STOMP THE   ELEPHANTIN THE OFFICE Steven W. Vannoy and     Craig W. Ross Wister & Willows, Publishers Inc.       Lakewood,...
Wister & Willows, Publishers Inc.        3609 S. Wadsworth Boulevard, Suite 380              Lakewood, Colorado 80235     ...
Part One     THEELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACE    Creating a  Wellness Culture Where More Things     Get Done
The desire to fulfill our own potential     is as natural as wanting to breathe.  People in their natural state are motiva...
CHAPTER 1     The Five Approaches       To Dealing with        The Elephant            Which Method Do You Use?When it com...
4       THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACE    tional actions in these organizations because they do not    know how to take them....
The Five Approaches to Dealing with the Elephant             5    which the workforce is engaged and its actions are align...
CHAPTER 2       When the Elephant        Does Not Exist          How a Culture Delivers ProfitsImagine you are in charge. ...
8       THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACE    Those responsible for the new Ford Fusion, MercuryMilan, and Lincoln Zephyr did not...
When the Elephant Does Not Exist            9     “We are proud of the Wellness Culture we’ve developedhere,” said José Is...
10     THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACE    “When I conduct my skip-level meetings [meetings withemployees he does not directly ...
When the Elephant Does Not Exist          11    Stellar results continue to pour in. The team exceeded theirwarranty targe...
CHAPTER 3         What an      Elephant-Free   Workplace Looks Like     The Three Pillars of a Wellness CultureA Wellness ...
14      THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACE    Most people intuitively know when they are operatingin such a culture—and when they...
What an Elephant-Free Workplace Looks Like              15    Given that randomness, it is important to explore whatmany p...
16     THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACEfor our interactions with others and the approach to buildinga healthy, productive cultu...
CHAPTER 4      When the Elephant     Is Ignored: The Toxic        “Fix-It” Culture                You Know You Have       ...
18       THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACE     the team. No one moved except for Bridget, who sighed     and rolled her eyes.   ...
When the Elephant Is Ignored           19    Bridget did not waste any time. “That’s easy, Doug.”Fake smile intact, she sw...
20      THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACE                   The Fix-It ApproachMany of us have experienced organizational cultur...
When the Elephant Is Ignored            21•   Managers implement countless policies and procedures to    catch slackers—in...
22     THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACE               Are People Really a             Company’s Greatest Asset?The Gallup Insti...
When the Elephant Is Ignored          23exists. Take, for example, what Felix Guillen of Ford Mexicohas found:     “Here i...
CHAPTER 5    Creating an Elephant-      Free Workplace:      Wellness Culture          Pillar #1        What this pillar l...
26         THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACEingly tired of the pattern and check out. Conversely, organi-zations that emphasize ...
Creating an Elephant-FreeWorkplace: Pillar #1 27additional accountability policies and measures.’ She addedthat she would ...
28      THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACE        “Cultureship”—A Leader’s PriorityTo what extent do you possess the ability to l...
Stomp the Elephant in the Office
Stomp the Elephant in the Office
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Stomp the Elephant in the Office

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This is a wake-up call to leaders everywhere. In this innovative and poignant book, authors Steven Vannoy and Craig Ross challenge assumptions about leadership and business in today’s world. Stomp The Elephant in the Office presents everyday tools that help people put an end to the toxic workplace, get more done, and be excited about work again. Vannoy & Ross explore people and culture (often misinterpreted as the softer side of business) and demonstrate that learning to cultivate them directly affects performance, productivity and ultimately the bottom line. This file contains the first five chapters of the book only.

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Stomp the Elephant in the Office

  1. 1. STOMP THE ELEPHANTIN THE OFFICE Steven W. Vannoy and Craig W. Ross Wister & Willows, Publishers Inc. Lakewood, Colorado
  2. 2. Wister & Willows, Publishers Inc. 3609 S. Wadsworth Boulevard, Suite 380 Lakewood, Colorado 80235 www.stomptheelephant.com © 2008 by Steven W. Vannoy and Craig W. Ross All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or any portion thereof in any form. Library of Congress Control Number 2007930446 Stomp the elephant in the office: Put an end to the toxic workplace, get more done – and be excited about work again / by Steven W. Vannoy and Craig W. Ross ISBN 978-0-9793768-0-1 Printed in Canada on acid-free paper. The following terms are Registered or Service Marked by Pathways to Leadership Incorporated: Pathways to Leadership, Elephant-Free Workplace, Wellness Culture, Leadership Lock, The 3 Conditions That Support Change,Awareness Muscle, Magic Moment, High Road/Low Road, 3 Mind Factors, Energy Map, Forward-Focus Questions, Elephant-Stomping Group, The Humanity Factor.
