The Right Bosses Inspire. The Wrong Bosses Depress.
Want a great team culture, where leaders and staff exceed performance expectations while living your organization’s desired values?
Put the right bosses in place. Then observe, coach, and praise their aligned efforts to make certain they continue to be the right bosses each day.
There is no “lever” that has greater impact on employee engagement and performance than having the right bosses leading employees.
Leaders at all levels of an organization drive employee engagement (or erode it) and employee performance (or not). Senior leaders must ensure that every boss in their company delivers two things consistently:
- Values: Live the organization’s values and behaviors as well as align staff behaviors to them, and
- Performance: Exceed performance expectations themselves and inspire it in their staff.
Doing one without the other doesn’t keep your teams at peak performance with values alignment. Great citizenship without delivering high performance doesn’t help your organization, it holds it back.
Great performance with poor citizenship creates conflict, distrust, and reduced employee engagement. That doesn’t help your organization, either.
One client faced a difficult situation. The senior leadership team had embarked on a culture change initiative. They published their values and behaviors and charged all leaders in the company to embrace them. Most of their leaders, managers, supervisors, team leads, etc. adapted to the new values expectations seamlessly.
A few struggled; after all, these leaders had never been asked to demonstrate the new “ways of treating others” in the past. A few didn’t change their behavior, figuring that this new initiative will blow over and they’d not have to really change.
The biggest hurdle the senior leadership team faced, though, was one of their own did not change his behavior. He continued to be difficult, self-serving, and uncooperative in the new environment. He told everyone he was trying, but the reality was that he didn’t model the new values and behaviors at all.
What would you do with this senior leader? We’ll come back to this challenge in a moment.
Here are three steps to consider to make sure all bosses in your company are the right bosses.
First, set the stage. Clarify, formalize, and communicate your organizational constitution: present-day purpose, values, strategy, and goals. Senior leaders must be champions of these agreements, demonstrating them with every plan, decision, and action. Only by living the constitution do senior leaders earn the right to expect other leaders in the company to do the same.
Second, demand values alignment and performance from all leaders. Make expectations clear of all leaders in the company – a “good job” now includes living our organization’s values while inspiring expected performance. Show them how values alignment looks. Teach them how to coach their team members to demonstrate the company’s valued behaviors.
Third, measure, monitor, and reward. Senior leaders must “engage by wandering around.” Be present and observe how teams operate, how bosses manage both values and performance day to day. Create systems to measure employee perceptions of their bosses.
The mis-aligned senior leader? The president chose to keep him in place. Despite close observation and regular coaching, the mis-aligned leader never quite embraced the culture. The credibility of the president and of the change initiative was negatively impacted by leaving this mis-aligned leader in place.
Follow the steps above, and you may never face that challenge.
How many of the bosses in your organization are the right bosses? In what ways does your organization monitor “right boss” behaviors?
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