If you could bring your best boss into your current team or organization right now, what would she do? What would she change or refine to ensure team members are engaged, serving, producing, and feeling trusted and respected every day?
My best boss was Jerry Nutter. I spent 15 years in nonprofit management and enjoyed some good bosses, some lousy bosses and one really amazing great boss: Jerry. He created a work environment that was a joy to operate in. Team members knew exactly what was expected of us — goals were clear, formally defined, and aligned to our team strategy. Values were also clear. Team members knew exactly how we were to treat each other and our customers — those customers inside and outside of our team.
Jerry held us accountable, in every interaction, for aligned performance and aligned values. And we thrived.
We loved coming to work. We worked hard and were amazingly productive. We trusted each other. We helped each other. We respected our peers even if we disagreed with a decision or approach.
This environment did not happen by default. Jerry crafted it, intentionally, and managed it kindly and responsibly. Our ground rules — behaviors that showed we were living our team values — were formalized. Our goals were formalized. Jerry kept us laughing through the hectic times and praised us daily for our efforts as well as our accomplishments.
Jerry invested time every day in the quality of our work environment. He didn’t leave it to chance. Aligned, inspiring workplaces never happen by chance.
You have, throughout your career, had similar experiences to mine. You had lousy bosses, good bosses, and a few great bosses.
Your current team my not have been your creation. You may have inherited that team. You may not be a formal leader of your current team, but you have leadership impact no matter your title.
If your best boss came in today and spent a week observing your team’s interactions, performance, service and engagement, what suggestions would she have to increase performance and values alignment?
Would you be like most teams that I see across the globe today? If so, your best boss would likely see competing priorities: “I win, you lose” policies and behaviors; uncaring service interactions; hoarding of information, etc. On the surface, things look fine. Below the surface, team members are anxious, distrusting, selfish and cheer others’ difficulties.
If your best boss was like Jerry, he’d direct you to make performance expectations clear and act daily to ensure team members deliver on their performance promises. He’d direct you to create values rules, in the form of valued behaviors, so team members would know how they are expected to treat each other and customers. And, he’d direct you to act daily to model those valued behaviors, praise aligned behaviors and redirect misaligned behaviors.
We know what works best. We just need a little push from our best bosses to put those liberating rules into practice in our teams and organizations.
What do you think? To what extent does your current team have clearly defined performance expectations and values standards defined in behavioral terms? If they do, how well do they deliver on both performance and values? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.
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My latest book, “The Culture Engine,” helps leaders create workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution.
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