Tag Archive for: respect

Happy people at work with high standards and excellent workplace values

Turn Your Workplace Values into Standards

Transforming workplace values into actionable standards is more important than you think.

According to a 2024 DDI study, 57% of employees quit their jobs because of their boss, and 37% have considered leaving for this reason. These numbers are not isolated incidents. For example, 50% of employees in a 2022 Gallup study said they left their jobs to escape their manager. 

Turnover costs your company between 50 and 200 percent of the employee’s annual salary. To simplify the math, losing ten employees with a $100k average salary means you are throwing away $500k to $2m.

Managers want to do a good job, and people want to work where they feel appreciated and fit in. What accounts for the gaps?

Your values fail to set standards.

It’s a harsh reality that most company values statements are feel-good slogans that fail to shape behavior. 

What happens in the halls and video calls shines so brightly that your employees cannot see what’s written on the walls. You promote what you permit.

Standards, unlike slogans, clearly define what ‘right’ looks like and what’s unacceptable. They shape behavior, empowering you to create a productive, respectful, and supportive work environment that benefits your company and your employees. 

Here’s a simple example using the value of Respect, which a company might define as “We foster a positive work environment because we value our employees.”

There’s nothing wrong with the definition itself, but it provides little clarity on how you want people to behave and why.

Here’s what to do next

Turn the value into a standard using the “X so that Y” formula. 

We foster a positive work environment so that our employees feel valued, speak their minds, treat each other well, and cooperate. A respectful workplace environment encourages people to flag problems, offer fresh ideas, and try new things.

Next, add your standards.

The dance floor can help because it’s a visual that you can co-create with your employees to set clear standards for treating people with respect and defining unacceptable behaviors. Here’s a very simple version:

Finally, provide examples of employees living the values so that people can see themselves meeting the standards.

Susan and Mark had opposing views on building the sales team’s capacity. Susan wanted to boost employee training, while Mark wanted more investment in technology and AI. Instead of bickering, they agreed on a common goal: to improve the sales team’s performance by 20%. Once they created a shared goal, they could examine the best combination of training and technology to boost performance. They co-created options and determined the best way forward, boosting the sales team’s marginal contributions by over 30%.

Standards attract the right-fit prospects and inspire your top talent to stay because people who share the same standards feel like they fit in. 

Imagine what happens when people do not share the same standards. If Susan is an in-your-face “radical candor” enthusiast while Mark prefers agreeable disagreement, one will feel out of place and probably vote with their feet.

If you want your company to soar to new heights, co-create standards for your values and expectations.

Setting standards is part of my latest trademarked program, Building an Inspiring Culture®, which you can take on your own, or we can organize a live-led program for you and your team. 

The program gives you a repeatable, step-by-step process for Building an Inspiring Culture so that you can focus on strategy and growth because your employees meet your standards voluntarily without you having to micromanage. 

You get the practical tools and explicit processes to learn, teach, evaluate, and improve.

Here’s what the program looks like:

  1. Smart Start: Define your Organization’s Common Good
  2. Set Standards: Clarify your Expectations and Values
  3. Gain Buy-in so that people do what’s right voluntarily
  4. Accountability that improves future performance
  5. Build Cognitive Diversity so you make sound decisions and position people for success
  6. Create Psychological Confidence so people flag problems quickly and try new things
  7. How to Address Toxic Behavior so you walk the talk and retain your top talent.

Get the self-directed version here with lifetime access for $997, or hit reply to discuss if a live-led program is a good fit for you and your team.

Chris Kolenda: The FDIC scandal shows that you promote what you permit in your work environment

The FDIC scandal shows that you promote what you permit in your work environment

How consciously do you assess your culture? 

Sometimes, leaders assume that what they say leads to the implementation they want, but they don’t have a sound process for checking. This fire-and-forget method of conveying expectations can create significant gaps in what you believe is happening versus what’s actually happening.

