Building a great workplace culture is not about what you get. But what you give! It is not what you get from your employees. It is what you give to your people. Prior to me selling my company of over 150 employees to a publicly-traded company, it was rare that we ever used the word, “culture”. And it was even rarer that we spoke the words, “employee engagement”.
We did not often use the words “culture” or “employee engagement” because we understood that…
[Tweet “Culture is the fruit and not the goal. -Bobby Albert”]
When culture becomes your goal, you know that you have crossed the line to what you are going get from your employees. You might even engage your employees to enhance relationships, but if you are motivated by what you are going to get from them, you’re also missing the mark.
However, we found that when we focused first on doing the right thing in a principled way – meeting the needs of our employees without strings attached – our culture produced delicious fruit. This “fruit” took the form of extraordinary results (delighted customers and increased profits).
“Touch a heart before you ask for a hand.”
– John Maxwell
Like most organizations, we had a standard organization chart with me at the top of the chart. As you know, this type of organization chart signals to the employees that they are here to serve the person at the top of the organization chart – that was me.
However, we took on an attitude of an upside-down organization chart where I was at the bottom of the chart. And it was my responsibility to serve and equip the leaders that reported to me, and it was their responsibility to serve and equip those who reported to them…and so on until we reached the front-line people.
The neat thing about this different approach was the customer was the one actually at the top of the organization chart. All our people knew well that all of our time, energy, and effort were to serve the customer.
To accomplish this internal focus on our employees, we consistently looked at how we could serve our people in a holistic way – mind, body, spirit, and emotions (or relationships). In other words, our focus was on what we could give to our people, and not what we were going to get from them. In doing so, we found we had…
A culture where people thrived and profits soared.
For those leaders who believe this sounds too soft and a bunch of “foo foo” stuff, let me assure you our people clearly understood my drive for results. They understood Bobby Albert expected them to perform at their highest level of excellence, AND at the same time, they understood Bobby truly cared for them as a person.
Insight: The most effective leaders are ones who enhance relationships AND drive for results all at the same.
When you, as a leader, begin to change how you think about your employees from what you get from them to what you give to them, you will experience results similar to those detailed in Gallup’s 2016 “State of the American Workplace” report.
Gallup conducted studies of employee engagement and analyzed over 82,000 business units. They found that teams scoring in the top quartile of engagement outperform teams scoring in the bottom quartile by:
- 21% higher profitability
- 17% higher productivity
- 10% higher customer metrics
- 40% fewer defects
- 58% fewer patient safety incidents
And one of the best ways for you to take the first step toward engaging your employees is with a participative leadership style that I call Engage2Lead – and specifically by employing the 1-2-3 leadership tool.
What is 1-2-3?
1-2-3 is a unique approach to the decision-making process defined as:
At the very beginning of the decision-making process— AND before making a decision – the empowering leader seeks input from his or her employees. Such a leader asks:
1. Who can help me make a better decision?
2. Who will have to carry it out?
3. Who will be impacted by it?
The answers to the three questions above will guide leaders to assemble the right people and involve them, as appropriate to help make important decisions.
Every leader can develop a more effective and efficient TEAM by asking these three simple questions that bring consistently better results (extraordinary results beyond your imagination) while maintaining and enhancing relationships.
Remember: This is not decision-making by a committee. You, as the leader, must still decide to make the final decision.
Fruit trees usually take 2 to 5 years to produce their first fruit. As a leader, though, you can begin the process today when you engage your employees. By consistently using the Engage2Lead participative leadership style and the 1-2-3 leadership tool, in time, the process will produce delicious fruit.
How would you describe your workplace culture? Do you have a culture that produces undesirable fruit? When you look at your employees do you see what you can get from them or what you can give to them? Please share your thoughts <here>, and share this blog post with a friend and co-worker.