Saturday, October 16, 2010

Two Pillars of a Vibrant Organization Culture: Trust and Empowerment!

What is it that distinguishes a great company or organization from others as a desirable employer?  Is it the salary and benefits package?  Maybe. Could it be the company/org has a great reputation in its business sector and therefore is the presumed “best” place to work?  Perhaps. Or, is it something more simple, and basic, such as it is a pleasant and professional place to work?

I believe all of these factors are important attributes of a prospective employer.  Let’s face it, most people need to work, they seek credible employers, and since they spend a good portion of their lives at their place of work, doing so in a pleasant environment is really good for the soul.  Yet, I also think there is something more significant that stands out in the best organizations.

Two Pillars of a Vibrant Organization Culture

To me, one word best describes what makes a business special, it is its “Culture.” Have you ever walked into a hotel, restaurant, retail store, or some other business, and noticed right away that the employees are unusually friendly, or helpful?  It’s really refreshing, right?  It makes you really want to do business with that establishment!

I believe the reason those employees are so happy is because they like their job and they feel appreciated.  It would be a safe bet that they work in a culture built on the pillars of trust and empowerment.  In short, the company believes in them, demonstrating that appreciation not through its words, but through its actions.  That my friends is magical.

“Your job as an Extreme Leader is to help create a culture so vibrant and healthy that when people wake up in the morning and think about the imminent workday, they won’t be overcome with a sense of dread and won’t doubt whether or not they can survive the day. Instead, they should be filled with hope and the knowledge that they can bring themselves fully into their work and do something cool, something significant, something meaningful.” — Steve Farber

A company’s leadership must embrace responsibility for cultivating a unified culture.  Businesses understand training and developing new employees is one of the most expensive aspects of doing business.  (next to salary and benefits of course)  So, it stands to reason that organizations would do everything possible to retain their staff, for which they have invested significant time and energy to develop. Make sense?

The best companies not only understand how important their employees are to them, but they find innovative ways to demonstrate their support.  Amazingly some businesses don’t get it.  I predict many of those same companies will soon find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

Do you love your job?  Do you wake up, excited about what new opportunities the day will bring with your career?  If yes is the answer, then chances are you are on the “right seat, on the right bus.”  If not, then maybe its time to re-think what you do for a living, and who you work for!

Question:  What factors would you add to those I’ve mentioned that distinguish a great working environment from one that is mediocre?  Please share them with us.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff Hurt October 19, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler call this type of culture the HERO-powered business. HERO-powered business see their employees and customers as “Highly Empowered and Resourceful Operatives.” Employees and customers are permitted and empowered to do the right thing for customers.

Empowering customers creates a new level of employee engagement with customers and others. As more HEROs connect with others in social networks, they offer grassroots solutions, they reach out to others and they become connectors.

This engagement is a management issue. Management either approves of the process or they feel the need to micro-manage people’s actions. HEROs provide grassroots solutions, not top-down approved management initiatives. When ideas must be approved, the process unravels and control is the focus of corporate culture. That’s when an organization’s employees lose trust.

The HERO process is a complete inversion of the traditional top-down way companies are run. It means companies must now provide excellent customer service, empower their employees to provide that customer service, and trust their employees to do the right thing. Without it, the company competes on price or product and has no way to differentiate themselves.


Michael M McCurry CMP October 20, 2010 at 8:55 am

Hi Jeff,

I like that acronym HERO — very cool!

As usual you offer some great insights and information. As you know I am passionate about this subject.

Differentiators in the customer service arena are so important, as otherwise your company is just like any other. One true way to shine is through empowered and trusted employees, who in turn become ambassadors of the organization.

Companies that continue to hold onto a “top-down” philosophy will lose great employees and customers.

Thanks for contributing Jeff.



Navin Harish October 21, 2010 at 7:12 am

Trust and empowerment are fine. How do you ensure you do it? Hire the right people so when you empower them, they bring good results for you.


Michael M McCurry CMP October 21, 2010 at 8:22 am

Navin, thanks for stopping by and commenting!

You are so right … it all starts with hiring the right people. Amen to that.



Meth Lawyer LA October 6, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Great article. I’m dealing with a few of these issues as well..


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