  3. 3. Part One THEELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACE Creating a Wellness Culture Where More Things Get Done
  4. 4. The desire to fulfill our own potential is as natural as wanting to breathe. People in their natural state are motivated.It is the job of every person within the culture to create an environment that allows people to nurture and build that inner motivation.
  5. 5. CHAPTER 1 The Five Approaches To Dealing with The Elephant Which Method Do You Use?When it comes to culture and its development, organizationsuse one of five basic approaches.1. “There Is an Elephant in the Office” Approach. Team- work may be discussed and ropes may be climbed in these organizations, but the all-important “C” word—culture— remains whispered in the hallways. The elephant remains unmentioned, though it stands in the middle of the room munching on strategies and initiatives for lunch. Futile at- tempts to direct the culture through fix-it strategies such as policies, mandates and cascaded information lead to devastating results and the loss of human potential. These are often toxic places to work.2. The “Wish Management” Approach. While people intu- itively know what is right and wrong, they take few inten- 3
  6. 6. 4 THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACE tional actions in these organizations because they do not know how to take them. Culture is talked about, but guessing, wishing and hoping are the primary strategies for creating an effective one. Hiring for talent with little regard for character is the norm in such companies. In- evitably, all these tactics lead to “You can’t change peo- ple” being muttered over unsatisfactory spreadsheets.3. The “Cheerleader” Approach. People in these organiza- tions are exposed to motivational speakers, false praise, elaborate rewards and other gimmicks in an effort to ex- ternally motivate and engage them. Rhetoric rules, with trite clichés posted and then forgotten in a day. People are smart; they grow tired of such patently manipulative moves. They are left feeling disenfranchised while objec- tives are never fully realized. The true language of an ef- fective culture remains foreign.4. The “People Are Our Priority” Approach. These organi- zations have addressed the elephant, and thus enjoy fewer personnel issues. Culture, discussed openly within board- rooms, bathrooms and everywhere else, is the priority. Yet the workforce, while engaged and feeling good, remains unharnessed and unfocused, and strategies are poorly ex- ecuted. Here, people are excited about where they work, but not the work they do. That is because such organizations miss the point: Results are the priority. People and culture are the strategies to achieve the priority: to deliver results.5. The “Wellness Culture” Approach. This approach, de- fined and highlighted in this book, creates a culture in
  7. 7. The Five Approaches to Dealing with the Elephant 5 which the workforce is engaged and its actions are aligned with the organization’s strategies and business objectives. These organizations consistently strengthen this link be- cause they know that effective cultures are not a one-size- fits-all proposition. These groups have a common language that addresses individual and collective behav- iors—everyone becomes more efficient. It is only in Well- ness Cultures that individuals and their organizations realize their true potentials. Mark Cicotello, vice president of human resources for theHeska Corporation, located in Loveland, Colorado, has seenhis company face numerous challenges and still work its wayto profitability. He describes the fifth approach to dealing withthe elephant this way: “The Wellness Culture approach is notjust about helping people be great and creating an exceptionalculture. It’s about doing both those things in a focused man-ner. It’s about being great and having a culture aligned withyour strategies and business model. This is the difference thatmakes us exceptional.”
