When I had my previous consulting company, I thought that it was part of my role as a business owner to ensure that I managed that company to the best of my ability, to make it run as efficiently as possible and for it to be as good as it could be, and I think to a large degree I achieved that aim. It was a great place to work, we had great systems that helped us to do our work and at the same time be transparent to our clients about the work that we were doing for them. We had great diversity within our team.
In the quest to improve business performance, many organisations turn to performance management, process re-engineering, business transformation, triple bottom line, benchmarks and the list goes on. But is there a simpler answer to all of this? I think there is and it is an approach that is both the top down, AND bottom up! That is, really seeing your organisations full potential means that it start’s and ends with your vision and the values that you embed in that vision. If you have a vision that wants to limit the type of people that work in your organisation to those that ‘fit with your culture’, or those that have a particular type of educational background, what you are likely to get it is an organisation that is the same as you are. So the full potential of your organisation is likely to reach, well, the full potential of you and those other like people on your board. Of course this could be a good thing, but how do you really know? Unless you recognise the ‘difference’ of others and enable them to input to your vision, you might never understand how your organisation can be different and what could set it apart from your competition. You are potentially missing out on harnessing the diversity of others and leveraging off totally different viewpoints.
Chances are, your organization will be stacked with people that think in a similar way to your leaders, and to fit in and be a ‘team player’, to be promoted and recognised means that you need to be ‘like’ those leaders. Of course there are some notable differences because you still need to stand out enough to demonstrate that you are leader material, or that you have a good idea. I would suggest that very often this happens in a safe, conservative and standard business type environment and if you are excelling based on tried and tested attributes and behaviours that are acceptable in your organisation – you will still be acting out ‘like’ others expect you too.
Have you ever noticed that your meetings have the same topics of discussion year after year, to the point where you could virtually write up a good account of the minutes before the meeting has started? Or how often do you see a problem resolved in an organisation only to become a problem again in a few short years? I would suggest this has a lot to do with the values of the organisastion. Is your company described as a ‘dynamic player in an aggressive market’? Got a turnover of CEO’s every 18 months to 2 years? If so, perhaps your organisational values are out of step with the real potential of your company.
Our businesses are built on centuries of traditional structures, overlayed with processes and policies that still reflect a business model that is now way out of date with the globalisation of our changing economy. Whilst many have tried to de-structuralise and ‘flatten’ hierarchical management structures, we still seem to rely on the same old criteria for board members, CEO’s and executives and this ‘model’ filters down into our organisation at every level.
Do you know that you are really using the talents of all your employees? Does your organisation reflect the community and client base it serves or is there more that you could do?