Recently, WorkplaceDynamics released their annual survey of over 20,000 employees from almost 100 workplaces in Central Indiana to determine what is critical to dynamics in the workplace – 2012 TopWorkplaces. (I’m proud to congratulate a long-time client of ADVISA, and myself, Schmidt Associates, for being noted a TopWorkplace this year!) Tracking performance of participating companies over the last 5 years, they’ve found a trend.
There are 3 traits driving company performance:
- People are in on the organization’s direction and its values
- Employees are executing well
- People feel connected to the company
Among those surveyed, organizations with the above are outperforming last year’s market by 12%. “The latest thinking is that organizational health is the competitive advantage“, says WorkplaceDynamics CEO, Doug Claffey.
If this is the competitive advantage, as I also am confident it is, how does an organization achieve it? How do these organizations go about ensuring everyone is in on the direction; work is well executed; and people are connected?
The answer is a simple one: Organizational health is a priority. These companies realize that their people get the job done. How they perform determines their profitability. “Healthy” companies don’t take this for granted and view their people as an investment, not an expense.
To conduct a quick “health check-up” on your own organization, answer these two questions:
- Does your organization have a “direction” or strategic plan for employees to connect to? A strategic plan provides the big picture focus that permits employees to understand how their contribution impacts the company. Without this, employees can feel disconnected and adopt a “Who cares?” attitude.
- Are your organization’s values communicated clearly in both word and actions? To do so can provide your employees the confidence to delegate more often. When faced with a challenge, they know what matters in your organization – what the company will and won’t do. A strong base of confident employees can lead to more individuals stepping up with new ideas and innovation. It also builds trust among team members. Performance and execution improve. And, so does profitability!
How do I know? This is what we do at ADVISA. We help our clients achieve organizational health by creating an organizational plan and communicating that vision; improving employee productivity and engagement; and increasing sales and performance. Getting measurable results is what we do. Being a TopWorkplace doesn’t just sound good. It’s profitable too.
You are growing! The company is getting bigger, and business has been booming! What could be better? There isn’t a cloud in the sky and life is nothing but rainbows and butterflies. Okay, maybe that isn’t completely true. But, there are worse problems to have than a company that is growing a little too fast or being a little too busy, that’s for sure. Yet, like anything, exponential growth does come with its own unique set of challenges.
The solution, of course, isn’t to slow the demand for what you’re supplying. Instead, I ask you to take a look at what I’ve seen in my work at ADVISA to be the top issues a growing company faces and see if they apply to yours. You may have thought there was nothing to be done about it – simple growing pains. Or perhaps you haven’t slowed down long enough to give it any thought. Because of the reputation you’ve taken great care to build; the talent you’ve cultivated and courted; and all the vacations you don’t take anymore, I’d say it’s worth your time.
- Stop, Drop & Roll! – Everyone always runs around with their hair on fire. This is standard practice. Because the focus is always firefighting, there isn’t an opportunity to try out new ideas; handle what’s important, but not urgent; and look at the long-term direction of ….anything. Despite all the hours everyone is putting in, there’s a drop in effectiveness, efficiency and productivity. Solution: Leadership takes the time to pause. You have to get a handle on your long-term vision; if you have who and what you need to reach that destination; and what your obstacles are. Creating a strategic plan is a must.
- Who are you and what do you do here? – No one is clear on anyone’s role anymore. There is a lack of coordination between roles and departments. People don’t know or trust each other so the concept is, “I’ll do it myself if I want it done right.” This leads to a decrease in collaboration and increase in insecurity about my job stability. I perceive that no one knows what I do or appreciates my work. The impact of my work on the whole isn’t visible to me. My loyalty becomes more to my team or department than the company as a whole. Solution: Create an organizational design structure with clearly defined roles that align with where the organization wants to go, and ensure that key leadership communicates on a regular basis.
- Why aren’t we making more money? – The place is buzzing 16 hours a day and profits begin to flatten or (gasp!) decline. Why? Being reactive, as opposed to proactive, becomes expensive. Turnover is a big one. People burn out and despite all the time working, employee productivity is down and the cost of employee recruiting goes up. A lack of follow up is another. Plans are made, but things just aren’t getting done. There are managers everywhere but the really good managers are harder to point out. Checking items off the task list gets confused with managing. Employee development programs, training for managers, and trying out new ideas became “back burner” concepts to all of the firefighting. Solution: Once you decide where you want to go, and align your organizational chart to getting there, assess your talent. What is the performance of management like now? What is their potential? Compare the cost of increasing management skills of front-line management to the cost of not doing so. Think of it like car maintenance – it’s never convenient. But, you spent way too much on the car itself to risk having to replace it because you’re too busy, or it costs too much, to get the oil changed.
