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StrategyDriven Corporate Cultures Article

What’s Your Organization’s Attitude?

StrategyDriven Corporate Cultures ArticleWhat’s your organization’s attitude? How is it impacting your culture? How is it impacting how you’re viewed externally? How is it impacting your results?

What are your employee’s attitudes about your company? What are their attitudes about your customers? How do they feel about the work they do?

Why is your organizational attitude important? Your attitude is everything.

We take it for granted that an individual’s attitude, to a large degree, drives their results. We’ve all known people who have the skills and experience necessary to do the job, but their disempowering attitudes and beliefs kill any chance for success. So why do we think it’s any different for an organization?

Your organization’s attitude drives how your company is perceived internally and externally. It drives how hard people are willing to work, how collaborative people will be and the level of ‘wow’ service you provide your customers.

The biggest driver of your organization’s attitude is your core values. Core values define your personality as an organization. They’re a small set (3 to 6) of nonnegotiable rules that you live by. Most organizations have core values that have evolved over time, without any attempt to proactively define them. Core values like ‘don’t admit to your mistakes’, ‘whoever screams the loudest wins’ or ‘me first, company second’ can become prevalent if you’re not careful.

Your key job as a leader is to create, communicate and hold your organization accountable to a set of core values that define what’s best, what’s right, what’s most noble about your culture. What are the characteristics you admire most in your employees? What do your clients value most? If you had to pick five members of your team that best exemplify what’s great about your culture, who would you pick? What behaviors or attitudes do they exhibit that made you pick them? These characteristics are the seeds your core values are created from.

To make sure your core values are not just a plaque on the wall, each core value should pass 3 tests:

  1. Are you committed to firing anyone who blatantly and repeatedly violates the core value? Regardless of an employee’s level of productivity, if they’re not living your core values, they are a cancer in your organization. If you’re not willing to fire them for violating a core value, it’s not really a core value. Remember, core values are non-negotiable.
  2. Are you willing to take a financial hit to uphold the core value? For example, let’s say one of your core values is ‘Respect, in everything we do’. Your largest client screams and curses at your customer service representatives and refuses to change their behavior. Do you fire the client and lose their significant revenue? If not, it’s not really a core value. Remember, core values are non-negotiable.
  3. Is this core value alive in your organization today? Can you tell recent stories about how employees have demonstrated the core value? If not, you may aspire to that core value, but it’s not a core value.

The right set of your core values should guide your key decisions, such as:

  • Hiring – Only hire people that have shown that they live your core values. You can help someone develop new skills, but it’s almost impossible to coach an employee to become someone they’re not.
  • Evaluating Employee Performance – Regardless of productivity, if someone is not living the core values, they’re a C-player and you should send them off to work for the competition.
  • Promoting – Promote people that exemplify your core values. Leaders that live your core values will set the example for others and drive a phenomenal culture.
  • Prospecting – When qualifying new customer/client prospects, evaluate whether their core values conflict with your own.

New products and business strategies come and go, but your culture is the foundation of your organization. What are you doing to create an incredible culture of passion, excellence and accountability? How will you impact your organization’s attitude today?


About the Author

Mike GoldmanMike Goldman is a nationally recognized speaker, consultant and author of the book Performance Breakthrough: The 4 Secrets of Passionate Organizations. He has over 25 years consulting and coaching companies from the local entrepreneur to the Fortune 500.

Throughout his career at Accenture and Deloitte Consulting, he helped companies like Verizon, Disney, Polo Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Kmart, Dillard’s, Liz Claiborne and Levi Strauss. In 2007, Mike founded Performance Breakthrough to help mid-sized companies achieve dramatic business growth. He does this by working with leadership teams to ensure they have the right people, strategies and execution habits for growth.