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Bring Your Organization to Life

posted Feb 12, 2016, 7:10 AM by Lisa Shelley   [ updated Feb 12, 2016, 7:56 AM ]
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman 
 
A vibrant and effective business culture creates a palpable energy that you can feel the moment you walk in the door. It’s more than employees who enjoy their work and it’s more than employees with a single-minded focus on execution. What you feel is a sense of purposeful activity, passion and commitment. You feel the dynamic resonance of a group of people with diverse talents and perspectives, joined by a common passion. You feel the energy of a group of people who have come alive.

There are many stellar examples of businesses that have managed to create this energy within their culture and have experienced tremendous success as a result. How do they do it?

Wegmans is supermarket chain based in the North East that consistently ranks highly on Fortune’s Best Places to Work For, coming in at 12th for 2014. The chain employs 42,000 people, is extremely profitable and experiences employee turnover consistently less than 6%. What makes Wegmans such a great place to work? They provide excellent benefits, above-average pay, allow employees flexible scheduling and provide a generous college scholarship program. They invest considerably in employee training, sending department managers to visit suppliers and learn about the products they sell. Their “Eat Well Live Well” programs help employees live healthy and active lifestyles and inspire them to share their way of life with customers. Their happy, knowledgeable and empowered workforce is clearly a significant factor in the cult-like loyalty of their customers.
It’s more than employees who enjoy their work and it’s more than employees with a single-minded focus on execution. What you feel is a sense of purposeful activity.
Hubspot is an in-bound marketing software provider that employs over 500 people in the Boston area. It has been lauded for several years as a best place to work by the Boston Business Journal and was recognized as a Best Medium-Sized Company to Work For in 2014 by Glassdoor.com. Key elements of the Hubspot culture include a “No Door Policy,” where CEO Brian Halligan and other top executives share the same office space as everyone else, a transparent communication policy, no vacation policy, and employee organized projects to improve the company. Employees are inspired by the Hubspot mission to create marketing that people love. All of these elements are immortalized and kept front and center with their “Culture Code.” Hubspot views their culture as a key strategic differentiator.

Finally, The Motley Fool
is an investment advice firm that thrives on being disassociated with the standard Wall Street bandwagon. Employing about 300 people, its mission is to help individual investors take control of their financial futures. In 2014 Glassdoor.com ranked it as the No. 1 Best Medium-Sized Company to Work For. Central to its culture are a lack of formal titles, no separate offices and no set vacation or sick days. They have a full-time wellness coach, on-site recreation activities and provide free healthy snacks. Employees write their own job descriptions and each choose their own personal “motley value” to add to the company values. Every employee that joins the company is given $1000.00 to invest along with advice from in-house experts. The Motley Fool excels in a conservative industry with an unconventional culture.

Far more instructive than any of the specific elements of these cultures, is to understand the beliefs or principles that are behind them.
Every employee that joins the company is given $1000.00 to invest along with advice from in-house experts. The Motley Fool excels in a conservative industry with an unconventional culture.

A Business is a System

Fundamental to each of these companies is the awareness that business is an interconnected system of stakeholders, the belief that the employee is central to the system, and the recognition of the importance of a motivational culture. They pride themselves on rejecting conventional wisdom regarding how to run their business.

Per Wegmans CEO, Danny Wegman, “Our employees are the number one reason our customers shop at Wegmans. I’m convinced there is only one path to great customer service, and that is through employees who feel they are cared about and empowered.”
Business is an interconnected system of stakeholders, the belief that the employee is central to the system, and the recognition of the importance of a motivational culture.

Trust and Respect the Individual while Fostering Community.

Employees that feel valued and respected as individuals will return that respect to their colleagues. Mutual respect is foundational to effectively building community and fostering collaboration. As Tom Gardner, CEO of the Motley Fool puts it, “To not trust your people means something is fundamentally wrong with the culture.”

Allowing employees to manage their work schedules and vacation time, openly sharing information and minimizing hierarchy are all actions that send the message that employees are valued and trusted.

Providing resources to help them manage other aspects of their life, such as wellness support, allows the employee to feel valued as a complete person, with outside interests and needs.
To not trust your people means something is fundamentally wrong with the culture.
Perks such as game rooms, free food, community service and social events provide the opportunity for employees to connect and build community. They also offer a change in context that can foster collaboration and innovation.
Empower Employees to Get Results

Employees are most productive when they are empowered to act and have the information and resources they need to achieve results. Empowered employees bring themselves fully to the task and provide the new ideas that foster innovation.

Brian Hooligan, CEO of Hubspot, describes their organization. “Part of creating this environment of innovation is making the organization decentralized and flat. We want to empower the edges of the organization, and we want to let the people who really understand our customers make decisions.”

Transparent communications, flat organizations, minimal bureaucracy and access to learning and development opportunities all help to create an empowering culture. 

Provide Meaning and Inspiration to Support Motivation


A human being’s highest potential is reached when they are intrinsically motivated. Each of these businesses recognizes the importance of providing meaning for their employees and they leverage their mission to inspire not only employees, but also partners and customers.

How can you help your organization come alive?

As you work to improve your own culture, don’t simply leverage what other successful companies have done. Rather, first understand and then internalize what they believe – the principles behind their culture. Ask yourself, “How can I bring these principles to life within my organization?”

You can always add a game room, but if you don’t really believe in or value the importance of creating community, that game room will be a lonely place.

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Author:  Lisa Shelley

Post originally published originally on:

http://switchandshift.com/why-an-executive-leadership-role-isnt-worth-the-sacrifice