In this episode, Michael Gardon chats with S. Chris Edmonds. S. Chris Edmondshelps leaders create and sustain purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He is a speaker, author, and executive consultant who is the founder of The Purposeful Culture Group. He's one of Inc. Magazine’s 100 Top Leadership Speakers and was a featured presenter at South by Southwest.
Chris’ short, rich Good Comes First and Culture Leadership Charge video episodes can be found on YouTube.
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL LEARN:
- Chris’ background
- How managers and bosses are similar to coaches
- How Chris defines culture
- How learning methodologies have evolved
- Generational influences - how they changed culture
- Servant purpose - what it means, how it helps people
HELP US OUT!
Help us reach new listeners by leaving us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts! It takes less than 30 seconds and really helps our show grow, which allows us to bring on even better guests for you all! Thank you – we really appreciate it.
BOOKS AND RESOURCES:
- Chris’ book Good Comes First
- Chris’ book The Culture Engine
- Glassdoor - a site Chris mentioned where you can look up company reviews
- There’s no labor shortage, there’s a respect shortage
- Why should we focus on work culture now?
- Connect with Chris on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.
Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.
Michael Gardon (00:00):
Hi everyone. And welcome back to another episode of CareerCloud Radio. I am your host Michael Gardon. Pandemics, remote work force back to the office and the great resignation. There's never been a better time to talk about culture. Today's episode is part two of a two part series on culture. Today's guest is Chris Edmonds. Chris helps leaders like tennis star, Venus Williams, create and sustain purposeful, positive, and productive work cultures. He is a speaker, author and executive consultant, who is the founder of the purposeful culture group. He is one of Inc magazine's 100 top leadership speakers and was a featured presenter at South by Southwest. Chris is the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Culture Engine, and is co-author of the newly released. Good Comes First came out on September 28th. In this episode, Chris and I talk about influencing culture from below: what it means to have a servant purpose and the generational influences that change culture. I hope you enjoy this episode with Chris Edmonds, Chris, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for being here.
S. Chris Edmonds (01:04):
Michael. Thanks for the opportunity. Excited to talk to you and your folk.
Michael Gardon (01:08):
Yeah, I'm excited. This is kind of part two on culture. I got to talk to your coauthor a couple of weeks ago, and so we got kind of a high level overview of all of the work that you're doing in the topics in the book. So I'm excited to kind of get your perspective and maybe fill in some of the holes where I start every interview icebreaker, is can you just kind of tell me about your first job since I just love backstories?
S. Chris Edmonds (01:31):
Well, this will be maybe similar enough. I actually started at the front desk of the YMCAs that I grew up in, in, in long beach, California, my Southern California born and bred. That's going to explain a lot, but I had, boy, my dad got me involved in programs with a father, son kind of thing, Indian guides, not at all politically correct. Even back then, but it was just the coolest thing. And I had this group of friends that we all went to school together, and we were all kind of in programs at the Y, but this opportunities that you'll pay me to sit at the front desk, answer the phone and direct traffic I'm in. So I was probably 16 and boy talk about wet behind the years. I had begun doing lifeguarding. So it's like yours. Here's how the pool thing works and whatnot, but it was, I remember being, I can't remember what day it was, but the moon landing that was broadcast, I was working at the Y to let a bunch of boy Scouts in, to sleep over, which meant of course, concrete floor right in the big gym. But I just remember this interesting moment in time going. I bet. I bet I'll remember this. So it was kind of a soft start. I had a great boss by back then. I kind of, you know, felt very comfortable in the facility. Obviously other jobs weren't quite that easy as I went on, but that nonprofit thing stuck with me because I ended being a YMCA exec for 15 years.
Michael Gardon (03:02):
Wow. Interesting. So I got tipped off a little bit about the relationship between you and your boss and somehow, and, and kind of maybe setting the stage for a lot of the culture work that you do today. Could you give us a little bit of the story of why your boss was particularly influential?
