Suppose you want to design the best company to work for. What would it be like?
After researching various parameters we came to the conclusion that underlying the differences of circumstance, industry, and individual ambition, an organization that operates at its fullest potential by allowing people to do their best work has six common imperatives.
These parameters help you create an “Amazing Workplace.” In a nutshell, it’s a company where individual differences are nurtured; information is not suppressed or spun; the company adds value to employees, rather than merely extracting it from them; the organization stands for something meaningful; the work itself is intrinsically rewarding; and there are no illogical rules.
Features of an Amazing Workplace
LET PEOPLE BE THEMSELVES
The ideal organization is aware of dominant currents in its culture, work habits, dress code, traditions, and governing assumptions but, makes explicit efforts to transcend them. We are talking not just about the buttoned-down financial services company that embraces the IT guys in shorts and sandals, but also the hipster organization that doesn’t look surprisingly when someone wears a suit. Or the place where nearly everyone comes in at odd hours but that accommodates the one or two people who prefer a 9-to-5 schedule.
UNLEASH THE FLOW OF INFORMATION
The organization of your dreams recognizes that in the age of Facebook, WikiLeaks, and Twitter, you’re better off telling people the truth before someone else does. It respects its employees’ need to know what’s really going on so that they can do their jobs, particularly in volatile environments. Radical honesty is not easy to implement. It requires opening many different communication channels, which can be time-consuming to maintain. Particularly today, when trust levels among both employees and customers are so low and background noise is so high, organizations must work very hard to communicate what’s going on if they are to be heard and believed.
MAGNIFY PEOPLE’S STRENGTHS
The ideal company makes its best employees even better—and the least of them better than they ever thought they could be. In robust economies, when competition for talent is fierce, it’s easy to see that the benefits of developing existing staff outweigh the costs of finding new workers. The employee-employer relationship is shifting in many industries from how much value can be extracted from workers to how much can be instilled in them. At heart, that’s what productivity improvement really means.
McDonald’s, a company founded on the primacy of cost efficiency not only has extensive management training programs for its executives, but it also extends that effort to restaurant general managers, department managers, and shift managers who, as the day-to-day leaders on the front lines, are taught the communication and coaching skills they need to motivate crews and to hit their shifts’ sales targets. The return on the company’s investment is measured not in terms of increased revenue or profitability but in lower turnover of hourly managers and their crews.
STAND FOR MORE THAN SHAREHOLDER VALUE
People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, something they can believe in. Employees want to be part of an organization where they can really feel where the company comes from and what it stands for so that they can live the brand.” It has become commonplace to assert that organizations need shared meaning, which is more than fulfilling your mission statement.
A relevant example of shared value worth quoting here is that Engineers who design the side bars for BMW’s mini have been known to wake up at 4:00 in the morning to write down ideas that will make the cars safer. And that might be expected of people drawn to the idea of building “the ultimate driving machine.”
SHOW HOW THE DAILY WORK MAKES SENSE
Beyond shared meaning, the executives are also on the lookout of something else. They seek to derive meaning from their daily activities. This aspiration requires nothing less than a deliberate reconsideration of the tasks each person is performing. Do those duties make sense? Why are they what they are? Are they as engaging as they can be?
Beyond reconsidering individual roles, making work rewarding may mean rethinking the way companies are led. Making changes in the organizational structure to make it easier for employees to take advantage of opportunities across departments can be one such deliberate effort. Similarly Unplugging an organizations technical infrastructure that allows employees to connect to one another from practically anywhere while still meeting the stringent systems encryption standards encourages employees to be responsible for the results of their work while still being free to choose how, where, when, and with whom to carry it out.
HAVE RULES PEOPLE CAN BELIEVE IN
“Organizations need structure. Markets and enterprises need rules.”
As successful entrepreneurial businesses grow, they often come to believe that new, complicated processes will undermine their culture. But systematization need not lead to bureaucratization, not if people understand what the rules are for and view them as legitimate.
Employees are skeptical of purely hierarchical power—of fancy job titles and traditional sources of legitimacy such as age and seniority. What they need is a sense of moral authority, derived not from a focus on the efficiency of means but from the importance of the ends they produce. The organization of your dreams gives you powerful reasons to submit to its necessary structures that support the organization’s purpose. People want to work in a place that magnifies their strengths, not their weaknesses. For that, they need some autonomy and structure, and the organization must be coherent, honest, and open.
The above principles sound very logical & common to the ear. Who wouldn’t want to work in an organization that follows them? Yet, few organizations possess all of the above six virtues leaving the company of your dreams remain largely aspirational. However, these principles offer a challenge: an agenda for leaders and organizations that aim to create Amazing Workplaces.