How well is your organization performing? I’ve worked with senior leaders of pharmaceutical companies, including manufacturing, medical affairs, clinical trials, sales, marketing, and more. When I ask those leaders this question, they respond confidently and promptly. They know their numbers. They’re quick to share efficiency, market share, sales to date, profitability, and more. Those leaders pay attention to results daily.
I then ask those same leaders “How well is your organization operating? In other words, is everyone―leaders, team members, customers, vendors, etc.―treated with trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction?”
I get blank stares and pauses. Senior leaders from every industry respond the same way. They don’t have their “fingers on the pulse” regarding the quality of their work culture like they do of their organization’s results.
The reality is that our organizations are not great places to hang out in. Gallup’s daily engagement dashboard indicates that only 35 percent of U.S. workers are actively engaged on the job. The global percentage is much worse―only 13 percent of global workers are actively engaged. TinyPulse’s 2014 engagement and culture report found that only 21 percent of workers feel strongly valued at work―meaning nearly 80 percent of workers do not feel strongly valued.
Another consideration is that people are not staying at uninspiring jobs any longer. The March 2017 U.S. Department of Labor statistics found that over 3 million people “voluntarily separated” from their jobs that month. Voluntary separation is a diplomatic term for people quitting!
During the global recession, people stayed with their jobs, even if they were dissatisfied. Now, there is much greater opportunity―so people are looking carefully at the quality of their work relationships, opportunity for growth, and more.
It’s becoming clearer by the day: leaders must create a culture where values―how people treat each other―are as important as results. The challenge is that leaders have never been asked to create and maintain a purposeful, positive, productive work culture.
Leaders are charged with delivering results. They are incented to deliver those results―and to muster their business units to deliver those results. Leaders are rewarded and recognized for delivering results.
The good news is that leaders are paying greater attention to workplace culture. According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report, “few factors contribute more to business success than culture.” Deloitte’s research indicates that 87 percent of business leaders believe that culture is important; 54 percent believe culture is very important―nine percentage points higher than their 2015 study.
Why don’t leaders make culture a priority? They don’t know how. They’ve not been asked to monitor the quality of their work culture. Deloitte’s study found that only 28 percent of respondents believe they understand their current culture well. Only 19 percent believe they have the “right” culture!
How can leaders create a purposeful, positive, productive work culture? How can leaders make values as important as results? By crafting an organizational constitution, then aligning all plans, decisions, and actions to it.
An organizational constitution specifies your company’s (or team’s) servant purpose―it’s “reason for being” besides making money or selling coffee or delivering whatever your product is. Your organizational constitution then formalizes your desired values and defines them with observable, tangible, measurable behaviors. It also includes performance expectations in the form of strategies and goals.
Defining your desired culture with an organizational constitution is, to be honest, the easy part. The hard part is aligning all plans, decisions, and actions to these new expectations. Leaders must live the new servant purpose and valued behaviors, every minute. Only then will their organizational constitution be considered credible by employees―and worthy of embracing it by those employees.
One client―a manufacturing plant―had completed an engagement survey along with another eight business units in their parent company’s portfolio. This plant earned the lowest employee engagement score of any of the company’s operations. They scored a 32 on a 100-point scale.
I helped the plant’s leadership team create their organizational constitution. They created a servant purpose. They formalized the values they wanted lived every day and specified the measurable behaviors required in each value. They included their strategic plans and goals.
Those leaders then went out and lived their servant purpose, values, and behaviors in every interaction. As employees were consistently treated with trust and respect, they, too, embraced the servant purpose, values, and behaviors.
Within 12 months, engagement grew by over 40 percent. In the same time period, customer service quality increased by over 40 percent―and results and profits grew by over 35 percent.
A purposeful, positive, productive work culture isn’t science fiction. It’s what happens today in world class organizations like WD-40 Company, Ritz Carlton, Starbucks, Assurance, Madwire, and others I’ve studied. It’s real―and it’s rather astounding.
I can prove it. When leaders align practices and behaviors to their desired organizational constitution, engagement goes up, service goes up, and results go up. By 35-40 percent over 18 months.
Those amazing transformations are within every leaders’ grasp. Don’t leave your culture to chance―be intentional with an organizational constitution.
About the Author:
Speaker, author, and executive consultant S. Chris Edmonds is the founder of The Purposeful Culture Group. He’s one of Inc. magazine’s 100 Great Leadership Speakers and was a featured presenter at SXSW 2015.
(Source: The Purposeful Culture Group)