One would assume that highly profitable companies have healthy work environments; this is true for some of the professional organizations that grace the pages of Forbes and the Wall Street Journal. However, they just as likely might not.

In my line of work, I look beyond marketing hype, the cultural values espoused on walls, and flyers over the water cooler. If I simply pay attention to the people within an organization, for even just a short period of time, I’ll feel their pulse. The importance of this information is that I can then use it to evaluate how a company can operate more productively. If there are places within the organization that could use some fine-tuning, I can bring awareness to them. I am not looking to catch companies doing something wrong; rather, I am on mission to assess, solve, and ultimately prevent the root-level personnel issues that fuel broader, systemic problems that most organizational leaders deal with today. When one evaluates the price tag for new-hires who don’t last, the cost of “toxic teams,” or the high level of burnout risk for those carrying too heavy a load in a season of layoffs, it’s easy to see how these issues impact the bottom line on any P&L. Not only can people-issues affect the bottom line of an organization, but they can ultimately affect the wellness of the individuals working within that place of business. We spend so much of our lives at work; what we are surrounded by there will surely impact many other parts of our lives as well.

Just the other day I was in the offices of a business organization projected to do $180 million in sales this year. I had been hired to connect with teams being assembled in order to get them working smarter from the start of their pairing. Using an instrument called the Core Values Index (CVI), I am able to help people identify the most effective ways to honor and enjoy the work they do together. This is one of the best things a company can do for their people…invest in their ability to trust each other. With the help of the CVI (the most reliable human capital instrument I know of), people learn the ways others are wired to give and receive communication, how they learn differently, where they are wired to contribute to the organization, and where most of their conflicts will likely originate from. With this wisdom, I then ask my clients to make every effort to practically honor what they have learned about the other people in their group. The tool also levels the organizational chart, as I ask those at every level to commit to this highly practical and transformational pursuit. Because the ask is tied to the way they know themselves to be, and what feels right (their hard-wired core values), they buy in almost every time.   

Sitting across a conference table from Jim and Lacy, I was thrilled to listen to them talk about how their engagement with the CVI was going to practically impact the way they would work together going forward. Jim told Lacy that he would do his best to expand his direct, to-the-point communication to include a different communication style, more aligned with Lacy’s. He would practice patience when she required more details (as well as time) before expecting her to communicate them to him. The CVI gave him insight into the reason why he could expect her to need more details, and why she would inevitably want to communicate them in a more methodical and detailed manner. For her, these tendencies were tied to her hard-wired nature, her core values that prioritize information, facts and logical sequences.  For Lacy, this value will never change. She wants people to understand the facts and that means it might take a little more time to share and explain them. If Jim did not have this reliable intel, he might easily be tempted to minimize or ignore the details Lacy would want to share. He could shut her down and not even realize that in doing so, he could be shooting himself in the foot, missing critical details that will help him get the action and results he is so focused on.

In hearing Jim share this, Lacy’s trust expanded, motivating her to see that his “to-the-point” communication style didn’t make him a jerk. Instead, it is implicitly tied to his own hard-wiring and his core values focused on action and results. Jim prefers to share (and hear) only what is critical or necessary for him to get moving or to cross a finish-line. Learning this allows Lacy to avoid taking Jim’s short, direct messages personally. Instead, she can now see them for what they are: the fastest ways to action and results. She committed to him that whenever possible, she would strive to condense her highly detailed communications into fewer bullet-points. Jim gave her a high-five!

I will check back with Jim and Lacy in three weeks to see how they’re doing with this new way of approaching tasks together as a team. When we turn toward others with intelligent tools that allow us to honor others for who they actually are, trust is built. With trust gained, people find they want to link arms at work, give their best, and stick around. Making an investment that helps people trust one another at work, and ultimately creates a more productive and honoring work environment, is an investment that pays off every time.

Written by Jeff Mattson, MA ORGL and Co-Founder/Owner of Living Wholehearted, LLC