"The American workforce has more than 100 million full-time employees. One-third of those employees are what Gallup calls engaged at work. They love their jobs and make their organization and America better every day. At the other end, 16% of employees are actively disengaged—they are miserable in the workplace and destroy what the most engaged employees build. The remaining 51% of employees are not engaged—they’re just there.
"These figures indicate an American leadership philosophy that simply doesn’t work anymore." (Clifton)
"After two decades of working with CEOs and their teams of senior executives, I’ve become absolutely convinced that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre or unsuccessful ones has little, if anything, to do with what they know or how smart they are; it has everything to do with how healthy they are." (Lencioni)
"The most important decisions that executives make are people decisions." (Drucker)
We have an organizational health problem in this country that is undermining the effectiveness of our organizations in both the for-profit and nonprofit worlds. The implications are far reaching in that it affects the overall health of this country economically, it affects the communities where organizations operate, and it affects the health of individual employees and their families.
The cause of the problem, and the solution, rests with those leading those organizations at the C-Suite and Board levels.
Many leaders of organizations have come through the business education system and are well schooled in the “hard science” aspects of running organizations. They know how to produce and read financial reports, develop strategic plans, manage supply chains, produce sales forecasts, ensure they are complying with human resources regulations, and all the other aspects of running an organization that are so important.
As important as good systems and processes are to a well-run organization, we have to embrace the fact that the health of the people in our organizations is more important than our strategies and systems. I once worked for an incredibly successful businessman who made the statement that there was no need for customer satisfaction surveys – what was needed was employee satisfaction surveys. His position was that if you have satisfied employees, you have satisfied customers. Put another way - if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business.
Leaders have to learn to think differently about the people of their organizations realizing they are individuals with fears and hopes. It is up to us to take a deep look at our organizational culture and to start making the needed changes. Often it starts with looking in the mirror. It is up to us to first change our mindset.
It’s not really that complicated, but it is hard work. It begins with truly caring about the people in your organization. Do you see them as obstacles, means to an end, or as persons? Start with how you view others and go from there.
In summary is a quote attributed to Peter Drucker—“Culture eats strategy for breakfast."
Clifton, Jim “State of the American Workplace Report” (p. 2). Gallup (2017)
Lencioni, Patrick M. The Advantage, Enhanced Edition: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business (pp. 8-9). Jossey-Bass. Kindle Edition
Peter Drucker, http://creativefollowership.com/the-most-important-decisions/
As those two great philosophers Lennon and McCartney wrote in the words of a song, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” Life is a team sport. All of us, at one time or another, need a little help from our network of friends, perhaps much more often than we realize. Being a part of an effective network is what is called a “force multiplier” in military speak. A soldier who is a force multiplier is one who makes her or his fellow soldiers more effective; they make those around them a more effective unit.
Building and maintaining a network multiplies our effectiveness and the effectiveness of those who are in our networks; it’s a positive sum game. But like physical networks, our personal relationship networks must be well maintained to keep them in good working order. They can be ethereal things; they can go away if you don’t spend some time working on your network relationships. You keep your network vital by being a good node yourself. That means being a two-way connection; tap into your network when you need a force multiplier but be ready to serve those in your network when they seek your collaboration. Or, as the title of a movie from several years ago suggested, “pay it forward.” Every now and then, do a random act of kindness for some of those folks who occupy important nodes in your network. If you treat the people in your network as only one-way junctions, you will soon find yourself networkless, isolated. Most of us can think of times when our networks have come to the rescue or we’ve been the life line for someone in our network. Robinson Caruso was the only one I know who could get everything done by Friday! But then Friday and Robinson were in each other’s network.
Regardless of which stage of your career you have reached, whether you are a new college graduate, mid-career, or beginning to wind down professionally, you need to part of an effective network. If you are a young, college graduate, those on your network will expect you to be the recipient of most of the benefits of the network. The flow will be mostly toward your node. But, as you move along in your career, those in your network will begin to expect you to reciprocate, and the flow will become two way traffic. Even then, you can’t expect to go to the network only when you are asked or you are doing the asking. You must spend some time just checking in with your network mates, even if it’s just a quick note, lunch, or happy hour adult beverage where the talk is about the family, whose team has done what, or just to say hello. Like any asset, you first have to invest in the asset and then devote some time and effort to maintaining it, even when you aren’t putting it to work.
