Why Leaders Need To Embrace Employee Motivation

*As originally seen on


How do we consistently get team members who say ‘I love my job, I trust my leader and l’m ready to rock today!’?

According to Gallup, the purpose of performance management is to improve quality of work, productivity and other business outcomes, but traditional approaches have consistently fallen short.


Let’s look at Gallup’s findings:

  • Only 2 in 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.
  • 30% of employees strongly agree that their manager involves them in goal setting.
  • Employees whose managers involve them in goal setting are 3.6x more likely than other employees to be engaged.
  • 21% of employees strongly agree they have performance metrics that are within their control.
  • 14% of employees strongly agree that the performance reviews they receive inspire them to improve.
  • 26% of employees strongly agree that the feedback they receive helps them to do their work better.

The result? Gallup estimates the cost of poor management and lost productivity from employees in the U.S. who are not engaged or actively disengaged to be between $960 billion and $1.2 trillion per year. Wow! What steps do leaders need to take to motivate their employees?

What Employees Really Want

The workplace is evolving and shifting. As leaders, we need to realize that the wants and needs of our employees are changing. We saw this when we learned how to create a culture where Millennials and members of Generation Z can thrive.

The key to inspiring maximum performance from your team is not scoring them and offering standardized feedback based on their score. Instead, use a process that creates intrinsic motivation and benefits both the team member and the company.

Performance Motivation Is Key

Empowerment and motivation happen when people solve their own problems, and create their own aspirations and expectations. That’s why the outcome frame tool is a powerful first step. It helps our team find out what they really want and how they know when they’ve got it. It generates clarity and insights. Helping our people focus on the outcome they want to create, not the problems in the way, activates their reward (pleasure) network. Once our team knows what they really want, it’s time to create an action plan to motivate team performance.

  1. Impact Descriptions – Not Job Descriptions
  2. Clear Needle Movers
  3. Individual Development Plans (IDPs)
  4. Performance Self-Evaluations

To see each of these factors discussed in detail, please see the infographic below and my previous blog Why Performance Management Is Dead And Performance Motivation Is Here To Stay. (insert performance motivation vs performance management infographic here)

When you implement the above action plan, your team will begin to shift. They will be motivated to do outstanding work because they know their role is part of something bigger. They will realize they are valued and that achieving their goals is essential to the success of their organization. More importantly, they will begin to trust their leaders.

Trust creates reliable environments. Enriched environments are more reliable. Reliable and enriched environments equal ROI.

 The result? Team members making more connections, solving problems faster, figuring things out faster and innovating better.

Share with us how shifting from performance management to performance motivation is impacting your organization.


Featuring case studies and proven techniques, Power Your Tribe provides a set of powerful neuroscience-based tools to help managers identify emotions, release resistance, end isolation, focus on outcomes, and course-correct for continued success.

Learn More


Challenges Retaining Talent? Here’s What They Are Really Trying To Tell You

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Is there a correlation between the style in which someone quits and the organization itself? A study conducted by Anthony Klotz, Oregon State University College of Business and Mark Bolino, University of Oklahoma Price College of Business discovered the 7 ways that people quit and that a connection may exist.

Let’s take a look at the 7 ways that talent quits and what a leader can do to not only increase retention, but if a person must leave, how to keep them in the categories of 1, 2 and 3.

7 Ways People Quit

  1. By The Book: 31% quit by having face to face conversations, combined with a letter of resignation that states the exact reason they are leaving along with a notice period.
  2. Grateful: 9% were positive and willing to have their departure from the organization be painless for their leader and their team.
  3. In The Loop: 8% actually had the supervisor/leader ‘in the loop’ with the resignation.
  4. Perfunctory: 29% will have a face to face conversation, give a letter of resignation and a notice period but won’t elaborate on the specific reasons they are quitting.
  5. Avoidant: 9% kept contact with the leader to an absolute minimum and involved bringing in a third party like HR or ducked out by sending in their resignation over the weekend as opposed to face to face conversations.
  6. Impulsive: 4% will reach a breaking point without having a conversation at all, there is no notice, no letter or resignation and certainly no willingness to have the transition period be as painless as possible for everyone involved.
  7. Bridge Burning: 10% will quit not only without any notice, but they want to make sure that their leader and/or organization know that they are extremely upset and why. Emotions run high and both parties lose.

