Process – NOT Product!

I have had some very inspiring and productive conversations recently with different managers genuinely interested in improving and transforming their workplace culture.

They are seriously invested in creating an environment where workers are inspired to come to work beyond what they are getting paid. As Daniel Pink points out in Drive, (I paraphrase) that once a worker’s financial needs are met beyond them needing to worry from paycheck to paycheck – they key to improving performance is NOT giving them more money. I am sure they would appreciate it, but that carrot will not drive them to better productivity. In order to increase productivity and engagement, the key is to provide autonomy, purpose, and mastery.

Autonomy = allowing them to have a sense of ownership when it comes to how they get their work done. Freedom, not micromanagement.

Purpose = feeling that their work has deep meaning – even if that meaning is solely individual to them.

Mastery = creating an environment where workers are encouraged and allowed to grow and improve in their job, thus feeding their passion.

How much does your workplace reflect these three qualities?

While having discussions this week, one leader is in the process of creating a mission statement for his company. In his head he was tying the process to a pretty aggressive time frame, wanting to get the statement written so that he and the team could begin working on a vision.

The problem is, and many of you can relate, is that a mission statement quickly thrown together will have the impact of the “successories” picture hanging on the wall. None.

It will be stale and stagnant – just move corporate jargon.

Regardless of how awesome and pretty the mission statement is – it’s relevance will be determined by a few factors:

1) How much of the team was involved with crafting the statement? Was everyone involved in the process at some level, or did a few people at the top throw it together themselves? Clearly, involving and engaging the people who actually are supposed to carry the statement out is crucial. Without their involvement – the statement is pointless.

2) Assuming you have buy-in from the team, how are you going to use the statement to drive your activity and actions? How are you going to have the team familiarize with the statement and use as part of their work? If the statement is going to be relevant – you will need to use it as a compass for all of your work. And that being the case, how do your actions, incentives, process, etc. reflect your mission statement.

The proof is in the pudding – not in the statement.

Too often we want to throw together a beautiful mission statement – often written by Marketing – and then assume employees will buy-in, engage, and start striving for that mission. We both know that is not how it works.

Just as all communication is non-verbal, your culture is the same way. People pay attention to “what you do,” not “what you say.” If you want to change the culture, start modeling the way you want your team to operate – and then create your mission statement. That way it will be authentic and believable.

As you can see, the actual statement is less important than the process of how you create the statement – and then how you actually treat and work with your team.

So, what do you want? A team that lives your mission statement – or a brilliantly written dust collector on the wall?

Which is it?


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