Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

The Three Archetypes of Business Culture

shutterstock_75020941Recently a colleague sent me a copy of The HOW Report: A Global, Empirical Analysis of How Governance, Culture, and Leadership Impact Performance,” by the LRN Corporation. As I read through the report I was delighted to see that their findings business culture were highly correlated with similar research I’ve been doing for the last 10 years, and also dismayed to see that so few companies were embracing these critical ideas.

Although I still do a fair amount of Fortune 500 work, for the last five years or so I have focused intensely on bringing the best ideas, tools and strategies to small and medium-size businesses in an effort to help them build and sustain success. What I have learned in working with literally thousands of businesses around the world is that: Culture = Cash. Organizations that can find, grow and keep top talent and then engage that talent to go out and take fantastic care of their customers will be the winners in the future. Here’s how they stated it in the report…

“CEOs increasingly are coming to believe that the traditional ingredients of success, such as a supportive board of directors, a strong executive team, clearly articulated corporate strategies, thoughtful resource allocations, differentiated product or service portfolios, elaborate control processes, and highly refined incentive structures, are no longer sufficient.

Of particular importance is the role of trust, company purpose, and core values as they harmonize with leadership and governance systems to help define unique corporate cultures.

In short, culture as a conscious, deliberate, long-term strategy can be the key to sustainable differentiation and success for companies in the 21st century. Companies and leaders who pioneer and forge ahead on a genuine journey of governance, culture, and leadership are the ones who will be around in the 22nd century.”

This research report postulates that an organization builds the foundation for sustainable success on a system of governance, culture, and leadership based on a clear set of fundamental values, fostering trust both inside and outside the organization, and embracing and pursuing a corporate mission that is rooted in a higher, enduring purpose, not simply here-and-now success.

The researchers labeled the management style of companies that met the above criteria as high in “Self-Governance.” These were businesses where the employees were proactive, with high levels of both personal and mutual accountability and were engaged and satisfied…exactly what I have been focused on when working with my clients. However the number of companies that actually met these criteria in this research study were shockingly low, which unfortunately mirrors what I see in the marketplace all too often.

Directly from the report…
Sample size = 36,280 employees / 18 countries

Blind Obedience = 43% of respondents

Organizations characterized by command and control, top-down leadership, and coercion. Blind Obedience organizations rely on rules and policing, are transactional, and focus on short-term objectives — there is little focus on building enduring relationships in the workplace, the marketplace, or society.

Informed Acquiescence = 54% of respondents

Organizations that reflect 20th century good management practices like hierarchy, structure, and control processes. Employees follow the rules, policies, and procedures established by what they believe to be a skilled management team. Managers rely on performance-based rewards and punishments to motivate people. Long-term goals are important but often give way to considerations of short-term success.

Self-Governance = only 3% of respondents

Organizations that are primarily values-based. The organization’s purpose and values inform decision making and guide all employee and company behavior. In short, people act on the basis of a set of core principles and values that inspires everyone to align around a company’s mission, purpose, and definition of significance. Employees at all levels strive to be leaders, and the company is focused on its long-term legacy and endurance.

On the other hand, highly engaged employees deliver…

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There were four major findings from the study that rose to the top:

1. Self-Governance is rare across the world. Only 3% of the 36,280 employees in this study observe high levels of self-governing behavior within their organizations — the extremely low rate of Self-Governance is consistent across every demographic category, including country, industry, economic environment, language, and ethnic culture.

2. Self-governing organizations in all 18 countries in this study outperform other types of organizations across every important performance outcome, including: higher levels of innovation, employee loyalty, and customer satisfaction; lower levels of misconduct; and superior overall financial performance.

3. There is a marked disconnect between the C-suite and the employees they lead. On average, the C-suite is three times — and in some countries up to eight times — more likely to observe their organizations as self-governing, more inspiring, and less coercive as compared to the overall employee population.

4. Trust, shared values, and a deep understanding of and commitment to a purpose-inspired mission are the three fundamental enablers of the self-governing behaviors that produce competitive advantage and superior business performance.

 

So why is this important to your organization? Here is what I’ve been jumping up and down about for years in trying to help organizations understand that there is a ton of money on the table around creating a winning culture…

“Statistically, our research shows that employees who experience a high trust environment are 22 times more likely to be willing to take risks that could benefit the company. Employees functioning in an organization of high trust are 8 times more likely to report higher levels of innovation relative to their competition. And finally, employees functioning in a culture of high trust, risk-taking, and innovation are 6 times more likely to report elevated levels of financial performance compared to the competition.”

