Page 4: A new way of working
An examination of typical, successful companies and organisations shows that this new way of working can be broken down into five separate areas or Paths, parts of good business practice that could be examined and improved. These are:
- SHARED GOALS – understanding the business the company is in
- SHARED CULTURE – agreed values binding the company together
- SHARED LEARNING - continuously improving everyone in the company
- SHARED EFFORT - one business driven by flexible teams
- SHARED INFORMATION - effective communication throughout the company.
Understanding the business the company is in...The organisation needs to know where it is going - what its goals are. However, if the vision is the product of only one person’s thinking, it will have limited impact because employees will feel that it has been imposed - that they have not made a contribution to it. When the imagination of all the people is captured, tremendous energy is created within the organisation. ‘Sixty people are involved in the Business Planning day. It is not the sole prerogative of senior managers to come up with the good ideas.’
The company needs to consult regularly with its employees, through unions, representative councils or in a series of meetings to define its goals. It also needs to set up key measures which are important to the development of the company and explain how these will be communicated to everyone, ensuring that each employee fully understands how these measures (e.g. market share, return on capital employed, profit) are obtained and their values. Key benefits to the organisation are:
- plans pull people together - providing a shared direction
- shared planning enables people to see how they fit into the organisation and value of the contribution they are making
- senior management receive ideas from those who really understand the business - and the opportunities.
Agreed values bind the company together...Shared and common values create the enterprise’s culture. An organisation’s culture represents the totality of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values and knowledge of the people within that organisation. When all these beliefs and values are truly shared, the culture delivers energy to the organisation which will transmit and reinforce the values into a powerful force for success. The company becomes confident in its approach to the future.
‘We never use the word empowerment! You can’t empower people - you can only create the climate and structure in which they will take responsibility.’ Directors and senior managers need to get closer to their staff, spending time with them, listening to their problems and aspirations. Employees should be regularly surveyed for their opinions on a wide range of issues, including how they feel about the company, its management and customers. If any major changes within the company need to take place, it is important that this information is disseminated widely and opinions sought before action is taken. Key benefits to the company are:
- all employees feel respected and so give of their best
- people are confident and optimistic - they give of their best
- the culture supports the organisations competitive strategy and provides the energy to sustain it - stretching and extending both the individual and the company.