S. Chris Edmonds (03:19):
Well, Jerry Nutter was his name and I featured him in my first book, the culture engine from back in 2014 and there were probably four or five of us, Y YMCA brats who'd grown up in the Y got our first jobs at the Y and Jerry was at the San Francisco metropolitan organization. And he was running a program office that was designed to kind of rekindle teenagers, being interested in, hanging out with the Y, which meant we needed programs and we needed leaders, all that stuff. So I did that for about five years, but I followed Jerry as a, for probably 10 years, the first five years of my YMCA work, I thought I'm going to work for that guy someday. He was twisted. So that, that appealed to me. Right. Interesting sense of humor, but he was so consistent. And so validating, that's the word that kept coming back, which in good comes first, we really leverage that because too many leaders are either trying to kind of model what their past leaders did, which we have many, many more lousy boss role models.
S. Chris Edmonds (04:25):
We have brilliant ones and Jerry was so good about praising and recognizing people and stopping and listening. He never seemed to be in a hurry. And I watched him for 10 years working from a small branch to a huge multi-million dollar branch in downtown San Francisco to the kind of senior leadership team. And he never changed his values are very clear. He was there to serve. He also wanted to make you laugh, which again, he had me over a barrel quick, but what was interesting so early in my career to be able to spot somebody like that is I'm always comparing that person to every other boss I've ever had. And every other boss pretty much fell short and I've had a handful of fantastic bosses. But what was interesting for me as I left working for Jerry and went to work for somebody else in the bay area, and this is, oh yeah, this was way back when this was the early eighties.
S. Chris Edmonds (05:19):
I had lousy bosses. I had such a dichotomy from you guys even know Jerry, and you're not doing anything the way Jerry does it and Jerry's is better. So I think all of us humans can have a tendency to go to the judging thing really fast. And that's what I did. So I kept doing the comparative. What would happen here instead of if you gave false information, you actually were transparent, even if it's a tough message and then how do you do that? And so I kept comparing and what was really fun was as I began getting my feet wet and the training and development and consulting business, I kept going back to that. And the early lever for me was what did your best boss do to earn that title? Well, that can go all kinds of ways, right? But many of us have had bosses that haven't been to the standard of someone who was very respectful in the way he treated us, but he drove us for results beyond what we thought we could accomplish. And we giggled the whole fricking time. So it was a very unique combination and I still hold, Jerry is one of my top five bosses.
Michael Gardon (06:33):
Great story. I mean, I think what stands out to me is you have an individual manager boss leading in a certain way and reminds me of a coach, right? A coach is trying to get the best of you, not just the result, but trying to get you to your full potential. And then the extension of that is really how do you drive that mindset through the organization, which is essentially the topic of culture, you know, at a high level. So mark and I talked a little bit, I asked him to put a definition on culture and he kind of stated it, how we get work done here was a approximately what he said. If I may be paraphrasing a little bit, do you have anything to add to that definition or any other commentary around that? Just as a starting point for our audience?
S. Chris Edmonds (07:16):
Well, and what's interesting, Michael is that most leaders have never been asked to manage culture. So we kind of got to start with a common definition. This is what we mean by culture and Mark's Marxists and very, very foundational important understanding. I add to the kind of the way we get work done around here. I'd add to that. Is that what happens is norms become structure and become often unspoken rules, but rules you can't break. And what that means is you have an accidental culture. You may have a culture that's not quite as explicit about here's what we do here. We don't lie, cheat steal, you know, whatever the rules are going to be. And then you kind of build a system around that to make sure that you're holding people accountable. What's fascinating is leaders will often tell me. And again, they don't come to mark and me because their culture is so good.
