Culture Engine S Chris EdmondsHelping leaders drive positive culture change is a life-long passion for workplace consultant S. Chris Edmonds. Chris’ latest book, The Culture Engine, lays out a road map that will help any leader–from top executive to frontline supervisor–completely overhaul or simply refine their existing workplace culture. Recently, Chris and I chatted about his new book. Here is what he had to say about why this topic merits yet another leadership book, and how leaders can use the book’s content to create engaging, fun (he calls it the “other ‘F’ word’) places to work.

JVM: There are thousands of books on this topic. Why write another one?

SCE: Well, organizations still suck. We spend so much time in our workplaces and many of those workplaces are not nice. They are not happy, they are not trustful, they aren’t dignified, and they don’t honor people’s efforts. And, people get sicker in those environments. So, even with all of these books about great leadership, apparently leaders don’t “get it” yet. [Research tell us] that low employee engagement costs organizations money, it costs them customer relationships, and it creates a dynamic in workplaces that is much more competitive than it is cooperative.

JVM: Your book encourages leaders to focus not only on results (performance metrics) but also on the way people treat one another. Why is this important?

SCE: Western societies, and I think we Americans in particular, are still hanging onto industrial age ideas, in which the key theme is, “let’s get processes figured out and then no one will make mistakes.” For years, the thinking has been to focus on the most efficient actions and then we should see higher quality products and services. The prevailing thinking is, “If we do this, then we should see more efficient use of time and energy and therefore, greater profits, bottom-line.”

You know, profits are a very good thing. But there’s so much more to the equation. [If a leader] holds human interactions and human relationships out of the conversation you are not going to inspire anybody to do anything. You are really not. All you can do as an influencer, as a leader, is to craft an environment where people bring their natural motivations into play. And that requires looking at things beyond just “did we get the results we expected?”

JVM: More than a third of your book is devoted to defining and creating an “Organizational Constitution.” Give us the highlights.

SCE: Just as many societies have formalized platforms of liberating rules, so too can a company. An organizational constitution is a formalized document that guides our plans, decisions, actions, and treatment of each other and our customers. A constitution may be for the entire organization, or for just the department (or division) that a leader helms. At first these guidelines may be aspirational and that’s ok. But as it takes shape, the constitution gets crafted into a set of specific agreements that spells out how we will operate. There are four parts to an organizational constitution: the organization’s (or department’s) purpose, values, strategies and goals.

JVM: Can an individual leader really make a difference by implementing an organizational constitution in his or her department—especially if the rest of the organization has a toxic culture?

SCE: Absolutely. I have had terrific experience in influencing leaders of smaller intact functions. It might be a sales team, or a business unit, or one retail store that’s part of a larger global organization. In all cases, [the leaders of that smaller intact function] decided that the way the “system” [the overall company culture] was operating wasn’t working. And they wanted to make a change, but they didn’t know what to do, so they brought me in. The results are typically increases in productivity, in customer service satisfaction, and increase in profits as compared to departments who aren’t actively implementing these culture change ideas.

I want to thank Chris for his time and for sharing these wonderful insights with the readers of The People Equation.

If you want to learn more about the concepts in this book, check out my Culture Engine series , which features other posts related to his book. Are you on social media? Check out #TheCultureEngine to follow trending topics on this book.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for the purposes interviewing the author. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Please know that I only share information that I believe will be useful to my readers. For more information, see The People Equation disclosure statement.

 

 

{ 0 comments }

Book Review: The Culture Engine

September 29, 2014

In  the foreword of the book The Culture Engine management consultant Ken Blanchard highlights two elements of servant leadership. The first is “strategic leadership” which are practices that outline the “why” of the organization and form the basis of the company’s culture. The second element of servant leadership is “operational leadership” which is the day-to-day actions […]

Read the full article →

3 Things Every Leader Should Ask at Update Meetings

September 25, 2014

Leaders, do you want a simple, easy-to-remember process for staying up-to-date with your team’s workload? Here’s an idea I heard from my colleague Sally. (She said it was OK to share with my blog readers, so, thanks Sally!) Sally told me about a process that one of her favorite managers created to stay in communication […]

Read the full article →

11 Tips for Better HR-Employee Communication

September 17, 2014

Communicating with employees is a top priority in the human resources department. However communicating even seemingly simple messages can turn into a nightmare if the HR manager is unprepared or not kept in the loop. I sought advice from my colleagues in the HR trenches, HR consultants and a corporate communications professional to bring you […]

Read the full article →

A Great Reason to Wear Jeans to Work

September 15, 2014

Here’s a sobering thought: one in eight women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. Take a look around you at the next meeting you attend. If there at least eight women in the room then one of you sitting around the conference table may develop this disease. Fighting breast cancer is personal for me—my […]

Read the full article →

Carnival of HR is at the HR Schoolhouse

September 10, 2014

Robin Schooling is a football fan. She also blogs at the HR Schoolhouse and is Managing Director of the Silver Zebras HR consultancy. Today she’s combined both of those passions into a football-themed blog carnival. Says Robin, “Carnival of HR covers the fundamentals of the game, ongoing conditioning and strength training, defensive strategies, and offensive […]

Read the full article →

Riding the Rapids of Change in Your Professional Life

September 8, 2014

These past few months, I’ve been reading about how two of the largest trade associations in my field have been experiencing growing pains. Or perhaps, more aptly put, they’ve been experiencing “changing pains.” If you follow SHRM, then no doubt, you’ve read about the kerfuffle caused when SHRM announced the creation of their own credentialing […]

Read the full article →

Your Leadership Style – Unique as Your Signature

August 25, 2014

How do others experience you as a leader? According to psychologist Kathryn Cramer, every leader has a “signature presence,” a set of leadership assets that are as unique as your handwritten signature. Just as your autograph telegraphs who you are, so, too, do the daily actions that comprise your leadership presence. Think about your signature […]

Read the full article →

Resume Writing Tips from the HR Trenches

August 21, 2014

As part of the research for my HR Answers article, Top Resume Writing Tips from HR Managers and Recruiters, I reached out to my colleagues who have deep expertise in talent acquisition. They provided so many great resume writing tips, that I couldn’t include all of them in the article. So you get some excellent bonus […]

Read the full article →

How to Develop Your Trusted Inner Circle

August 18, 2014

The other day I picked up a copy of Trust Rules: How to Tell the Good Guys from the Bad Guys in Work and Life from the library. “Good guys” and “bad guys” seemed a bit stark in its philosophy, but admittedly, the title caught my eye. So I checked it out and read it. I’m […]

Read the full article →