Monday Mornings with Madison

Monthly Archives:
May 2016

Core Values: Creating Values that are Genuine, Bold and Unwavering – Part 2

For a business to thrive, genuine core values are invaluable! Core values can set a company apart from the competition by clarifying its identity and serving as a rallying point for employees. But fake core values generate a cynicism that poisons the cultural well and wastes a great opportunity. The problem is that coming up with strong values—and sticking to them—requires a high degree of fortitude and grit… real moxie. Indeed, an organization considering a core values initiative must first come to terms with the fact that, when properly practiced, values can inflict pain. They can make some employees feel like outcasts. They can limit an organization’s strategic and operational freedom and constrain the behavior of its people. They could leave executives open to heavy criticism for even minor violations. And they demand constant vigilance. In other words, it takes work for a business to have meaningful core values. Companies unwilling to accept the pain of real core values shouldn’t bother going to the trouble of formulating a values statement.

Those organizations with genuine commitment to values will reap the benefits of what those core values bring, including: improved morale, organizational pride, cohesiveness, well-defined priorities, positive employee attitudes, less conflict, greater recruiting appeal, heightened innovation, unique brand positioning, and more satisfied customers. The first step in establishing core values for a company is to consider what core values are — and aren’t — and examine companies that have successfully adopted core values into their DNA. Continue reading

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Core Values: The Heart of any Business – Part 1

Change is a fact of life and an inherent part of business. With technology, the relentless pace of change has accelerated forcing businesses to either catch up or keep up. Companies are compelled to evolve with the times. Phone companies evolved from switchboards and rotary phones to smart phones with data plans. Record producers evolved from phonographs and vinyl records to digital downloads and playlists. Car manufacturers evolved from hand-cranked motor cars in one-color models to keyless ignition vehicles with self-driving engines in most every shape, size and color. Change is indeed unrelenting, affecting almost every aspect of business. Almost.

There is one aspect of a business that should never change: a company’s core values. Despite the battering winds of change, the one intractable, immutable, and unwavering element of a business should be its core values. But if you asked the leadership of most any typical small or mid-sized businesses, many would be hard pressed to rattle of their company’s core values. So what are “core values” anyway? And does every company really need to spell out its core values and should employees know what those values are? Continue reading

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The Six Keys to Fulfillment and Work-Life Balance

In the U.S., work consumes a huge part of most people’s lives. In 2014, 40% of all U.S. employees worked an average of 40 hours per week, not including the time it takes to get ready to go to work and the commute to and from work. But the majority worked even more. A Gallup report released in 2014 showed the average time worked by full-time employees had ticked up to 46.7 hours a week, or nearly a full extra eight-hour day. And salaried employees worked an average of 49 hours per week. In fact, 50% of all U.S. employees work between 40 and 60 hours per week, not including prep or commute time. And for business owners and top-level professionals, a work week consumes upwards of 60-80 hours. Since a week has just 168 hours and the average person sleeps from 35-60 hours a week (depending on the person), for many people there isn’t time for much else.

Given this huge commitment to “the job”, one might conclude that work is one of the keys to happiness. Is it? While it’s never good to generalize that what is good for some is good for all, research has provided some scientific evidence that there are certain things that are fundamental to success and living a fulfilled life, and it is only partly related to work. Here are the findings. Continue reading

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Enthusiasm: The Best Workplace Contagion

In the book entitled Be Yourself – Discover the Life You Were Meant to Live, author John Mason writes that “Every great and commanding movement in the history of the world incorporated enthusiasm. Nothing great was or will be achieved without it.” The poet and writer Ralph Waldo Emerson agreed, saying “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” Mason added that, “In a survey, two hundred national leaders were asked what makes a person successful. Eighty percent (of the respondents) listed enthusiasm as the most important quality. Some pursue happiness – others create it. A person who is enthusiastic soon has enthusiastic followers.”

Indeed, enthusiasm is the rocket fuel propelling achievement. Thus, it is an especially important quality in the workplace and critically important to leadership. Although many employers value and are impressed by confidence in their employees, enthusiasm is probably more valuable. Unlike confidence which is inwardly focused, enthusiasm is outwardly focused. While confidence speaks to certainty – perhaps even false certainty – enthusiasm speaks to creativity and joy. While confidence can come across to others as arrogance, enthusiasm is usually seen as enjoyment. What’s more, unlike confidence, enthusiasm is highly infectious. Confidence fuels an individual but enthusiasm fuels a team. So why isn’t enthusiasm valued more highly? Why doesn’t every job description start with “Looking for an enthusiastic candidate to….” And how can a company reward and encourage enthusiasm in the workplace? Continue reading

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Pride In One’s Work

Pride is often thought of as a flaw or sin. “Being prideful” is considered synonymous with being conceited, haughty or egotistical. It is the opposite of humility. There are few personality traits more distasteful than a person who is prideful or boastful. “Pridefulness” is seen as a shortcoming or failing of character. However, there is another kind of pride. “Taking pride” in one’s work is actually a virtue or quality. It is one that employers should seek in new hires, and it is a trait that every employee should embrace and emulate.

What does it actually mean to take pride in one’s work? Abraham Lincoln once said that “whatever you are, be a good one.” At the core of his message was the concept of taking pride in one’s work. And that is no small thing. A job well done is a meaningful accomplishment. In theory, this is a valuable quality in any person. In reality, it may be hard to distinguish between someone who takes genuine pride in what they do and someone who does the bare minimum except when the boss is watching. What does “pride in one’s work” look like in practice? Continue reading

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