For more than a decade I have been deploying my “Organizational Effectiveness Audit,” a 28-question survey I use to assess the health of an organization and here is what I can tell you with 100% confidence:

Most businesses, as reflected in HOW Report, have a massive opportunity to improve the culture of their organization and thereby significantly impact their financial success.

 

Here is a quick checklist of what I have developed as the key elements of winning culture, take a minute to score your organization on a scale of 1 to 10 – with 10 being “this describes our company perfectly.”

 

Elements of a Winning Culture

1. People enjoy the work they do and the people they work with.

2. People take pride in the work they do and the company they work for.

3. There are high levels of engagement, connection, camaraderie and a community of caring.

4. There is a culture of fairness, respect, trust, inclusiveness and teamwork.

5. The leaders live the values and communicate a clear vision and strategy for growth.

6. Lots of open, honest, robust and transparent communication across the entire organization.

7. The company invests back in employees; there is a commitment to learning & development.

8. There is a bias for action, employees have an ownership mentality and strive to give their personal best.

9. There is high accountability and a strong focus on delivering the desired results.

10. There is ample recognition and rewards and mediocrity is not tolerated.

 

** It would be my advice that anyplace you score a 7 or below would be an area to focus on for improvement, any score below a five should be considered an area of concern, and where you score a 3 or below should be considered an emergency.

 

If you were not particularly happy with scores you just got on my winning culture audit, let me recommend a few superb books that are the best I have ever read on how to build a great culture.

The Orange Revolution: How One Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization

All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results

The Great Workplace: How to Build It, How to Keep It, and Why It Matters

Here is a link to where you can download the HOW Report:  http://pages.lrn.com/how-report

Although it is about 50 pages long it does have some truly interesting and important findings and is definitely worth taking a few minutes to read. Also, if you know of any organization that might need some assistance in improving their culture please do not hesitate to send them my name and contact information, this is an area that my firm is strongly focused on and we are dedicated to helping businesses of every size become great places to work with highly engaged employees that deliver strong financial returns.

I hope you found this information helpful, I wish you every possible happiness and success.

 

Take good care – John

*** If you want more specifics on exactly how to build a great company culture, I have created a very concise and focused ebook that will give you all of my best ideas, tools and advice. It is only $2.99 on Amazon and I promise it will be VERY helpful.  Click HERE to take a look

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Three Keys to a Winning Culture

Happy Business Team 3During the past year a great deal of my time has been spent teaching organizations around the world how to improve their culture, as many organizations (both large and small) are now realizing that Culture =Cash! They have finally accepted that if getting, growing and keeping top talent is a strategic objective (and it should be!!!), then having a superior culture is one of the main ways to attract that top talent. So to me, there are two sides to the culture coin… what employees look for, which is a Winning Culture, a place that’s fun to work at, with a family atmosphere, where they are treated fairly , have the freedom to do their without micro management and an organization that has created a culture of catching people doing things right!  However, there is also the other side of the culture coin that the employer looks for, which is highly engaged employees who have an Ownership Mentality…that is they show dedication, passion, creativity, pro-activity, a sense of urgency and high levels of both personal and mutual accountability .

These are all important factors, and there are several more key factors to creating a winning culture , but a few years ago I was talking to a good friend of mine who is a leading psychologist and he pointed out that a great deal of what I was talking about was exactly the same things that everyone looks for in the most important relationships in their lives … and when you think about it, your relationship to your job and the people there is absolutely one of the most important relationships in your life .  According to my friend, here are the three factors that everyone looks for in the key relationships in their life :

 

Safety: employees need to feel physically safe at their job, that they’re not going to get hurt by machinery or that it’s safe to walk out to the parking lot late in the evening.  They also need to feel emotionally safe, that no one is going to yell at them, embarrass them and their job will not be simply yanked out from underneath their feet with no reason.  Lastly, they need to feel psychologically safe, that they can express their opinion, share their ideas or disagree with a superior … without the fear of retribution, bullying or embarrassment.

 

Belongingness: people want to feel that they are part of the team, part of the group, part of the tribe.  They want to know that the people at work like them, like having them around and feel they are an important part of the organization. No one wants to feel like an outcast or that no one cares about them.

 

Appreciation: employees want to know that they are appreciated not only for the work they do, but also who they are as an individual, what they contribute to the team, and the ideas and diversity that they bring to the organization.

 

Safety            Belongingness          Appreciation

 

It is my strong belief that if you flood your organization with safety, belongingness and appreciation that you will build a framework for creating a truly a winning culture.  And, as with many of the other factors, these three are mostly what I call atmosphere issues…they cost no extra money to implement – it is simply the way you treat your people, the way you engage them, and the respect you show all of your employees that make them feel safe, that they belong and that they are genuinely appreciated.