S. Chris Edmonds (08:11):
They come to us because there's some kind of urgent, often a heart attack style situation. You know, we got this feedback from, you know, the first ever engagement survey we've ever done. Did tell me, and let's talk about how things get done. Literally. How do leaders treat others? How to leaders speak to others? How are people validated or not for their ideas efforts? And all of a sudden you see leaders going, no, no, no, no, no. That's not kind of what we've built here. And so the idea that culture is very powerful, may not be a surprise, but the bigger challenge is that culture is typically accidental. It just kind of implicitly evolves it's by default. And the problem is as humans can be pretty selfish and pretty stupid, right, and pretty cliquey. And you begin to look at well, how decisions get made here?
S. Chris Edmonds (09:01):
Is that a good thing? Or is that, are there some stupid things that we can fix? And until leaders begin to realize, and we're very clear in, in good comes first that the foundational principle we're teaching is you need to make respect as important as results and results is like, okay, I know what I'm supposed to do around results. I'm supposed to set clear performance expectations. We're supposed to count crap, right? And then I'm gonna chew out the folks that aren't performing, right. And the others they'll manage just fine without any interaction with me. Which again, as we're talking about humans, everybody likes the interaction, but if you leave respect to chance, it's not pretty, it does not happen well. So literally what we teach is let's be aware of the norms and how powerful habits are. And let's quash, the stupid habits really, really early. And what is interesting about that, Michael is because leaders have never been asked to manage culture before. It's like, well, what is it? And then how in God's name am I supposed to influence it? You're telling me to take responsibility to manage it and I need guidance. And so that's, that's what we do in the
Michael Gardon (10:11):
Yeah. Really interesting. A couple things that stood out to me and what you just said in terms of how companies get it wrong. I mean, one is just this idea that really important, but not urgent problems kind of get kicked down the road and we don't have the intentionality that we need to. And again, I come from the startup world. So as I'm, as I'm thinking of what you're saying, I'm like, how do I make sure I build this in as we're building the company and not just putting out fires all over the place. So the intentionality piece, and then there's gotta be a measurement problem here too, in terms of the idea that culture is made up of a lot of complex norms, right? And how do you, how do you get your hands around that? How have you guys addressed that part of it, the measurement problem?
S. Chris Edmonds (10:55):
So it may well be that I'll, I'll revisit this and you've already had mark Sharon, but the define align refined pieces are our three phase process. And so the define stage is really where we help leaders to get very, very clear about the culture they want and, and offer. And obviously there's some pre-work there. We do some discovery. So we're able to interview folks throughout the organization to be able to say, well, here's what you believe is the case. And here's what we're hearing is maybe the reality and there's always gaps there. So that's part of that education. But with the idea that we want leaders to be explicit about the kind of behaviors they want, that's the defined part where we get to good. Let's make sure you're literally making performance expectations measurable, and let's, let's actually measure them. And how many different dashboards do you have for performance?
S. Chris Edmonds (11:50):
And people will say 20, at least five. Well good. How many metrics do you have in place for respect and there's dead silence. Okay. So if we're not being very explicit about what we want and then measuring it, then this may not respect may not play out very well for you. The trick to get to the aligned stages, leaders have to model it. They have to coach it, but they have to measure it. So the measured piece is really very simple and my mind thinks in very concrete, how do we make this understandable to leaders? We're not going to talk about the immense complexities of culture because there's a thousand nuances. Let's make one thing perfectly clear. If you want people to be respectful to each other, you actually have to tell them what you mean by respect. So the first in that defined stage, we say, okay, so what are your values?
S. Chris Edmonds (12:46):
Well, we've had four on the wall for two decades, but no one really pays attention to it. Well, let's look at those are the right ones. And very, very, very common example that I use is integrity because it's a very common value for established businesses, small businesses, startups, et cetera, to say, yeah, we want to be able to behave with integrity. What do you mean by that? Well, if you go out and inquire to 20 people in your business, you're going to get 20 different answers. You'll at least get 10. So in that defined stage, it's make them observable, tangible, measurable. So let's look at behaviors. So the classic one for integrity, because we've had thousands of values and thousands of behaviors, right. Pop up. But the integrity behavior that most clients really, when they hear it, they go, that's what I want is I do what I say I will do.