  8. 8. CHAPTER 2 When the Elephant Does Not Exist How a Culture Delivers ProfitsImagine you are in charge. For a moment, picture yourself asthe decision maker for an organization that is preparing tomanufacture a new vehicle. You are a leader and a part of aninternational company that has been in severe trouble; tens ofthousands of people are losing jobs because your companyhas lost market share to foreign automakers. Quality issuesand customer appeal are significant topics in many meetings. Now imagine that you are responsible for the new vehiclelaunch. The eyes of your company, the entire automotiveworld, the local community and legions of longtime customersare on you. The stakes are high. What is your plan? Wheredo you start? Most leaders in this situation would go with what theyknow. They would do business—they would lead—the waythey have always done it. Would you? 7
  9. 9. 8 THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACE Those responsible for the new Ford Fusion, MercuryMilan, and Lincoln Zephyr did not. As a result, they achievedunprecedented success. According to Michael Collins, in hisarticle “Fusion, Milan, Zephyr Score Best Start-up QualityEver” (Outstanding News, Oct. 25, 2006), “Ford corporateresearch shows that the three vehicles had the best qualityshowing of any vehicle in Ford’s long history. They outpacedsegment leaders, Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.” The leaders of this team within the global auto giant did not achieve these results easily; they achieved them differently. Can You and Your Team Deliver When You Most Need To?The leadership responsibilities for a vehicle launch are ex-traordinary. The pressures are immeasurable. Hundreds ofpeople invest years in developing the new automobile. Thenthousands of people—who have not worked together before—gather to assemble the thousands of parts necessary to makea car that has never been built before. Understandably, vehi-cle launches are traditionally not a feel-good experience; vet-erans report health problems, high employee turnover, ill willtoward colleagues and company, and a severe strain on fam-ily life. So where did this successful Ford leadership team begin?“We knew we had to get upstream and start building leadershipcapacity well before the first car came off the line,” said RickPopp, then the director of human resources for Ford of Mexico.“Also, while the site already had a healthy culture, everyonewanted to take it to a new level. The specific leadership toolsdiscussed in this book allowed us to make that happen.”
  10. 10. When the Elephant Does Not Exist 9 “We are proud of the Wellness Culture we’ve developedhere,” said José Islas, the plant manager at Hermosillo, the lo-cation of the massive launch. Years ago, however, José mayhave taken a different approach. He is a large man with abooming voice, and when he walks into the room there is nodoubt who is in charge. Three years before the new vehicle launch, at the end of aWellness Culture training, José shared with everyone his com-mitment to begin serving his people in a forward-focused way.This proclamation turned heads; until then the traditional ap-proach had supported a strategy of intimidation, includingraising voices, making threats and demands, and minimizingthe value each person brought to the process. Two years later, we had a conversation with José. “I amvery busy preparing,” he said. “Preparing for what?” we asked. “We have 120 people from the United States coming tovisit and learn from us.” “That’s quite an honor. Why are they visiting you?” “When you are at the top of the hill, people want to knowwhat you’re doing,” he said with an uncomfortable laugh. Al-though José is very proud of his plant, he is not the type toboast about the plant’s success. “What areas are you at the top of the hill in?” “We are the #1 plant in North America. We’re Best inClass [vehicle type, in and out of Ford]. We’re first in cost,and we’re first in quality. We’ve got safety covered. We de-liver.” “José, what would you attribute those successes to?” “The culture we’ve been developing for the last couple ofyears accounts for eighty percent of the success we’re havinghere. It’s no secret: The only difference is people. You can begreat in technology, you can be great in processes and every-thing else, but the difference maker is the people.
  11. 11. 10 THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACE “When I conduct my skip-level meetings [meetings withemployees he does not directly interact with], I get feedbackthat we are communicating much better and creating moretrust. Our whole group is more open to feedback. And we’remuch better at providing recognition of others. People arestarting to feel better!” Then, foreseeing the stresses of the impending launch thatwas over a year away, José added, “Problems will still come.But how we deal with those problems will make all the dif-ference.” The problems did come. Immediately after the start of thelaunch, one of the largest parts suppliers filed for bankruptcy.The supplier was in chaos; delayed and incomplete deliveriesput the entire operation at risk. Ford of Mexico immediatelysent in a group of their own leaders to stabilize the situation.The delays in production and other losses could have beendevastating, yet this Ford team did not falter. Why? “Our plan worked,” said Louise Goeser, CEO of Ford ofMexico. “From the start, we intentionally developed the peo-ple. All supervisors at the site received training in WellnessCulture in order to (1) be prepared to handle the high stressof the launch in a healthy way; (2) establish healthy organi-zational behaviors with a new working pattern, six days perweek; (3) provide leadership tools to continually develop cul-ture, improve relationships and improve leadership behaviors;and (4) build on a ‘One Team’ concept with actual tools.” “With hundreds of people coming to our location fromother Ford sites, along with hiring thousands of new employ-ees, we made it a priority to build on the culture we’ve workedso hard to achieve,” said Fausto Flores, manager of humanresources for the Hermosillo plant. By focusing on the Well-ness Culture, they positively influenced those partnering withthem to the point that, as Flores said, “We accelerated our re-sults, and got closer as a team.”
