Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Mission Statements: Strategies to Consider

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

For many organizations, controlling workplace and employee behaviour is by no means a new problem. Getting employees to behave in a manner which is consistent with and reinforces the goals and aspirations contained in the company mission statement (a core and cornerstone strategic document) is at best an ongoing challenge.

Indeed, the true test of any mission statement’s worth, and worthiness, lies in its ability to inspire, control and influence employee behaviour. It’s also the job of corporate and institutional leaders to make sure this happens.

While it is beyond the scope of today’s blog to delve into all of the activities required to become a mission driven organization (for that you have to read my 2011 Business Best Seller, A Tale of Two Employees and the person who wanted to lead them), I can however outline a few strategies wise leaders must consider when developing and implementing an effective, behaviour influencing mission statement:

Have a mission statement that addresses the needs of all key stakeholders (from the brass to the grass roots of the organization)
Re-introduce employees to the mission statement on a regular basis (ensuring that they know it, understand it and are focused, and committed to it)
Reinforce the mission through organizational structures, systems and procedures (this especially includes the recruitment, training and reward systems)
Engage employees by allowing them to provide feedback and suggestions on what the mission statement means to them and how it can be improved

Only by incorporating the above mentioned practices can a company ever expect their mission statement to have an effect on their employees. It’s that simple . . . really!! Failing to do so will result, I can assure you, in having a mission statement that is hardly worth the paper it is written on.

My closing thought:

For any corporation to successfully develop and implement a mission statement, it must possess a team of well-trained, engaged employees who are committed to upholding it. And what are the consequences of not being mission driven? Chaos, confusion and contempt. Just ask any failing organization.

Today’s Globe & Mail – Bestselling Business Books

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012


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Boards – 2012 To Do List

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Of all the topics that boards are currently considering as part of their 2012 to do list (i.e. better risk management, taming executive compensation, more constructive engagement on strategy) I think that there’s one major topic missing….that is, the board’s separate-from-management ”accountability for the performance of the organization”. Shareholders need to start seeing an Annual Board Performance Report…..just as they do with with Management’s Annual Financial Report to the Shareholders. That way, shareholders can get some sense as to whether or not the board was doing its job as “governors” – which is an activity separate and distinct from management’s.

Moreover, when a company’s performance goes well, the board get’s to take credit along with management – and often does. But when a company fails, it’s almost always only management who pays. They get fired – and typically with millions in severance. Directors, however, need to know and demonstrate to shareholders that there are “job related consequences” for them – along with management – when company performance fails. They too should be replaced….and even volunteer to do so. Now that’s accountability!

Mission to make money?

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

The purpose of a corporation is to make money…well, sort of…

For the record, I have spent most of my academic career unraveling the mystery of mission statements – the most popular management tool in the world and yet equally among the most despised. What I have found is that a well crafted, communicated and coordinated mission can make the difference between mind boggling and mediocre performance.

The starting point is in their creation which must answer the question: why do we exist. Easy to ask. Hard to answer. The secret lies in understanding that every organization exists because it is able to attract and retain the loyalty of multiple stakeholders (external and internal)who support the organization through different means: capital, purchases, labour and social licence.

Massively mistreat any one stakeholder upon whom you are significantly dependent as an organization, and you are toast….you will not exist. Plain and simple.

Mission statements however are just words found on a piece of paper or at a lobby entrance. To make them real, they need to be translated (word for word) and communicated (over and over again), though measurable objectives, programs and tactics. And all this needs ultimately to be coordinated in some kind of symphonic-like set of organizational systems and processes because, if not, the mission music will just be a lot of conflicting noise.

Creating a mission driven organization is a lot of hard work for sure….but, the payoff from creating one is definitely there…and not just for the shareholders who get to enjoy excellent returns but also for the customers with outstanding products,for the employees with secure and rewarding careers and for communities who benefit from having the “corporation” as a responsible “resident citizen”.

Corporations must make a profit to exist…but those profits, if they are to be both superior and sustainable, will only happen when all stakeholders, not just the shareholders, benefit/profit from the existence of the corporation. So, corporations must make money/profits to exist but how they make those profits is the key to the corporation’s long term success.

Great mission statements espouse this thinking and brilliant leaders turn the words of their mission into action. My research over the years bears this out.

Recent Press Release

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

A Tale of Two Employees – Best Selling Business Author viagra Ebook

Execution is everything. For years managers have been asked to implement their organization’s mission and strategy with fewer resources than before, whether it be fewer employees, a smaller budget, less time, or less administrative support. With situations like this, it can be extraordinarily difficult to effectively engage employees whereby they passionately commit to their organization’ current and future aspirations.

Research relentlessly reports that regardless of the economic circumstances, having an engaged workforce – one that is enthusiastically willing to give more than just what is required to hold onto their jobs – contributes to better business performance. For example, Hewitt Associates has found in its annual survey of employees in client companies around the world that, since the onset of the economic recession in 2008, for those organizations having less than 40% of their workers ‘engaged’, shareholder returns were 44% lower than the average. In contrast, when 65% or more of employees were engaged, shareholder returns were 19% higher than the average.

It is for reasons like these that eliminating workplace alienation and creating an engaged workforce has become the new mantra for firms climbing their way out of the recession. Achieving true employee engagement can be very challenging. However, with mission and vision guru Dr. Chris Bart’s help, it has never been easier to do.

