Mentoring Mondays


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“Creating a Success Culture – Revised Version”

The idea of a success culture is the result of a world-wide survey of 139 offices in 29 professional service firms in 15 countries in 15 different lines of business. For this particular survey the basic question was “Are employees’ attitudes correlated with financial success?”

The answers to the question varied, but in most cases it was yes. And in those “yes” cases, it was found that there were high levels of commitment, dedication and enthusiasm. Where there is less commitment, dedication and enthusiasm, how can a manager or leader create a culture that promotes growth and/or measurable returns? These are some strategies that come to mind:

  • Teamwork;
  • High institutional standards;
  • Strong employee development programs.

But the real key is the character of the individual managers and leaders.

David H. Maister, author of “Practice What You Preach,” provides an in-depth review of “What Managers Must Do to Create a High Achievement Culture.” The book is easy reading and I have extracted one section to share with you.

“The success culture is about creating a community. It is not about just teamwork. It is much more – it is about a community where people feel a mutual sense of responsibility and obligation to support each other. Each accepts his or her share of the responsibility of the challenges that face the firm or organization. It is not just a random collection of people who happen to work in the same firm or who are members of the same organization, but individuals who feel a sense of ‘being in this together’.”

 Hence, how does a manager achieve such buy-in? One-on-one counseling, coaching or mentoring, or modeling the desired behavior. According to some of the best managers, here are some ways to achieve this kind of community:

  • As you grow, have people you have developed (and who share your values) manage with you;
  • Strive at building loyalty to the firm or organization;
  • Create a sense of mutual pride in each other’s accomplishments;
  • Earn trust by supporting each other – enforce the rule that employees don’t leave until they ask if anyone needs help;
  • Encourage group discussions – leaders should let people know the reasons behind their thinking;
  • Face successes and failures as a group – don’t be so quick to point the finger;
  • Keep everyone informed – good communication ranks high in all successful endeavors;
  • Rotate staff meeting facilitators – give the junior or mid-level staff member an opportunity to develop presentation skills. Help people understand that they need to grow – don’t assume they know;
  • Set standards and live by those standards;
  • Take time to interact socially;
  • Create fun and enjoyment in the workplace;
  • View individual goals as collectives – no egos are allowed.

And the list goes on. But these are not arbitrary rules of good people management. These are the practices of the most successful and profitable businesses and organizations throughout the world.

The message is clear. Accept the challenge. Have the courage to believe that the message from your leadership is clear and that the strategy is not to wait until tomorrow, or until someone else implements the plan. Remember, you reap the benefits of what you do now, not what you hope to get around to doing some day if it is convenient and you’re not too busy.


Source:  “Practice What You Preach,” David H. Maister, July 2001, Free Press Publishers (can be found on-line, by keying in book title).



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