S. Chris Edmonds (13:38):
Okay. It's a nice statement, which means no, one's off duty. I means I work here. This is mine. I do what I say will do, which means I have to not only be conscious of what I've committed to, but I need to remember it and I need to follow up well that all of a sudden comes to a, Hmm. How are we going to measure integrity? If we define it in observable, tangible, measurable terms, we moved to a custom value survey, six point scale, you can't pick the metal. Right. And we're going to say, my boss does what she says. She will do six point scale. Well, now we've shifted the values from this aspirational side. Right? And yeah, we, we kind of understand that that's what we want, but we've got results and we've got Thursday and holy crap, we have to hit their deadline.
S. Chris Edmonds (14:27):
Right? Well, you can do it in a way that either models that respect value or not models, the behaviors you've identified. So the define, align and refine is very simple. The reality is it's immensely complex because you're coaching and you're measuring and you're mentoring, right? It's a two year process while you're going to be there anyway. But if you make values of your respect, as measurable as results, now we can literally measure. So one of the sample pieces I've got on my website, which is driving results through culture.com is we help organizations measure values because a, they don't know how to do it. B they've never done it before. See, oh, this sounds easy. Oh no. So just as we coach senior leadership teams to make those behaviors observable, tangible, and measurable, then we build each leader's custom value survey from those behaviors. So there's a couple interesting things.
S. Chris Edmonds (15:31):
As I had one client major retailer, seven state region at the time they were a three-state region, they had 32 behaviors. I said, my God, I can't remember those. And you just put them up on a slide for me. And the font is this big. They all laugh, but their organization had some pretty strong values in place and they wanted to make sure they didn't miss anything. And I said, how are your frontline staff working in a store? Right. Gonna react to this. They're gonna, most of them, the ones we want to keep they'll get it. And that's exactly what happened. And they had this huge shift in clarity and engagement, but it was because the leaders were leading. It leaders were modeling it. So one of the sample pieces that folks will see on my, on my measuring values page is a sample snapshot of one client who I've, I've not blamed him.
S. Chris Edmonds (16:24):
I've not, I'm not using his name, but he's the president of this company. And they have six values and he writes on a five to six on four of the six. And I said, close, you did good. We need to raise those other two because five and six are the only desirable scores you want, but he had 200 people. So direct and indirect reports give him feedback. I use a second snapshot from a frontline out in the field, kind of jobs supervisor, who was not seen as doing any of those six well and had two to four, was his, his ranking that people go well, did he get fired? If no, cause we want people to succeed. And so he was coach, he's still there. This is two years later. He's still there. And he's better is not entirely fixed. But what is really the key question that you asked Michael, is how do you measure that? How are you going to give people undeniable data that lets them see how they're perceived? And this is the way that we do it. There's other things you can do like town halls and one-on-one meetings, but the black and white turning that aspirational value into a behavioral rating. Pretty powerful.
Michael Gardon (17:38):
Interesting. So there's really, I mean, at the heart of it kind of a, a misalignment and align is kind of your second step there between maybe current values and how the behaviors are modeled or how the organization is seeing those. I want to kind of turn to, I guess, the employees, right? Because one of the things I was thinking about as you were talking is all right, well, one of the byproducts of this is you're giving employees a voice here and a say, or you're empowering them to, to speak up and talk. And we've all heard kind of like these stories of, of millennials in the workplace and changing job and all this kind of stuff. What do you think people are after especially young employees? What are they after in terms of work? Cause it, from my standpoint, it seems like we're all less risk averse and we understand we have more options. And so we're not just looking for pound widgets, you know, be a cog in a wheel. Exactly what our employees telling you about what they want out of
S. Chris Edmonds (18:40):
Career. The generational influences we were talking last week about in many organizations, there are three to four different generations being represented. And if the leadership has got a mindset of baby boomer, ish, industrial age, kind of autocratic millennials, aren't going to like it. And they've been battling it for 15, 20 years, right? The gen Y's certainly don't appreciate it. And the gen Z's are going to have no toleration of it at all. So leaders have to evolve to understand two things. One is learning methodologies were very, very, very different with gen Ys and gen Z's. I think to a great extent, the millennials had had a different exposure than baby boomers and thank God in education and experiential learning. But the pandemic has been very interesting. And for those that lost jobs, obviously huge, negative impact, but folks that were in the I can work from home.
