Experienced business leader and nationally-known speaker Jack Daly is scheduled to present a keynote session at CAI’s 2012 HR Management Conference on February 21, 2011 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh. His dynamic presentation focuses on workplace culture and the key components that employers need for designing environments that increase productivity and achieve business goals. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jack, and he shared great advice on the importance of maintaining a positive workplace culture with me.
There are two ways to look at culture, according to Jack. The first view has employers creating workplaces where employees want to work as oppose to have to work. The second develops an environment where workers do not just come to work with their minds and bodies, but they also bring their hearts.
“Because if we win over the hearts,” Jack said, “they will do things well beyond what we could ever direct them to do or command them to do.”
Finding elements that go after people’s hearts is key to establishing a positive workplace culture. To ensure that your culture is durable, Jack said four factors must be included: recognition systems, communications systems, personal and professional development systems and empowerment processes. A company that recognizes the efforts of its employees, communicates to them effectively and challenges them to make important decisions is a healthy and enjoyable place to work.
For any organization that is struggling to indentify or create its culture, Jack has a suggestion for its leadership:
“Go into the [workplace] trenches and become one of the many that are employed in the company, and then ask, ‘what would make me feel wanted and loved in this company?’”
Having members of leadership connected to entry and mid-level positions will help them see the importance of the four mandatory factors, as well as find several methods to incorporate each factor in business planning.
Culture at some companies just happens and evolves. Jack said that data, however, shows that organizations that critically think about their culture and design a great work environment for their employees are crushing the economy, their business sector and their competitors. The specific areas these companies are surpassing their competitors in are revenue, exit-value of the company, profitability and job growth for employees.
“The revenue line alone is worth over three times what it would be if you didn’t spend time thinking through culture,” Jack said.
Maintaining a positive culture is just as important as designing one. Assigning accountability and delegating roles to make sure the program lasts longer than six months is necessary for it to become part of the company’s fabric, according to Jack. He suggests that company leaders regularly ask questions like, “what actions have we been taking on our culture?” and “where have we missed opportunities for our culture?” Putting culture on the agenda of monthly staff meetings will guarantee the frequency of these types of conversations.
Outside factors can negatively affect a culture that is currently performing well if leaders lose control of their responsibilities. Jack has noticed that many companies spend less time on culture in bad economies than they do in good economies. He said this is the exact opposite of how they should react because leadership’s anxiety about business performance will negatively impact employees. In a good economy, there are more opportunities for raises and job security, so workers are more relaxed and happy. When the economy is tough, their anxiety levels go up. They then manifest their anxieties in their work and with customers, which can potentially impact business negatively.
Making culture a priority, holding people accountable for their roles and incorporating the four main factors will ensure that employees give their hearts and their best work to their organizations, which will help increase the bottom line. When asked about businesses that ignore these concepts, Jack said:
“…you’re going to save some money and cut some expenses in the short term, but the long-term viability of your company is severely at jeopardy.”
To gain more valuable information on culture and to see Jack’s presentation, register for CAI’s 2012 HR Management Conference here: www.capital.org/hrconf.