Category Archives: Organizational Development
There are two ways to have your organization be molded.
The first way it to enact policies and practices as you go. This method addresses performance issues when they arise, meets compliance and regulatory standards, and manages the overall behaviors of the company.
It also has a direct impact on culture. and typically a negative one.
When policies are the driving mechanism in managing and leading, they take priority in the strategic goals of the company, leaving culture to be wrapped around it and fit in where it can.
For instance, if a policy is implemented in reaction to a new regulation of due to circumstances like increased injuries, then the culture may have to adapt in response. A company that claims customer service as a key value can hardly execute that culture when it devises a tenuous procedure on verifying returns or damage claims that protect the company first and leave consumers with a poor experience on how these claims are handled.
That’s where culture needs to be the driving force in everything an organization does. This is the second and best way to have your organization molded.
When culture has its rightful and preeminent place in your organization, it will permeate everything it touches. Culture well defined will seep its way into meetings, decision making, processes, and yes even policies. When culture is allowed to have its way, it will transform the way a company operates.
Those policies that are necessary due to regulatory compliance become less of an encumbrance to staff. Instead, culture will look at the compliance issue and say “How can we enact this in a way that still gives dignity to our people and excellent service to our customers?”
Culture will always keep your core values intact, engagement high, and your systems in congruence with your people. It will allow the human touch in business, not like the robotic and cold, technical and policy-driven approach does.
When culture is at the center, it’s effects will ripple out and make lasting waves through your organization. It flows more freely because it doesn’t force actions but enables them to be more organic.
If you ask the average person, they may say the focus of leadership to be:
- Attain results
- Meet goals
- Share vision
- Service customers
- Get people to perform
- Create culture
- Manage daily operations
Leadership is a balance of all the above, but one essential piece that most leaders fall short on is this:
Development of your people in their skills to the highest level they want to attain.
This can manifest in the following ways:
- Helping them gain mastery of core job functions
- Developing skills in new areas
- Strengthen those areas they are already strong in
- Building desire to grow through increased engagement
- Casting vision of the organization to help them see what they can accomplish
- Fostering a desire to lead in varying capacities
- Placing them in situations they can grow and stretch
- Increasing their knowledge by giving access to learning resources of all types
Developing your people is key to sustainable growth of the organization. A good culture cannot grow and refresh if it’s people do not grow. A great strategy can be executed but if your people don’t learn something new the next strategy may not go as well.
At the core of every action, goal, and metric attained in any company is the need to having your people learn as much as they can. This only strengthens the foundation of your organization and builds more connected, committed, and long-term engagement in your workforce.
Purpose daily to develop your people. That is true leadership.
Organizations that operate using a “chain of command” hierarchy are quickly becoming an outdated management model.
A chain of command model takes it’s roots from the military chain of command. It’s the order in which authority and power in an organization is wielded and delegated from top management to every employee at every level of the organization. Instructions flow downward along the chain of command and accountability flows upward.
Proponents of this method feel that the more clear cut the chain of command, the more effective the decision making process and greater the efficiency. Military forces are an example of straight chain of command that extends in unbroken line from the top brass to ranks.
This model of leadership became very prevalent in the mid-20th century but ceases (outside of the military) to have any relevance in today’s organizations, especially those that are looking to have more employee engagement and voice into the overall performance of the company at large.
Where the shortcomings of “chain of command” leadership often happens can be seen in the following simplified example (to which I have seen repeated far too often):
- Employee voices concern to manager based on objective criteria
- Manager makes decision but discounts the validity of employee’s input
- Employee decides to express concern to the manager’s boss
- Manager’s boss says employee needs to follow the “chain of command” and talk to manager
The resulting interactions result in an employee caught in a no-win situation. They walk away feeling disregarded, less valued, and that they cannot voice their concerns if they are not agreed with by their direct boss. As issues continue to come up, and especially with more serious issues, the employee loses more faith in their leadership and will disengage more and more. And any attempt by the employee to circumvent the chain to find a voice for their concerns gets thrown back in the employee’s face for not following the hierarchy.
Where “chain of command” succeeds is enabling poor leadership to manifest, not be bothered by what they don’t feel is important, and keeping leaders at the higher levels less and less accountable for how they engage or value their people.
Where it fails is on all other levels. Leadership accountability, collaborative efforts, shared vision, voice, and values are often minimized or cast aside in favor of the hierarchical “chain”.
This type of leadership also succeeds in defending itself because if it doesn’t fit into the “chain” it will not be recognized.
The most successful and people-oriented engagement models in any organization are those that foster open input from all sources, give avenues for ideas and innovation as well as concerns, and keep upper levels of leadership accountable both from above and below.
Chain of command is a weak leadership mode. Take the time to break it.
(Chain of command definition http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/chain-of-command.html)