There are two key points that should be examined. First, your talent has made a decision to leave. Can they be retained? Second, your talent will make a decision regarding how they will leave. Can leadership impact how they will choose to leave?

Retain Your Talent

All too often leaders don’t create and foster an environment where talent feels comfortable or confident enough to stand out. It’s easier to blend in with the crowd versus stand out and be seen.

 These individuals will see and feel the benefits they bring to the company. Talent that thrives:

In previous blogs we have discussed how to foster and nurture an environment where your talent will get and stay engaged. These tools will help you form an action plan that you can start implementing today to retain these individuals:

Prevent Drama Filled Exits

If more drama filled exits are occurring, it may be time to examine the underlying issues. In the case of Impulsively Quits or Burns Bridges, it’s not surprising that research showed those individuals may be experiencing higher levels of abuse from their leaders or they may ‘feel’ that they were treated unfairly. For these individuals, leaving in any other manner except one that is high-emotion isn’t an option. By working on creating and sustaining a workplace culture where team members are invested in their role and the success of the business, if the time comes that they must exit, the probability of them staying within the categories of 1, 2 and 3 increases.

In some cases exiting is unavoidable. They may be moving, deciding to take a different direction in their career or they simply do not want to work for your organization anymore. In these cases, how can we make this process as seamless and positive as possible for both parties?

Compassion & Communication

If both parties add compassion and communication, a win-win is created. The person leaving may decide to stay. If the circumstances surrounding their exit are unavoidable they will do all that they can to make this transition process a positive experience for everyone. When the leader holds the person exiting in a place of compassion, they will have time to reflect on the culture they are helping create at the organization and they may find ways to improve. Both situations require a culture where it’s safe to communicate, where both parties feel they matter and they know what they say will be valued. Through compassion and communication, the entire process will be filled with ease, grace and dignity.

Three Keys To Effectively Managing Remote Workers [Infographic]

*As originally seen on

In a mere 3 years the mobile workforce is projected to comprise roughly three-quarters of U.S. employees.

Is your organization ready?

According to Gallup, remote working has been on the rise since 2012: from 39% in 2012 to 43% in 2016. The desire to work remotely is here to stay and it isn’t limited to a few select industries. Gallup found that the finance, insurance and real estate industries experienced the greatest surge in time spent working remotely, followed by transportation, manufacturing or construction, and retail industries.

We love this infographic from HR Magazine which shows the latest statistics and trends:

Society for Human Resource Management

While remote work may not make sense for all organizations or for all roles within an organization, it is important to take a closer look. Whether you have a remote workforce or are thinking it may be a good idea to implement in your organization, there are ways to make sure your team stays engaged. Let’s dive into the three keys to optimizing your remote workers’ experience.

Explicit Communication:  We want to ensure that we are giving someone Safety, Belonging, Mattering via our words and written communications. When we communicate often (results, requests, info updates) we include people—and we foster a sense of us all belonging together. We want to engage everyone during meetings and if possible, have those meetings via video conferencing. Remember, only 7% of communication is the actual content, so seeing each other is essential. When relying on other methods of communication, such as text or email, you can use my coding system to optimize email communication to get optimal results. This will save time, clear up confusion, manage feedback and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Effective Delegation:  There is effective delegation, and there is “rubber band” delegation: when we delegate something and it snaps back to us incomplete. Here’s our 5-Step Effective Delegation Process that our clients find helps them to end rubber band delegation, and increase ownership and accountability. With remote workers effective delegation is even more essential as the “walking by your cubicle” conversations are non-existent. This fosters ownership and reduces the likelihood of the “order giver-order taker” dynamic, which crushes the spirit of ownership, innovation, and a feeling of empowerment.