S. Chris Edmonds (19:38):
So now you've given me autonomy. You've given me maybe cool gear, right better than what I have. Maybe even bandwidth improvements, et cetera. But now you want me to come back into the office and, and that's, we've been 18 months kind of worried about all kinds of things, emotionally exhausting for virtually everyone involved. And now you want me to come back into an office that may not be entirely safe, and you're not sure about this or that or mandates of vaccines or masks people are of all generations are gone. Let's talk about the work environment. Those that are, as you say, gen X, gen Y gen Z is much more apt to go. I'm sorry, I, this isn't working I'm out. And the boomers are like, well, what do you mean you're out? Right? I put up with a stupid job 25 years. Okay, well, we can't do that.
S. Chris Edmonds (20:31):
That doesn't mean that's the only standard I have to strive for. So what's very interesting is if leaders are on abled to modify the way work gets done, the way people can grow in different ways. I to live in Brazil and work for a project team for a year, that's in Tokyo. Cool. Now will those digital nomadic a more gen Ys gen Z's do that? None of the millennials kind of started to push that direction. So what's interesting is from the perspective of an employee, you may be likely facing an organization that has more industrial age norms, more baby boomers, style approaches from a leadership philosophy. How did you ask, how do you know? Because if you're in that scenario and you've even grown through it, you are going back to the office. You may be thinking, I'm sorry, the freedom I've had and the freedom I need is not being served here.
S. Chris Edmonds (21:33):
I better start looking for a job right now, no bitter time, maybe in the history of the globe to be looking for a job, but organizations aren't necessarily hugely bold about the real culture that's operating. They might be bold about here's the values that are on our website, on our business cards, but the behaviors as you described it, Michael, the behaviors may not quite reflect those. So glassdoor.com is a great place to go, to do some research. There's other places in the old days, disgruntled.com was where I'd go to get stories this week about the crappy leaders for my keynote coming up. Right? But there's social media has become a very open place for frustrating bosses and frustrating cultures to get expressed. But on the other side of that you all can be, and I'm a little bit weird. So I'm going to share this weirdness with you and invite you in.
S. Chris Edmonds (22:31):
As I engage with people, I've been doing this for 25 years, I go tell me a little bit about the work environment here. What's it like to work here? Well, this could be a frontline server in a restaurant. In this case, it was a customer service rep for a medical devices kind of company that I, that I, that I support. And I said to her entirely by email, tell me what it's like to work in your company. Oh my God. She came back with 10 bullet points. This is the coolest company I've ever worked at. My boss values of my decision-making meaning she can make decisions, want to surprise my teammates support me. I may find us in a bind and I got to commit people to stuff. We'll do the best we can. It's like, that's a pretty cool workplace environment and she's a gen Z.
S. Chris Edmonds (23:15):
So cause my next question would be if I get the typical answer, which is, I don't have authority, I don't have responsibility. There's not a lot of opportunities for growth. I don't see an opportunity to move up. And it's like, well, are you looking? And of course the answer 90% of the time is yes. So I think that that all employees and even leaders need to be thoughtful about what am I learning here? How am I contributing to society here? Isn't that an interesting question, because if that's something that inspires you, which to be honest, generalize gen Z's are much, much bolder about that. Gen X certainly has got that, that gene that's powerful. But if organizations, aren't speaking to social issues, trying to address social issues, I think that's going to be a problem. And so, as, as employees, as team leaders, as managers, you gotta be checking out what's the norm here and am I willing to battle it and kind of change it? Or do I need to kind of say this isn't perfect for me? It's not their fault. It's my fault. I need to go find something different. So does that help?
