take ownership for your behavior and apologize for your actions if appropriate.


Finally, find people you trust to give you honest feedback about how you interact with them. Just listen and take it in. If it is the first time you hear it, just make a note of it, but if you have heard it from 2-3 others then it is time to pay attention to the impact your behavior is having on others. Becoming more socially aware will help you to connect with others in a more intimate manner and develop healthier relationships that will serve both of you.