Perceptual Positions: These make the difference! Perceptual is your perception in relation to immediate sensory experience. Position is the physical location of your body. This is an exercise that my clients and their teams have found to be extremely helpful when conflict arises in their organizations—or prior to a potentially challenging conversation taking place. This tool is ideal for remote workers because if we can gain clarity into what the other person is experiencing, even when we aren’t in the same office space as they are, we can communicate more effectively as well as understand their potential struggles. The result? Productivity rises and outcomes are achieved faster. You can try out Perceptual Positions here. The key is to get on another person’s “map”—to get a feeling for what it means to be them. Taking the time to meet a person where they are the greatest way to establish rapport, connection, trust.

Remote workers are on the rise. Are you ready?

63% Of Employees Don’t Trust Their Leader — Here’s What You Can Do To Change That

*As originally seen on

Trust is toast, according to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer.

It’s worldwide, it’s pervasive across business and government, and trust of CEOs is at an all-time low.

CEO Credibility plunged by 12 points this year. Sixty-three percent of survey respondents said CEOs are somewhat or not at all credible. Whoa. Wow.

How Trust Is Broken…

Lack of trust creates an environment where concerns quickly evolve into fears. And when fears collide with a belief that the system is failing, trouble results. Also as distrust and fear increase, the negative impact on employee morale, engagement and performance accelerate. The end results are disengaged employees, frustrated management and lower profits. And the problem comes from four key emotional experiences:

1. A sense of injustice – the experience of unfairness tamps down the insula, the part of the brain responsible for emotional hurt and intuition. If a person is experiencing unfairness they will be spending more time in critter state, which will impact performance, decision making, collaboration, overall peace and happiness.

2. Lack of hope – the experience of hopelessness is even more painful than unfairness, and it’s below Critter State on the emotional range. In neurolinguistics the states of hopeless, helpless, worthless, and grief/terror are consider Baseline States. It doesn’t get worse than this.

3. Lack of confidence – depending on the person and degree of lack of confidence we’ll likely see procrastination, reluctance to take risks, playing “small”, and yes, more Critter State.

4. Desire for change – this is encouraging as there’s some energy here. Desire for change means we can envision a possible future where things are better. This lights up the Ventral Striatum where we anticipate reward. If we can increase this experience we can get into Smart State.


A few more key findings are that with the experience of distrust Edelman found that facts matter less to people and bias becomes the filter. 53% of respondents stated they do not listen to people or organizations with whom they often disagree. Further, people are 4x more likely to ignore info that doesn’t support their beliefs. Wow.

…And How To Fix It

So what’s the solution? Edelman’s survey respondents said that a shift from a top-down approach to a more participatory model is needed. In a word: collaboration, communication, transparency and mutual respect. This means deeply listening to and strategically acting on insights from employees. The report also concluded that rebuilding trust is a shared responsibility. We’re in this together.

And sustainable trust is key. This means taking employee engagement and empowerment to a new level, and ensuring leadership is engaged and empowered too.

Engage Everyone

In previous blogs we have discussed proven and trusted neuroscience-based tools that will increase employee engagement, the real reasons your team is not engaged, how great leaders build trust and increase employee engagement and the one mistake leaders make that kills employee engagement.  Engagement starts at the top where the culture of the organization is formed–leaders must build a solid foundation where employee engagement can thrive.

 Leadership engagement = employee engagement.

Engagement and motivation happen when people solve their own problems, and create their own aspirations and expectations. That’s why the “outcome frame” tool is so powerful. Additionally it’s essential to:

• Use inquiry over advocacy—ask questions vs. giving orders, and use the Outcome Frame for deep insight and clarity creation.

• Hold team strategy and problem solving meetings at every level–meet to do the work not to talk about the work.

• Have team members create their own goals and action plans.

When we add empowerment to engagement, we will see profound results.

Empower Employees

Are you encouraging employees to have a voice? Are you empowering them to make decisions and to have a say in the company in their department/role and to offer feedback in a safe and outcome focused way?

The damage happens when a leader asks for feedback and then either does nothing to improve him or herself or attempts to identify the source of criticism and punish it. Persecuting someone who took a risk to respond to your request is an obvious trust breaker, but why is doing nothing problematic as well?