  12. 12. When the Elephant Does Not Exist 11 Stellar results continue to pour in. The team exceeded theirwarranty targets by 45 percent, bettered their cost targets, andbested their target TGW (Things Gone Wrong) score. The re-sults sit among the industry’s best. These Ford vehicles continue to gain international atten-tion, including prestigious ratings and awards from JD Powerand the cover story of Consumer Reports magazine (October2006), among others. Visitors to the launch site often ask, “What are the topreasons for the excellent quality and overall success?” FelixGuillen, director of manufacturing operations at Ford of Mex-ico, replies, “You can take the five or six best practices andreplicate them elsewhere, and still not have the same results ifthe alignment of culture, behaviors, competencies, values andmanagement mindset are not at the same level. The recipe is— Xand is not—simple.” What recipe are you and your organization using to align people with your strategies and purpose for doing business?
  13. 13. CHAPTER 3 What an Elephant-Free Workplace Looks Like The Three Pillars of a Wellness CultureA Wellness Culture occurs when any group of people is free ofelephants. This sort of culture aligns people, purpose and prof-itability, and is built on three fundamental pillars:1. A group of people committed to fostering the development of healthy individuals, teams and systems proactively rather than trying to fix people and problems reactively.2. An environment that allows people to be who they truly want to be—to be great—rather than stifling their natural motivation to contribute fully.3. A group of people on a quest to understand what is work- ing rather than what is not working, to focus on solutions and strengths rather than on problems and weaknesses, and to find the value in what is happening rather than con- centrating on who or what is to blame. 13
  14. 14. 14 THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACE Most people intuitively know when they are operatingin such a culture—and when they are not. Here are just afew of the ways people describe being in an elephant-freeworkplace:• “We can tell the truth about issues that we’re facing.”• “Everyone is on the same page.”• “You can feel momentum and energy.”• “Meetings are fewer and shorter.”• “We get work done faster.”• “Our strategies work so we get the results we wanted.”• “We’re excited about our opportunities.” By identifying and understanding the elephant in the of-fice—the poor behaviors, negative attitudes and dysfunctionalactions that impede progress—organizations begin the processof getting rid of it. They can then focus on developing andleveraging their culture for greater results beyond those men-tioned above. What have you done to permanently eradicate elephantsfrom your office? Your answer reveals your organization’s ap-titude for using the most important and effective businessstrategy available. You Have a Unique OpportunityThe tools highlighted in this book are proven and easy toapply. Unfortunately, day-to-day work in any field is not a lin-ear practice. Even with the best planning, opportunities to leadand to make an impact on the culture occur randomly in anyperson’s day.
  15. 15. What an Elephant-Free Workplace Looks Like 15 Given that randomness, it is important to explore whatmany people consider the most important factor in building aWellness Culture: the Humanity Factor. It is this factor thatpeople use as they encounter the countless challenges and is-sues they face every day. It is this factor that assists them inbeing the people they have always known they can be. Angie Paccione is a former Colorado state representative.She said, “The Wellness Culture approach puts a structurearound the values I have. This means that I’m able to live outof and leverage those values much more consistently.” Moving Forward with the Humanity Factor as a FoundationWe ask that you take an unusual action right now. We inviteyou to skip to the final part of this book, part eight, The Hu-manity Factor, which begins on page 295, and read it next.Part eight does not reveal a destination that effective leadersstrive toward. It does describe an approach that effective lead-ers like Angie Paccione and others begin with. The Humanity Factor is an understanding that wellnessleaders—leaders in Wellness Cultures—manifest in everythingthey do. It not only determines the success these leaders havein applying the tools shared in this book, it also determinesthe level of satisfaction they receive from leading. So, please mark this page so you can easily return to itafter you have finished part eight. Again, it begins on page295.Welcome back. The concepts in part eight inject value intoeverything else you will read from here on, adding meaningand importance far beyond the ordinary. The Humanity Fac-tor amplifies our effectiveness as leaders. It raises the standard
  16. 16. 16 THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACEfor our interactions with others and the approach to buildinga healthy, productive culture. It shapes the results we deliver.The Humanity Factor allows a leader to enter into a partner-ship with others that is becoming increasingly rare in an in-creasingly impersonal world. This partnership is a bond thatserves as the glue of a Wellness Culture. X As you think of the leaders you have admired most, under what circumstances have you seen them demonstrate the Humanity Factor? How does this factor align with your values?
