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Cultivating Staff Commitment and Professional Values

Nowadays, rare company goes without ‘teamwork’, ‘cooperation’, ‘friendly environment’ and other beautiful words when presents its business on website homepage or publicity leaflets. It is common knowledge that in many cases they are nothing else but typical phrases. However, in companies which show high performance, there is good work of top management and HRs behind them.

Why is it so crucial to maintain high spirits in companies? The following reasons are usually cited primarily.

  • Inspired employees work with greater enthusiasm.
  • Motivated people generate interesting and useful ideas.
  • Companies which appreciate their employees rarely suffer from absenteeism.

Loyalty experts of Allegiance highlighted another reason, which is less obvious but is probably the key one in unstable economic conditions. It is ‘skill-liquidity’, in other words, flexibility and responsiveness to changing requirements and business needs.

Something beyond Money

ISR Global Research Director Patrick Kulesa shared simple conclusions from the research conducted by his colleagues: business results depend on ”the extent to which employees believe in the values of the company, feel pride in working for their employer, and are motivated to go the extra mile”.  Not a word about money in this passage. Certainly, the issue of materials requirements should be solved, but the origins of motivation are far more complicated and in great measure are connected with psychology.

Robert A. Bartell, managing director at global valuation and corporate finance advisor Duff & Phelps conveys the same approach. It’s curious that when he speaks about the employees’ attitude to a common cause he uses the word ‘love’. It means that people are emotionally involved in what they do for clients. “Our foundation is rooted within our people, who really want to be here. They love the firm and I use the word “love” intentionally. They are passionate about Duff & Phelps and what it stands for.” 

Bartell also mentions that the feeling of belonging to the big, well-adjusted and robust system provides psychological satisfaction for most people. “I do think that any company can ‘talk the talk,’ meaning talk about team work and collaboration, but Duff & Phelps has encouraged people to communicate, collaborate, and it compensates people that way. The spirit of what we are trying to accomplish is to have a company where people really want to work together, and they want to really put the client first. The words collaborative, team work and transparency are really important at Duff & Phelps.” 

Smart Workforce Management

Now when it’s clear how personnel should feel in order to produce excellent results, the question is how to organize it. The research conducted by loyalty experts Dr. Gary Rhoads and Dr. David Whitlark concluded that there are four critical factors which help to keep people emotionally connected to a business.

In order to build prosperous company where ‘teamwork’ is not just a word, upper management should make sure that the employees think they are:

  • Competent and improved. Make your colleagues believe that their competences are in demand, explain what opportunities companies offers them for the further development. 
  • Helpful. Demonstrate your awareness of the contribution that staff members make to the company.
  • Accepted. It is great if employees’ skills and expertise are appreciated but also check if their personality is well accepted by their colleagues.
  • Respected. Take opinions of staff members into consideration when solving issues of the clients or discussing company’s strategic plans.

Moreover, employees are very sensitive to the state of mind of their boss and easily catch slightest incertitude. That is why it is important for upper management to transmit a positive attitude and communicate confidence to staff members. Be sure that they will communicate the same to the clients.

Explain your subordinates that success of the company depends on the performance on all levels. And the people should have a clear vision of company as a mechanism where every element plays significant role. Provide easy interaction between offices in different cities and countries so that co-workers could exchange professional experiences.

In the end, regularly investigate people’s opinions using Likert Scale. On the one hand, it proposes a limited number of answers to the questions and doesn’t take much time. On the other hand, it considers all necessary nuances. And as far as people tend to stumble at submitting questionnaires to their management directly doubting confidentiality, better use third-party organizations to proceed.

High-commitment management

This concept pushes upper management to emphasize personal responsibility, independence and empowerment of employees across all organizational levels. Sociologists attribute the organizational efficiency of high-commitment management by the fact that it is driven by self-regulated behaviors and performance-driven group dynamics. Studying the workplace of Western Electric Company – the primary supplier of AT&T from 1881 to 1996! – Elton Mayo, from Harvard Business School, observed: “the individuals became a team and the team gave itself wholeheartedly and spontaneously to cooperation.”  

Thus, “HCM” is no new concept, but it is still widely emulated nowadays. Mentioning examples of companies having experimented this management method at the plant level – namely General Foods, General Motors, Cummins Engines or Procter & Gamble – Researcher Richard E. Walton wrote, in HBR: “by 1980 the success of efforts undertaken jointly with unions (…) was impressive enough to encourage managers of both new and existing facilities to rethink their approach to the work force.”    

People as Assets

People define success of the company and they appear the most valuable assets. Invest in their education but make sure that the trainings meet current challenges. Only ‘personnel trained to the highest level’ is competent enough to come up with the effective decisions for companies sailing in a hypercompetitive environment.

Hay Group, the global management consulting firm based in Philadelphia, specializes in transforming organizations and HR strategies. In a recent whitepaper, Hay Group points out that no ‘one size fits all’ talent solutions exists. Actually, they say, “each program needs to be tailored to the needs of the individual organization. Finding the right place to start is the key to success”. But overall, a company has to link talent management to strategy in order to clearly determine what skills it will need in the future. Otherwise, warns Hay Group, “the failure to grasp future talent requirements affects an organization’s ability to react to changing market conditions.”

DDI, another HR and leadership development consultancy, observes that four or five decades ago, managing talents was viewed as a peripheral responsibility “best relegated to the personnel department”. But, as DDI points it out, talent management has now become an organizational function which is “taken far more seriously”. Indeed, “companies now spend over one-third of their revenues on employee wages and benefits.” Well, how to justify the strategic dimension of talent management, then? “Your organization can create a new product and it is easily copied. Lower your prices and competitors will follow. Go after a lucrative market and someone is there right after you, careful to avoid making your initial mistakes. But replicating a high-quality, highly engaged workforce is nearly impossible.”

As we started out talk about cultivating staff commitment and professional values with a quotation by Steven Covey, now we can conclude it with another saying of the same author: “Leadership is communicating others’ worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.”




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