Companies Need Values To Ensure Longevity During Tough Economic Times

By Chris Harrison, The Pendo Group, LLC A sound manufacturing sector will be an essential element of the country’s economic rebound. Not every business will survive, but here are seven proven techniques for longevity, all focused on a single ideal -- a values-centered approach to leadership.

Manufacturing is, and will continue to be, an integral part of the American financial system. Our economy will recover, and a sound manufacturing sector will be an essential element of that rebound. Not every business will survive, but those who do will emerge stronger and more committed to quality than at any other time in history. So what will make the difference for your company?

Companies need to realize that when hoping to impact their organizational goals and productivity, they need to begin with identifying and building on their key values. This deeper approach may at first seem cumbersome and counterintuitive in tough economic conditions but absent of this values-centered perspective, businesses might experience random acts of greatness while falling short of long-term, sustainable success.

Bottom line, companies need to identify who they really are before they can learn what they can become.

The Detroit Free Press recently published the results of a survey they completed via a partnership with Workplace Dynamics in which 191 employers of at least 50 workers were surveyed. "At the very best organizations, people really believe the organization is going in the right direction and operates by strong values and ethics," said Doug Claffey, chief executive officer of Workplace Dynamics, in the October 19 article entitled “Money Can’t Buy Happy Workers.”

Here are seven tips for effectively taking a values-centered approach:

  1. Cutting for cutting’s sake is not the key to longevity. Rather, workers who are able to positively channel their creativity and work ethic to fully realize their potential in alignment to the organization’s values may make the difference between sob story or success story.
  2. Define the culture and core values of the organization and start to make that a part of everything that everyone says and does. Open communication helps establish alignment between how workers spend their days and the overall values of the organization.
  3. Companies must establish mission, goals and business objectives. To do this, they must consider their people, processes, and business objectives through the lens of their cultural values. They must seek answers to questions like “What is important to us as an organization?” and “How do we consistently convey that in everything that we say and do?”
  4. Accountability is key. A psychological change happens when people feel accountable for the outcome of their work. Successful companies hold their people accountable, often in creative and non-traditional ways, while maintaining a three-way balance between an individual’s accountability, responsibility, and authority to enact change.
  5. Workers need to find a balance between their personal and professional lives. This is especially true for executives. One key difficulty for leaders lies in managing what they have not previously experienced. A rapidly changing marketplace brings about new and unprecedented challenges all the time. Coaching leaders helps them draw upon the support of their peers and past successes.
  6. Companies must identify, measure, and track the indicators of their success. They must devise a way to measure and improve performance in key business areas such as stakeholder satisfaction, product and service outcomes, financial and marketplace performance, meeting operational goals, leadership and social responsibility.
  7. Above all else, workers must feel that theirs is a company which always does the right thing. Companies must adopt a “no-excuses” policy and do what is right for their employees, their customers, and their community with every single transaction.

Albert Einstein once observed that, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” The current economic climate offers a tremendous opportunity for American manufacturing companies. Their sustainability and success will be determined by their ability to adopt lean manufacturing practices, nimbly adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace, and establish their relevance to the supply chain.

Chris Harrison is President and founder of The Pendo Group, LLC. His company provides Organization Development, Technical Consultation, and Executive Coaching for manufacturing organizations. For more information, visit www.thependogroupllc.com

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