Can you really improve staff performance? What leads to superior performance, higher employee retention, and a better aligned organization?
Many business owners feel the place to start building their business is with systems, metrics or accountability. I’m not going to argue that these are important criteria, however if you follow the lead that Jim Collins provides in Good to Great the answer is “first who than what!” That is your people system. And a people system starts with your Core Ideologies which consists of Core Values and Core Purpose.
It’s a vastly ignored principle in most small businesses and frequently ignored in large and mid sized companies. To get as much as a 40% improvement in performance you have to reach your people at their heart and not just in their heads, or their pocket books for that matter. What makes someone work harder, more diligently or more determined? Your Core Ideologies – what your company stands for.
In a meeting with a prospect just this week he argued that he had never worked for a company that had gotten this right, and didn’t feel it held up based on his experience. Frankly, his answer confirmed the reality. The truth is few businesses get it right; just as few businesses make the leap from good to great.
When your people are aligned with your Core Values it brings simplicity and clarity to your organization. Imagine if all your people were aligned with your core values and beliefs? One question we ask when we invite our clients to write down the people they have in their organizational boxes is; would you enthusiastically re-hire the people you have?
Tough question, but most of us know where are weak spots are in our organization. Some people outgrow their positions, some people never were right, and others simply are putting in time. As Cavett Robert, a popular business speaker and author of The Principles of Human Engineering once stated, “I don’t want a man who has a job, a want a man whom a job has, who wants to rise up every morning and fight for what he believes in.” Many of us have employees who claim to have 10, 15 or 20 years experience, when really they have one years experience 20 times
So what are your values? What do you believe in? Do you feel if you really nailed these, posted them for everyone to read, see and live, no one would want to work for you? Are you afraid of putting your heart on the line to get what you want from who you want it? If my prospect was right this week, then if you do it and do it right you will be one of the few, and I can guarantee if you follow through and make it a integrated part of your business to live these values then your business will succeed, because your people will make damn sure of it because they are so committed.
Good to Great, and Built to Last offered proof business that create core values and live them building this into the DNA of their companies sustain long term growth. Old fashion? Perhaps it is. However Reed Hastings of Netflix doesn’t think so and offered the following as his Company Values: Judgment, Passion, Selflessness, Honesty, Courage, Communication, Curiosity, Impact, and Innovation.
That’s a pretty good list. We recommend you have six or less. Just as importantly as choosing core values, you must offer what they mean to your business and explain it in words your employees use and understand. Then drive them into your business by everyday management practices. Tell stories, reward employees who practice them. Make sure they have an impact in the daily lives of your employees and their performance will go up. It’s hard work, but it is rewarding work. Building a business and a life that is meaningful is always harder than sitting back and waiting or hoping things will happen. Want to improve your staff’s performance 40%. Get started on determining your values and putting a stake in the ground that they will mean something.