  17. 17. CHAPTER 4 When the Elephant Is Ignored: The Toxic “Fix-It” Culture You Know You Have a Toxic Culture When . . .We will examine, define and show examples of each WellnessCulture pillar in the next three chapters. But first, let us takea closer look at what a Wellness Culture is—and is not. A friend described the following experience. Unfortu-nately, meetings such as this take place with great frequencyaround the world. In this and in other case studies to follow,names have been changed but the essence of the stories re-mains. A Case Study: We Are Experts at Knowing Why We Are Failures The last person to enter the conference room brought everyone to attention. He slapped a handful of file folders on the table, crossed his arms and stared at 17
  18. 18. 18 THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACE the team. No one moved except for Bridget, who sighed and rolled her eyes. “I thought we had this taken care of,” Doug said, as he unfolded his arms and leaned forward on the table. “But apparently I was wrong.” Everyone in the room knew this routine, but that did not make it any easier. Pens and fingernails suddenly de- manded inspection. “We set our goals and each of you determined your tasks, but you couldn’t make that work. So we walked you through what was necessary—what each one of you was supposed to do—and you still couldn’t get it right.” He stood, yanked at his collar and crossed his arms again. “So we did an off-site, played with ropes for a while, and made promises to each other like little kids in a sandbox.” He swiped at a folder, sending it and its contents fluttering into the corner. “And here we sit, auditioning for Dumb and Dumber. “Apparently you can’t see it, so let me lift the fog for you.” He turned and looked directly at the man immedi- ately to his left, his eyes blinking rapidly behind his glasses. “We’re over budget—and not by a little bit.” He paused, allowing his words to sink in as he turned his gaze to the sharply dressed VP of marketing four chairs down on his right. “We’re six months away from launch, but I don’t think you’d be ready if you had six years.” Finally, he snapped his glare toward Bridget, who was looking at him with a venomous smile. “And inven- tory is so screwed up, we don’t know if we’re coming or going.” He slumped to his seat. “People, please,” he said, his hands stretched in supplication, “what’s it going to take?”
  19. 19. When the Elephant Is Ignored 19 Bridget did not waste any time. “That’s easy, Doug.”Fake smile intact, she swiveled to stare at the man acrossfrom her. “We just need an accurate forecast. If I getthat, I’ll have inventory squared away.” The lob was too well placed for her counterpart tomiss. “Is it that easy, Bridget?” His finger swept theroom. “My forecast has been as good as it can be, giventhe inconsistent feedback I get from marketing, sales andproduction!” An uncomfortable pause blanketed the room aseveryone cautiously looked toward the head of the table.Doug shrugged his shoulders. He was not letting themoff the hook. More silence. Monica from human resources finallyspoke up. “Is it any wonder we’re getting killed in ouremployee satisfaction surveys? Look at how we’re act-ing. We need to hear what team members are thinkingand talk about how we’re operating,” she said. “Well, that’s not what I want to talk about,” Dougcut in. “We’re paying these people to work. They canleave the thinking to us. What I want to talk about isgetting results!” He slammed his fist on the table topunctuate his rant. As he opened his mouth to continue,he paused when he noticed a note being passed from oneperson to the next at the far end of the table. “Do you kids mind letting me in on the secret?” Heput his hand out, demanding the note. When the small piece of paper reached the head ofthe table, Doug unfolded it and read: “WE’RE EXPERTS AT KNOWING WHY WE’RE FAILURES. WE DON’T HAVE A CLUE ABOUT HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL.” “What is that supposed to mean?” he asked throughgritted teeth.