When we take the time to give feedback to someone we have most likely thought about it, and feel that the person is not able to see or to prioritize something that can be clearly seen from the outside. When we do nothing, we discount the feedback giver’s experience and their desire to create a more positive outcome—we send them into Critter State through a sense of loss of belonging, mattering and possibly safety. Not responding may result in having them feel invisible and powerless. This results in a fear-based culture where trust won’t thrive, when what we want is a transparent culture where trust is abundant.

According to the Edelman Report, the most trusted spokesperson to communicate the topic of employees are the employees themselves, not the CEO or the Senior Executives. Employees also find the following types of communication the most “believable.”

• 57% Spontaneous Speaker vs 43% Rehearsed Speaker

• 54% Blunt and Outspoken vs 46% Diplomatic & Polite

• 51% Personal Experience vs 49% Data

Effective communication works when we incorporate Safety, Belonging, Mattering into the dialogue. Here are three examples that employees can use with their leaders to increase this experience:

Safety: “I want to be the best [executive/leader/partner/etc] I can be. Could you help me create structures, techniques, processes to foster innovation, safe and sane risk taking, intellectual challenges? I think this could really help us grow and stretch.”

Belonging: “I want to be the best [executive/leader/partner/etc] I can be. Could you provide me with opportunities to bring people together, to form teams and help them perform at their peak? I would love to contribute this way.”

Mattering: “I want to be the best [executive/leader/partner/etc] I can be. Could you let me know when you’re happy with my work/contributions and what specifically you like? This will help me do more of what matters to you and the company.”

Safety + Belonging + Mattering = Trust

We can help heal the significant distrust in the business world via first understanding what a person is experiencing and then intentionally helping them shift into engagement and empowerment. When we give people what they crave their Critter Brain (fear based) calms down and we can guide them into their Smart State.

The result? A culture where trust, true rapport, connection, alignment, enrollment and engagement live.

How will you build trust in your organization?

5 Brain-Based Keys To Engage Your Team And Have Your Profits Soar

*As originally seen on

*As originally seen on

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just tell people what to do and they’d do it? Wasn’t that what was supposed to happen when you finally got that promotion, or started that business?

The thing is, your team are human beings—not machines. They are thinkers who thrive on solving problems. When people solve a problem themselves, plan a solution themselves, decide for themselves what to do next and next and next…they are engaged.

On the contrary, when you tell your team exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to do it, their inner two-year old comes out, and they either want to rebel or they grudgingly go-along and learn to be ever more helpless. But when people solve problems for themselves they feel a sense of relief, that they have contributed to making the world just a little bit better.

5 Brain-Based Keys To Engage Your Team And Have Your Profits Soar


What Worked Then Doesn’t Work Now

Now in some organizations problem solving thinking is not useful for certain individuals. For example, if you are running a military operation you may not want your team to think too much. It may be in everyone’s best interest to obey immediately. In many religions the doctrine requires obedience to a higher authority and hierarchies serve a divine purpose with God at the top. Thinking and deciding for oneself is discouraged.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Hierarchical, command and control organizations served an evolutionary purpose. They allowed large organizations to evolve. An organization of this type can create stable processes and achieve long term goals. Without this type of organization, we would not have any awe-inspiringly beautiful cathedrals in Europe or the pyramids in Egypt.

However, today’s organizations are increasingly complex. They need to process enormous amounts of information, react, and reorganize ever more quickly. That means command and control doesn’t work anymore. The problems are too big for one person to create and dictate solutions without involving the input of the people who are actually doing the job. In fact, the people who are closest to the actual work of creating and/or delivering the product know best what to do and how to adapt.

So today’s “control systems” need to be centered around developing communication skills and creating productive teams and effective collaboration.

Here’s What Does Optimize Teams

Last Fall Google researched what factors make teams effective. They expected to find the perfect make-up of an effective team: the individuals, personality types, number of PhDs, and more. What they found surprised them.

What determined effectiveness was how the team interacted. Not who was on the team.

Here are their five keys to optimizing teams:

1. Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?

2. Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high quality work on time?

3. Structure and clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?

4. Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?

5. Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?

