The Value of Punctuality

The Value of Punctuality

As a mom and business owner I am hyper aware of the value of my time and the opportunity cost for any activity that takes away from time with my family or time providing for my family. So you can understand why I find it annoying when people are late, leave me waiting, or worse, forget about our meeting altogether. It seems as though punctuality isn’t as important as it used to be.

I know some of you are jumping to conclusions now. No, this is not an issue isolated to the millennial generation. I have been left waiting and stood up by people in all generations, with no noticeable concentration from a single generation. So it’s not an age issue. The issue is that, as a culture, we have succumbed to “busyness” syndrome and forgotten the value of punctuality and planning.

The Value of Punctuality

It Demonstrates and Earns Respect

When you show up on time for a meeting, it shows that you value and respect both your time and theirs. It shows that “I really want to work with you and will make you a priority and give you the time and attention you deserve.” If it’s a client, they will see it and feel it and give you their business.

It Demonstrates Trust

Being where you say you’re going to be when you say you’re going to be there shows dependability and builds trust. I want to do business with people I can trust. I won’t hand my money, time, or reputation over to someone I don’t trust.

It Makes You More Productive

Running late has a way of snowballing. If you’re late for your first meeting, chances are you’ll be late for the rest and either lose out on precious time or stretch your day out longer than you want.

It Makes You Less Stressed

If you’ve ever run late you’ve felt the stress and pressure to hurry. Not only is that dangerous when you’re behind the wheel, but in today’s world we have enough stress threatening our health. We don’t need to add to it.

It Makes You More Efficient

Efficiency is different from productivity. Efficiency is using fewer resources to do the same tasks. Productivity is what you get out of those tasks. Being punctual reduces the amount of time you spend stressing about running late rescheduling, apologizing, etc. You’re able to show up, get down to business, and direct your energy toward productive things.

Bottom line, being on time is good business. It demonstrates quality and care to the client or prospect, and puts you in charge of your day and what you do with it. Yes I know that there will be the occasional unforeseen circumstance—a car accident, a client who won’t stop talking, the dog runs away as you’re heading out the door, your teenage daughter is, well, being a teenager—we’ve all been there. But when being late becomes a habit instead of a rare occurrence we have a problem. Help me put a little social pressure out there. Let’s make punctuality trendy again.

Is Your Company’s Culture Corrupt?

Is Your Company’s Culture Corrupt?

Good companies are often infiltrated at all levels of the organization by crooks, and some companies are inherently crooked, but even good companies can find themselves inadvertently creating a corrupt culture that promotes unethical practices both internally and externally. Many researchers have studied the phenomenon and have identified critical elements that make an entire company go bad. What’s frightening is these characteristics are rather common, especially in organizations that tout themselves as performance driven firms.

So is your company’s culture corrupt?

Leadership is often the first to blame in any situation, but even more so when the company’s culture goes bad. In the article “Culture Corrupts! A Qualitative Study of Organizational Culture in Corrupt Organizations,” authors Campbell and Goritz analyzed corrupt organizations to identify the underlying cultural factors that create a corrupt environment. The authors found that two crucial components created an organizational culture that supports corruption. First, “[c]orrupt organizations perceived themselves to fight in a kind of war . . . [and] perceive themselves as a military force rather than as an ordinary company” (Campbell & Goritz, 2014, pg. 298).

As we all know war brings out the best and the worst in people. Starting with such an extreme approach drives the organization to win at all costs, which leads to the second key component of a corrupt culture—how they reward employees.

Corrupt organizations tie organizational survival and success to employee job security and success. Under these circumstances, the “employees’ moral and ethical concerns become less important than the concern to survive, with the consequence that employees begin to perceive corruption as a positive behavior.” In short, this creates an environment where “the end justifies the means,” and the only thing that matters is results, not how they are obtained (Campbell & Goritz, 2014, pg. 301). The leadership sets the tone by “[setting] their goals in a way that these goals are only attainable through corruption, and they distribute rewards” and apply punishment in a way that supports corruptive means (Campbell & Goritz, 2014, pg. 302).

I have heard many organizations push their sales team with the “come back on your shield mentality” or quoting the Art of War and the conference table. This is a toxic behavior, and ultimately a foolhardy and shortsighted approach to business.

The recent issues at Wells Fargo serve as a prime example. High demands were placed on employees to secure new accounts. Rewards and job preservation became closely tied to this goal. Over time employees found themselves pressured to meet these goals by any means necessary, which meant securing new accounts without the consent of the customer. Now Wells Fargo is drowning in the legal and economic repercussions of a decision that started out innocently enough, but that ultimately lead to an enterprise wide display of unethical behavior.

