Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Building a Trusting Workplace #4

March 6, 2009

In an earlier blog, I mentioned four things that are important in creating a trusting work culture. (Click here to read that blog entry.)  The fourth was “Leadership Committed to Walking the Talk.”

There are two major factors in this idea, as I see it:  first the workplace culture must be based on values, not on rules.  To get an idea of what this means, think of the last time you dealt with a government agency, especially one at the state or federal level.  If you don’t “follow the rules,” you get quashed!  As a result, few people want to deal the “the government,” and will even pay unnecessary fees and taxes just to avoid the confrontation.  However, when an agency or a company operates under a set of values, focusing on what it takes to meet the needs of their customers, work gets done, people feel good about the relationship, and new business has a fertile platform on which to grow.

Here’s an example:  29 years ago, one year after I moved to Cobb County, Georgia, I submitted my automobile license tag renewal by mail for the first time.  After about 7 days I revived a phone call from a woman from the County Tag Office.  She said (imagine a sweet voice and a genuine southern accent), “Mr. Walker, this is Betty Jean down at the County Tag Office.  I’m processing your tag renewal and you forgot to put down the name of your insurance company.  If you’ll just tell me what it is, I’ll write it in for you and we can just get this taken care of.”  So I told her, and it was done in 3 minutes, far less time than it would have taken Betty Jean to fill out the rejection forms and mail all my paperwork back to me.  I have had this “citizen-centric” attitude reflected to me dozens of times over the 30 years I have lived here, and continue to be amazed that a county government is so effective in serving their citizens with values, not just rules.  Systems and processes provide structure; values get the job done efficiently and effectively.

The second factor is leaders who model the values.  When leaders exhibit the values they espouse by the way they themselves treat employees and customers, these leaders set the standard.  Going back to my county example, the Chairman of our County Commission is the most citizen-focused person in the county.  He values his constituents, not just to get elected, but to make sure our county prospers.  He is out in the community every day.  He learns your name.  More importantly, he has cultivated the support of business and political leaders by focusing on building an infrastructure that is unparalleled in our state.  Our county has prospered, and still does. C-level executives are often completely out of touch with the employees and their customers.  Yesterday I spent an hour reviewing some of the characteristics of the “100 Best Places to Work For” from Fortune Magazine.  Virtually without exception, the CEO’s and other executives are known by their people, communicate the corporate values regularly by word and deed, and are visible in the workplace with employees and customers. 

J. Mark Walker

Build a values-based work culture, and show people how to live those values!  One way is to select the right kind of  training model which support the communication and implementation of your corporate values.