A business is not just a logo, a brand or a balance sheet; nor is it just a payoff line, or a piece of paper. It’s not just the building it’s housed in. It’s not just the staff and leadership. The business itself is just like a person, it has an identity, name, culture, history, a future and a value system that responds to praise, pain, effort and recognition. It can shrivel up under long-term strain and thrive if nurtured. It’s alive with impetus, and can be hurt or helped. It has friends and allies, those who will defend it to the end and help it along at every point.
Your business has feelings.
If this proposition is to be believed, it makes sense to view your business in the same way you view a person. Leaders would do well to recognise this and consider how to manage the business with this mind set firmly driving leadership styles as they prepare for the year ahead - reviving excitement by reframing the way the business is perceived. After all – perception is reality!
By treating the organisation as a person - it builds ownership among staff and integrates the human being with the organisation and connects the employee to the philosophies of the business. It makes the organisation’s agenda more accessible and more relatable and it serves the organisation’s interest to have people feel about the organisation in a positive way. It’s essentially a culture building process. Imagine having your whole staff immersed in the full understanding of their role of looking out, growing and caring for this “person”, the business, rather than as a payroll sponging off a balance sheet.
Leaders looking at the year ahead should find ways of feeding the soul of their business - and what better way than humanising the business. This will include establishing what the touch points are that will build the business into a stronger, more resilient, attractive body, with employees who are engaged in 2016.
At the outset this requires an appreciation of what a person is. Simply put – a person is alive, has a name, a personality, values, feelings, a culture, history and a future. It has good and bad times and can be happy or sad. All of this is equally true of a business; every organisation is in reality the sum of its people and their collective decisions, cognitions, communications and actions. Regrettably most staff (and even managers) treat the business as just a balance sheet to the organisation’s detriment because data dehumanises.
The easiest way to bring alive the concept of the business is a person, is to workshop it; draw a stick figure that represents the business – inviting staff to unpack the attributes of the person (company) before them.
When regarding a business as a person – it becomes obvious that it can be offended. Forget stealing stationery; what about not bringing your A-game to work and in so doing stealing time and energy from the job. This is behaviour that offends and leaders need to bring staff around to being supportive, uplifting friends of the business. It’s about how we speak about the company over coffee. Interestingly, when you view the business as a person, you are less likely to cheat the system. By humanising the business, convictions are rewired and the predominant thinking becomes about “my performance matters”.
Don’t be confused, the leader is not the business, the business is its own person. It’s a combination of inputs, successes, lessons and key staff attitudes. Every person in a business has a contribution to make to building it up, and our role as leaders is to ensure everyone is contributing and not breaking it down.
The organisation can be likened to an orchestra – it’s the sum of the whole that makes the beauty – where some team members are the personality; some are the heartbeat, others the hands, while some focus on appearance. In the end though, when the different parts of the body play together there is magic in the concerto.
Leaders should remember that just as people get ill from disease, so organisations have cancers that can destroy their very existence. Politics, defiance, clashes of values, lack of respect among other things. Leaders can’t treat these ills with aspirin and need a systemic treatment that cures.
When it comes to relationships – everyone wants to date a hottie – so be the business that attracts the hot talent and retains it. Behaviours that make a business attractive are: consistency; co-creation; and a culture of greatness.
1. Consistency and predictability allow people to pace themselves. It’s recognisable and provides safety and security and it informs behaviour and builds team. It allows people to follow.
2. Teams need to be included in the creation process. Great talent doesn’t want to just be told how things are going to unfold; they want to help create the future. When teams are involved in creation – there is far greater ownership.
3. Expecting greatness. When everyone on the team – no matter how big or small their contribution – knows that success rises and falls on their contribution, a culture of excellence is developed.
Companies wanting to get the best out of staff must also ensure there are agreed values in alignment with the organisation.
In conclusion, reframing the organisation as a person is at the heart of organisational health in the year ahead – and will ensure success and attract the right clients, the right future employees and retain the best talent.