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This is What a Work Environment Should Look Like…

by Kevin D. Crone

July 31, 2017
Positive Work Environment

I just talked to a retired, former employee of mine who told me that I always cared about my team, as much as I wanted business results. I thought about that. Yes, I feel that’s correct but from my perspective, it wasn’t always easy to do.

When I was 21 and new in the Dale Carnegie business, I dreamed of creating a culture that modelled the Dale Carnegie Course, where everyone is treated as if they’re okay, they become safe to try things in a supportive environment, they’re coached to expand, and are swept into experiences that they didn’t think they could handle, but find out they can. The results expected aren’t demands and yet everyone exceeded expectations. Everyone receives instant feedback and skilled coaching. The environment quickly becomes one of support and genuine interest in each other. People know and push each other. They practice and report on using exceptional people skills, attitude control, communications, and as a result become even more skilled and confident in tough situations. It’s almost magical.

Sounds utopia for a business, doesn’t it?  Winning teams usually have some of that magic. Innovation then becomes the norm. Yet it’s not real on spreadsheets. But that’s what I wanted for my organization. We had it most of the time. When we became a coast to coast company it became tougher. We really didn’t know each other. As a result, not everyone felt like a team. It was tough to be the coach. Many, even local management, didn’t trust that approach and wanted to tell me what was wrong with trying to do tough things. Their individual fears and need to make it easier took control too often. When that happened, our own commitment to personal and business growth became lost and was no longer the answer to getting what we wanted. Sound familiar?

Over and over, we worked on creating that environment. Hiring people who fit our values and the skills and habits the job required, conference calls to share ideas and make commitments, video conferencing, regional and national meetings, an annual weeklong stretch camp where everyone was coached, attending annual international inspirational conventions, bringing in outside coaches to stretch us and, most importantly, scheduled weekly one on one coaching appointments with each manager and each manager with each associate.  We wanted results and growth but results alone weren’t the only thing on the agenda.

This was important. It didn’t always work but that is the thing with values. Nothing works all the time. Your leadership character is tested and shows in those times. But I did see that results did go down when we took shortcuts or tried to demand performance, instead of building people.

Great things can happen when we’re in the company of good people. They lead with humility, honesty, integrity and are generous, empathetic, respectful and grateful.  They listen and don’t just talk, especially about themselves.  Great people inspire us to perform at our best.  I had a lot of good people.  Good coaches.   Then why do we business people make some dumb decisions about who we hire and promote from time to time?

A good question to ask before you hire and promote is: would you really want a beer or coffee with them, or take a long car ride with them? If not, then why do we hire or promote them? It’s important to know what they read, what they want, what they care about. If you don’t know, then don’t hire or promote them. It has been said many times – hire for attitude and their values, as well as, past technical, academic or results credentials.

Even though it can be hard work to build people and many times they don’t always appreciate it, don’t let that stop you from doing it. Remember to have building appointments with people, where there’s coaching and training that stretches the heck out of them.

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Be a people builder and leader. Work harder on yourself than on your job! Then create an environment where that is expected. Your customers will see it and like it. Your business results will show. In good and bad times there are many benefits to being that kind of leader. And most importantly, you will be yourself at your best.

Kevin D. Crone
Dale Carnegie Business Group
(905) 826-7300

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