In Action, Leaders

“You’re going to come across people in your life who will say all the right words at all the right times. But in the end, it’s always their actions you should judge them by.” – Nicholas Sparks

Core values and culture and all those kinds of things are very trendy these days. Walk into any business and there’s a good chance you’ll see some kind of motivational team-building-type saying, or you’ll see something about how much they value people, or some kind of statement like “Here at XYZ Company, we care about…” followed by a list of neat sounding things they care about.

Those things are all great. Somewhere, lots of people are getting rich printing up motivational, inspirational quotes and sayings and signs – good for them. But what does it really do for your business?

I think one thing it definitely can do is raise expectations. You spend a lot of time talking about values & culture and people are going to expect those things to actually exist. Novel idea: they’ll expect you to do what you say.

The problem is that too many businesses are giving a lot of lip service to culture and all of those things, without taking the actions to back it up. You can talk about having a culture of respect, but if you have an employee who regularly disrespects his coworkers without consequence, what does that really say? It says you’re a lot of talk but you don’t really mean it.

Creating a positive culture is not about sayings and team building activities and company picnics. It’s about what you do when somebody violates the values you say you hold dear. It’s about consistently acting like a leader who won’t tolerate certain behaviors. You can’t have special rules for certain employees. We have a client who has consistently not tolerated bad behavior – act out of line and there are consequences – except for their top sales producer. She consistently treats people like garbage and gets nothing but a pat on the back and a big bonus because she’s so valuable.

That doesn’t work. Nobody can be above the rules. You as the leader have got to make sure that everybody is held to the same standard, and held to it consistently. Great culture doesn’t mean all your people act perfectly all the time. It means that when people behavior improperly, it isn’t ignored or swept under the rug. It’s dealt with in such a way that everybody knows that behavior is unacceptable.

How are your people going to judge you? Do your actions match your words? Or are your inspiring words just a lot of hot air?

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  • Scott Peterson

    Well said Matt!!

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