August 2017 Motivate

Company Culture That Breeds Success


Written By: John Spence, International Speaker and Business Consultant

If you want to increase the productivity and efficiency of your organization, I believe there are a handful of areas you can work on right away that won’t cost you a single penny but will bring a huge ROI.
A few years ago, Harvard Business School professor Nitin Nohria, along with William Joyce and Bruce Roberson, studied 160 companies to look for common management practices that succeed.

Here is what they discovered:

“Without exception, companies that outperformed their industry peers excelled at what we call the four primary management practices—strategy, execution, culture, and structure. And they supplemented their great skill in those areas with a mastery of any two out of four secondary management practices—talent, innovation, leadership, and mergers and partnerships.”

Though I had not read their research, the formula I created to teach people about business success is very similar: talent, culture, extreme customer focus and disciplined execution. When I combine the two theories, it seems to me there are three areas you can work on right away to improve efficiency and productivity in your company.

The first is to create strong alignment across your entire organization around what everyone needs to do to make the business more successful. One of the biggest killers of organizational effectiveness is the lack of a vivid, compelling, and well-communicated vision and strategy for growth. When people do not understand what the priorities are, it is impossible for them to make good, quick decisions about where to focus their time and energy.

Two of my favorite business axioms get to the heart of this issue:
—When values are clear, decisions are easy.
— Ambiguity breeds mediocrity.

The second area is to improve the culture of your business continuously. One of the biggest opportunities for increasing productivity, efficiency, revenues, and profitability is in creating and sustaining a winning culture of highly engaged employees. Lots of people think that culture is a “touchy-feely” topic, but nothing could be further from the truth. A 2016 research study by the Dale Carnegie Institute showed that 71 percent of American workers are not engaged, however, organizations with a highly engaged workforce delivered as much as a 202 percent increase in profitability over organizations that did not have a strong positive culture.

According to the same study, the three key drivers of employee engagement are: relationship with direct manager, belief in senior leadership and pride in working for the company.

Based on this, here are five tips they outlined for increasing employee engagement:
• Senior leadership must articulate a clear vision to all employees
• Employees should be encouraged to communicate openly and influence the company’s vision through their input
• Direct manager should foster healthy relationships with employees
• Senior leadership should continuously demonstrate that employees have an impact on their work environment
• Managers should show employees that they are valued as true contributors, giving them a sense of empowerment

A few of the other things employees look for in a winning culture include: being treated fairly, having the freedom to do their jobs without micromanagement, working with people they like, having fun at work and receiving genuine and sincere praise. Interestingly, these are all what I call “atmosphere issues” because they require no additional funding, instead, they are driven by the attitude and performance of the leadership team.

Which brings me to the last and most important element for improving the success of your business: leadership. Recently, I have seen several examples of entire companies failing because of the poor performance of just a few leaders. Everything about efficiency and productivity is driven directly by the example set from the senior leaders of the organization. What do they focus on? How do they set priorities? Where do they invest resources? Do they tolerate inefficiency, lack of productivity and mediocrity? Do they personally exhibit high levels of accountability and disciplined execution? If the people at the top of the business are not operating at a high level, it is foolish to believe that the rest of the organization could be.

In summary, to help your company be more productive and efficient, you must set a clear vision and strategy, communicate it across the entire organization, build and foster a winning culture and create a leadership team that sets a living example of business excellence.

“Without exception, companies that outperformed their industry peers excelled at what we call the four primary management practices—strategy, execution, culture, and structure. And they supplemented their great skill in those areas with a mastery of any two out of four secondary management practices—talent, innovation, leadership, and mergers and partnerships.”

JOHN SPENCE has been recognized as one of the top 100 business thought leaders and as one of the top 500 leadership development experts in the world. He is an international keynote speaker and management consultant and has written five books on business and life success. www.johnspence.com

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