In an environment of an ever changing workforce and (sometimes daily) changes in technology, the one thing that can and must remain constant in a successful organization is a healthy culture. Organizations are talking more about culture now than any time in the past. In recent years there has been rigorous debate on exactly how important culture is in an organization and what effect it actually has on performance, productivity, and the bottom line.
In his book, The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business, Patrick Lencioni addresses the importance of a healthy organizational culture: “The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health. Yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free, and available to anyone who wants it.” The well-known researcher and author in the field goes on to say, “Organizational health will one day surpass all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage.”
To be clear, organizational health focuses on the “people” side of organizations. Much like taking care of your personal health by maintaining the right diet and exercising regularly, organizational health focuses on taking care of what is most important to the success of your organization. The million dollar question to most leaders is, “What is the most important thing to our organization and how do we take care of it?” The key to organizational health and a competitive advantage is to lay a solid foundation for a strong and winning culture in your organization. Building this kind of culture focuses on what is most important - your people!
I have observed two negative mindsets in the organizations I have worked with. The first is the mindset that people are simply a means to an end. This mindset says, we hired you for a specific job. We simply want you to do that job, and in return, we will pay you. You are here to help make us profitable. That is all (no personal touch). The second negative mindset is that of leadership complacency. The danger with complacency is that the leader thinks things are going great, but doesn’t realize the employees are telling a different story and things are not as great as the leader chooses to believe.
These two mindsets, although different, can have the same damaging effect on the culture of an organization - specifically, low morale, low productivity, confusion, an environment of internal politics, and costly high turnover. Recognizing this reality and the willingness on the part of the leaders to realize they likely need to change some things about themselves can change the damaging effects to solid strengths for success. Those strengths then become high morale, high productivity, minimal confusion, an environment free of internal politics, and cost saving low turnover.
Laying the foundation for a winning culture requires a little bit of work on the part of the leaders. However, the benefits far outweigh the effort. Your people want to be listened to and they must be listened to if you expect to have a winning culture. Invest in them. Conduct an engagement survey with them to find out what they are really thinking about their job, the organization, and the leaders in the organization. Take them to coffee and ask them questions (without making excuses or offering solutions). Do something fun on the first Friday of each month. Reward them when you “catch” them going above and beyond. Make sure your employee handbook is not suffocating them. And last but maybe the most important, make sure they are getting compensated fairly (they DO talk about compensation even if you tell them not to!). These are just a few ways to begin laying the foundation for a winning culture in your organization. Start doing some of these things and watch your people (and your bottom line) flourish!