The key skill is listening.

Working with my clients, I have noticed that there is a fundamental skill that underpins the first three factors. If team members don’t have it, you don’t get those factors, so you can’t optimize that team.

No listening, no psychological safety.

No listening, no understanding…so dependability will suffer.

No listening, how can anyone be clear? How can a structure be embraced?

Google Term Meaning Safety, Belonging, Mattering
Psychological safety Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed? Safety, Belonging
Dependability Can we count on each other to do high quality work on time? Safety, Belonging, Mattering
Structure & clarity Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear? Safety, Belonging
Meaning of work Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us? Mattering
Impact of work Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters? Mattering

Many of my clients initially name “listening” as something they should work on in their coaching. Yet they often seem almost perversely proud of their non-listening status. How many of us find ourselves at odds with the knowledge we “should” listen but the conflicting compulsion to lead by directing, which often translates into talking more than others. Or worse yet, appearing to listen but just quietly waiting for our time to talk without really paying attention.

How To Give People What They Ache For

We don’t feel safety, belonging or mattering without it. According to Oprah Winfrey, who has interviewed thousands upon thousands of people from ordinary folks to world leaders and highly successful business people, they all ask her the same question after the interview: “Did I do OK?”

In seeking validation many people talk without listening first. We are eager to make our next point and be validated. So we don’t listen. While the other person is speaking, we are arranging our next piece of brilliance and persuasion in our minds. When we’re told we need to be more “present” or even told to talk less, we start out with the best intentions, but soon find ourselves vying for airtime.

Ask questions and actually listen for the answer and keep your mouth closed until it’s time to ask the next question. Try keeping the ratio of questions to you offering your opinion at 80% questions to 20% your opinion.

In a team, especially if you are learning to collaborate better, try a few sessions using a device like a talking stick (only the person holding the stick can talk) to ensure that everyone gets equal air time. The “talking stick” concept comes from Native American traditions but can be any object that is culturally appropriate for your team—even a pen will do.

In the age of organizations as living organisms, listening is the skill that will help your team soar—and give them the emotional experience they long for.

3 Types Of Meetings That Will Engage Your Team and Increase Team Performance

*As originally seen on

*As originally seen on

How is your company’s communication?

Is it clear and efficient and aimed at driving results or increasing connection?

Or do team members talk a lot without saying anything that moves the needle?

Maybe you remember this model from my previous blog: 4 Steps To Fast, Effective Meetings where we addressed the types of communication that created efficient and effective meetings that keep your team happy and executing with high accountability.

It’s been a few years since I wrote that post and in that time, we’ve added to the types of communication.

Requests and Promises

Today we are going to extend this model because some things that weren’t useful in tactical meetings are incredibly useful in strategic meetings. Most tactical meetings have too much of these two behaviors, personal sharing and point proving…for tactical meetings we must work on increasing the amount of requests and promises.

Engage Your Team with Six Types Of Communication

Depending on the type of meeting, you want more or less action to result. Here’s another way to notice what the result of the meeting will be depending on the type of communication that happens in it.

Engage Your Team with the Right Types of Meetings: Communication Type Matters

Notice that promises and requests are at the top because that’s going to lead to the most action. Info-sharing and debating and decision making are in the middle, while point proving and sharing oneself is at the bottom because it doesn’t usually lead to positive action.

There are three types of meetings you’ll want to consider.

  1. Why Meetings: Strategy & Mission: The priority is focus and the method is debating and decision making
  2. What Meetings: Brainstorming: The priority is clarity and the method is info sharing
  3. How Meetings: Implementing: The priority is accountability and the method is promises and requests

Types of Meetings: Meeting makeover

Let’s take a deep dive into the graphic above:

Notice the two axes on this chart. The vertical or y-axis here is about increasing the level of debate (or healthy conflict). As you get closer to zero, team members have more sameness in their thinking and as you go up there is less sameness and more divergent thinking.

The horizontal or x-axis here refers to the frequency or rhythm of your meetings. Closer to 0 is fewer meetings—but perhaps longer—and as you move right you are meeting more and more frequently—but usually for shorter duration (like huddles).