So what’s the message? Build a good network and keep it tuned up. For those of you who are deeper into your careers, consider getting involved with younger members of your profession by volunteering to speak in classes, hiring them as interns, or just hanging out with them. Who knows, being a network facilitator might be a great late life way to volunteer.
So, to paraphrase the 1998 Kenny Rogers and First Edition song, have you just checked in to see what condition your network is in lately?
Patrick Taylor, PhD
Associate Professor of Economics
Else School of Management
“Success” means an array of different things to each one of us. Some value success in wealth, titles, and degrees while others see success as helping others achieve their goals or raising a family. There’s simply no right answer. I believe the only way to achieve real success is through integrity.
Consider four areas of how integrity can help you achieve your success:
In the boardroom or other situations, people won’t follow you if they don’t trust you. Open communications and transparency in decision making are critical to establishing trust. At our company, we have weekly staff meetings among the management team. For years, the main conference room doors were shut every Tuesday at 9:30. I often noticed that employee hallway traffic doubled during this time. Employees were eager to know what was going on behind those doors. Three years ago, we set out on a mission to change that feeling of exclusion among our team. I made a decision that doors would remain open during staff meetings. This very small gesture proved to have a big impact on morale. We began to receive positive feedback from our employees. Organizational cultures that value openness and transparency may reduce employee turnover and will generally perform at a higher level.
Most businesses now operate in a hyper-competitive, global business environment. Building customer loyalty is a wildly important competitive advantage. In our company, we place major emphasis on getting the customer experience right the first time. While we certainly make mistakes, we make a point to own those mistakes quickly, address the issues, and resolve them. A few years ago, we had an independent firm conduct a customer perception survey of our company. Our customer service department scored extremely well. We built customer loyalty by applying honesty and accountability.
Integrity is a vital part of leadership. As leaders, we inspire and empower engaged people in the pursuit of a common goal. Early in my career, I encountered a boss who wanted to get the deal done at whatever cost. His numbers looked good, but the success was short term. He earned a reputation of talking behind others’ backs, creating conflict, and telling inappropriate jokes. I personally wanted nothing to do with this guy and left a great company as a result. Less than a year later, he was gone – evidence that without integrity, leadership simply isn’t possible.
Companies spend billions of dollars building their brands. You, too, must invest in your personal brand. Integrity is a great brand attribute. It can be transferred inside a company from one position to the next, from one employer to the next, and outside of the office. We may not have hit this quarter’s profit plan, may have missed the deadline for launching the company’s new marketing campaign, or failed to convince the jury in one of the firm’s biggest cases, but if we failed with integrity, there is always a chance to try again. People who have a reputation of integrity will always come out ahead in the end. I see it time and time again. Integrity should be a key aspect of building the “you” brand.
Integrity is a commitment and a process that becomes natural when practiced. Build your success through integrity!
R. Ryan Cole
President and Chief Executive Officer
Trilogy Communications, Inc.
Welcome to the Else School of Management, the internationally recognized and accredited business school of Millsaps College. In this new series, our faculty, staff, alumni, and friends will provide information about business leadership and processes as well as opportunities for executive training and education to support the Else School’s mission of serving both the business community and community-at-large.
The Else School of Management is accredited by AACSB International and offers undergraduate degrees in business, accounting, and economics as well as graduate degrees such as the masters of accountancy, masters of business administration, and Executive MBA. In addition, the Else School has a vibrant Executive Education program that provides custom as well as open enrollment training and support for businesses. Our faculty are experts in their respective fields, with significant practical experience working with businesses and organizations. And, our alumni and friends are successful, dedicated business people with great vision and understanding that they willingly share with all of us!
We hope that this webpage will become a virtual home you visit again and again, finding excellent resources that help you address the issues you encounter at work and in your career. Our articles will cover a wide range of topics, and reflect both the best theories from the academy and best practices of business and leadership.
Again, on behalf of our authors, welcome to the Else School business series! We look forward to providing insightful and meaningful information to improve your business experience. We hope you enjoy it and look forward to hearing from you!
Kim Burke, PhD
Dean of the Else School of Management
Professor of Accounting