Thursday, October 07, 2010

Align consultants and culture for best results

The most successful recruitment companies are those that have a positive culture, alignment with their people, and "good intentions", according to performance expert Sally-Anne Cotton.

Accordingly to Cotton, people perform at their best - in a state of 'flow' - when they can bring "all of themselves" to the job, and when the company's needs - and that of clients - balance with the individual's needs.

Cotton, the managing director of Executive Alchemist, says there is "a growing body of evidence that suggests very strongly that we can balance hardline results and the people elements in organisations".

For example, she says, studies have found that:
  • organisations with adaptive cultures (those that are positive, values-driven, respectful and supportive) significantly outperform non-adaptive organisations (those driven by power and competition);
  • "good companies become great" when they are characterised by giving guidance and inspiration, and "living their values" (i.e. values drive decision making), performing 15 times better than the general market (in terms of shareholder return); and
  • the values and drivers of top-performing companies include client satisfaction, collaboration, integrity and teamwork, while companies are more likely to fail when employees face a culture of blame, short-term focus, internal competition and information hoarding.

When people come to work feeling supported, it has a huge impact on their performance, she says.

But not only does a company need to have a positive culture, it also needs its values to be aligned with the people it employs.

For example, if a company wants its team members to collaborate, it needs to put in place a system to reward collaboration (as opposed to rewarding individual results), she says.

Finally, Cotton says, successful sales-based organisations are those that focus on a "common good" - they want client transactions to be win-win situations, rather than one-sided.

Gone are the days of "getting a sale across the line at all costs", because that behaviour doesn't foster long-term relationships and doesn't benefit the business in the long run.

Not a lot of people find real meaning and purpose in what they do, she says, but that's what organisations need to strive.