When we consider business, growth is good. In fact, it is great! There are simply new responsibilities that can come along with running a successful business. Take a moment to hit pause. Talk to ADVISA about how to assess the situation and properly assess whether you, and your people, are in alignment with where you want the company to go. Are you doing what it takes to get there? Let’s talk about how to make sure that you can continue to maintain what you worked so hard to achieve.
Combining cutting-edge technology with emerging market trends in high-volume businesses with global reach requires a product development process that rivals the complexity of advanced aerospace.
Key requirements for success in this challenge were described by Kevin Lambrych, Global Wind Energy Program Manager for Ashland, Inc. Speaking at the February program for the Columbus AMA’s International SIG Kevin described processes combining:
- Focus on “Green” market trends
- Internal organizational structures and roles
- Market sensitivities involving customers and regulatory trends
- Geographic insights to gain market advantage
- Technology cooperation among businesses that also compete with each other
- Standard marketing procedures involving positioning and communication
- Supply chain initiatives to minimize costs
For Ashland’s markets described by Lambrych, advantage is partially gained by replacing petrochemical components of plastics with bio-based materials derived from renewable resources such as soybeans or corn. The science of such innovation is beyond me although Lambrych included some chemistry diagrams in his presentation – something he feels a need to do given his polymer engineering background.
Kevin’s challenge is defining and developing the market for such materials in the wind turbine business. While Ashland’s solution can cut costs with lower material costs and shorter production cycle times he still has to overcome strong risk aversion in an industry where a turbine blade needs to:
- Last for 20 years
- Avoid extreme costs of failure (imagine fractured blades flying at high speeds across the landscape)
- Avoid unforeseen installation failures
This last point was highlighted by a common problem with existing blades involving lightning strikes and explosive incidents involving water vapor that ruin blade tips.
Ashland attacks these challenges using a Design for Six Sigma process that provides the necessary level of control for such market driven challenges with extremely high product requirements that must still respond to the ever-present need for rapid, efficient and robust business results.
ADVISA can provide value in this type of challenge through application of team building skills based on personality assessments. Understanding the risk orientation and communication preferences of your team members can facilitate progress on complex challenges. Achieving organizational alignment with new product plans solidly embedded in a strategic planning framework is a specialty of our strategic planning process.
In our ADVISA blog posts you will get a boatload of valuable and practical information on maximizing the human potential in yourself and those around you. The foundation of ADVISA rests in Predictive Index® (P.I.®), where the motivating drives for human behavior are measured and illustrated for our clients and their employees. Therefore, while reading this and other posts you may find terminology like: High A, Low B, SciPro, etc. This vocabulary comes from Predictive Index® (P.I.®), and is readily available for leaders who are interested.
Now, the high A leader (without the benefit of Predictive Index), may find his/herself surrounded by those who follow his/her commands willingly and without protest. (S)he feels (s)he’s done a terrific job in hiring because of all the “synergy” developed with his/her management team. The problem is that this “synergy” may be an illusion. What the leader might have done is weed out all of the critics and independent voices within his/her ranks. Thereby eliminating checks and balances within their management ranks. (S)he may now be the shepherd of organizational sheep (I borrowed that line from Bob Wilson our CEO).
A key to leadership and management training is to know how to spot, develop, and retain the right employees and leaders within your organization. Creating true organizational alignment means bringing diverse perspectives to the table, even those which challenge your ideas. Take time today to consider your management succession planning, and how your own drives to have control, power, and freedom may be the very drives that send your best employees on to greener pastures.
David Hanna wrote:
“Every organization is perfectly designed to get the results that it gets.”
Think about that statement for a minute. Your organization is perfectly designed to get the results you are getting. Are the results you are getting what you want?
The organizational design structure needs to be a byproduct of your strategic planning framework. You cannot build an effective organization until you first understand what you want the organization to accomplish. If you have a solid long-term strategy for your organization then you can design the structure that provides the best opportunity to achieve your long-term goals. Many people view the organizational structure as being set in concrete. As your vision for the organization changes or your business changes in size you have to evaluate the structure itself. What successfully worked at one phase in the life of your organization could actually be an impediment in a new phase. I have seen many companies just continue to replicate existing boxes on an org chart without ever asking why and what they want the boxes to actually accomplish. A good organizational architect has experience in strategic planning, assessing personnel and designing organizations and can effectively tie them all together. When was the last time you validated your organizational design against the goals you have set for your business?