If you want to increase your organization’s success, I believe there are a handful of areas you can work on right away that won’t cost you a single penny but will bring a huge ROI.
A few years ago, Harvard Business School professor Nitin Nohria, along with William Joyce and Bruce Roberson, studied 160 companies to look for standard management practices that succeed. Here is what they discovered:
“Without exception, companies that outperformed their industry peers excelled at what we call the four primary management practices—strategy, execution, culture, and structure. And they supplemented their great skill in those areas with a mastery of any two out of four secondary management practices—talent, innovation, leadership, and mergers and partnerships.”
Though I had not read their research yet, the formula I created to teach people about business success is very similar; talent, culture, extreme customer focus, and disciplined execution. When I combine the two theories, it seems there are three areas you can work on to impact your company’s efficiency and productivity positively.
The first is to create strong alignment across your entire organization around what everyone needs to do to make the business more successful. Furthermore, one of the biggest killers of organizational effectiveness is the lack of a vivid, compelling, and well-communicated vision and strategy for growth. When people do not understand the priorities, they cannot make good, quick decisions about focusing their time and energy.
Two of my favorite business axioms get to the heart of this issue.
The second area is to improve the culture of your business continuously. One of the most significant opportunities for increasing productivity, efficiency, revenues, and profitability is creating and sustaining a winning culture of highly engaged employees. Many people think that culture is a “touchy-feely” topic, but nothing could be further from the truth. A research study by the Dale Carnegie Institute shows that 71% of American workers are not engaged. However, organizations with a highly engaged workforce delivered as much as a 202% increase in profitability over organizations that did not have a strong positive culture. According to the same study, the three key drivers of employee engagement are relationship with direct manager, belief in senior leadership, and pride in working for the company. Based on this, here are four tips they outlined for increasing employee engagement.
- Senior leadership must articulate a clear vision to all employees.
- Employees should be encouraged to communicate openly and influence the company’s vision through their input.
- A direct manager should foster healthy relationships with their employees.
- Managers should show employees that they are valued as true contributors, giving them a sense of empowerment.
A few of the other things employees look for in a winning culture include:
- Fair treatment for employees.
- Having the freedom to do their job without micromanagement.
- Working with people they like.
- Having fun at work.
- Receiving genuine and sincere praise.
Interestingly, I call these problems “atmosphere issues,” they require no additional funding. But the leadership team’s attitude and performance are the driving force.
The last and most important element for improving the success of your business is leadership. Recently I have seen several examples of entire companies failing because of the poor performance of just a few leaders. Everything about efficiency and productivity is driven directly by the example set from the organization’s senior leaders.
- What do they focus on?
- How do they set priorities?
- Where do they invest resources?
- Do they tolerate inefficiency, lack of productivity, and mediocrity?
- Do they personally exhibit high levels of accountability and disciplined execution?
Therefore, if the people at the top of the business are not operating at a high level, it is unreasonable to believe that the rest of the organization would be.
First, to help your company be more successful, you must set a clear vision and strategy. Then, communicate the vision across the entire organization to build and foster a winning culture. Finally, create a leadership team that sets a living example of business excellence.