So my question to you is: What can you do TODAY to create more safety, belongingness and appreciation across your entire organization?  

*** If you want more specifics on exactly how to build a great company culture, I have created a very concise and focused ebook that will give you all of my best ideas, tools and advice. It is only $2.99 on Amazon and I promise it will be VERY helpful.  Click HERE to take a look

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The FIVE Keys to Business Success

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Several years ago I wrote about this business success list, but I just have to share it with you again because it’s so incredibly powerful and vitally important. 

I can count on one hand, with several fingers left over, the number of businesses that I deal with that deliver consistently superior customer service.  On the other hand, I do have a list as long as my arm… down to the ground… and about a mile down the street, of businesses that consistently disappoint me.  I will bet that you do to: the service repair person who says they will be at my home between nine and five… what, am I supposed to spend the entire day waiting around for them?  I’m the customer, I’m trying to give them money and they treat me like this?  Or the restaurant waiter who is rude and inattentive and then angry when they don’t get a 20% or greater tip?  The doctor who keeps you in their waiting room for three hours then only spends 10 minutes with you; the real estate agent who does not return your calls; the hotel maid who bangs on your door even though you have the “Do NOT Disturb” sign out; and don’t even get me started on cell phone companies. 

So let me tell you the secret of how to dominate your marketplace, how to do something so outlandishly different, unique and special that you will be loved by your customers and they will tell everyone they know to do business with you.  I got this little nugget from one of the most expensive books I’ve ever bought ($50.00 for a 29 or so page book) called: “How The Best Get Better,” by  Strategic Coach Dan Sullivan.  It may have been quite expensive on a per-page basis, but it was worth every penny because this idea can make you rich.

If you want to drive lots of positive referrals to your business you need to do only FIVE things (Dan recommended four – but I added a fifth):

1.  Show up on time.

2.  Do what you say you will do.

3.  Finish what you start.

4.  Say “Please” and “Thank You.”

And added by me…

5.  Give a little more than expected.

Now you’re probably asking yourself?  “Why did Spence get me so excited about this amazing success formula and then disappoint me with such a pathetic list?” Let me tell, that if you consistently did these five things for every customer, every time…you would need to invest in a dump truck to bring your cash deposits to the bank. 

Just five things…it is so awesomely simple, but incredibly powerful.

So I challenge you to take a good, hard, honest look at your business and see how well you truly deliver these five things…consistently.  I promise you that if you work hard in improving each of these five areas, you will look up and in several months your business will be doing dramatically better, your customers will be much happier, you will have lots of new customers, and you will be making much, much more money.

Let me know how it turns out – I wish you great success — John

Some Advice on Hiring

Advice on Hiring from John Spence on Vimeo.

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The Formula for Business Success

I have just created a new “Business Success Channel” on Vimeo with 17 of my best business improvement videos (I will be adding many more in the future). It is totally FREE and has some really great information. Below is my newest video: “The John Spence Formula for Business Success.”  I hope you find it very helpful and PLEASE send this link on to anyone you feel would find value in the videos I have posted.  https://vimeo.com/channels/businesssuccess

Thank you so very much — John

 

The John Spence Formula for Business Success from John Spence on Vimeo.

If after watching this video you feel you might need some help in the areas of “Disciplined Execution” or “Accountability”– I love, use, and highly recommend the software program from RESULTS.com – if you are interested, simply click on the logo below to sign up for a free demo.

 

 

 

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Accountability in a “Nice” Company

If you found this video helpful, I strongly recommend you watch this one too:

The Biggest Problem In Business Today

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The NEW Normal

Just a few weeks ago I had the great honor of presenting a program at the Apple Specialist Marketing Conference. My talk was entitled “The New Normal” and focused on how these folks, who sold such incredible Apple products, could continue to be successful as the realities of business and economics remained in constant fluctuation. The talk was even more poignant given the fact that Steve Jobs had passed away just a week earlier. Here is a very brief excerpt of some of the ideas I shared on how I feel companies can survive and thrive in… The New Normal.

 

PS – Do not forget that I am participating in this fantastic event…

 

Two Ideas About Employee Engagement

The Knowing-Doing Gap

Last week I delivered a workshop on the “Leader of the Future” to a group of Directors at the Florida Recreation and Parks Association annual meeting (The FRPA is my longest standing client – 17 years – wow!). Most of these folks have 20 to 30 years in their careers and I told them at the end of the workshop that there was probably very little “new” information that I taught them… but my goal was simply to remind them of the core fundamentals of business excellence and challenge them to take a long hard look in the mirror and see if they were actually living these things every single day in their organizations. Continue reading “The Knowing-Doing Gap” »