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Chris LoCurto

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February 14, 2012

Creating a Winning Culture

February 14, 2012 | By | 15 Comments">15 Comments

If you haven’t had a chance to listen to our EntreLeadership Podcast, make sure you check it out. The bi-weekly show on business and leadership is full of valuable information, lessons from Dave Ramsey on business and is hosted by this incredibly talented, awesome guy who interviews some of today’s top leaders! OK, OK, I confess. I’m the host, but it is still an awesome show.

This week, my podcast producer, Chris Mefford, and I answered some of your questions sent in via Twitter and email (podcast@EntreLeadership.com.). We didn’t have enough time to answer all the queries, so on this blog post and future ones, I’ll tackle some additional questions.

Hi Chris,
I have been listening to your EntreLeadership podcasts since they debuted. I love them. I am a small business owner of an insurance agency. I started it when I was 22  and am now 26, so I am still a little green when it comes to processes and business. I have nine staff members (all 40-plus), and gossip and self-accountability have become huge issues. In fact, I recently fired someone for gossiping after a second warning. I also feel that they do not take our goals and promotions seriously. When given an option for $50 bonus if they hit a certain goal, they laughed at the manager. I really want to nip this in the bud as soon as possible, but I am unsure of the correct process to do so. Any advice or books you would suggest I read?

Thanks again for your online information. It really helps. – Liz

Liz,

Let me say how impressed I am that you started an insurance company at age 22! Wow! As for the issues, it all starts with leadership. It sounds like you’ve hired some folks who think they can take advantage of a young leader.

My advice is this: You need to focus on creating the culture and core values that you want for your company. Without them, confusion and chaos set in. If you don’t like what you see, or you’re not seeing what you want, teach your team about it.

As far as the specific issues:

  • Gossip – The best thing you could have done was let that person go. That sets a tone with the rest of the team that says it’s unacceptable. I would take it a step further and let them know that if they are the one the person gossiped to, then they will be let go, as well. In other words, if someone comes to you to gossip, you better stop them in their tracks and send them to their leader. Be sure you remind the team once a month until their eyes roll back in their heads. :-)
  • Laughing at a manager – This is someone who needs to be brought into your office right away. I would sit them down and ask them to explain themselves. And then, let them know if they don’t appreciate the bonus on top of the money they are getting paid to work there, then maybe they need to find another place to laugh. Obviously, they don’t care about the goals of  your business. They are just showing up for a j.o.b. You don’t need this kind of person. Give them another chance to take the goals and promotions seriously. But if they can’t get on board, let them go.

My advice assumes you have instituted a culture of no gossip, you pay your team market rates or better, and you have attainable goals and promotions. If not, you have to go back and start with those.

Understand that you can’t create or change culture overnight. It’s a process. But there’s nothing wrong with hitting the most important ones hard and fast. The team needs to know what you refuse to tolerate, so they can anticipate your moves.  Forty-plus or not, they’re still like kids needing to be parented. You’re doing a great job to be where you are! Keep up the good work and get that culture in place.

Question: What would you do with these team members?

 

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  • http://www.ginasmom.com ginasmom

    Call a firm (Company) meeting, close the office for an hour or two – to stress how important this is, lay down the law, explain what’s acceptable and whats not acceptable, with clear steps, but let them understand breaking those laws will result in the team members being asked to to leave. In the meantime, start redefining the hiring process to ensure only those aligned with the vision get in next time. I suspect it will only take one individual being let go for the rest of the team to shape up.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Amen.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    In this praticular case, it is better let go the concerned employee. Even in our culture, we have the problem of older people listening to the younger people. Hence, it is better for Liz to select people around her age group with right competency factors. Then, her job will become lot more easy.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      I’m tracking with you, but I would say give the team member the opportunity to turn the situation around first. If they can’t, gonzo!

  • http://kcbariatric.com/ Kevin

    I feel terrible for Liz’s dilemma and the select few employees who didn’t seem to care about morale-boosting incentives, like the bonus $. Managers must make it known that insubordination acts should be dealt with privately on the first couple instances, and if it’s recurring theme, then a mandatory meeting of all company employees must be the next step.

    Also, I’m assuming Liz doesn’t have many managers on staff, since it seems the company is still growing, but when that time comes, it’s vital to staff efficient supervisors to ease the burden she’s currently had to deal with. Simple things like training classes such as this package, http://training.pryor.com, that although contain programs to manage a higher-staffed business, can still resonate with small business mentalities on looking forward.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Good stuff Kevin!

  • Anonymous

    Liz, wow you rock! Best wishes for your business success and growth. When I read your story, I immediately thought of Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. He candidly shares how they built a rock solid culture at Zappos that customers love and business leaders look up to. I think culture in the workplace is the same as in a family, it’s modeled more than it is taught. Can’t tell a kid not to lie and then ask them to tell someone on the phone that you’re not home. If you have the right people on your team that believe in your mission and vision, they will self-police and the ones that don’t fit will eliminate themselves. You may be a young leader and that is a challenge with more experienced people. But guess what? You’re still the owner and you can serve your team members with your leadership. If they like to gossip and laugh at a 50 dollar bonus, they can go work someplace else!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Awesome Lily!

  • Anonymous

    Liz is amazing! I hope she has a copy of Entreleadership by Dave. Seems to me the best way to avoid the hassles of crummy employees is a very thorough interviewing process (as explained in the book). She might also find some help on Michael Hyatt’s blog; he has great posts about hiring and interviewing.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Correct on both points!

  • http://twitter.com/brendonwilson Brendon Wilson

    Chris,

    Just read your post and I actually just wrote a post this AM on gossip and referenced your session at the Momentum workshop at Christ Life Church.

    http://www.brendonwilsoncreative.com/2012/02/learn-this-lesson-to-thrive-or-sink-gossip/

    I just went into my post and added an update to your blog.

    Thanks for all you do!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Brother, you absolutely rock!! I love the post!!

  • Steelegoing

    From the brief description of Liz (the business owner), it seems that she may have a hard time stepping into the “owner” role. The problems she is now encountering seem to stem from the lack of evaluation when she hired the problem individuals. A more thorough interview process will most likely eliminate these individuals from the applicant pool. In the meantime, she is going to have to make some hard decisions concerning the atmosphere she wants to have in her business. From personal experience, if she allows the current atmosphere to continue there is high probability that her business will start to decline.

    As hard as it might be in the short term, Liz should allow those individuals not motivated to help her company succeed find a company that better fits their values and beliefs.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Excellent input!