Is your team motivated, engaged in their work and moving toward a common goal?
Most businesses don’t leverage the power of teamwork and cross-departmental synergy. Words like culture and leadership make the “managers” cringe from the thought of losing control. But today’s most successful organizations have relinquished control in favor of employee empowerment. Hmmm…
A culture evolves either organically, or by design. The organic approach rarely bodes well. Without a clear mission, vision and strategy – people get lost and land in the wrong seats. Day-to-day activities soon become continuous tugs of war. Exhaustion ultimately drives the “team” into complete stagnation.
Improvement efforts must begin here for any chance of sustainable positive results of any kind! The good news is – there are plenty of common warning signs to help determine if the culture at your organization is working for you, or actually working against you.
If you’re honest enough to admit that any of these strike a chord with you, then you’re well on your way to transforming your organization! But the journey has begun in some muddy waters to navigate. It’s worth noting that these problems often stem from the top down and are fixed from the bottom-up!
Establishing a baseline with an honest assessment of where your organization stands now is the best starting place. Most businesses are going to fall into one of these categories. Transformation to number 5 should be your target.
So you’ve identified our target model as “Leadership-Enriched”. Let’s dive a little deeper into the main characteristics of these top-performing organizations.
When trying to create some positive change in an organization which is not leadership-enriched, the critics and “Defenders Of The Status Quo” begin to surface. Great leaders recognize that resistance is not something to overcome, but to uncover. Resistance is simply a symptom of an unhealthy culture. Don’t be surprised to see one of these guys/gals crop up along your path to positive improvement.
Armed with this information, the real work can begin. You know where you’re at, what you’re striving toward, and the common negative reactions to expect along the way. Roll up your sleeves. It’s time to rally the troops, ladies and gents!
This work is not for the faint of heart. Creating a culture of teamwork, leadership, continuous improvement and talent development never happens overnight. It requires commitment to see it through to fruition. But it’s also a hallmark of successful organizations worldwide, and truly the secret sauce that can accelerate your organization’s objectives in exponential ways.
Interestingly, the focus is less organization-based than it is people-based. To improve organizational culture, yes, you must focus on clearly articulating the organization’s mission, vision, values, and messaging. But the real work is aligning all of this with the employee’s perceptions of these components with their own unique and personal motives, objectives and values.
NOTE – Without everyone in your organization being part of the improvement process, no sustainable positive change can happen. EVER.
This is certainly not intended to be a complete step-by-step guide as it is a general starting point and overview of the process.
1. CULTURAL AUDIT – An assessment of the behaviors, values, messages, and processes. Are these perceived or real? Why? What needs to happen to create clarity, trust and alignment? What internal “cliques” can be uncovered? This is no easy task. Anonymous feedback exercises can be helpful here.
2. ESTABLISH METRICS & BENCHMARKS – As with all improvement projects, you need to establish metrics and benchmarks to track your progress. There are a lot of useful culture metrics you can track with an assessment survey such as communication, agility, collaboration, support, etc. etc. You must continue to monitor these metrics and elicit feedback for improvement on a regularly scheduled basis. I recommend quarterly. The DMAIC methodology can work well here.
3. ORGANIZATION DESIGN – Get the right people in the right positions. Initial basic documentation of roles & responsibilities should be done. Clearly define success in each position. Allow your team to help establish clear roles and responsibilities to create some ownership in the improvement process.
4. ORGANIZATION DEVELOPMENT – Facilitate positive change by aligning your strategy, people and finally the systems to improve overall effectiveness and performance. Not everyone always makes the cut here. You might need to make some tough personnel decisions to ensure you’re truly raising the bar!
5. LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT – Leadership development should start to happen organically. With the team starting to see victories, trust and confidence is piggy-backing on that success to create a culture where everyone wants to improve. With this culture established, you’ll be able to implement actual leadership development programs and raise the bar higher.
6. BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION – This is your goal, not a step. If you’ve completed a thorough organization improvement process, you’ve not only transformed your business, you’ve set the table for continual positive improvement!
Leveraging the power of people and true teamwork is not only the fastest way to accelerate your objectives, it is the only way of creating true sustainable positive change.
Here are some of the highest impact benefits to expect after you have transformed into a truly leadership-enriched organization:
This is the most important part of transforming into a truly scalable and sustainable organization. I’d encourage you to take a hard look at your small business to determine if the culture is working for you, or working against you. I hope this post helps you determine that.