Monday April 27, 2015
“You’re going to be the conscience of the company. We say we treat each other like ladies and gentlemen, but sometimes we forget. You’re going to remind us.” That was my charge from Philip Crosby, best-selling author and world-renowned Quality Guru back when I was in my 20s and began working for the company that bore his name.
Phil was passionate about the culture of the company – after all, he preached education, culture change, and employee engagement as the only way to change the quality of any organization. No other consulting company in Quality Improvement was anywhere near as successful – then or since. It grew to 300 employees worldwide in addition to major licensees such as the Japan Management Association that spread Crosby-style Quality Improvement all over Japan.
In good times, employees were treated to lavish parties. In one tough time, everyone took a 20% pay cut. No one missed a beat; no one left. All associates thought like owners in good times or bad. Did I mention that we gave 10% of the revenue back to the community to support the arts and charities? You can guess how easy it was to recruit the best talent, to believe in and sell PCA’s services, to retain talent, or to engage employees in continuous improvement.
I’ve often wondered why more business leaders don’t emphasize culture like Phil did. Some of the problem could be the “Culture Gurus.” Many of them seem to suggest that if you create a great culture, then by some nebulous means it will lead to profitability. It doesn’t. Many really nice companies with great cultures fail. Many “employers of choice” fail. Many companies full of nice, happy people fail. And yet, there are some - like Philip Crosby Associates – that absolutely rock. Here are the differences:
- Focus. If the point is happy, satisfied employees who never want to leave, the focus will be on satisfaction. If the point is success, the focus might shift from continuous improvement to cost reduction to new competition to increasing sales. The focus of the culture will align with the focus of the leaders. And the team will find satisfaction in their inclusion.
- The team. If the point is happy, satisfied employees who never want to leave, the team can become a bunch of entitled employees. If the point is success, the team can become people who think more like owners. And the team will find satisfaction in inclusion.
- The strategies. If the point is happy, satisfied employees who never want to leave, the strategies typically involve more money, more salary increases, more benefits, more perks (not that there’s anything wrong with any of that in and of itself). If the point is success, the strategy will involve including employees, giving them responsibilities, helping them achieve, and then rewarding that achievement. And the team will find satisfaction in the responsibility.
- The outcome. If the point is happy, satisfied employees who never want to leave, success is typically defined by lower turnover. And everyone from current employees to the HR department to top leaders will focus on that and take it as a barometer for overall business success. If the point is success, then sales, cost reduction, quality improvement, and decreased turnover all are a part of defining success. In other words, everyone thinks like an owner. And the team will find satisfaction in achievement.
Creating a culture is only a part of the process. You also have to recruit people who fit, part ways with those who don’t, and focus all those that contribute on the strategic goals. When you do all that, those strategic goals become a reality. And that’s success.
At Open Door HR Solutions, we help organizations create culture, vision, and an enviable employment brand. We help busy leaders find and keep the right team members, part ways with the wrong ones, and get everyone on their team focused on the same vision. Open Door HR Solutions...because the right team, united around a compelling vision, can change the world.