After two decades of research, Bart shares the four essential questions and management practices for capturing the holy grail of employee engagement in his book “A Tale of Two Employees and the person who wanted to lead them” – the #1 Best selling business book for 2010. A best seller since 2003, the book is written as a fable making it an easy read as it provides a straightforward, simple-to-implement solution for creating a culture of engagement in any organization. The book has also been recently published as an ebook through, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Chapters/Indigo.

CEO of Cirba Corporation, Gerry Smith, raved about his experience in managing his employees, and how Dr. Bart’s insight in his new book book helped Gerry shape his management team. He explains, “I know my number one challenge: getting others to understand and execute our strategy. A Tale of Two Employees is an entertaining and quick read whereby Bart provides a wonderful step-by-step guide to diligent leadership and employee engagement. A guide to which I now frequently refer to. and one that helps my entire management team get the most out of our employees.”

Regardless of your managerial and leadership level, this book is a must-read. For anyone facing employee engagement problems, and what leader hasn’t, this book is perfect for those who are looking for simple truths for getting almost anyone to do what needs to be done.

Mission Statements on the Web

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Hands down, one of the most important things a company can have is a Mission Statement, as it communicates the company’s focus and main purpose for existing to potential customers, investors and employees.  The question is, however, what is the best way to communicate it to the public?

Imagine a billboard, if you will.  The billboard contains an ingenious advertisement, which will capture the attention of anyone who sees it.  Now, imagine this billboard is not only seen by those driving down the particular highway its located on, but can be seen from every highway, road, street, avenue, etc.  That billboard is your company’s Mission Statement, and that highway is the World Wide Web.

Since the development of the internet in the 1960s and the web in the 1980s, businesses have been able to extend their reach to the entire globe.  Thus, they have been able to extend their client base exponentially.

These days, the majority of businesses create a company website, which details basic information about the business’ history, practices, products and services, purpose, etc.  Websites are valuable sources of information, they are relatively simple to maintain and they are easily accessible to the public.

A company that not only publicly displays their Mission Statement, but does so in a way that anyone in the world can see it, shows confidence in their business practices.  A consumer, employee or investor will find this confidence safe and comforting, and recognize it as almost a guarantee of the product or service.

Promoting an Ethical Work Environment

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

It may come as no surprise that ethics are an important component of business. However, in today’s troubled world, corporations seem to have lost this “common knowledge,” and have instead swapped it with an obsessive drive for profits – at any cost.  To understand how imperative ethical behavior is, you have to consider the impact that this has on “trust”, because that’s what it all comes down to.  An employee or consumer will not want to invest their time or money in a company they don’t trust, and if there is no investment, there is no company.  Simple.

Although it is always easy to pinpoint the exact reason (s) for the failure of a corporation, it is slightly more difficult to put a finger on the causes of success.  Especially when it comes to ethics as a guide to good behavior – or as a ‘brake’ to ethical transgressions. But here is the finger:  Human Resources (HR).  HR, for all purposes, should be the department responsible for establishing an organization’s ethical work environment.

Below are some fool-proof steps to follow to ensure that a company and its employees are engaging in ethical conduct. They are based on the 5 simple, yet immutable, leadership principles outlined in my 2010 #1 Canadian business best seller, “A Tale of Two Employees and the person who wanted to lead them

Articulate an ethics code.

HR should clearly define what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behavior in their organizaiton – in clearly stated, unequivocal terms – by creating an ethics code.  For this to work properly, it must be made widely known, repeated regularly and pertain to all employees, regardless of their standing – and that includes the CEO and Board of Directors!

Ethics and the hiring process.

Once an ethics code is established, it should be a main tool in the hiring process – not just a reference or insert in the prospective candidate’s interview package.  All job candidates should be asked to express their personal ethics and be given the chance to discuss, clarify and even challenge their potential employer’s code.

Ethics and role descriptions.

The ethics code should also be referenced in each job description for both new and current employees.  Additionally, HR should have every employee agree to and sign a copy of the code.  These copies should be kept on file, and updated annually, to ensure each employee is reminded about and understands what the organization’s ethical expectations are from them.

Ethics training and development.

A corporation cannot rely on an employee only knowing what is expected of them.  It must be ingrained by simulations, case examples, role playing, etc.  Practice makes perfect, right? Right!

Align the ethics code with performance management.

It’s an inviolate management axiom that ‘what gets rewarded, get done’. Adjusting an organization’s performance management system to include ethical behavior, therefore, is an important HR activity for reinforcing the ethical behaviours desired.  To further enforce ethical behavior, HR needs especially to monitor ethical outcomes and correct any transgressors.

By following these few – relatively simple – steps, HR can help create a trust-worthy business environment and, in so doing, play a major role in restoring the faith of consumers and employees in our modern corporations.


More than Money

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Direction, purpose, knowledge and motivation. Every employee seeks these yet few employers
successfully provide them to their workforce. Without them, though, you are never going to get the kind
of passionate effort and commitment you need from your employees to succeed in these competitively
shark-infested waters. So, then, what to do?

A Culture of Commitment

Monday, July 25th, 2011

One of the greatest HR struggles facing today’s managers is creating employee engagement. Be it with a
mission statement, new product or service, organizational directive, or even the company itself, getting
employees to passionately ‘buy-in’ can be elusive, and sometimes downright impossible.

There is one company who seems to have the engagement thing figured out, however, and that’s