How to Be a Magnetic Organization
By Joan Morehead, SHRM-SCP, Vice President HR Services, HRPro, a UBA Certified Solution
When we hear something’s magnetic, it’s likely the first thought that comes to mind is attraction. By definition, a magnetic force is the attraction or repulsion that arises between electrically charged particles because of their motion. What perfect framing for an organization – the desire to attract (or repel) people to help advance your organization. With this framing comes the assumption that there’s motion, which is, hopefully, a result of intentional action.
If we follow the thought of intentional action, there are seven steps (and many more details for each step that would be too lengthy to include here) that attract what’s desired and repel what’s not desired.
Seven Steps to Being a Magnetic Organization
1. Decide what you want for the company
Simple, right? Yes. However, often an assumption is made that everybody knows what’s wanted. The best way to determine if you know what’s wanted is to ask the question, “Can I paint a clear, colorful and compelling story of the future?” This is one of the most important roles of leadership in an organization. Create, and tell a compelling story worthy of the effort it will take to get there.
2. Get 100 percent buy-in from top leadership
It’s not enough for the CEO or owner to own the future story, every top leader who’s responsible for the performance and experience of employees and customers needs to be 100 percent committed to the future. This is perhaps the most telling test of how quickly and assuredly you will achieve the goals to support the future state. It’s critical to check for this buy-in up front as well as at key milestone points along the way.
As important as the first two steps are, a pinnacle point in the process is sharing with your employees, customers, and other stakeholders what you intend to do.
This is a step that is often overlooked and undervalued. If you ascribe to the rule of seven for marketing, it takes at least seven exposures for a person to hear something with the likelihood of remembering the message. Communicate often and keep your message clear and consistent. Also, keep in mind that people absorb information differently. This absorption is relative to learning styles. Presenting information will be accepted differently if someone is visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social, or solitary in their learning style.
As you design your communication plan, explore not only what you’ll share, but how you’ll promote the messages.
4. Build Your Culture
This speaks to the actions necessary to achieve desired outcomes. It’s intentionally ordered after communication. Reinforce the mission of the company, or roll it out if it’s newly created. To move forward, you need every employee to be aware of the direction and expectations for the organization. Share organizational goals and keep leaders accountable to create alignment for their teams, including working with each person on their team to understand how his or her unique role fits into the overall picture. This will drive interactions that contribute to, or detract from, success.
Involve employees in the early phases of culture change and share quick wins. Consider including stories and testimonials from employees that show how the company is already making strides to get to the future vision.
Assure the right fit of employees. Clearly identify the top three expectations for each role and then find people who will be on fire to do these things well.
David Pink, in his book Drive, explores exactly what motivates people and claims that true motivation consists of: 1) autonomy, the desire to direct our own lives; 2) mastery, the desire to continually improve at something that matters; and 3) purpose, the desire to do things in service of something larger than ourselves.
In addition, make a habit of catching people doing the right things right. Recognition of work well done continuously reinforced will add fuel to building a positive culture. Finally, allow people to be who they are and find ways to insert moments of fun.
There are many evaluation tools to help identify what’s happening. Asking for feedback from employees and customers can be a highly effective way to help understand where the best practices exist and where improvements are needed. Measuring what’s happening on a regular basis offers identification of value in processes and with products.
According to the Predictions for 2017 Bersin by Deloitte report, “Driven by the need to understand and improve engagement, and the continuous need to measure and improve employee productivity, real time feedback and analytics will explode.”
The intention of assessment is to determine how things are going and then focus on improvement. The people who know the operations the best are the ones working the business. Trust your employees. As you understand the frustrations and barriers employees encounter, there’s an opportunity to reengineer how to tailor processes, deliver services, and provide products to support the changing needs of the customer.
When you identify what’s working and what needs to be changed – act with a sense of urgency to make the necessary changes. The organizations who adapt are the ones who have the greatest longevity. Market changes are constant and the ability to understand what’s happening and move toward what will occur in the future is not only admirable, but necessary for sustainability.
It’s obvious how these steps attract people with desired talents and attitudes to help advance your organization, but how will these same actions repel those who don’t align? When there’s consistent reinforcement of the culture, those who don’t fit will have a sense that your company just isn’t the right place for them, like trying to fit into a jacket that is too small or too large. This will be true for current employees and potential employees.
Not getting the results you want? Consider revisiting these actions – one step at a time.