At the left end of the spectrum…fewer meetings per year with more debate…we have more strategic meetings. This is where we actually want to have high debate and include divergence…we are getting ourselves aligned. This is a place for healthy conflict. We are asking “Why are we doing this?” to determine mission, vision, values and to get aligned. Here we can tolerate and encourage a lot more debating (though never point proving), we are not as focused on resulting action. We are focused on getting out on the table different new ideas, information, and understanding what could go wrong on different paths.

In the middle we have your average departmental or executive team meeting…slightly less frequent, slightly less debating as you are no longer re-determining the core of your strategy…you are brainstorming about what to do and creating action plans. Remember the Clarity level and Lessons from South Park in my previous blog What ‘South Park’ Can Teach You About Business—Hint: Stealing Underpants Isn’t Enough. Here we tolerate more Info Sharing as we need to know what the parts of the team are doing in order to plan and prioritize.

Toward the right we have your daily and weekly implementation meetings as well as 1-1 interactions. These meetings are all about promises and requests.

The result? Meetings that are efficient, effective, and keep your team happy and executing with high accountability—and in their Smart State. Further, it’ll reduce frustration, boredom and disengaged team members.

Do what my clients do: enlarge the graphics above, post it on your conference room wall and train your team to communicate to drive results.

Then everyone will communicate effectively, efficiently, and focus on moving the needle.

3 Things That Guarantee Engaged Employees

*As originally seen on

*As originally seen on

One of the most important and core elements a company of people can be aligned on is their mission, vision and values about the company. These components are essential and powerful drivers for the exec team to efficiently achieve the success they want. They are also the key to having a highly engaged culture of team members who say “Thank God It’s Monday!”

Many companies don’t really think this is important to have these or have them nailed down. But that’s primarily because of one major flaw in the use of these terms. That one flaw is the integrity that runs behind the concepts of the mission, vision and values statements.

Often there is a lot of misunderstanding about these words, mission, vision and values. And there are a lot of definitions out there.

3 Things That Guarantee Engaged Employees


I happen to like the Peter Senge definitions – who is most well known as the author of The Fifth Discipline, but was also the director for the Center for Organizational Learning at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

He coined the phrase, “The Learning Organization.” A learning organization is the term given to a company that facilitates the learning of its members and continuously transforms itself.

We start with the assumption that we all want to be effective with our company, both within the company and within ourselves within the company. And let’s call effective as creating the results we want long term and sustainably.


So let’s use the Peter Senge definitions of these words:

In his world view – the word mission means the “why.” Why are we in business? Why are we doing what we do here? Why does this company exist? What’s the purpose for us existing?

Example: Mission for a company providing private student loans: We believe every child has the right to receive a higher education that is financed in a manner that is fairly priced and accessible to all.


On the other hand – vision is a little different. A vision is a picture of what you want as far out on the horizon as you can see.  And usually this is three to five years – in a company or with a person. And as you get closer you revise. It is important that it be long-term enough to make decisions.

Example: Vision for a company providing private student loans: By 2020 we will have enabled 50 million students to receive a higher education.


Values have to do with standards of behavior that you say yes or no to. You want the vision to happen in service of the mission – but there are some things that are important to you, some guidelines of behavior that you are not going to compromise, regardless.

We believe people may not be able to become profoundly aligned with other people, but they can and will become profoundly aligned with a potent mission, vision, and values.

A wonderful example of a corporate vision and values is Johnson and Johnson’s credo. For over 10 years I have used this example in training and presenting to businesses and organizations. It is a beautifully designed values document that stresses the importance of the behavioral alignment with the values.

Let’s drill down:

Mission Drill Down

Let’s start the discussion with answering any of these questions:

• Why are we here as a company?

• Why do we exist?

• What are we going to source that will not have existed without us being here?

• What are we going to make happen because we exist?

Now you have your mission statement – this can continue to refine over time – but this is a starting place.

Vision Drill Down

Let’s talk about the Vision of the company. If we stick with our original definition that the vision is a clear picture you can see of the company as far out as you can see on the horizon – which is likely 3-5 years from now. What’s the clear picture you see of the company?