Michael Gardon (24:26):
Yeah. My next kind of question is, I mean, you were leading right into it is, let's say I'm a lower level manager. I want to stay put here because I see potential for me or I'm an individual contributor, the generational shift, right? Like we, and I'm the oldest millennial. We are the stewards of these cultures, right. Going into the future. So what I'm really interested in kind of hearing your perspective on is what role do we have to play at the individual contributor level? If we do want to make a change or we care enough that we want to stick it out and think we can influence
S. Chris Edmonds (25:04):
What, what is vital? We talk about pockets of excellence and the book. And it literally means a team can convince their leader that we can do this different. And we don't have to tell anybody it's a, it's a little bit right below the radar intentionally, and it's not necessarily manipulative, but if a team can inspire a leader, if a leader can grab a book like good comes first, right? And go, we could start to build this within our own 20 person team that can make a huge, huge, huge difference. And I'm going to use the retail example as that organization got more disciplined and more into the we've got behaviors. Now we can just coach to behaviors. And what a surprise is, we're not arguing about what integrity means anymore, but what happened is this leader got bumped up to a seven state region, which meant now I got away more folks we needed to expose to this and kind of engage in this.
S. Chris Edmonds (26:04):
He did exceptionally well then got pulled off to a different part of the business and the leader that followed him only knew the past. And so much of the traction had dissipated in 12 months. So that's frustrating, but what an individual manager and individual contributor can do is to start to say, let's see if we can just create five, six ground rules. So we'll share more information, get more things done. And if we create that little pocket of excellence, then maybe somebody else will see it. And maybe they'll kind of go, what are you feeding those folks over there? You know? But the reality is in many, many cases and Michael, you talked about it earlier. It's, everyone's focused on getting the stuff done that they have to get done. So the feelings being hurt, the perception that you're not paying attention to me, the perception that you're playing favorites, the perception that you're not paying me, those are very real things that are hurdles to people being fully engaged and much less fully present.
S. Chris Edmonds (27:07):
So as a leader, if you can begin as an individual contributor, if you can begin to get your team signed up for, let's just try this, let's try and get some rules together where we can make better decisions together and not be so frustrated at the end of the day and just do it. And I've had leaders go, well, no, one's going to pay attention. I'm not going to get paid more. No, but you're going to sleep better because literally there's less drama. Now you may all still have drama as you interact with other parts of the organization that are still kind of old school. Well things, you, you have somebody succeed you to run this team well, and you go over there and run a bigger team the way you just ran this one. And it's at, that's a little slow way of taking over the world. But literally for leaders who know that there's a better way to lead and inspire people, just make it. So in your own little pocket
Michael Gardon (28:01):
You mentioned ground rules. Are there a couple off the top of your head that really seem to work? I mean, what I'm thinking of in my head are one crystal clear north star of what our team is trying to achieve. Because a lot of times in the corporate world there seems to be competing directives. And so just like, you know, what is it that we're all driving towards and having that really visible and really crystal clear. And the other one is just a rule that kind of comes from improv. It's like the yes, man, like instead of saying no or being combative, like let's validate by saying yes. And maybe trying to take that in another direction or it, it just builds this kind of like cycle of feeding off each other's energy instead of throwing up walls. Are there any that come to mind for you?
S. Chris Edmonds (28:45):
Well, I'll tell you the first one, the purpose statement is, is vital. Even in a small team, even if it's different than the purpose statement, that's in the annual report, right? And we call it servant purpose because we want teams to be able to interpret what they do, product services, whatever it is, how does it help people? So that whole process of servant purpose is very interesting. And I love going through it because it gets leaders off of the, we have extra produce to we're producing this such that the air is cleaner. And in some cases, one of the, let me call it a wonderfully challenging opportunity with one client years ago, they were in the catalog printing business. It's like we print catalogs, who cares. Now one gal said, but the catalogs that we're printing are for small businesses who the catalog might close their doors in a month.
