A CEO Recently Asked Me What Effective Work Cultures of the Future Would Look Like…
My answer was simple:
The most effective work cultures of the future will have the same remarkable, stunning foundation of effective work cultures today: they ensure that everyone – leaders, team members, customers, everyone – is treated with trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction.
Not some of the time. Not once a month. In EVERY interaction. To accomplish this, leaders must create a culture where values – how people treat each other – are as important as results, every day.
How will future leaders create these purposeful, positive, productive work cultures? The same way great leaders do so today – they’ll craft an organizational constitution, then align all plans, decisions, and actions to it.
An organizational constitution includes three key elements:
First, your team’s (or company’s) servant purpose.
Second, it’s values and behaviors.
Finally, it’s strategies and goals.
Your team or company’s servant purpose specifies it’s “reason for being” besides making money or selling coffee or whatever your product or service is. Certainly making money and delivering results is essential! That helps keep the doors open. However, few frontline employees are inspired by – or directly impacted by – profits alone.
Your servant purpose formalizes a meaningful foundation for every employee because it focuses on genuinely serving your customers’ needs. It outlines what your team does, for whom, and “to what end” – how your team improves customers’ quality of life daily.
Next, your organizational constitution formalizes your desired values and defines them with observable, tangible, measurable behaviors. This element is usually the most challenging because leaders have never been asked to specify how a great corporate citizen behaves.
Desired values usually gain agreement quickly. Defining those values takes a bit more effort. The real work comes when leaders must specify three or four behaviors that are indicators that your people are modeling that desired value perfectly.
Here’s an example. A client recently defined their integrity value as “acting with virtue, sincerity, and truthfulness.” They then described three observable, measurable behaviors that every staff member must demonstrate. They include “I align my actions with our values,” “I am honest and do what I say I will do,” and “I take responsibility for my actions, and I learn from my mistakes.”
Defining values in behavioral terms like these leave no doubt as to how that value is to be modelled daily.
The third element of an organizational constitution is performance expectations, formalized in the team’s strategies and goals. Most organizations have crafted some form of performance expectations and long term strategic planning, so this section may well go quickly.
Defining your desired culture with an organizational constitution is, to be honest, the easy part. The hard part? Aligning all plans, decisions, and actions to these new expectations. Leaders must live the new servant purpose and valued behaviors every minute. Only then will their organizational constitution be considered credible by employees – and worthy of embracing it by those employees.
It’s not science fiction. It’s what happens today in world-class organizations like WD-40 Company, Ritz Carlton, Starbucks, Assurance, Madwire, and others I’ve studied. It’s real – and it’s pretty astounding.
The astounding part? When leaders align practices and behaviors to their desired organizational constitution, three things happen within 18 months of implementing the change. Employee engagement goes up by 40 per cent. Customer service goes up by 40 per cent. Results and profits rise by 35 per cent.
Those are amazing transformations that are within every leaders’ grasp.
Don’t leave your culture to chance. Be intentional with an organizational constitution.