Vision can be asked in that way – or we can ask ourselves in the opposite way to start to get our vision – what are we willing to give up to have alignment on what the future looks like. Often having a clear vision is challenging, because we look at what we want only – however, we know that from our lives, often what we want and what we end up with can be different. Mostly that difference is the summation of our behaviors and actions along the way. So, it can be very valuable for us to both consider what we want, and what we are willing to give up or sacrifice at the company in order to have a complete picture about the future.

Vision is often thought of as results – we want to be worth X amount of money. But again – let’s put those Visions aside, because, that is not a Vision that is going to move everyone through the organization. Remember we are talking about a company vision. We are looking for a vision that people in the company from the top to the bottom can get behind.

And perhaps the best question we can ask is:

Who are we becoming as a company in three to five years?

• What will we be known for, or known as in the community then as a company?

• What will we be proud to say we are as an identity in the business community when we arrive?

• What are some visions of what you see the company looking like three to five years from now?

Values Drill Down

Values can be pretty cliché – most companies are working off of similar values. And it is not the words; it is how we demonstrate them at the company. They are going to be behaviors you agree to live by and align with on a daily basis when you walk through the front doors of the business. Words that you are going to live and show by example.

Choosing the values of the company is to say – “I believe strongly that these will demonstrate the most important behaviors to us as a culture.” It is making a commitment to the kind of company you wish to be.

A good way to think about this is – if you woke up every day and had certain words or phrases posted in your shower, as a reminder about the most important things to you in life – in terms of values – what would those be?


1. Mission – Your purpose – what’s the big why? Is it worthy and emotional?

2. Vision – a picture of what you want – clear picture? Is it compelling? Martin Luther King didn’t just have a simple idea. He had a dream so infused with passion and meaning that others wanted to be a part of it.

3. Values – the standards of behavior – integrity, open communication, team work, etc. – that we are expected to honor as a member of the tribe.

Is it time to take a look at your company’s mission, vision and values?

Great Leaders Discover Hidden Talent During Lunch Breaks: Now You Can Too

*As originally seen on

*As originally seen on

A terrific way to foster connection and safety, belonging, and mattering in your culture is for the CEO to have lunch with small groups of cross-functional employees on a regular basis.

The spirit of this CEO Lunch program is to spend an hour with the CEO talking about everyone’s experiences at the company, helping everyone get to know one another, and helping everyone see the humanity of the CEO.


Forbes 5.7

Here’s a basic draft game plan:

• Determine how often the CEO wants to have these lunches… monthly is ideal. Note if the company has thousands of employees you’ll want to enroll additional senior executives to host lunches too.

• Have five to six people total (including the CEO) for one hour or so.


The tone and format of the CEO Lunch is key. You’ll want to create enough structure so everyone gets a chance to speak while keeping a warm and informal tone. Here’s a format my clients love:

• Expectation setting: Open forum, OK to ask any question, the CEO will answer what he/she can, “the spirit of our lunch is to hear your experience here, learn what is working and what we can do better, hear any ideas/insights of yours, I’ll jot them down to ensure I remember” (it’s best to send this format in advance so employees have a chance to prepare their thoughts)

• Welcome: “Thanks for being part of tribe, you make a difference, we’re doing great things together”

• Launch: CEO does personal and professional check in for couple minutes (a key event that’s happening in their personal life and one in professional too). (Example: Personal: I’m really enjoying my kids right now—they’re at the age where they’re asking cool questions. Also I’m feeling concerned about my aging mom. I realize I’ve not wanted to deal with this and now need to look into how to help her golden years be the most fulfilling possible. Professional: So much is going right that I have to pinch myself some days! It’s a very exciting time! Also, though, I’ve realized that in all our growth we’ve missed some the of people development things we could’ve been doing—so I am diving in here to help us get caught up.) Two to three minutes each person, after the CEO simply move around the group in clockwise fashion.

• Feedback Frame: Now go around with each person answering “What’s Working” and “What I’d Like To See More Of.”

