Productivity is not just about delivering services and goods at the lowest possible cost. Productivity in today’s competitive marketplace involves giving sincere attention to quality and factors in the unique needs of your customers and your team. Leading the charge and unifying the company’s moving parts is its company culture.
A growing new business doesn’t always take the time to explore company culture or to drill down to what theirs might be, but it’s never too early to start shaping your culture for success. In most cases, you just need to be more intentional about building on the strengths of your existing culture. If you do, you’ll most likely see higher productivity than other competing companies that neglect this aspect.
Culture plays a huge part in achieving high levels of productivity because it’s what lays out the behavior patterns and standards that hold your team together. It tells people what is considered right and wrong where the company’s concerned, and how its workforce should think and feel about things happening in the work environment.
Owner and senior leader attitudes largely shape the company’s culture. For example, if leaders believe that employees care about producing quality work and that they back the company’s mission, they’ll probably invest more in workforce development, give employees the autonomy they need to work efficiently and give them the benefit of the doubt when mistakes are made. If leaders believe employees are lazy or don’t care about their work, they’re more likely to use authoritarian management styles. They’ll enact rules upon rules to prevent employees from underperforming, which sets a very low bar that employees might meet but will never exceed.
Pay mind, it’s also easy for employees to detect a contrived attempt at “good culture.” But ultimately actions always point back to the Leader’s true beliefs. If your company declares that quality is its highest priority, but you’re continually reducing production costs through cheaper alternatives, your company’s belief in maximized profit clearly takes the front seat.
Disparities like these end up generating a culture of “deceit and distrust” or at the very least one of “low expectations.” The better alternative is to be proactive and intentionally building an authentic culture that drives your company’s success and ensures productivity levels remain high.
Five Key Focus Areas for Success-Driven Culture
Goal Setting and Planning Process
Make sure to involve your workforce in the goal setting and planning processes. Employees should feel like their ideas matter and that their input was taken into account. Nothing turns an employee off like receiving a long list of goals and instructions from managers in left field. When employees contribute, you’re likely to collectively come up with more accurate goals and plans that everyone understands and buys into. So you’re much more likely to achieve them!
The communication structure in a company is really about making decisions, not about organizational charts. When there are many different avenues that people on all levels can give and receive feedback, people can make quick, reliable and effective decisions. Make sure your communication structure supports open communication between people of varying ranks, departments, and teams. Encourage an environment for debate and discussion. Employees should understand their perspective matters and they should be provided mechanisms to give feedback with no fear of recourse. More effective decision making means more progress can be made with fewer mistakes and misunderstandings. You can be sure you maximize the use of time which is perhaps the only resource that is equally dispensed to your competitors.
Both the unifying goal of the organization and the cohesive managerial priority should include an absolute commitment to producing the highest level of value for your customers. This involves challenging employees to bring their very best to work each day and encouraging them to think innovatively.
Success- driven management styles also focus on vitality. A big killer of businesses is their inability to adapt to changing market conditions. It will serve leadership well if their culture creates an environment that expects change or better, trains employees to scan the changing landscapes for new opportunities to offer value. Managers need to make it ok for employees to take bold risks, try a new approach, grow from mistakes and share openly the lessons learned. Ray Dalio calls it “failing forward fast”.
Compensation is a discussion brought up a lot by our consulting clients. It is a key piece to any success-driven culture. There are many variations of compensation plans that can fall into a success-driven model and they all include these qualities. Employees are paid competitively in accordance with the payment standard for similar roles in the area. And the pay is related to long and short-term performance. The best compensation systems reward high achievers fairly and in correlation to their performance.
If employees are constantly showered with ever-increasing reward unattached to performance, they’ll start to expect this for simply walking in the door. But if rewards seem unattainable, employees will put little care into their work and may retaliate by doing just enough to get by. Don’t miss the opportunity to motivate your employees through well thought out compensation plans.
Human Resource Development
You’re never too small or new to use smart HR practices. Your company’s policies on things like workplace conflict, how to treat older workers or people with obsolete roles can influence employee morale and how they view the integrity of their leaders. Make sure your company has honorable systems in place for addressing these and other difficult issues. In addition, make sure you’re creating opportunities for employees to reach their maximum potential.
Overwhelming research points to higher returns when you invest in employee development. If employees understand that their company culture includes a strong belief in advancement and personal development, this wards off feelings of stagnation that can lead to underperformance. You’ll notice an uptick in productive behavior when your employees’ output is carrying them toward more opportunity.
So, in summation, it’s true, productivity is greatly influenced by the company culture, but not just any feel good, easy-going, harmonious culture complete with “take your dog to work day.” If you spend the time and energy to instill a success-driven culture focused on delivering the highest quality to customers, you’ll see the highest impact on your productivity and your bottom line.