Organizations we work with here at Powerful Life Consulting (PLC) are scattered around the globe, providing wide array of products and services, yet they face similar challenges – people challenges. In order to build strong organizational structure or company, you MUST focus on people. Focusing on product or processes will only work if you have your entire production fully automated and people don’t need to touch any part of it. But no matter what level of automation you have in your company, chances are that you still hire people to oversee the technology, therefore I suggest that you pay attention to what I am going to share with you today. Let’s look at the core foundation of building a strong business or organization.
1. Make culture matter
Every company is different. Some companies care about team relationships, while others about the customer experience. It’s crucial that everyone who comes to the interview understands your culture and can align with it. Those who are part of your team MUST know, understand and act according to the values and company culture. In spite of all the articles out there discussing the importance of culture, it still amazes me how little emphasis some companies give to creating and communicating their values. Be quick to call people out when they break or bend company values. Whether it’s constantly yelling at co-workers, being disengaged, or lack of cooperation with the rest of the team, hold people accountable and be quick to fire when things go South.
2. Make performance matter
Every company should have measurable standards they regularly check. What are the roles and responsibilities? What is expected from each individual on a team? What are the individual and team goals? What is considered a minimum requirement? What would exceptional performance look like? What is considered unacceptable? Without such standards you will leave it up to each individual to set their own requirements, which might be very different from what you want to see. Don’t leave it to chances for people to know what is expected of them. Communicate it and check it. As Louis V. Gerstner, former CEO & Chairman of IBM famously said, “People don’t do what you expect, but what you inspect.” Be intentional about individual, team and company performance and you will see the improvement. Or let it slide and you will regret it in a long run.
3. Make teams matter
I strongly believe in team work. In spite of me being a capable and driven individual, my best results were created in collaboration and partnership with others, never alone. When teams are healthy, work gets easier, results are multiplied and people are well supported. To build healthy teams, you need to recognize great team players, support team diversity and act quickly when there is drag or leak in values or performance. Teams are fluid. People change. As a leader you must keep your finger on a pulse of your team. Know what challenges they go through, understand when they need additional support or a break. Celebrate their victories. And be willing to take action when a specific team member drags the entire team down. Make teams in your organization matter.
4. Make communication matter
It’s hard to be a part of the team when communication is broken. When people don’t have access to the necessary information or channels to request it, it can be extremely frustrating. Set standards in this area. How quickly should the emails be answered? How quickly should the resources be provided? What is the standard you expect when it comes to customer relations? How are the meetings scheduled and who gets invited? What happens when people don’t show up or don’t provide the information necessary? Communication is fluid. Your focus should be on its continuous improvement. Have standards in place and communicate them well and resolve any challenges as quickly as possible. Small misunderstanding can turn into a major fight when left unresolved.
5. Make relationships matter
People are complicated. They make mistakes, disappoint, underdeliver, frustrate, even betray you. People are unpredictable. But so do you. Nobody is perfect, which makes relationships challenging. Yet, good relationships make things easier. People will go above and beyond for those they have good relationships with. When you make relationships focus point of your leadership, you will win this game. Know your people, get to understand their struggles, life situations, know what they care about and what motivates them. Great leaders don’t treat everybody the same. They treat people according to where they are and what their needs are. They build relationships with individuals and foster relationships on a team. On the other hand, leaders protect those relationships and act quickly when these relationships are threatened or start deteriorating. Cultivate a culture where people are free to be themselves and rewarded for supporting each other.
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