Where does your company rank in the echelons of “best employer” or “best company to work for”? After all the likelihood is that, even if it is not ranked, it will have taken, or considered taking, part in the evaluation. Ranking has become ubiquitous. We have league tables for schools, universities, hospitals and who knows what else. Perhaps the time has come to question whether we have taken this competitiveness too far, and to recognize the practice as counter-productive, insidious and invidious.
Furthermore, only one organisation can ever claim to be “the best”, whatever that means. Thus, to give a greater chance in the lottery and encourage greater participation we often divide them into sub-categories – best large company employer, best small company employer, etc. But the process still remains the result of a tabulation of averages and subjective, non-empirical performance measures, taken to the nth decimal place. Despite this, we give these rankings a dangerous amount of power: not only to determine status but also to mould decisions and shape strategy, tactics and, ultimately, the culture of our organisations.
This can have a massively distorting effect. As soon as you start measuring and ranking you narrow the focus and create the temptation to manipulate the outcome. Thus, in many ways, the arguments against conventional incentive remuneration schemes that I raised last week also apply here. But again it is not too difficult to reduce the risk: all you really need do is remove the competitive element to your efforts.
You know that your success depends on the efforts of your people. So, rather than striving to improve your position in such a league, you need to focus instead on making your organisation a great place to work. The difference with this goal is that you create a more authentic environment. Instead of focusing on externally driven measures, your focus is on what is best the organisation. This inevitably leads to a great employer brand, with greater employee engagement and the improved results that naturally follow.
Ron McIntyre puts it very succinctly when he talks about enabling “a company to operate at its fullest potential by allowing people to do their best work.” Isn’t that ultimately what any business leader aims for? And in his article, “How to Make your Company an Engaging Workplace” Ron identifies 6 invaluable ‘characteristics’ that provide a framework for this. His agenda is:
- Encourage authenticity of everyone
- Encourage transparent communication
- Empower people to leverage their strengths
- Stand for stakeholder value
- Make daily work relevant and challenging
- Have a vision people can embrace and minimise rules.
These may sound Utopian and some even run counter to traditional practice, as Ron says, but it is the recipe you need to follow if you truly wish to transform your organisation.
The fact is that they are all inextricably linked and ultimately mutually reinforcing which is why you need to embrace them. In fact you could sum them all up in the word “Authenticity.” After all you cannot have an authentic organisation without embracing all 6 because, apart from being unable to create authenticity without trust:-
- Nobody can be authentic in an organisation that is not authentic.
- You cannot have transparent communication unless everyone is authentic and the organisation is too.
- Authentic people by definition are fully utilising and developing their capabilities.
- Neither people nor organisations can be authentic without the trust stemming from a common purpose which inevitably necessitates creating value.
- Work has to be relevant and challenging if people are to be authentic and leverage their capabilities.
- Rules become largely redundant in an authentic environment driven by common purpose that automatically provides the guiding vision.
This means that a great employer brand has to be an authentic organisation, and that in turn, entails creating trust by recognizing that ‘Every Individual Matters.’
If you like what you have read contact me today for a free 30 minute conversation about how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model can provide the catalyst to help you create an organisational culture of ‘Love at Work’ : one where everyone cares and the business becomes our business, so embracing change and transforming – and sustaining – organisational performance.
Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organisational culture model that helps transform organisational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement” and, more recently, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped.