I have the pleasure of working with Healthy Place to Work. Organisational health is a no-brainer. Moving from killing people at work to making people healthy at work. A fundamental shift in thinking about organisation design, organisation behaviour and the definition of what really matters.
That is why I read “The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business” by Lencioni. We agree that the biggest problem our clients face, and their biggest opportunity for competitive advantage, is not really about strategy, finance or marketing; it is organisational health. Health is the ultimate USP.
Health as an organisational platform
The health of an organisation provides the context for strategy, finance, marketing, technology, and everything else that happens within it, which is why it is the single greatest factor determining an organisation’s success. An organisation has integrity and is healthy when it is whole, consistent, and complete, that is, when its management, operations, strategy, and culture fit together and make sense. Health becomes before being smart or intelligent.
Simple health indicators are:
- Minimal politics and confusion.
- High degrees of morale and productivity.
- Very low turnover among good employees.
Indicators of unhealthy organisations are politics, behavioural misalignment, ego and inconsistency. Read “Humanocracy“.
Healthy Place to Work
It is straightforward, but somehow leaders do not seem to be able or willing to act. One of the main reasons was the inability to quantify health. That is why we invented Healthy Place to Work and a standards system to assess how healthy your organisation is. And giving you the tools to improve.
Health supersedes smart
Leaders usually gravitate right to the “smart” side of the organisation, spending their time tweaking the dials in marketing, strategy, finance, and so forth. Rather than focussing on the core of a business, which is health. Why would they do something so absurd? An organisation that is healthy will inevitably get smarter over time. In contrast, smart organisations don’t seem to have any greater chance of getting healthier by virtue of their intelligence. Health is a multiplier of intelligence.
The same phenomenon can be seen in families. Healthy families—the ones where parents give their children discipline, affection, and time—almost always improve over the years. Your organisation as a family is a powerful way to look at it. How do you treat your family?
The financial cost of having an unhealthy organisation is undeniable: wasted resources and time, decreased productivity, increased employee turnover, and customer attrition. They create real anguish for real human beings. It leads to a diminished sense of hope and lower self-esteem, which leaks beyond the walls of the companies where they work, into their families, where it often contributes to deep personal problems, the effects of which may be felt for years. This is nothing short of a tragedy and a completely avoidable one. It should be the other way around. Work should have a positive impact.
The four disciplines model
Lencioni developed the four disciplines model. The book to read is “The CEO test“. It explains similar principles, and they are straightforward. Leadership and clarity.
Discipline 1: Build a cohesive leadership team.
Also, read the “The captain class“. If an organisation is led by a team that is not behaviorally unified, there is no chance that it will become healthy. Combined with trust, accountability and all the other things, you will read in good leadership books.
Discipline 2: Create clarity
Using these 6 questions.
- Why do we exist?
- How do we behave?
- What do we do?
- How will we succeed?
- What is most important right now?
- Who must do what?
Creating the rally-cry, impact statements, 100-day plans and the platform of purpose, meaning and health.
Discipline 3 and 4
Discipline 3 and 4 are over-communicating and reinforcing clarity. Repeat, repeat, repeat. The problem is that leaders confuse the mere transfer of information to an audience with the audience’s ability to understand, internalise, and embrace the message that is being communicated. Communication is everything. The world is full of organisations where employees feel uninformed and in the dark even though they have access to more glossy newsletters, interactive websites, and overly produced employee meetings than they need or want. Develop a playbook: a simple document summarising the answers to the six critical questions. Share the playbook with everyone. Use the playbook as the basis for recruitment.
Some tips from the book
- The best human systems are often the simplest and least sophisticated ones.
- The best approach to hiring is to put just enough structure in place to ensure a measure of consistency and adherence to core values—and no more. It is better to be somewhere closer to having a little less structure than more.
- Hire for fit
- Nothing has the potential for bureaucracy and wonkiness like performance management systems.
Organisational health is a no-brainer
The power of organisational health is undeniable. Combine that with the great resignation, regulatory pressures (you are going to get sued), the way for talent, the expectations of younger generations, customer experience, innovation capability, the need for authenticity to compete, organisation clock speed, and I can go on for a very long time. I would argue that a truly healthy organisation is quicker, more resilient and more adaptable. Organisational health and business agility go hand in hand. In that way, it is not that different to our own body and our own health.