BEST PLACES TO WORK
Best Places to Work Provide Optimal Financial Results
Over my forty years in Business, and having grown up with a CFO father, I have observed the characteristics that make a company a “Best Place to Work.” Putting this in place is driven from the top, but reinforced from the bottom. The right approach is like a recirculating fountain, as this ensures the long-term viability of the system. Effective change has to be carried out, in parallel, at top and bottom. Initially, it needs some pressure to keep it working, but over time, it becomes self-perpetuating. Often, family owned companies have an advantage, as they can be so much more personal.
In many years advising Perdue Farms, Inc. with Frank Perdue as my client, I saw how he built a culture and approached doing business that was based on stories about himself. Rule books and policy manuals were not as important as the living example he provided. Yet, I also saw at the Coca-Cola company a strong culture based on its history, which was widely shared throughout the company. Now, while I have seen many companies that are good places to work, or good performers, I have noticed that few are the best that they can be.
A company can be a “Best Place to Work” whether it is democratic, such as W.L. Gore or run as a benevolent dictatorship, such as Google. It can have fine food served at all hours in its cafeterias, as many Silicon Valley companies do, or expect everyone, at all levels, to punch a time clock, as does Mars, Inc. These are surface factors. Achieving such recognition, internally and externally, at such a company is based on a deeply held belief system from top to bottom. I have driven these kinds of changes in a number of companies, and have seen that there is a right way and a wrong way to meet the objective. I have seen the CEO of a Fortune 500 company make it clear that while he expected everyone to change, he was not going to. It was obvious to all around him and the company failed to change and, ultimately, to succeed.
However, a CEO and top management team that is genuinely prepared to make the changes necessary will be rewarded, not merely in accolades, but in dramatically improved performance., This is confirmed by hard evidence across all industries and size of company. The above examples are all of excellent, better workplaces, but they are not necessarily the best that they can be. Most companies benefit from outside help. This may take the form of people who understand organization and process dynamics, but who are not expert in “Best Places to Work,” or people with actual experience in transforming organizations into optimal organizations.
In getting to be a “Best Company” it is essential to address the underlying patterns of thought, not just the symptoms. So, how do we get there without addressing the elements piecemeal? This is how I have learned that Optimal Thinking, when applied from top to bottom, leads to the kind of performance top management seeks. The process trains people to think in Optimal ways and apply Optimal processes. This is far beyond mere “Good,” “better” or “improvement.” The process is the only one focused on achieving Optimal Results in the company.
So, while historically, a company became a “Best Place to Work,” through accident or piecemeal changes, it is now possible to make this transformation in a deliberate, planned and cost-effective way.