Basic Business Cents: Workplace behavior operating principles
By Lou Schultz / For the Enterprise
Have you ever had sleepless nights stewing over “office politics?” I have, plenty of times, while working for large organizations.
An old saying notes that little people don’t become big by putting others down, but little people keep trying. Work should be enjoyable and something employees look forward to each day. However, people don’t always behave the way we would like them to in daily activities, if cultural behavior is not addressed.
Good organizations develop a system to involve employees in creating a set of guidelines to remind each of them on what is expected in terms on the way they conduct themselves on a daily basis. They can be called Operating Principles, Behavioral Guidelines, Values, Code of Conduct, etc. Each organization should develop their own set with employee involvement so they have ownership. Following is a set of Operating Principles developed by a company in southern Minnesota, which I think is exceptionally good, to give you an idea of what they might look like.
Here are some examples of operating principles.
Optimize the system
Work together for the success of the organization as a whole in a strong and unified system, recognizing that all activities are inter-related. Break down “silos” and work for the good of the entire organization.
Provide opportunities for all employees to develop to their full potential, recognizing people’s inherent desire to do their best.
Optimize the supply chain
Establish long-term cooperative relationships with employees, customers, suppliers, and other key stakeholders aimed at delighting our customers and achieving our vision.
Practice continuous improvement through on-going coaching, learning, development, and innovation focused on delighting internal and external customers.
Develop an understanding of the causes of variation from planned performance and take appropriate action to eliminate waste, rework, and redundancy from the operation to improve overall quality through a disciplined process. Measure outcomes and celebrate the successes.
Communicate openly and honestly the status and direction of the organization to our employees and stakeholders. Practice effective and timely communication strategies in support of answering to internal and external customers’ needs through mutual respect and cooperation to be embraced by employees.
Create a working environment, which removes barriers to effective performance and fosters mutual respect, trust, and engages the hearts and minds of others.
Leaders at all levels will model the behavior desired in the organization. They will:
n Challenge existing processes and ways of doing things.
n Inspire a shared vision to uplift, enable, and enroll others in achieving the company vision.
n Enable and empower others to act to strengthen their abilities, will, and sense of personal worth.
n Encourage the heart to celebrate team accomplishments regularly and recognize individual contributions to the success of projects.
This example is provided to stimulate thinking on a similar set of guidelines you might wish to develop with your employees for your organization. One should not copy someone else’s work but develop your own that fits the needs of your organization and its people.
Once developed, it should be discussed with all employees for modification and acceptance. Then copies made for each employee and postings in conspicuous places to remind everyone of their own actions and help them to help others.
A follow-up system should be created to track progress on each guideline and by different parts of the organization. Culture is like any other process, it needs to undergo continuous improvement because it will never be perfect, but it will become better and better.
This new and improved culture will lead to happiness and self-satisfaction in your work. Who doesn’t want that?