Other leaders lack awareness of how others see them. In such cases, you tend to see your own actions in the best possible light, while your employees see them much differently. Over time, resentment builds as you give yourself a pass for violating your own standards. This seems to be the case at the FDIC.

A Wall Street Journal investigation described a culture of bullying, sexual harassment, and discrimination at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), alleging Chairman Martin Gruenburg modeled much of that toxic behavior.

An independent investigator corroborated the WSJ report, and the House Financial Services Committee directed Gruenburg to testify about the work environment. A Senate Committee is doing the same.

Gruenburg resigned but said he’d stay in place until a successor was named. People reportedly fear a successor won’t be named and the resignation was a head fake to reduce the negative attention. 

Here’s how you can avoid this situation.

Leaders often unintentionally promote or permit toxic behavior. Poor emotional trigger management leading to outbursts is not uncommon, and leaders often dismiss their behavior as isolated incidents while their employees perceive a damaging pattern.  

Poor self-awareness creates significant disconnects between how you see yourself and how your employees see you.

Inadequate accountability turns isolated incidents into behavioral habits, as leaders look the other way and rationalize lousy behavior (he’s a jerk, but he gets results). Bullying, harassment, gaslighting, and other tactics become normal, creating a toxic work environment like the one reported at the FDIC.

Two simple measures can help you avoid the FDIC’s situation.

First, you need periodic, candid assessments of how people perceive you and their workplace so you can avoid blindsides, uncover festering issues, and take action. I encourage leaders to use a simple, 10-14-question tool like this one, which I can customize for you. 

Having a trusted agent conduct focus group discussions and individual interviews based on the survey results will get you as close to the ground truth as possible.

Your next step, which too many leaders miss, is to give feedback on the feedback. Discuss the results and what people urge you to sustain and improve. Decide what you will tackle, track progress, and keep people informed. 

Do this every 90 days, and your credibility will soar because people see you taking action. Their suggestions will be more detailed in future surveys because they know you take their feedback seriously.

Second, define your behavioral standards using a tool I call the dance floor. You want clarity on what’s right and what’s out of bounds. Here’s an example of Respect.

Too often, leaders are content with platitudes that offer little concrete guidance. The dance floor is a visual image you can use to nip bad behavior in the bud. 

Joe, did you know that you interrupted Susan three times during the meeting? What message does that behavior convey? Are we on the same page about mutual respect? 

You don’t have to be like the FDIC and get blindsided by an employee revolt or external investigation. These two steps will close gaps in perception and boost your ability to inspire people to contribute their best to your organization’s success.

How are these steps working for you? Email me to let me know.


5 Actions that Build Respect

The truth about becoming a good leader: you don’t need to be loved or feared. You need people to respect you.

You can tell whether you have someone’s respect by how they act around you. Think of your employees, colleagues, or even your friends:


Do they hide the truth, slow-roll implementation of your decisions, whisper behind your back, say what you want to hear but do something


Or do they do the opposite: provide candid assessments, give you bad news immediately, give you their discretionary effort, and let you know when they disagree?

Leaders can struggle to gain respect. People will do what you say because you are their boss, but no one admires you for your position in the hierarchy, your paycheck, or the credentials on your wall. Without respect, you are not a leader. You are simply a person putting on a management exhibition.

Here are five ways to earn respect:

1. Follow the Socrates principle. Socrates gave everyone he was speaking with his full attention. You communicate that you value the other person and what they are saying. Multi-tasking conveys the opposite: you are less important than the TikTok notification that just popped on my phone. What you hoped was saving time creates miscommunication, failure work, and disengagement.

2. Observe the Platinum Rule. Treat people as they wish to be treated. Doing so means that you need to get to know them and their interests, concerns, and expectations. You don’t want to be the creep who tries to hug everybody because you like hugs.