• Gather all ideas/insights/info as people talk (the CEO may want to have his/her assistant take notes) and the CEO recaps them so all know they were heard.

• Closing: “Thanks for sharing a bit about yourself, your life, your ideas for how we can create an even cooler company. Your ideas are awesome and inspire me. I’m so glad you’re a member of our tribe. Together we’re doing great things. Thanks again.”


My clients find that the increased connection that comes from these lunches (and they can even be coffee breaks if that makes them easier to schedule) often results in: unsung heroes and high potential team members being “discovered”, new innovative ideas being aired, problems being uncovered and improvements to morale.

See how they work for you!

5 Ways Great Leaders Make Work Meaningful For Employees

*As originally seen on

*As originally seen on

According to Harvard Business Review, “amazing bosses try to make work meaningful and enjoyable for employees. They’re most successful when they adhere to a few best practices.”

I agree with these best practices and would like to take each one step further and offer a tool that will help you leverage each rule.

Five “Rules” Best Bosses Follow

1. “Manage individuals, not just teams. When you’re under pressure, you can forget that employees have varying interests, abilities, goals, and styles of learning. But it’s important to understand what makes each person tick so that you can customize your interactions with them.”

Most of us react in predictable ways, have predictable patterns of behavior, and have predictable speech patterns. No wonder it’s so easy for people to peg us… and no wonder it can seem virtually impossible to get through to certain people.

Yet as a predictable leader, you compromise your ability to influence and to shift another’s behavior, which is often crucial to accelerate results, boost revenue, ensure sustainable growth. While a large part of influencing is about making people feel a sense of safety, belonging, and mattering, sometimes we need to bluntly lay out the facts. Being able to switch from one stance to the other is an immensely valuable leadership skill. (To discover what stance you default to, read this.)

2. “Go big on meaning. Inspire people with a vision, set challenging goals, and articulate a clear purpose. Don’t rely on incentives like bonuses, stock options, or raises.”

We’ve all done it. We’ve sat everybody down and explained. And wonder of wonders, almost nobody understood or acted upon our very informative explanation. “Why don’t they just listen?” we ask ourselves. “Why are they still doing X when clearly we have to learn to Y if we’re going to succeed?” And on it goes.

The fault is not in the strategy. And it’s not in the intelligence of your team. The problem is that they didn’t think of it themselves — they haven’t had that “aha” moment that would help them contribute their piece of the puzzle.

When people solve a problem for themselves they get a rush of neurotransmitters. They understand the “why.” And they get that by solving the puzzle themselves. (For more, read “The Evolution Of Employee Motivation Methods: Carrots, Sticks And Being Nice Aren’t Sustainable.”)

3. “Focus on feedback. Use regular (at least weekly) one-on-one conversations for coaching. Make the feedback clear, honest, and constructive.”

A well-orchestrated team depends on everyone doing their job, at the time they are supposed to do it, yielding the results they are supposed to yield. This is why we need consequences–they remind us that not keeping our commitments will carry repercussions.

4. “Don’t just talk — listen. Pose problems and challenges, and then ask questions to enlist the entire team in generating solutions.”

How is your company’s communication? Is it tight and efficient, aimed at driving results and increasing connection? Or does everyone talk a lot without saying anything that moves the needle?

The result? Meetings that are efficient, effective, and keep your team happy and executing with high accountability. Further, it’ll reduce B.S., frustration, and disengaged team members.

5. “Be consistent. Be open to new ideas in your management style, vision, expectations, and feedback. If change becomes necessary, acknowledge it quickly.”

Asking for feedback is a very powerful tool. One that can be successfully used to maximize engagement and growth. Just make sure you also plan and invest resources in the follow up.

The damage happens when a leader asks for feedback and then either does nothing to improve him or herself or attempts to identify the source of criticism and punish it. Persecuting someone who took a risk to respond to your request is an obvious trust breaker, but why is doing nothing so bad?

The Result?

You will have a culture where even in the face of change and growth, your team is focused and communicate clearly and directly. Your tribe will be unusually accountable to their promises and powerfully influential. And each member will have the energy and enthusiasm to do what needs to be done – consistently.