April 15, 2015
Creating a Results-Oriented Work Culture
by Dr. Mike Armour
Most organizations routinely ask their people, "What have you
accomplished this past year?" This question may be posed either to
individuals or to units within the organization.
The responses generally fall into one of two categories. They are
either weighted around activities or they are weighted around results.
In the first case the response is a lengthy listing of initiatives
launched and actions undertaken. In the second case the listing is
weighted around milestones reached, things accomplished, and outcomes attained.
While both activities and accomplishments are important in any
organization, it's outcomes, not actions and activity that are most
important. The vital issue is not, "What things did we do?" but "What
results did we get?"
What Ultimately Counts
In my workshops on leadership and management, I regularly emphasize the
importance of creating a results-oriented culture. I emphasize that
activity, no matter how impressive or how well done, has little meaning if
it fails to achieve appropriate results.
Ultimately management and leadership are both charged with getting
results — nothing less. Thus, exceptional managers and leaders always
surround themselves with a results-oriented organization. Within such
organizations everyone recognizes that effort and good intentions are no
substitute for results.
Results-oriented organizations have eight vital characteristics which
they share in common:
- Achievement Focused — They do not ask, "How hard did we try?" or "How much effort did we make?" They
always ask, "What did we achieve? Did we attain the right outcome?"
- Alignment — They align everything and everyone in the organization
to maximize capability, capacity, and throughput.
- Absolute Clarity on Expectations — They make certain that every
person at every level knows exactly what is expected from him or her
personally, as well as the standards for meeting these expectations.
- Accelerated Execution — They studiously avoid bottlenecks. They
emphasize timely execution of plans and responsibilities above
everything except values, vision, and quality. They never sacrifice
these in the interest of speed.
- Accountability — They hold everyone in the organization personally
accountable for meeting goals, deadlines, responsibilities, and standards.
- Assessment — They continually evaluate and measure results and
effectiveness. And they immediately implement needed corrections.
- Accurate Feedback Systems — They provide both formal and informal
rapid feedback mechanisms to keep top management fully apprised of things that the organization needs to know or learn.
- Adaptability — They design their organizational structure in such a
way that they can quickly change direction and adapt to new realities.
Making Your Own Assessment
Based on these eight principles, I've developed a simple instrument for evaluating whether your organization is poised to be a results-oriented culture. The instrument builds around eight statements, which I've listed below. As you look through these statements, respond to each one with the appropriate answer from this list: Never, Rarely, Occasionally, Usually, Always.
- We thoroughly evaluate our effectiveness on the basis of whether we achieved the outcomes that we desired.
- Our organization is well-structured to maximize our capabilities, capacity, and throughput.
- When adding personnel, we evaluate candidates in terms of their ability to help us increase our capabilities and capacity.
- People in our organization are absolutely clear on what is expected of them personally and the standards by which these expectations will be measured.
- We are timely in our execution of plans and responsibilities.
- Everyone in the organization is held personally accountable for meeting goals, deadlines, responsibilities, and standards.
- We have a program in place by which we continually evaluate and measure results and effectiveness.
- We have built rapid feedback systems into our organization to apprise leaders of things that the organization needs to know or learn.
- When required, we quickly change direction or adapt to new realities.
Your response to each statement should be either Usually or Always. Any other response indicates a priority area in which work must be done to position your organization for exceptional results.
© 2015, Dr. Mike Armour