Do You Know Where You Are Going? Your Business Profitability is Counting on It
By Ken Keis.
Ken Keis conducted primary research for his MBA thesis on the effect that an organization’s stated (or unstated) vision, mission, and values have on employee morale, job satisfaction, productivity, quality of work done, and profitability.
The research is clear: business profitability and employee productivity are strongly linked to the vision, mission, and values of an organization. We’re not talking about your last budget meeting or fiancial expectations. If your organization does not have a written vision—that has been embraced by all members of your business—you are short-changing your profits.
Five Truths about Business Success
- The staff, productivity, and profitability of a company are negatively affected when the organization does not have—and follow—a vision or mission statement. Approximately 95% of employees surveyed felt that an organization’s vision, mission, and values were very important to them. They believed that the lack of direction from the employer reduced their productivity. It must be noted that organizations professing to believe in their vision and mission statements—but who are not practising them—are worse off than companies with no direction at all.
- Lack of shared and documented directions frustrates employees. Over 65% of employees in a specific sector were significantly frustrated by their organization’s lack of direction. On the opposite side of this statement, 75% of staff said they could improve their productivity if work objectives and expectations were more clearly defined.
- Vision and Mission statements are not effective without a plan of action. Close to 70% of employees felt there was no clear plan to get the organization to where it wanted to go. The flip position of this statement was that in organizations with a plan and vision of where they were going, two-thirds of the staff stated the quality of their work improved because of this plan of action.
- The foundational factor that influences staff morale and job satisfaction is the leadership competence—or incompetence—of their direct supervisor or manager. An organization’s great vision and plan can be effectively scuttled by a poor manager. The #1 factor linked to job satisfaction and performance was the work environment, which supervisors and managers create and support. Without doubt, when staff performance and morale are consistently low within a company, it is caused by poor leadership within that team or organization.
- Business profits are linked to the implementation of an organization’s vision, mission, and values statements. Undeniably, business profits are eroded without a clear direction and a plan to implement it. The key word here is implementation. Talking about it will not get you there. In Ken’s research, 98% of survey respondents believed the business could be run more efficiently. The challenge comes in the next statement: less than 25% of the staff believed the company supported the implementation of the vision and plan with the required resources or assistance. That is where lack of credibility becomes a destructive factor in the organization.
In an open-question format, respondents were asked to offer their viewpoint regarding the main reasons for poor performance or lack of productivity within the company. Here are their top five points.
1. Open Communications, without Judgment
Over half the staff felt they could not have a conversation with their company’s leadership without hearing judgmental comments. When that is true in an organization, you can kiss your maximum profitability goodbye. People will shut up before they will mention obvious improvements that could help the business.
2. Lack of Trust toward Management
Many employees felt they could not trust management to keep—or follow-through on—promises. This significantly affected their loyalty and productivity. If managers make a promise and don’t keep it, creditability disappears.
3. Incompetent Managers: Lack of Skills
In the previous two items, staff members listed a manager’s style as the main reason for their not realizing their full potential in the organization. In truth # 3, the supervisor or manager simply can’t get the job done or does not know how to do it competently. If a sports team is not performing, guess who gets let go? It’s usually the coach—not the players. The coach created the team and led it. He is held accountable for its success—or lack thereof.
4. Lack of Employee Recognition and Rewards
This suggestion does not cost money. Even though people want and need a paycheque, they really want more. Many of us tend to undercommunicate successes and overcommunicate failures.
5. Performance and Quality Standards for All Staff
What drives staff crazy is inconsistent accountability—or none at all. If you have a standard, people need to know about it in advance; it is unfair to hold them to an unstated standard. In the research, managers who did not hold staff accountable to preset standards actually lost additional performance from other staff members who were observing the situation. The attitude came across loud and clear: if they don’t have to adhere to policy, why should we?!
What Do Managers and Employees Want?
In addition, managers and employees were asked what they seek most in a job. They ranked the following 10 items in order of importance. Both Employees and Management rankings were:
2. Job security
3. Interesting work
4. Working conditions
5. Appreciation of work done
6. Management loyalty to workers
8. Feeling “in” on things
9. Tactful discipline
10. Help with personal problems
The top two items chosen were wages and job security. Those answers paralleled the research data. The next three tied for third: interesting work, working conditions, and appreciation of work done.
In a less than favourable work environment, staff members will underperform and may leave your organization soon after you have invested time and money in training them.
In the past, leaders have discredited the benefits of vision, mission, and values. The opposite is true. If you really want to maximize the productivity and profitability of your organization, implement your vision and lead your team with proven strategies.
Ken Keis is the president and CEO of Consulting Resource Group in Abbotsford, B.C. (www.crgleader.com). He can be reached at (604) 852-0566 or firstname.lastname@example.org.