Many people can’t understand how Wells Fargo was able to let the situation get so bad. The answer is fear and silence. Fear and silence infect the whole organization and it is through fear and silence that immoral persons are able to falsify numbers, engage in conflicts of interests, and other unethical behaviors. The buck truly stops with leadership. The recent HBR article, “Why Ethical People Make Unethical Choices,” showed that a manager’s reaction to employees who raise concerns determines whether they will ever speak up again (Carucci, 2016). Leaders need to make it okay to speak. Still, they are not the only ones to blame.

Whether through fear or silence, all members of the organization become complicit in the moral collapse of the whole firm when they don’t speak out against the unethical few. Author C.E. Johnson notes that some “don’t want to believe the organization is in trouble” and so choose to ignore what they see (2015, pg. 325). Self-imposed ignorance and inaction represents immoral behavior just as detrimental to the firm as the immoral behavior they are ignoring.

The push to win at all costs is a dangerous and slippery slope for companies. Don’t let a drive for results and success undermine the very fabric of your organization. Don’t let economic incentives erode the moral fiber of your company. Build an organization with a worthy purpose and set standards of behavior and money and success will naturally follow. Shortcuts ultimately leave you stranded, or worse, in jail. Better to take the high road.

 

 

References

Campbell, J., & Goritz, A.S. (2014) Culture corrupts! A qualitative study of organizational culture in corrupt organizations. Journal of Business Ethics. 120, 291-311. Retrieved October 8, 2015 from the EBSCOhost database.

Carruci, R. (2016, December 16). Why ethical people make unethical choices. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/12/why-ethical-people-make-unethical-choices.

Johnson, C.E. (2015). Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow (5th ed.). Los Angeles, California: SAGE Publications Ltd.

 

Why “Lead by Example” is a Critical Element of Change Management

Why “Lead by Example” is a Critical Element of Change Management

We’ve all heard the phrase “lead by example.” We hear it so often that we often take for granted the fact that it means, “Do what you are asking others to do.” In all work situations it is essential that leaders embody the behaviors and qualities that they want to see in their people. More importantly this concept of “Lead by Example” is a critical element of change management.

Change is hard and most organizations fail when it comes to change management. There are many reasons change management fails, but one big component is the fact that many leaders ask for major change in their organization yet they never change themselves. The leader asks people to use software that they never log on to, to treat customers in ways they never do, and to follow procedures that they never follow. If the Owner, CEO, Principal, President doesn’t do it why should anyone else?

 

Lead by example and your people will follow.

In his book the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell discusses the “Law of the Lid.” In any organization the head honcho represents the “lid” or cap of growth for a company. Any limitations in your leadership translate to organizational limitations. In the same regard, any limitations in your ability to change, adapt, and to develop new skills and behaviors will cap your organization’s ability to respond to changes in market demands, technology, and business practice.

The solution is simple. If you want your people to do something, you do it first. You become the role model and exemplify the change, the attitude, and the skill that you want to see in the rest of your team. Lead by example and your people will follow.

How Insecure Women Are Ruining The Workplace

How Insecure Women Are Ruining The Workplace

We’ve all heard the phrase “one bad apple ruins the whole bunch.” It’s a phrase that runs true in the workplace. It often only takes one impossible employee to undermine the team, erode the company culture, and drive away key talent. In many workplaces that bad apple is an insecure woman whose bad attitude, gossiping, and other antics negatively, and significantly impact the business.

Insecure women are ruining the workplace in the following ways:

They Undermine The Professional Value and Achievements of All Women

Insecure women give all women a bad rap. It’s unfair, but their behavior often becomes a stereotype that other women have to shake loose, especially when confident women find themselves the target of an insecure woman. I have seen many businesses adopt the “women can’t get along in the workplace” mantra, and in essence condone and perpetuate the behavior.

They Take Time Away From Critical Tasks And Value Generating Functions

Insecure women are major distractions for companies. If left unchecked they can quickly become a black hole of productivity, sucking energy out of the business and distracting management from other important tasks and goals.

They Lower Morale and Employee Engagement

Toxic behavior spreads like disease. Sigal Barsade calls this phenomenon “emotional contagion”. Once infected a teams performance drops, in some cases as much as 40% according to a Wharton study shared in this recent Inc. article on toxic employees. Once infected it takes a great deal of time, investment, and energy to reenergize the team. The long-term costs are a very real loss in dollars.

They Drive Away Talent, Especially Female Talent

Top talent in both sexes get equally fed up with toxic work place behavior and will actively look for (and find) employment with firms with better cultures and management. Female talent is usually the main target for insecure women. They quickly become a major burden to your best female employees. Many firms are already facing a talent shortage and paying high premiums to secure talent. The loss of talent has significant costs. According to the Inc. article “How Much Employee Turnover Really Costs You,” some of the costs associated with losing a valued employee include loss of knowledge, costs for searching for and onboarding replacements, and overworked staff, among others.

