Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When work . . . works.

"Wanted - mediocre employees who generally do a bad job."

No employer in their right mind would actively seek people who are not qualified, or do not have the right attitude.  In fact, I can't think of anyone who would apply for this job.  People tend to want to contribute at work.  Job ads tend to be more inspirational - in search of people who can bring their brand to life. The following is a career ad for 7-11 from their website:

We Have Absolutely No Doubt. To Be The Best Retailer, We Must Also Be The Best Employer.
Each person in the vast 7-Eleven family of professionals knows he or she counts – really counts – is genuinely respected, and will be given every opportunity to succeed and advance. Currently, 7-Eleven is home to more than 35,500 corporate and operations employees who recognize, as we do, that a combination of effective teamwork, great friendships, and selfless service will enhance our company’s position as leader of the convenience industry.

If you become part of our team, we want your work to be more than a job. We want it to be an investment in your future and ours. That goal is fully supported by the three Cs of our leadership model – The Capacity, Commitment and Character to Lead.

What I like about this ad is the closing line: The Capacity, Commitment and the Character to Lead.  These are the workforce qualities that can make or break the business.

I have the privilege of having worked with some very good people who fit these characteristics.  People who are dedicated to solving problems. Finding better ways of working.  But there's more to it than these characteristics.  There is culture.

The culture and environment is made up of all the little things that are not visible to the naked eye, but that you can feel once you arrive and begin to work.  As a newcomer, you have to figure out which way is North, and get to know the people who make things happen. In my experience, I would describe them as:
  • The high performers who make things happen.
  • Those who are most respected in the organization are worthy of listening and observation because they tend to have their finger on the pulse of the business, and they likely have the hearts and minds of the workforce.
  • The natural born communicators are those who carry the message.
Work is a two way street - it is a relationship between the employee and the employer. A contract.  So it is important to have your own ad and list of requirements.  The way the organization makes decisions, communicates and executes its plans is high on the list of the high performer.

Here's how the formula works: Decision making translates to responsibility. Responsibility translates to trust. Trust translates to loyalty.  Loyalty translates to good people doing good work.  Good people doing good work is good business.

The theory of decision making is the higher up you are in the organization, the fewer decisions you should make, with the greatest impact.  Imagine a pyramid.  At the peak is the CEO, followed by the executive, senior managers, front line managers and the people who actually do the work of the business every day - creating and delivering the products and services that create value for the customer.

In the ideal pyramid, CEO's ask questions and engage others to find the answers. CEOs set a standard of behavior. CEOs set the culture by their actions. The CEO delegates to his or her executive teams to distribute the accountability and responsibility for decision making.  And each executive delegates to his or her direct reports who delegate appropriately down the line.

Going down the pyramid, the decisions become more frequent.  Every day people who do the work - those who tend to work with the customers, create the products and services make decisions all the time so it is important they feel empowered, know the game plan and are accountable to deliver. And good employees want that.  To be accountable. To be trusted. To grow and learn.   

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

check out Richard Branson. He's all about this. Thats why he is so rich.