3. Be the Exemplar. People learn best from example. Model the behaviors you expect from everyone on your team. When you don’t do that, people see you as a hypocrite. If the rule’s not important enough for you to follow, get rid of it.

4. Use common-sense consistency. People believe the standards and rules are arbitrary when you are not consistent. You cannot have rules that apply to some people and not others or that you enforce sometimes but ignore the rest. At the same time, people expect you to account for extenuating circumstances with sound judgment.

5. Be worthy of trust. You gain trust through competence, character, and reciprocity. If you are not competent, you won’t be able to do what you are supposed to do. Without character, people won’t believe that you will do what you say you will do. When you take, take, take while your employees suffer poor pay and conditions, people see you as a bully or thief rather than a leader they want to follow.

Higher workplace respect leads to lower anxiety and stress, less time wasted in dispute resolution, fewer misunderstandings, and smaller amounts of failure work. What would change if you cut in half the time you waste dealing with these problems?

Do you want to improve how your subordinate leaders earn respect? Schedule a call. https://callSLA.as.me/Chris


Working with Chris has helped me visualize and communicate more clearly, gain the buy-in that inspires greater performance, and put my subordinates in positions to succeed.
Andy Weins, CEO, Green Up Solutions

Want respect? Do this first

If you want people to respect you as a leader, give them your undivided attention.

Yes, you are busy and have a lot on the plate.

Get over it.

Take these five actions when you are communicating.

Listen to what they say. 

Not just the words, but the emotions and interests behind them.


Ask if you understood them correctly.

Look them in the eyes (not creepily or uncomfortably, though!).

See what their body language is telling you.

On a video call, make sure they have eye-level contact with you, too. 

Do not multi-task.

When you do, you are telling someone they are unimportant.

Take action.

Let people know with your deeds that you have heard them.

These five actions build the habit of giving people your full attention.

You earn respect by giving it, first.

Which of these five actions will you work on next?

6 Leadership habits that get immediate results

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal quoted a tech expert who predicted that technology would soon replace mid-level leaders. 

After all, he suggested, if technology can monitor employee productivity, what’s the point of middle management?

There are two matters to consider before you jump on the bandwagon.

First, your apps will have a hard time addressing one of the biggest productivity drains that companies face: presenteeism.

Presenteeism is the practice of being at work and doing things to look busy but are not boosting your mission and impact.

More importantly, productivity apps do not inspire people to contribute their best to your team’s success.

CEOs make a big mistake in believing that the role of mid-level leaders is to make sure people are doing their jobs. 

If that’s the case, then you’ve either hired the wrong people or failed to gain their buy-in.

The first line team leaders and mid-level managers make or break your culture, productivity, and performance.

This level is where people gain buy-in or not. 

This level is where people decide whether they will do only the minimum or contribute their best and most authentic selves to your mission.

Gallup reports that 67% of Americans report being unengaged at work — that’s 67% presenteeism.

Your top-quality first line and mid-level leaders turn that number around so that people are spending two-thirds of their time or more contributing their best selves.

You will inspire people to contribute their best, willingly, to your team’s success by practicing these six habits.

First, be authentic so that you lead as your best self, prune away average habits that hold you back, and build the right team around you. 

Second, follow the three core principles of trustworthinessrespect, and stewardship so that people believe in you, bring out the best in each other, and your team gets better each day.

Next, practice empathy so that you can see yourself and your team through the eyes of others and stay ahead of the competition, avoid blindsides, and bring out the best in each teammate.

Fourth, take responsibility so that you can promote innovation and sensible risk-taking and hold people accountable for results and values … without feeling like a jerk.

Fifth, connect the why so that everyone knows exactly how their work contributes to success. Once this happens, your team will do what’s right, the right way, without you having to watch.

Finally, multiply your experiences. Personal experience is the best teacher of leadership. It is also the school of hard knocks, and the tuition can be costly. Learning from others lets you gain many lifetimes of experience very quickly to make sound decisions and avoid expensive mistakes.