The key success factor wasn’t great leadership at the top, the superior technology or smarter strategies.
1. Establish a core company culture, identify your core values and cultivate them
The book entitled “Built to Last“ by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras, written in the 90s, contains a lot of ideas, discussions as well as interesting facts and insights that explain why a company culture is so crucial for creating business success. The authors surveyed the most visionary and successful companies that had been in business for at least 50 years and compared them with their direct competitors, both in terms of quality and numbers. Astonishingly, the key success factor wasn’t great leadership at the top, the superior technology or smarter strategies.
Much more influential was the fact that they identified their core values and culture and stuck to them throughout the years. This was deemed crucial in order to secure a consistent and long-lasting standard way of working together. In fact, the studied showed that a consistent culture was more important than creating a positive one. If the company culture doesn’t remain consistent, then you can bank on a lot of issues and annoyances: the wrong employees will get hired, staff won’t get on and the workforce won’t be able to identify with the company. A broad sense of identification is therefore the secret sauce of success.
Furthermore, trust in people and delegate responsibility. It’s a fact that the majority of managers know less than the members in their team do. A manager’s job is not to decide everything, but to organize teams, simplify the decision-making process as well as streamline processes within the business. That said, a manager must have confidence in their team members and delegate responsibility accordingly. This won’t just lead to more satisfied colleagues, but also to better work processes. Those who have been given the responsibility will detect any bottlenecks or issues in the business themselves and should be able to discuss them with managers in an honest, open way, thereby giving them constructive feedback. And the chances are that their resolution to the issues will be better than what a manager comes up with. So, I say to all leaders out there: I know you may not like to hear it, but if you are smarter than your employees, then maybe you are employing the wrong staff.
But, it’s also incredibly important that we never forget to have fun at work. We spend significantly more time at work than with our friends and families, so let’s have fun and let’s make it a key driver in the business. The more we enjoy working with our colleagues, customers and partners, the more we identify with the company and the more we try to work hard to guarantee the success of “our” company. And don’t forget that cultivating the fun will also lead to you as a person having more fun. So try to think what you can do to bring more fun into the workplace. Just smiling at colleagues can be a great first step in the right direction.
2. Hire the right people
When I hire people, I always focus on their soft skills rather than on the hard educational skills or their experience. The key attributes I look for is self-motivation, a sense of responsibility, general smartness and whether they fit into the company’s core culture. If people are smart and motivated, they will learn other skills naturally. And if they are responsible, they don’t need to be micro-managed; they will be able to make the right decisions for the company.
If you have ever worked with a smart, efficient and responsible team, then you might understand what I am talking about. It is more than a luxury, it is just great! You’ll be amazed by their output, their work and how easy they make your own job, leaving you to focus on explaining the overall departmental and corporate strategy.
And here’s another very important factor you should have in mind when interviewing applicants: don’t compare their character and personality with yours. If you only hire people you find nice and affable, you might make a crucial mistake in the selection process by only selecting similar personalities to yours. A wide range of employees that have different skills and perspectives are very important, and also people who could potentially clash with others can be valuable team members – as long as they are smart, motivated, constructive and responsible workers and as long as they fit into your company’s core values.
3. Keep evolving your strategy
So many company leaders cannot explain why their company is in business or what its purpose is. Have you ever thought about that, too? It’s only when you can answer that question that you can provide something of added value to the market. If you cannot explain the value, what is the point of your business? And, more importantly, why should customers care or pay money for what your company provides?
It’s therefore crucial that managers are very clear about the company’s mission, vision and its value proposition. And one of their core responsibilities is not just to identify them, but to communicate them across the whole organization. Otherwise, it will be impossible to align decisions taken every day with the overall business strategy. And with no alignment, the strategy isn’t worth anything. Consequently, try to spend a fair amount of time working on your strategy and make sure you have open and flexible communication channels within your company.
Finally, by keeping your strategy agile and flexible and by staying in close contact with your customers, you’ll be able to continue to provide a valuable offering for those in your market. Those who understand that and act appropriately will provide better solutions to customers and will instill leadership qualities into a company to create a future that is filled with business success.