I read two pieces in the last week that provided a bit of thinking for this week's post.
The first was an article from McKinsey talking about the need to connect people to your organisation in a more personal way.
The second was a news article from Kornferry in which they talked about a recent change in focus by the Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs from the largest companies in the US.
The latter was an acceptance from 181 from 188 of their group (I'd love to know who the seven were!) that pure shareholder value isn't the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to business. We know (particularly from the 2007/8 financial crisis) that when the reason a business exists is solely to maximise profits, it can lead to people making poor decisions, particularly for customers. As Simon Sinek said 'Profit isn't a purpose, it's a result. To have purpose means the things we do are of real value to others'.
So they committed to move from a focus on shareholder value to stakeholder value and purpose and, in doing so, recognise that there is more to the sustainability of business than turning a buck. In fact, from Sinek's perspective, a focus on stakeholder value means they should turn more bucks!
But of course, saying you're more stakeholder focused isn't enough. If the people from top to bottom in those 181 organisations aren't doing everything they do in pursuit of that purpose, then it's all for nowt. This whole idea of 'purpose washing' - where you say one thing publicly and do then something else internally - throws petrol on the fires set by the cynics who don't want to see the change, don't get it or don't believe it's necessary.
In order to be successful in being more stakeholder focused and striving for a higher purpose, organisations have to effect change in HOW they do what they do.
Which brings us to the McKinsey article on making change personal. Whether it's a change in focus as above, a change in systems, structure, products or management, connecting it to your people in a more personal way is critical. As the opening of their article says, 'the need to shift mind-sets is the biggest block to successful transformations. The key lies in making the shift both individual and institutional—at the same time'.
Research shows that mind-sets ingrained by past management practices remain ingrained far beyond the existence of the practices that formed them, even when new ones have been put in place. Understanding the root causes of behaviors that either help or hinder change is key so that that insight can be used to craft messages and a plan to implement the change in a powerful and lasting way. That means not assuming you know what';s going on by LOOKING at a situation - you need to ASK.
And it's only once you've identified those root causes that you can start to re-frame them and use that insight to drive actual change with your people on a personal level.
But that change has to start with leaders. Interestingly, on average, when leaders are asked if they “role model desired behavior changes,” a full 86 percent report that they do. When the same question is put to people who report to these leaders, it receives only a 53 percent average positive response.
In effect they aren't modelling nearly well enough. As Ive often said in this blog, organisations have to be open and honest about the change they want to make, have to have a strong purpose (and actually live it) and have to consider their leaders as one of their most important communication channels.
If you want to learn more about how brands like AIB, Google, Special Olympics, Sodexo and Skillsoft bring their purposes to life then why not come to our event on 9th October. Tickets are €75 and all proceeds are being donated to Soar and FoodCloud, AIB's corporate charities
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