keeperI’ve been working with an incredibly gifted workforce in an organization that has set the bar in its industry. The company is ready raise that bar and grow to the next level. (Sigh.) How awesome and rare is that these days?

There will be culture shifts and changes. Growth never comes without discomfort, some growing pains, pruning, and a lot of fertilizer. But it’s necessary if you wish to bear more fruit.

When the culture of an organization mandates that it is more important to protect the reputation of a system and who’s in power than it is to protect the basic human dignity of individuals or communities, you can be certain that shame is systemic, money drives ethics, and accountability is dead. This is true in all systems, from corporation, nonprofits, universities, and governments, to churches, schools, families, and sports programs. If you think back on any major incidents fueled by cover-ups, you’ll see this pattern,” (Brene Brown – Daring Greatly). raisingbar

How do you raise the bar? Here’s a clue: You only get what you accept.

On the employee side, the process involves individual and team challenges with willingness to see and approach tasks differently. Resisting the temptations of entitlement and validation (The Crack Cocaine of Validation), taking the initiative to make things better, and leading by example. Employees are learning to be proactive (not reactive) and to stand UP! as opposed to standing down.

There are corresponding duties and responsibilities required of the employer and its leadership. Standards of performance must be defined, communicated and enforced. Mission, values, vision must be top of mind and most importantly, it must be responsive to employees with effective, timely, two-way communication, nurture and praise.

drama1With leaner, more focused workforces, employers no longer have the time or energy to nurse drama, employee push back and other problematic situations AND get the product out the door cheaper, better, faster, more customer-focused and ahead of the competition. If you accept less than the best work/work product, (including company vendors), you’re contributing to your organization’s demise. Similarly, if you see a situation, something that needs addressing or improving and you stand down, it continues to fester and contaminate the workforce. You become part of the decay. Decay is part of death.

So what skills, abilities and traits are employers seeking in employees? Kinetix Chief Human Resources Officer Kris Dunn (blog: the hr capitali$t)’s Must Have Career Skill advises us HR professionals:

“Your talent – my talent – is faced with at least 5 conversations a day if not more, they don’t have experience in. Training for all the things that require adaptability on the fly is not possible. That’s why the best hires are the ones that aren’t afraid to jump on a call or in a meeting where they have limited subject matter expertise and wing it…..People who can facilitate and participate in conversations where they have limited subject matter expertise – and become more knowledgeable by the minute while that conversation is going on – are the ones worth their weight in gold.” engaged

Favorite author/ blogger Seth Godin shoots straight in a January blog entitled The Cost of Neutral.

If you come to my brainstorming meeting and say nothing, it would have been better if you hadn’t come at all.

If you go to work and do what you’re told, you’re not being negative, certainly, but the lack of initiative you demonstrate (which, alas, you were trained not to demonstrate) costs us all, because you’re using a slot that could have been filled by someone who would have added more value.

It’s tempting to sit quietly, take notes and comply, rationalizing that at least you’re not doing anything negative. But the opportunity cost your newly lean, highly leveraged organization faces is significant.

Not adding value is the same as taking it away.”

standupWhen hiring and evaluating employees, who are the keepers? The passionately engaged, ‘can-do’ workers who take their employers into a more prosperous future all possess three essential traits.

Stand UP! Speak UP! Step UP!

~From the desk of Becky Morlok~


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