Thursday, August 20, 2009

How to Get Employees to Commit to Your Company's Values

Emotional intelligence means there is value in being an “emotional” manager

Several weeks ago I had lunch with the Senior Vice President of Human Resources from a large Las Vegas Strip casino. She shared with me the concerns of the casino’s CEO who lamented that too many of the company’s managers had not internalized or actualized the company’s stated values.

The CEO said many managers seemed to understand the company values intellectually, but they don’t get them emotionally.

“How do you get people to internalize the company values?” the HR professional asked. This led to a deep, profound discussion about what companies can do to help their managers “get it.”

In our discussion we first explored the differences between intellectually understanding something and emotionally, or internally, understanding it.


Managers who intellectually understand a company’s values generally can grasp the actions or behaviors that ought to correspond to the stated company values. However, they tend to view these behaviors as a list of do’s and don'ts of appropriate or inappropriate behaviors. They judge their own and others’ actions as either right or wrong. Things are black or white. They are either in harmony with the values or they are contrary to the values.

Those who rely on an intellectual understanding of the stated values usually desire clarity in direction and expectations so they’ll know how to focus their actions. They want policies and procedures that tell people exactly what to do and how to act. They prefer consistent enforcement of rules to ensure everyone behaves appropriately.

Managers who intellectually live the company’s values get out on the shop floor or solicit employee input because they know they should — not because they want to. They know certain managerial behaviors will promote the desired employee performance, so they use these learned techniques as a means to an end. Many intellectual managers tenaciously read the latest management books looking for new techniques to motivate their employees. When intellectual managers attend training they want specific “how to’s.” They get frustrated with ethereal philosophical discussions about management principles. They particularly get turned off by suggestions that they manage from the heart, rather than the head.


Managers who emotionally understand the company’s values do so because they know those values are right. They feel the values deep within their soul. They believe in them. The values are a part of who they are; and they live them.

Values to the emotional manager are not “stated” values; they are real. They are meaningful because they are viewed as universal “truths,” rather than managerial techniques.

Emotional managers talk to their employees and respond to their ideas because they value the input. Employee involvement is an end, not a means. These managers show respect to employees because they actually respect them. This leads to a true bond and real rapport between the manager and the employees.

Managers who internally “get it” manage from the heart, not by the book; because the book by nature is too general and doesn’t trust the manager’s judgment.

Emotional managers are situational managers. They take into consideration extenuating conditions and circumstances. They judge by people, not by policies. Consistency is less important to an emotional manager than fairness.

Emotional managers only appear ambiguous to intellectual managers. Employees of value-based managers have no problem seeing consistency in the manager’s actions, since these managers seldom violate their values.

Emotional managers are not swayed by the latest management theories. They stick to the core practices of open communication, working shoulder to shoulder with their employees, and promoting a positive work environment. They show genuine concern for their employees. And employees can tell it comes from the manger’s heart.


It’s not difficult to discern the intellectual manager from the emotional manager. You can feel the difference.

Intellectual managers seem distant and detached from their employees. Although they may do the right things, one can sense that the actions are planned or programmed, rather than felt. When challenged or stressed by business pressures, intellectual managers tend to become irritable or angry. When faced with declining profits or failing performance, they emotionally distance themselves from their employees. Their anger causes them to blame the employees for the failure and often leads them to use scare tactics or intimidation to try to turn the situation around. When the world is dark, they think adding more darkness will brighten up the room.

Emotional managers realize even a flicker of light, no matter how small, offers hope. They instinctively know positive results cannot be achieved by negative means. They focus on the good, discerning that one beam can light other beams until the whole room is transformed from darkness into light.

Emotional managers move toward their employees in troubled times. They trust the collective intelligence of the workers rather than bearing the burden alone. Instead of blaming the employees for problems, they enlist the employees in finding a solution.

One can sense the genuine concern, and even love, of an emotional manager. They manage with care and compassion. They feel close to their employees and have a “spirit” about them that draws employees toward them. Those who serve under or work with emotional managers can feel the dedication and commitment of the manager; and they, likewise, dedicate and commit themselves in return.

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