About that title? We’ll get to Bruno in a minute.

The foundational principle of our book, Good Comes First, is that today’s leaders must make RESPECT as important as RESULTS, every day.

My colleague and co-author, Mark Babbitt, and I were keynoting a conference. In our presentation, we share this fundamental model from the book: the Performance-Values Matrix.

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Once you formalize performance expectations AND values expectations, players categorize themselves into one of four quadrants.

The upper right is where you want all players to operate. You want them to exceed performance expectations while demonstrating your positive values. You must recognize and retain folks in that quadrant.

The bottom left is not a good place for people to operate. They’re missing performance standards and don’t model your values. You must give them a chance to align to both. If they do, great. If they don’t, they can’t stay in your organization. You must lovingly set them free.

The bottom right is a slightly better place for people to be. These folks are role models of your positive values – but they’re unable to consistently deliver required results. You must guide them to contribution – through training, coaching, or even finding a role where their skills match needed results. If they boost contribution, great. If they don’t, they can’t stay in your organization. You must lovingly set them free.

The upper left brings interesting challenges. Folks in this quadrant deliver the results you want – but they do so while treating others disrespectfully.

This brings us back to Bruno. In our keynote, we asked learning partners to discuss the impact of players operating in any quadrant except the upper right. A few minutes into the pairs’ conversations, a loud voice said, “Nobody talks about Bruno.”

We asked what this woman meant. She described a top salesperson in their company who always beats sales targets – and always bullies those around him. For years staff have complained about Bruno’s treatment of others – sexist and racist comments, yelling if he doesn’t get his way, etc. Yet, senior leaders don’t do anything. They don’t want to lose the profits this guy generates.

So, nobody talks to Bruno – and nobody talks about Bruno.

An uncompromising work culture is built and sustained by positive behaviors modeled and rewarded. An uncompromising culture is destroyed by the demeaning, discounting, and dismissive behaviors tolerated – of anyone, by anyone.

For players who operate in the upper left quadrant, you must mentor them to alignment, to deliver needed results while treating others respectfully. If they do, great. If not, you must lovingly set them free.

Only then will you sustain a purposeful, positive, productive work culture, every day.

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers: Good Comes First (2021) and The Culture Engine (2014).
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