A business of the future will not be successful because of a fat the bottom line, behemoth size, community or political power. Instead, the business of the future will be successful because of the culture. Culture is defined as “the attitudes and behavior that are characteristic of a particular social group or organization.” (Source: www.wordnetweb.princeton.edu)
Often, organizations espouse that they deliver high quality products or services to their clients, engage in superior relations with their stakeholders and employees, and are always, always in touch with their environment and community needs. That being said, does every “attitude and behavior” support such an espousal?
Without a positive and powerful culture, even the best business strategy will certainly fail. As with any plan, knowing and implementing the best rules of engagement can certainly set the stage for success.
Here are 7 rules of engagement for a CULTURE of success
1. Communication. John Milton, author of the 17th century epic poem Paradise Lost, once wrote, “Good, the more communicated, the more abundant grows.” Organizations, misguided as they sometimes can be, still have intention of doing some good, adding some value, making a contribution. The rule of communication is to convey the strategy, philosophy and principles of the organization thus affording each individual the opportunity to buy in and participate at a much more significant level. Engaging communication includes at a minimum the following:
- A clearly defined vision
- Clearly defined values which are described in terms of attitudes and behaviors
When this information is shared, the culture can rally around a common cause.
2. Understanding – “Seek first to understand, then to be understood,” has been attributed to many sources from the Bible to Stephen Covey. This basic tenant is so obvious that it is often overlooked. From the boardroom to the basement, every level the team must fully understand two primary functions:
- The expectations of the organization
- Each individual’s role
There is no way success can be achieved if expectations are not fully understood. All too often, unclear roles encroach and invade. Full understanding cuts down on confusion.
3. Leadership – Former president of ITT corporation once wrote, “Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitudes and actions.” Leadership has tremendous power. It sets the tone and influences results. It has been reported that the two primary functions of leadership are to:
- Set the objectives
- Set the policy
Without objectives and policies, organizations for employees, stakeholders and even clients it is like setting people adrift in a boat with no destination, supplies or tools and expecting them to be resourceful enough to get there.
4. Teach – “We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover within themselves.” was one of the greatest messages that Galileo Galilei left as a legacy to the world. A teaching culture:
- conveys that the work environment is a reciprocal one of learning and teaching
- supports growth and experimentation
Teaching people to treat their jobs as a opportunity for discovery is a great motivator.
5. Unite – Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Uniting is all about team building. Ford certainly had his own methods for getting people to work together which quite honestly doesn’t work very well. Today’s team needs:
- to be treated as an asset, not a liability
- to be respected and appreciated for strengths and talents
Even the assembly line process becomes more effective when the person working on the line shares insights and ideas to enhance existing systems. The more a culture respects the team, the more the team operates in a synergistic, powerful manner.
6. Responsibility – “Responsibility finds a way. Irresponsibility makes excuses!” provided by Gene Bedley, – National Educator Of The Year. The surest way to success is to ensure a culture of accountability. In this culture, the expectations have been defined and two things always happen:
- positive attitudes, behaviors and goals are rewarded
- consequences are consistently conveyed and acted upon when attitudes and behaviors are negative and goals are not met
In a professional organization, the responsible employees are valued and valuable. The irresponsible or less than productive employee is held accountable, given support and direction as needed, and when still not meeting the organizational objectives and strategy are given the opportunity to part ways from the organization. This is perhaps one of the hardest rules to follow, but is absolutely the most imperative.
7. Engagement – ““Denied The Opportunity To Use Their Talent, Imagination And Creativity For The Benefit Of The System They Will Be Equally Ingenious Working Against It.” from the authors of Growing Your Own Heroes; The Commonsense Way to Improve Business Performance, John J. Oliver and Clive Memmott. Gallup published a study in 2005 that revealed astonishing results. The cost of disengagement as you can see is staggering.