Aligning priorities of the organisation and employees
Success starts with motivated employees. Every organisation needs a vision so that its employees can work passionately, attract people with the same vision and to keep on developing in an ever-changing world. But does the goal of your organisation fit in with the personal goals of your employees? Do the priorities of your organisation and your people match?
If the priorities chosen by management are not in line with the actual priorities of the employees, there is little chance that they will put the organisational priority first. Is Corporate Social Responsibility really important to your employees, for example, or is it only part of the organisation’s mission because People Planet and Profit is a trendy phenomenon? If the organisation’s priorities do not match those of its people, short-term success can be achieved, but long-term gains will never be accomplished. Or the priorities of the company and its employees will grow apart, and the success will be reversed, as in the case of Nokia and Kodak, for example.
The priority of your organisation should be an essential part in attracting new staff, putting together teams and reconsidering the existing management priority. Only then can you expect long-term success.
The real impact of Priorities
In 1994, John Elkington, a pioneer in the field of sustainability and organizational responsibility, introduced a concept he called the triple bottom line. He argued that companies should not only look at the financial bottom line of Profit, but also include the People and Planet aspects in their business operations. Since then, the concept of the 3 P’s has grown and expanded to include other points for attention for organisations. Purpose, Principles and Trust, for example, have become strong principles in recent years. We use these six principles in the People Change Scan to determine where the heart of our employees lies.
In the overview below you can see an illustration of what the priorities of the organisation are according to a randomly chosen employee. We call him Carl.
Carl sees the pursuit of a higher purpose as his highest priority. He wants to work for a company that explicitly deals with this. For example, he would fit well in a research institute. People who find purpose important are most motivated when they work in an organisation with a significantly higher goal, such as a CO2-neutral company or contributing to science. Think of Tony Chocolonely, who are fighting for slave-free chocolate. In an organisation without a higher goal, Carl loses his enthusiasm and energy over time.
More and more people are asking companies to make an active contribution to the world; a social responsibility. Companies like Tony Chocolonely tell a clear story and get others on board. Customers buy these chocolate bars because they feel they also contribute to fair trade.
Principles stands for working according to certain rules, standards and conditions. The right order of action is very important in this respect. For Carl, following the right principles and procedures is only important to a certain extent. This would not fit in well with a technical company or a government agency; both are set up according to fixed processes and on the basis of regulations. Carl would be annoyed by the sluggishness of the system and the slowness of the decision-making process, which stands in the way of serving a higher purpose.
At some companies, monitoring principles is essential. Think of the consequences that wrong priorities have had for Volkswagen; they considered profit to be more important than the principles of complying with the imposed exhaust readings.
Carl sees the least importance in making a profit. He is not engaged in return on investment and will not be enthusiastic about financial growth. In financially difficult times, he is not the leader one will be looking up to. Because of his attitude, he fits in well with a non-profit organisation.
Profit making has long been a priority for most large organizations. The banking sector is an example of where profitis important. Many people there have been driven by success. It is deeply rooted in their personality. This includes tight suits, beautiful cars and high incomes. Profit-drivenorganisations often have a bad name in the Netherlands. However, this priority will ensure a healthy economy, job opportunities and drive to new markets, as well as tapping into innovation. It is precisely for this reason that we would like to emphasise that no priority is better than any other. Each priority has its own values and its own function in society.
Taking good care of employees and guarding human needs is reasonably important for Carl. He believes that employees have a right to a safe workplace, a good salary and a say in business operations. He feels the need to look after the well-being of his colleagues.
When Carl is looking for a job, he will not look at the salary first, but at the terms of employment. For him, days off, working from home, culturally diverse workforce, responsibilities and opportunities for personal growth are much more valuable than his income. A relatively large amount of attention is paid to people in government institutions.
Planet stands for the need to take good care of the earth. Carl attaches little value to caring for the environment. He will throw his paper coffee cup in the general trash can if the recycling bin is too far away. He wants to passively contribute to a cleaner living environment but does not actively consider this. You won’t get him enthusiastic about organic food, wind energy, solar panels or using his car less. Sustainability will not play a role in his life either. Just like Carl, many companies do not prioritise the planet and see it as a concern for others. Conversely, an organisation such as WWF is not a good fit for Carl.
Trust stands for openness and honesty. Employees must be able to trust each other and the organisation. When trust is at the top of a company’s agenda, there is a strong emphasis on the internal relationships and the customer relationship. The reputation of the organisation is directly linked to the degree of trust. Openness, keeping promises and customer focus are three of the pillars of this priority. Trust is very important to Carl. He will not lie to his customers and will do everything in his power to keep his promises. This makes Carl an employee you can rely on. His customers know this too. Trust is the starting point for customer satisfaction and enthusiastic employees.
It should be clear that an organisation performs better when the priorities of the employees, the management and the organisation are aligned.
Because each person assigns their own values to different priorities, not all employees will fit exactly into the organizational priorities desired by the management. It is even questionable whether the entire management is exactly on the same wavelength.
If you are going to recruit new employees or change your organisation, start by analysing the priorities so that you know where everyone stands. Priorities can change, but they are so deeply rooted within someone’s personality that it is only possible to do so very gradually through a very powerful corporate culture.
Want to know more?
People Change has included organisational priority as an element in the People Change Scan. This allows you to quickly measure where everyone stands, for small businesses or thousands of employees at once.
Contact us now for an informal chat.