How to instill behaviour that supports your corporate strategy

Drake Editorial Team

As Published In The Drake Business Review, Volume 5: Number 1 

IF YOU HAVE NEVER CONSIDERED HOW your employees’ behaviours affect your company’s overall success, perhaps you should. Your employees may have widely differing views of your organization, tied to how they are expected to behave and how they are actually behaving. Every behaviour in your organization affects the way your customers and stakeholders think of you.

If people have a negative view, that means you have “excess movement” within your organization: Too many people are doing tasks they should not be doing. They’re fixing mistakes and making up for others’ lack of results. Essentially, they’re doing excess things that are not part of operating in a streamlined fashion. When some people are constantly fixing others’ work or redoing their own work, they’re not supporting the corporate strategy.

However, you can create a culture that ties strategic actions to expected results and has no excess movement. In this environment, every behaviour is deliberately focused on satisfying the organization’s goals and that person’s need for fulfillment. The way the employees behave, the way they interact with each other, and the way they go about their business enhance quality and communicate the right attitude.

In an organization in which behaviour is an important ingredient in how people work, everyone is expected to treat others with respect and provide them with information when they ask for it. Behaviour is held on a high level, and exceptional work is expected because it helps an organization grow and flourish. As a result, everyone feels encouraged to strive for a little more. To foster this type of culture in your organization, follow these tips.

1. MAINTAIN A NUMBER 1 MINDSETThis culture starts from the CEO’s desire to be the best. With this mindset, you don’t worry about encroachment by competitors but rather think about ways you can continue to be Number 1.

How can you not worry about competitors? All businesses essentially provide either a product or a service. If you provide a service and focus on delivering your very best, no one else in the marketplace can compare with you. You make yourself stand out by your dedication to your clients. If you offer a product, find some other way to make yourself stand out. Perhaps focus on customer service, the way you deliver your product, or the way you package your product. This act of differentiating yourself sets you apart from others so you’ll no longer be a commodity. Customers will see you for the value you offer and will buy from you for reasons other than only the product.

Ultimately, having a Number 1 mindset is not about comparing yourself to others; it’s about focusing on you and the internal processes and procedures that keep your entire company focused on its goal. With this mindset, you not only believe and act like you’re the best, but you treat employees as if they are also the best. Respect and trust are the driving forces that permeate every relationship. And co-operation and a willingness to share are evident on all levels, from the CEO to the mailroom clerk. When everyone models these behaviours, the Number 1 mindset is easy to implement.

2. ELIMINATE COMPETITIONWhen you treat all your employees as if they are the best, competitive behaviour is no longer necessary. You create an open environment where everyone is the top in their field. Without competition, your employees function and work together as a team. They don’t thwart other people’s efforts, hide information, or work against each other in any way. No one feels the need to compete to be the best because they are all the best.

Make it known to all your employees that competitive behaviour has no place in your organization. When someone exhibits such behaviour, put them back on track or even end their relationship with your company. Someone behaving disrespectfully is not working toward the organization’s goals.

3. ENCOURAGE EXCEPTIONALTo align behaviour with the organizational strategy, you must expect people to deliver only exceptional work and to do all that is necessary to achieve it. Creativity is commonplace, and even mistakes are encouraged in this open-ended environment because they lead to creativity.

When your employees perform at an exceptional level, reward their behaviour. Monetary rewards are not always necessary; you can also show recognition by putting people up on a pedestal and giving them company-wide recognition for delivering extra value. This will encourage others to perform at this level as well.

4. MIX UP TALENTSWithin your organization, you likely have people you have identified as fast-trackers — those who have great potential for success and whom you want to advance in the company. Before you promote someone, have them learn other areas of the business by “trading” jobs. This not only gives the fast-tracker a broader sense of what the company does, but also helps the person develop creativity, operate out of their comfort zone, and know what others in the organization are up against.

Suppose you’ve identified a talented engineer as someone who should move up in your company. Before putting that person in charge of decisions that could affect other departments, have them work in the marketing department for six months to a year — exclusively, not just one or two days a week. Then have them spend the same amount of time in the research and development department, then in another department. Make sure this engineer thoroughly understands the needs and challenges of everyone in the organization.

You’re not trying to turn the engineer into a marketing person or a research and development person; you’re expecting them to get a broader perspective of the company so they can go on to higher ranks in the company with that knowledge, insight, and sensitivity.

5. KEEP EVERYONE ON TRACKAs people produce results or make progress towards company goals, immediately reward them with feedback, money, awards, or any other show of your appreciation and recognition of a job well done. As you give the positive feedback, reiterate the goals and objectives and find out what the person will do next to bring the company closer to those objectives. The more positive feedback you give, the more you can ask people to contribute.

ALIGNING BEHAVIOUR FOR SUCCESS IN THE FUTUREA culture that ties behaviour to the strategic goals of the organization can have a powerful effect on your employees and your overall success. It allows all your employees to combine their individual strengths and experiences to solve problems, and they give extra effort to the process. They don’t focus on any one person shining through but rather on the end result and overall success of your organization.

When you use these strategies to instill this culture in your organization, everyone will be more productive and happier at work. As a result, people will interact better with each other and will no longer have to bother higher executives with day-to-day problems. People will actually want to come to work every day and will get more done than ever before. When that happens, you’ll get the best reward of all — higher profits and employees who care.

Marsha Lindquist, President of Granite Leadership Strategies, Inc., (www.GraniteLeadershipStrategies.com) has over 30 years’ experience as a business expert in government contracting. She has enhanced her clients’ cost competitiveness, improved their contractual positioning, and solidifi ed overall strategies with such companies as BP Amoco, DynCorp, and Northrop Grumman. Marsha adds value by telling you what you need to hear. For more information, email [email protected]

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