  20. 20. 20 THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACE The Fix-It ApproachMany of us have experienced organizational cultures lost indestructive fix-it cycles. Instead of developing functioning re-lationships and healthy systems up front, these organizationswait for unsatisfactory outcomes and then spend much oftheir time and resources trying to fix people, teams and prob-lems after the fact. The typical cycle looks like this: Unsatisfactory outcome Perpetuation of same or similar Fix-it reaction outcome Short-term result The destructive forces of a fix-it culture stand in contrastto the Wellness Culture approach:• Organizations pay to do a job twice—instead of creating a Wellness Culture that aligns people and purpose so things are done right the first time.• Supervisors, who see themselves as the experts, fill their to-do lists with items to tell their teams—rather than help- ing team members develop behaviors so they can think for themselves.
  21. 21. When the Elephant Is Ignored 21• Managers implement countless policies and procedures to catch slackers—instead of establishing a foundation of trust in the first place.• Teams analyze and discuss why projects fail—instead of deciding what is necessary for them to succeed.• Leaders notice and announce when employees are not per- forming well—rather than noticing and announcing when they are achieving.• Managers lament and blame disengaged employees— instead of taking responsibility for behavior outcomes the same way they do for business outcomes.• Companies give lip service to diversity of experience, thoughts and ideas—rather than leveraging these naturally occurring resources.• Organizations have no time for fun and celebration (“Hey, we’ve got problems to focus on!”)—instead of encourag- ing such practices to ensure the priceless resources of pride and confidence. Companies that are trampled by the elephant in the fix-itmentality hire talented young guns and experienced old pros.Then, with the intention of building future leaders, they in-stead train followers and firefighters who manage by crisis.The cumulative effect of person after person operating thisway guarantees and perpetuates a downward, toxic cycle. What kind of results do fix-it cultures produce? A sad return on investments, poor use of resources, propped-up bottom lines, embarrassing public relations— and bleeding morale.
  22. 22. 22 THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACE Are People Really a Company’s Greatest Asset?The Gallup Institute of Research reported that 55 percent ofAmerican workers are disengaged in their jobs. “Imagine whatit means to the bottom line when over half of your workforcedoesn’t want to be at work,” said one mid-level manager. But it gets worse for the average company: An additional17 percent of workers are actively disengaged. “In otherwords,” continued the manager, “these companies would bebetter off if these people did not show up for work. These em-ployees are costing the company more than they are beingpaid.” These statistics shoot down the platitude, “Our people areour greatest asset.” This cannot be the case if 72 percent ofemployees are disengaged. The mantra should read: “Ourpeople are our greatest asset when we have an elephant-freeworkplace.” People who have their sights set on a Wellness Cultureleverage their efforts more effectively than those who aremerely attempting to create greater engagement in their work-force. Having people awake at work does not get the resultsneeded. A Wellness Culture creates ownership: a step above buy-in and two steps beyond engagement. Ownership leads to long-term execution and results. People take ownership when organizations and their lead-ers spend less time trying to fix people and problems and moretime honoring employees’ motivations and skills and con-necting them to clear goals, execution plans and results. Inother words, people take ownership when a Wellness Culture
  23. 23. When the Elephant Is Ignored 23exists. Take, for example, what Felix Guillen of Ford Mexicohas found: “Here is a glimpse of what a Wellness Culture looks likefor us. “While walking the floor of the supplier’s plant, I askedthe young foreman providing the tour, ‘How much do you likethis company?’ “He smiled and said, ‘I like it a lot.’ “‘Why?’ “‘Well, they care about people,’ he answered. “‘And how do you know? How do you measure that?’ “He didn’t have an answer. His face went blank as hewalked away, but in fifteen minutes he was back. “‘I have an answer for you,’ he said. He patted his chestwith both hands and said, ‘Look at me! I’m how you measureit!’”
  24. 24. CHAPTER 5 Creating an Elephant- Free Workplace: Wellness Culture Pillar #1 What this pillar looks like: A group of people committed to fostering the development of healthy individuals, teams and systems proactively rather than trying to fix people and problems reactively.To achieve results, most companies invest in strategies that re-quire significant organizational management and process de-ployment—all costly ventures. Sound business strategies area must, but without the proactive element of this first WellnessCulture component, the strategies are likely to fail. The primary reason? Today’s market often shifts fasterthan you can read this chapter; organizations that emphasizestrategy over people cannot adapt quickly because the peopleresponsible for the work are not driving the change. Thesecompanies cannot keep pace in a mobile market and aredoomed to a pattern of cutting losses as they revise game planafter game plan. Meanwhile, their employees grow increas- 25
  25. 25. 26 THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACEingly tired of the pattern and check out. Conversely, organi-zations that emphasize strategy with culture can changequickly—because people adapt more quickly than systems. Mark Cicotello of Heska Corporation said, “Culture eatsstrategy for lunch. Either you become the architect of yourculture or it becomes the architect and manages you.” Policies and Rules: Nurturing the Elephant in the Office Steven Vannoy1: “On a recent business trip from Frank-furt, Germany, back to Denver, I had a layover in Chicago.After multiple gate changes, airline errors and miscommuni-cations, I was eight hours late arriving in Denver. “I shared my disappointment with a gate agent. Theagent’s response was shocking: ‘We’re not worried about los-ing your business, because no other airline can do any better.If we lose your business, we’ll just trade you for the customersour competition is losing.’ “Sub-par customer service is appalling. Yet when some or-ganizations discover poor customer service within their ranks,their managers inadvertently perpetuate the very behaviorthey want to eliminate. “Not two weeks after the experience with the gate agent,I had an in-flight conversation with a middle manager fromthe same airline. I told her about my experience. “She shook her head and related how the company hadmade repeated efforts to ‘stop employees from offending cus-tomers.’ She said, ‘In fact, right now we’re implementing1 Occasionally we will interrupt the narrative voice used throughout most of this book to share an experience or insight in first person. When this happens we will make sure it is clear which one of us is speaking.
  26. 26. Creating an Elephant-FreeWorkplace: Pillar #1 27additional accountability policies and measures.’ She addedthat she would like to see tighter discipline and controls, andshe lamented the state of the employee base today.” Did you catch it? This type of reaction breeds the very be-havior it is designed to eliminate. This middle manager’s abu-sive approach to getting results ignores and enrages theelephant in her office; her outdated approach of whipping theelephant characterizes slow-moving leaders, teams and com-panies that operate in a fix-it culture. Organizations that foster such cultures find it nearly im-possible for their teams to successfully execute strategies orsustain a competitive advantage in their market. They haveunsuccessfully wagered the achievement of their business ob-jectives on the idea that productivity and excellence in anyarea can be forced. These futile attempts to control people costorganizations focus, time and money. They become hand-cuffed by their own cultures because employees are furtherout of alignment with organizational strategies and objectives. Guidance from leaders about what is important and nec-essary regarding procedures and standards is critical. Policiesinvolving health and safety are a must. In a Wellness Culture,everyone owns these policies and leverages them for greaterresults. Policies should empower, not disable. Sadly, overbearing policies are the backbone of many toxiccultures. When policies and rules exceed their ability and in-tention to support people, they are like weeds in a garden—choking life and reducing the fruit harvest. Savvy leaders ask, “Does the policy align us with ourstrategies, business objectives and model of doing business?”These people know that every policy influences and poten-tially alters the culture, so they are extra careful to considerthe ramifications.
  27. 27. 28 THE ELEPHANT-FREE WORKPLACE “Cultureship”—A Leader’s PriorityTo what extent do you possess the ability to lead the cul-ture of your organization? Wellness leaders make this theirnumber-one priority because they know their organizationmust sail successfully through a sea of strategies. Developingpeople, relationships and systems proactively ensures that re-sources are used effectively. Numerous people who have proven themselves effectiveat cultureship have focused on building this pillar of a Well-ness Culture and report that such an approach is five totwenty-five times more cost effective as a way of doing busi-ness. Savings show up in numerous areas: improved produc-tion efficiencies; fewer product recalls; greater employeeretention and loyalty; positive public relations; and increasedcustomer satisfaction. When resources are no longer tied up in attempts to fix yesterday’s problems and put out fires, they can be used to be proactive, which establishes competitive advantages. It is then that companies start to distinguish themselves from their competitors. The three pillars of a Wellness Culture serve as blueprintsfor building an elephant-free zone that is a healthy, productiveculture in both the workplace and family. Developing thesethree pillars does not cost a dime. Developing them does notrequire a reorganization, a capital investment or a buyout.What it does require is greater management of self, and effec-tiveness while interacting with others. This is leadership.

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