The House Judy and Stan Built
Once upon a time, Judy and Stan began building a house. They bought some land, then hired carpenters, plumbers, electricians and roofers, and paid them to build a house. The couple checked on the progress daily, urging the team to work hard, because they wanted to move into their new home as soon as possible. But it was clear that there were problems. The owners wanted the house built on a crawl space, but since there were no plans, the team built it on a slab. In their haste, the carpenters installed walls before the electricians and plumbers could complete their work, and the walls had to be torn out and redone, needlessly increasing costs. The roofers paced, while waiting for everything to get done so they could begin. Stan confront the team about the issues, saying, “I hired you as competent people to build our house. Look at the mess you’ve made!”
The team members squabbled, blamed each other and took no responsibility.
- “It’s not our fault,” said the plumbers and electricians. “It’s the carpenters’ fault!”
- “It’s not our fault, we’re working as hard as we can!” said the carpenters.
- “It’s not our fault,” said the roofers, “We can’t even do our job yet.”
If this little parable sounds vaguely familiar, it should. It’s similar to the workplace culture in many businesses I encounter as a consultant. No plan, no foundation, no clear expectations, too much bickering, too little responsibility, communication and feedback – but everyone is busy, busy, busy! And in the end, the outcome is disappointing to everyone and nobody understands what the problem is. One of the objections I frequently hear about why a company doesn’t want to perform a culture inquiry is that it the team is “at capacity” or “just too busy” to take on another task or program. I hear you.
But that’s exactly why you need a culture inquiry.
No, this isn’t double-speak. Most companies are working harder than ever. Teams are overloaded. They are asking for more FTEs to accomplish everything that leadership is asking from them. Managers are stressed out. Employees are disengaged. Sick days are through the roof. You’ve probably even paid consultants who have sold you “solutions” in the form of new software, hardware, training, processes, office space or other “one-and-done” answers…all of which required an additional layer of something else to manage, measure and implement.
You already know that it didn’t work.
None of it worked. It just made things more complicated. And less profitable!
Maybe you’ve decided that the only thing you can do at this point is push your team to be more productive – to be busy, busy, busy! Yes, you realize you’re going to lose some of your best people because of your approach, but what choice do you have?
There is a better way — one that will not only decrease your team’s workload, but free up your time and energy to focus on the management and leadership goals that are closes to your heart and most critical to your mission. And my clients have found that it saves an average of ten times the cost of my consulting fees in the first year. That’s profit that goes directly to the bottom line.
Just like with the house-building example, what you really need is a customized plan that fits your business. Off-the-shelf remedies, books and one-size-fits-all solutions sold from the stage don’t work, haven’t work and will never work. Your company is a nuanced machine with multiple layers and a unique mission. Because every workplace is unique, and there is no “one answer” that works for everyone.
Even hiring consultants that offer remedies for aspects of the business can prove futile unless the consultants don’t look at the business as a whole and how the parts function together.
For example, you may think that what your business needs is new branding and fancy marketing materials, so you hire an expensive ad agency to make you look “pretty.” While marketing is important, it won’t fix fundamental problems in the company and help you become profitable until you address them. That’s like hiring a decorator for your house when the roof leaks and termites have eaten the flooring.
What is different?
A culture inquiry is different. First, we analyze the workplace in real time, while the business continues as usual. It doesn’t require work stoppage. Second, we consider data points from your business to diagnose your problems – we don’t just present a solution that has worked for some other company, because the root problems — and most exciting opportunities — are different for every company.
Our recommendations to correct your culture do not add “layers” of priorities to an already full plate. In most cases, our solutions streamline operations and often eliminate needless activity. A culture correction, or implementation phase of the inquiry, resets the processes and priorities by making the most profitable changes in your environment that will yield the highest returns.
We’ve found that employee engagement increases by 5 to 10 percent and employee satisfaction increases by 15 percent in the first year after a culture inquiry and implementation. Happy employees result in fewer turnovers – 20 to 60 percent less in the first year — and higher production — a 30 percent increase.
Correcting what’s wrong with your company culture is unlike any other solution you have tried to make it profitable and healthy. We don’t tinker around the edges, we give your business a complete makeover by dealing with long-term systemic problems that are holding you back.