S. Chris Edmonds (29:44):
So all of a sudden the purpose became we help our customers thrive well, that changed everything. And all of a sudden this team was looking at, we need people to come to meetings on time. We meet when we need them to keep their thinking promises that they write agree to something in the meeting, fricking followup, right? Once they had defined this, as we're helping customers succeed, everything became much simpler. And it was, yeah, it's I do what I say we'll do. And it's that one of the ground rules I always encourage is I support the commitments of this team. And so it might be a department team that might be a regional leadership team. It could be whatever, but I'm part of this team. And I can't walk out going on. I was a stupid project. I hope that dies on the vine because if the team committed to it, you have to show up and you have to deliver.
S. Chris Edmonds (30:36):
There's one other one that I'll throw out. Michael Lewis comes from the WD 40 company I've been working with with Gary Ridge back when he was a master's degree student with me way back when, but they have a ground rule that is learning moments. We don't make mistakes. We have learning moments. And it's like, that is just cheesy as you could possibly make it, but he's built it into this global company and they call themselves a tribe. And this is one of the key pieces, which is if I five make a mistake today, I don't, I don't try and mask it. I don't try and bury it. I have to share it because we didn't want anybody else to make that mistake today let's make new mistakes, but the lever is share what you're learning, share what you're doing, share what didn't work. And this culture has just boomed in the last 20 years.
S. Chris Edmonds (31:32):
And Gary really, and his leadership team have become great coaches and that's the way they see their job, which loops back to what we first talk about with this kind of, what's the culture of the work environment. If we've got clear standards of performance, clear expectations in their case for safety, things like that. And we have our tribe behaviors defined. All we have to do is model them and coach them. And, and they do a poop load of measuring, which is vital. Again, that gets that employee's perception of how their boss really treats them day to day. So it's possible to start with ground rules, but I think again, what you described as clear purpose can Le can give team members something to really hang that on to, oh, we're all driving this direction for this outcome.
Michael Gardon (32:19):
Cheesy as learning moments is I love it. Cause it just signals this tolerance for failure. Right? It's validating people take action. It's okay. So like we have failure and we have pickups sort of built into this process. Right? I do love, love that. I want to ask a question just while we're on the topic of kind of like these contagious pockets of excellence. If I'm a manager of one of these contagious pockets of excellence, and I don't want to wait as long for this to take effect, do you have any tips like messaging tips and I'm thinking of managing pop and how delicate that can be. Do you have any tips to let your senior leaders know about the things that are happening, but kind of not get your hand slapped? You're you're in this sort of like really weird
S. Chris Edmonds (33:05):
Michael Gardon (33:05):
Right? Whereas I don't want to do this and I think it's better for our people, but if I go around telling everybody about it, I feel like I'm going to get slapped
S. Chris Edmonds (33:14):
Well, and there's a bit of that anyway. And to be honest, one of the kind of classic behaviors I've asked bosses to do is to find truth. Tellers, find people around you that see this differently than maybe the messaging you're getting. And you can get the message from your team, but your team might be protecting you. So check with those truth tellers and have them all in all corners of the organization, because there may be some we're trying to protect her. We're trying to protect him stuff happening wide. In essence, you're saying is we need managers to be more truth tellers, to be able to say, I don't think this is quite as smooth and getting the benefits and getting results that we're saying it is. So I think we need to dig more, et cetera. And you may get your hand slapped and there's a need for leaders to be able to say to their bosses.
