Over the past fourteen years much of my consulting work has fallen into the organizational design (OD) category. Helping organizations ensure that their processes, job positions, policies and procedures, are aligned to their goals, objectives and overall mission.
What’s enjoyable about OD projects is the opportunity to challenge conventional wisdom and identity blind spots. What’s not enjoyable are those occasions when you discover that all those fancy speeches and slogans (talk) about how important employees are, is not supported by action (walk).
This, as I’ve written on many occasions in the past, is how cynicism creeps into the workplace. This is a slippery slope because a company’s culture is as important as its product.
There’s a deep disconnect between what many organizations say they stand for and what they actually do. These disconnects take a toll on employee engagement and on their productivity.
A review of more than 150 leadership studies found that integrity is the value employees care most about in their leaders. Honesty is second and humility is third. The other qualities employees most value included care and appreciation, respect for others, fairness, listening responsively, and reflectiveness.
Employees are more likely to be loyal to leaders they believe have high integrity, for example, than those that do not. The most ineffective leaders are egocentric, selfish, and self-absorbed. True leaders step beyond their own needs to better serve the needs of those they lead.
If you’re serious about unlocking your organization’s true potential, then you must unleash your people behind your brand. Employees are the ones responsible for driving higher organizational performance, productivity and sustainable profitable growth, not some elegant words on a piece paper under the heading mission, vision or marketing strategy. When employees feel devalued, they become unfocused, and when you’re not focused, you can’t win.
Organizations often find their strategies and initiatives disconnected from daily operational goals, leaving employees confused about individual priorities. Alignment drives performance and communication keeps the wheels of progress greased. Alignment starts with strategic fit between resources and opportunities.
Performance management efforts will benefit your organization if metrics and reporting align to organization goals. Job performance goals need to be clearly defined, communicated and measured. Employees will trust data and understand how their daily actions affect the goals of the organization. This is how you create shared employee responsibility.
Before you ask, “How can we get more out of our people?” ask, “What have we put into our people?” Here are four serious questions to think deeply about. I’d recommend you forward these questions to the leaders within your organization and have a discussion about them at your next staff meeting. These questions apply to all employees within your company, not just store-level employees:
ü Do our employees come to their jobs with a sense of pride and purpose?
ü Have we created a culture where employees can thrive?
ü Have we given our employees a compelling reason beyond a paycheck to come to work every day?
ü What does our organization need to do, or stop doing, to become a more inspiring place in which to work?
If you’re serious about optimizing employee-organizational performance, then you must create a compelling purpose for your organization. Selling Twinkies is not compelling! It may be important, but certainly not compelling.
People are more interested by a compelling purpose than by a leader’s personal charisma. When you deeply believe in something and feel passionate about it, you bring far more energy to it.
An organization that invests (walk vs. talk) in its people across all dimensions of their lives and rallies them around an inspiring purpose, is actually investing in itself!