If there is one thing most CEOs have in common, it’s the never-ending requirement to improve the performance of their business. It’s all about long-run sustainability. It’s all about remaining relevant. It’s all about winning in the marketplace. It’s all about being the frontrunner in your marketplace. The pressure is constant and the expectations are high.
But how do you get there and how do you stay there?
This subject matter reminds me of the joke where the CFO asks CEO, “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?” The CEO responds, “What happens if we don’t and they stay?”
It’s been said that the primary responsibility of the CEO is to create a culture that allows the organization to achieve its objectives. But where does one turn when it comes to building a winning culture that delivers extraordinary results? Perhaps the organization is manufacturing-centric in its value proposition. Perhaps the organization is technology-centric in its value proposition. Perhaps the organization is service-centric in its value proposition. The fact of the matter is that the business’ core competency has very little to do with what it takes to be a leader in your industry.
The common denominator in all cases is found in the quality of your workforce. The common denominator is found in all matters of consequence to your customers. The common denominator can be reduced to a single factor — the human factor. More specifically it is the attributes of your company’s workforce that will separate you from the pack. Consider the values your company has identified as table stakes in building a winning culture. In most cases those lists of values will be a function of the human elements you would like to cultivate within your organization. Your company’s values will determine your company’s culture.
Stated unequivocally, people are the primary determinant of success. People are the common denominator in every function of every business and people are the key point of differentiation. This has all kinds of implications on your business. Is your compensation and benefits program attracting the model employee? Is your performance management system enabling your leadership team to coach and mentor for continuous improvement? Is your culture a positive, compelling and infectious culture that extracts the very best out of your labor pool day in and day out? Growing companies must have a people strategy too, considering it’s the people that execute all the other strategies.
I sometimes think back to my undergraduate studies and the work of early day behavioral and motivational theorists like Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs,” Herzberg’s “Two Factor Theory,” Skinner’s “Operant Conditioning” and Mintzberg’s “Operational Model.” Then came along the likes of Drucker’s “Father of Modern Management Theory,” Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” and Collins’ “Good to Great.”
People come to employers with their talents and gifts, whatever they might be, but they come packaged in something we might call behavioral expression. Think of the four behavior types as developed by Marston in his work on the impact one’s environment has on their perception of self and how that culminates in a behavior — the DiSC assessment tool is born. Strewn throughout all these great works (and many more just like them) is a finger pointed at human interaction as the key success factor.
Wherever you rate your organization today, the paramount quest must be towards continuous improvement in all aspects of human engagement. So, let me ask you, have you hugged your HR leader lately? Have you taken the time and made the effort to step back from the day to day hubbub and taken a critical look at the human equation within your organization? What elements of the human denominator need refreshing across all aspects of your business? Is it your training and development program? Is it your middle or senior level leadership? Is it your company’s core values?
You are the CEO. This is the difference maker that will help move your organization forward. When will you start? Where will you start? Who will you involve? What changes would you like to see within the month, the quarter, the year? A new calendar year lies before us. What’s your plan to reposition key components of the human equation so that your business outperforms the competition? At the confluence of what employers want and what employees want lies the fortune for your company. It’s all about motivating an inspired workforce towards your vision, mission and purpose and it starts with the CEO.
What’s your plan?