Although they are a challenge, companies and peers can proactively work to minimize and eliminate the effects these women have on companies.

What to do if you are the target of an insecure woman

As mentioned earlier, insecure women tend to target other women in the firm. Whether you are a man or a woman, she doesn’t have to become a roadblock to your success. Instead here are a few guidelines you can follow if you find yourself the target of an insecure woman.

Don’t Take It Personally

When an insecure woman attacks you its because she is threatened by you, but don’t take it personal. As Success Magazine Editor Emma Johnson stated in the March 2017 issue, “Cruel words, destructive behavior and thoughtless actions all stem from a dark place in the other person.” Anyone who aggravates or shines light on that dark place becomes a target, no matter what their gender or role is in the company.

Do Empathize With Her

Instead of blaming or accusing the other person, Emma Johnson suggests empathizing with the other person. They are acting out, and instead of holding their negative actions in your heart, let go so you can act professionally and proactively instead of reacting emotionally. Which brings up the next point . . .

Don’t Retaliate

Engaging at her level will only bring you down and take the focus away from her bad behavior and onto yours. It may be satisfying in the short run to fling that verbal jab or to throw her under the bus in the next meeting, but your long-term goal is to stop the behavior and protect your career. Don’t lose sight of that goal. Instead . . .

Do Inform Your Superior

Do tell a superior about any unprofessional behavior, but do so objectively and with a focus on its impact on the company, not you personally. Focusing on how the behavior negatively impacts the company keeps it from looking like a personal squabble. Also, don’t “tattle tell” every time she gets out of line, other wise you start to look like you have a personal vendetta. Instead, inform your supervisor of major infractions, especially those in front of coworkers or clients. Do keep a written account of all infractions though, regardless of importance, should the need arise to demonstrate cause for corrective action or termination.

Don’t Try And Pit Other Colleagues Against Her

When we feel attacked its natural to want to protect yourself and to go in search of the proverbial “strength in numbers” by rallying colleagues around you—and against her. This approach backfires every time. Instead . . .

Do Build A Support Network Around You

Even if you didn’t have a target on your back, it’s smart as a professional building a career to find allies and develop a support network around you. Do this by building relationships with as many people as possible, not just the higher ups, and do it by seeking first to provide value to your network. This way when you do need them to rally around you, they will want to have your back and can honestly say that you have acted with integrity and professionalism throughout.

Don’t Hide

Whatever you do don’t hide. Don’t avoid her, don’t avoid her network, and don’t avoid events you know she will be at. If you do, she effectively wins and is allowed to continue her bad behavior and target the next person. The more you stay present and professional, the more she will push, and eventually go too far and make a public display or send an inappropriate email giving you valid proof of the bad behavior (which you then take to your superior—don’t handle it on your own).

Do Try and Build a Positive Relationship with Her

If she is someone you have to work with, especially if she is on your immediate team, its best to try and build a positive working relationship wither, whether she reciprocates or not. You don’t have to go over board and become her friend and bribe her with treats, but you do need to be professional and supportive. This has one of two possible outcomes. One, she finally comes to her senses and stops or two; others see that you have conducted yourself professionally and she is holding a grudge. Either way your reputation stays clean.

What to do if you are a supervisor

If you are a supervisor dealing with an insecure woman you know it can be a landmine of potential lawsuits, internal turmoil, and more. However, as we discussed, the cost of ignoring it is much worse. You can tackle this issue and protect the company at the same time. Here’s how:

Don’t Ignore or Dismiss the Behavior

The absolute worst thing any manager can do is let the behavior continue. Avoiding it is the same as condoning the behavior. The more it continues the worse it gets until you suddenly have a major problem on your hands.

Do Address It Immediately and Directly

Instead be proactive and address the behavior immediately and directly—not forcefully-but in a firm and straightforward manner that eliminates any ambiguity. We will share more on how to do this in a moment.

Don’t Make It About Gender

Leave gender out of the equation, especially if it’s another female who raises concerns about the insecure woman’s behavior. I cringe when I hear managers say, “Why can’t women get along?” That’s a good way to invite a lawsuit. It also goes back to the first don’t of being dismissive of the behavior and assuming that all women behave this way. They don’t. Don’t devalue your good female employees.

Do Keep It Specific to the Behavior and Company Standards Not the Person

The best way to keep it from becoming about gender (and a lawsuit) is by focusing on the behavior and company policies, and not the person. The books Crucial Conversations and Difficult Conversations give great examples of how to have the tough conversations. Revel Gordon with Smart Company also provided some helpful guidelines on handling difficult conversations in his recent post on challenging conversations.

Overall, don’t let insecure women run rampant in your organization. They do nothing to grow and develop the company and only get worse over time. Show you value the entire team and protect your company by being proactive, professional, and direct.