I am going through a chrysalis stage inasmuch as I am considering it may be time for a change. I have had great success as a consultant, but there are things I miss — like working with a team. I miss daily engagement with colleagues and customers and being around for long- and short-term results of our efforts.
Before moving on, I want to share two core concepts that produced great financial as well as cultural results for the companies I worked with. When you read below, it goes without saying that revenues and margins must be addressed head-on, but there is a softer side to business that when unleashed, like water, provides the most powerful force of all.
The first concept is to have people look at the “why” they are in business. I look for the “why” beyond the obvious — the obvious being to get a paycheck, get out of the house, expand your horizons. I am often disappointed when I go into hotels or companies and ask the employees what business they are in. People normally refer to the transaction they make. “We sell food, beds, shoes, insurance, etc.” Rarely do they speak about the end result of the experiences they wish to create. Shoes result in happiness. Happiness is the why. The why of great meals lies in the enjoyment and affirmation of the good life. The why of insurance may be peace of mind. And then — this is the kicker — make the “why” the basis of your culture.
Once the “why” is recognized and embraced by companies, without exception, productivity shoots up, as does loyalty and retention. What becomes obvious is this: People need to be aligned with something bigger than the product itself. They need to know what the company and leadership stand for in the greater scheme of things. Does this company make the world a better place? Does this company bring something that matters to others with equal emphasis on the employees? Do I personally have an opportunity to express myself and contribute?
The second concept has to do with stamping out mediocrity and stepping up to greatness. Greatness is contagious. It mobilizes people to jump out of bed each day and really want to produce something great, something they are proud of. That’s what a great culture will produce. Greatness culls greatness. When work is relevant, it is inspiring. I suggest substituting the word “work” with the word “livelihood.” Lively workplaces simply rock – with vibe, ideas and progress.
In this chrysalis state, I hope to emerge and make an impact like the butterfly does. Enhance the environment, exhibit grace, power and joy, and live profoundly for the short time we all get to make a difference.