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Four Secrets Of Organizational Excellence

Written by: Dale Halm, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


According to a recent Gallup study, sixty percent of employees don't know what their organization stands for. That’s bad news. Most leaders take it for granted that everybody knows the company agenda and that all employees are committed to excellence. If your organization’s game plan does not include explicit behavioral standards, you are likely performing at a sub-optimal level. This article explores four things you can do to establish a blueprint for excellence.

1. Know Your Agenda

What’s your organization's agenda? What’s your personal agenda? Most people are unable to provide an immediate, crystal-clear response to these questions. Their sense of purpose and contribution disappear in an endless sea of to-do’s. This is true for both individuals and organizations. What is an agenda? It is your indispensable plan or goal that guides your behavior. Your agenda represents the things you must act on to accomplish your objectives. Leadership’s job is to simplify and clarify the organization’s agenda so that every employee can understand it and realize how their work contributes to it – period. Anything less leads to organizational mediocrity, not excellence.

2. Define Excellence

What does it take to achieve organizational excellence? Obviously, it takes many things. Most importantly, it takes people who can collaborate in an exceptional manner. I define organizational excellence as the ability to achieve outstanding results by people working together in uncommon and highly effective ways. Let that definition sink in for a moment.

Many companies have brilliant strategies, leading-edge design and manufacturing capabilities, advanced technologies, or other competitive advantages. Yet, they fail to operate at true levels of excellence. I have never met a leader who did not want his or her organization to excel. It is hard to find an employee who does not aspire to be part of a prominent organization. So, why is this so difficult to achieve? A fundamental reason is that we don’t define our terms. Saying you strive to be a high-performance organization without defining what it really means leads to dysfunction. You must clearly define what you mean and what it looks like to be an exceptional organization. Then do the heavy lifting of holding yourself and others accountable to those standards. That’s how you start to move toward excellence!

3. Know What Matters Most

The main reason most enterprises fail to achieve organizational excellence is because they don't pay attention to what matters most. What matters most is the way people interact, how they work together to produce results, and their ability to shape their own destiny. Whether it is a relationship between two people or an entire organization, success boils down to two fundamental things. How people think and act ‒ that's culture.

Creating a winning culture is not about attaining an ideal state where everything is perfect. It is not about being content with your relationships, co-workers, or the workplace. It is about challenging your habitual ways of interacting and applying an alternative approach resulting in higher levels of excellence and more effective relationships. As an American management consultant and author Peter Drucker said, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast."

Think about that for a moment. For a business to prosper, you must implement new processes and realize cost savings. You need to upgrade equipment and technology to stay competitive. But nothing noteworthy will occur without employees working together in extremely constructive ways. Yet this is often missing as a stated objective. It is not on the organization’s agenda.

Without talented workers interacting efficiently to produce sustainable results, organizations never maximize their true potential. You simply don't get superior results without people being highly cooperative. Companies on Fortune's Best Companies to Work for List have cultures where employees approach business and each other differently.

4. Behaviors Triumph Systems

If you look under the hood of companies like these (i.e., Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Wegmans Food Markets, Accenture, etc.), you'll find cultures of accountability and partnership. The distinction is that individuals in these organizations work together in unique and powerful ways. They emphasize company goals over personal objectives. Team members are honest and direct instead of misleading. Co-workers truly commit to decisions instead of sabotaging them after they are implemented. I can assure you, there is nothing ordinary about these behaviors.

Yes, operational, marketing, cash flow, people management, and procurement systems are vital. You can have the best systems online and on paper but if people don’t honor them confusion, blame, and excuses erupt. Companies that establish cultures of excellence understand that employee behavior, not processes or systems, is the ultimate driver of success.

So, what's on your organization's agenda? Does it include excellence?


Dale Halm, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dale Halm is the Founder of Dale Halm Consulting, LLC. He has held leadership positions for a Fortune 500 company and has contributed significantly to record-setting start-up operations resulting in multi-million dollar cost savings. Dale's extensive experience includes various training and organization development roles at Intel, Freescale (NXP), and Arizona Public Service Company. He is the author of The Excellence Agenda and specializes in transforming workplaces and maximizing human potential. Dale has been a speaker at numerous conferences and holds both a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts from Northern Illinois University.



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