Your Results Matter Just as Much As How You Get Them
I recently sat through a regional meeting for a large corporation, during which a series of presentations were made. At the conclusion of the meeting, the regional manager got up to share a short set of slides that were presented at the annual corporate summit she had recently attended.
The company has been undergoing a series of transformations to improve financial performance, to lean out waste, and to improve customer satisfaction. As the regional director presented the slides, she walked through the prior year objectives, areas of focus, and financial results. And the results were impressive. Marketable improvement in ROS, €800 million in discrete profit and an improved safety record in the factories.
One of the managers in the room spoke up after a few minutes. He commented that the mission was clear and the results were very good. But then he asked whether or not there had been discussion at the summit regarding how the results were obtained. The regional manager responded that the focus of the summit was really about the future vision of the business and the metrics for the coming year. How results were obtained was not specifically discussed.
A second manager responded that the results were indeed impressive, but she had concern. She explained that she was prohibited from spending funds within her allotted budget because the expenditure would impact financials. The funds were pegged for her department’s professional development and training, she said. Thus, her inability to spend the budget was coming at an expense of employees.
The conversation continued as a third manager, who rarely spoke up, added that workload and expectations were unsustainable and that people were burning out.
The rest of the meeting continued in this fashion. What started as a simple review of corporate summit evolved into a very open and honest discussion about how the business was truly achieving its objectives. The room was full of professionals and the conversations did not get personal. But there were very direct comments about overcommitting the organization, poor planning and lack of investing into sustainable practices.
This is not an unusual experience at many firms, as I’ve seen similar sentiments at other firms. Employees continually feeling overworked and undervalued despite record setting profits. Tough times, of course, require extraordinary measures. However, the way a business goes about getting its results is still just as important as the results themselves.
Management is about making difficult decisions. We would love to award large bonuses and raises to our key players. And no manager wants to ask an employee to work a weekend. In reality, though, there are constraints. Regardless, managers must find ways of balancing focus on goals with sustainable practices. The balance between results and how the results are obtained is the byproduct of a company’s culture (which was the case with this firm). Unhealthy and unsustainable company culture is known to have severe consequences over time. The downfall of Nokia, for example, was heavily blamed on internal competition and the unsustainable ways by which results were obtained.
Here are some questions that can help you understand how you are achieving results:
· Are you remaining true to company values?
· Do your decisions align with ethical practices?
· Did you consider the impact on people in your decisions?
· Would your employees agree with your priorities?
· Have you asked your employees for feedback recently?
· When it comes to spending cuts, what is the first category you look at?
So ask yourself, how are you getting your results?