The competitive landscape is strong considering the digital advancements that have been made over the past few decades. Today, businesses compete for the same customers thanks to the internet and social media. So, what sets you apart from your competitor?
In 2006, I was headed out for a much-needed vacation and my COO at the time came into my office with a stack of books to read while I was “relaxing” in my cabin. We had the highest gross profit we’ve ever had in my 30 years of business, yet, we had the worst culture and employee retention we’d ever had. How could this be?
After reading 4 books by Patrick Lencioni provided to me, I called his team, the Table Group, and scheduled time for his team to meet me as soon as possible.
“The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health. Yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free, and available to anyone who wants it.” (The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni) This statement rocked my world, and I knew that if we were going to remain at the top of our industry, I had to build this “organizational health” Patrick spoke of to match our operational performance.
Organizational Health is built on four key disciplines.
- Creating a Cohesive Leadership Team
- Creating Clarity
- Overcommunicating Clarity
- Reinforcing Clarity
At first glance it may seem easy – build a team, give direction, remind them of that direction and ask what I can do to support them. Done. Wrong.
Organizational Health is much, much deeper. Organizational Health must be the core of the organization that everything else is built on – strategies, objectives, hiring, firing, etc. It’s no easy task to implement Organization Health, however, I’ll spoil the ending – Organizational Health is your secret to crushing the competition.
First, build a cohesive leadership team. A cohesive leadership team is vulnerable, high-performing, accountable, trustworthy, and willing to engage in healthy conflict.
Second, create clarity. Why do we exist? How do we behave? What do we do? How will we succeed? What’s most important right now? Who must do what? Healthy organizations must be aligned and committed to the answers to each of these questions. Cohesive teams identify each other’s strengths and weaknesses and complement each other.
Third, overcommunicate clarity. Let’s be clear; this does not mean that the leader barks orders and expects execution and success. Organizational leaders must be willing to roll up their sleeves and overcommunicate. In daily huddles, weekly one-on-ones, monthly meetings, organizational health must always be overcommunicated. Again, why do we exist? How do we behave? What’s most important right now? Employees at every level should be able to answer every one of these questions at any moment. If they cannot, it has not been overcommunicated enough.
Fourth, reinforce clarity. Organizational Health must be woven into every human system, meaning every process that involves people, from hiring to training to development to compensation to firing. Every human system process must reinforce the organization’s clarity. Our rule of thumb is to hire for fit, we’ll teach, train and/or mold the skills. We believe that we can train skill but cannot train heart or drive.
It takes only 4% of staff to influence the health of your company, positively or negatively. Organizational Health is no easy task to implement, but I guarantee it’s worth it if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves, build a cohesive leadership team, create clarity, overcommunicate clarity and reinforce clarity.
As I implemented organizational health, I came to a fascinating realization. The reason why many leaders do not create health in their business is because they are afraid or even fail at being vulnerable and creating that personal connection with their staff.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the knowledge of our industry, the processes created, and most importantly, the team and organizational health established.
In 2012, I provided the following testimonial to Patrick Lencioni printed in his book The Advantage, and still holds true today, over 10 years later, “Organizational health is the cornerstone of our culture and provides a blueprint for our company’s everyday work environment. We have made critical business decisions – even closed stores – in order to maintain our health. In the last couple of years, we have increased our cash flow, strengthened our team, and set our family of Harley-Davidson stores apart from others.”
I truly believe that our organizational health is our competitive edge, and it overflows into all of my business endeavors, my personal health, supporting the community, and every aspect of my life.
To learn more about how our team at Scott Fischer Enterprises implemented Organizational Health and gather feedback on how you can adopt this competitive advantage, email firstname.lastname@example.org.