S. Chris Edmonds (34:11):
I'm trying this let's wait. We got another quarter before the next engagement survey, right? Morale survey opinion survey comes out. I'm just going to try something and let's see where it goes. If it doesn't take any traction at all, at least you kind of not setting up the balloon and making sure everybody shoots Bebe's at it. Right. But one of the most interesting things I learned about boss communication was from this retail leader. Who's still running a brilliant culture today in a different organization where he literally went to the parent company and said, this is what I'm doing, or spending time on this. You're going to see travel expenses. Cause we're going to bring all 400 store managers and together. And they're like, oh my God, that's expensive. How can you possibly, well, as the messaging went up, it's like, okay, so your engagement scores are going up like 30% growth over any other region.
S. Chris Edmonds (35:10):
What are you feeding them over there? And by the way, your customer service rankings have gone up 45%. That's because the employees feel validated and respected and not surprisingly results. And profits went up. So Joel kind of said, okay, a hundred thousand dollars was a lot of money to spend on traveling comma. We couldn't get this done unless we had everybody here in the same message at the same time of getting the same charge. And then all the structural stuff behind like measurement, like doing a completely separate survey for their values, from the engagement survey that, that the parent company did. It's like he said, I had to tell them cause they were going to spot it. Right. Th that's that, that expense was a red flag in that operation. But he said, I was very confident that within two years we'd recover it and they did it in less than a year. So there's a bit of risk. And I think sometimes if a leader is thinking, I need to share this with my boss. Hopefully your boss, he, she will have an open mind to what you're presenting. They may not. And it may simply mean, okay, I got 12 months to find a different boss, either within this organization or in another organization.
Michael Gardon (36:27):
Great. Mark. And I talked a lot. I asked him, you know, respect is so foundational to your book. Good comes first. And we talked about how we're at this really interesting time in essentially our nation and the world in terms of polarization, in terms of just of respect. Do you have any thoughts on where we're at or anything else from the, particularly from the book around why this is so vital now that you would like to share with the audience before we go?
S. Chris Edmonds (36:56):
Well, I've got no ideas whatsoever that I think are gonna move world peace forward. I think there's, I think there's hope we have an interesting system here in the states and there's other interesting systems throughout the globe. And yet if the majority of our people are feeling demeaned, discounted disrespected, it's not there yet. And so rather than have us look at how can we fix society here? It's like people spend a vast majority of their time in the workplace. Let's make that saying civil, respectful, validating fun, because that could be the most beneficial experience they have the whole week they go home and the neighbors are fighting or they go home. And there's challenges. It's interesting now, as, as, as I think about 10 years ago with my first book and, and where my folks were because my dad passed at 91 and I was very, very grateful to be able to kind of support them.
S. Chris Edmonds (38:07):
Mom passed at 97. It was like, okay, we're still, we've got good genes here. But for some of us in that generation, our parents are facing those kinds of very difficult life experiences. And it's like, how is your workplace helping you with that? And that's an interesting one. And so let's kind of start with, there's a greater opportunity within a work culture to begin to make people be to each other. And that can be a huge jump towards respect and maybe even better performance, but are we going to fix neighborhoods? So we're going to fix politics of it. But if we get enough people that get infected by this idea of virus, this goes back to Seth Godin's idea virus. It's a different virus folks. It's okay about having respect be as important as results. I think we could actually change the way society operates. I figured 10 years is a good window to look at.
Michael Gardon (39:08):
Yeah, great ethos. I love it. People spend so much time working that your career is more than your job. You should find a good fit. And if it's not perfect, now that doesn't mean it can't be. So I love what you guys are doing. Thanks for spending some time with us. Good comes first comes out tomorrow as we're recording this, I believe so. When you're listening to this episode of may already be released, Chris, where can people find out more about you and your work?
S. Chris Edmonds (39:38):
I would say let's send folks to good comes first.com. And I mentioned the values information on my main website, which is driving results through culture dot.
Michael Gardon (39:50):
Excellent. And we will have all of those links in the show notes and Chris's social handles and all that good stuff. So people can check out our website at [inaudible] dot com and find all that information. Chris, thanks so much for, for doing this great conversation. Really, really happy you could join me.
S. Chris Edmonds (40:07):
Thanks for the opportunity, Mike. Appreciate it.
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