“Success is never owned. It’s rented and rent is due every day” (Unknown)
Success seems to be a fairly short-lived commodity — just being successful in one year doesn’t mean that the feat will be repeated in subsequent years. Exceeding annual sales targets significantly in one period does not guarantee future successes. The results derived from having a good day on the production line are only sustainable if engineering, maintenance, operational teams and leadership are working together with focus and energy to achieve innovation, cost-saving and minimal downtime. Capitalising on a favourable exchange rate with exports in one year doesn’t equate to future profitability — the exchange rate is constantly changing. Getting married to someone you love does not guarantee a happy life together — work needs to be applied to the relationship constantly to grow and mature the partnership. For success to be sustainable, laser focus and corresponding energy are requisite.
In the work environment, employees who are focused and who offer discretionary effort are typically those who feel valued and who are doing what they love or do best. Work is an expression of their passion and the ensuing excellence, a result of an inner motivation. Company leadership has an important role to play in providing the environment for passion to take root amongst employees — the role requires a deliberate daily engagement strategy to solicit the best from everyone. Inter alia, it includes the following elements:
- A fully engaged leadership team — distant or disengaged leaders breed suspicion and other ills. Involvement with personnel, being fully present and acknowledging the contribution of individuals and teams is foundational to creating an engaged work environment. Set the example with behaviour aligned to company values and goals.
- Decision-making should be delegated to appropriate authority levels — pass the ability to make calls on any issues to the lowest levels possible. This form of empowerment should come with an accountability structure and a set of well-known decision-making principles firmly in place.
- Remove obstacles that may hinder performance — unnecessary reports and superfluous meetings sap energy that could be more appropriately utilised on important tasks.
- Dismantle bureaucracy — a politicised environment breeds discontent and breaks down trust. Avoid silos and involve every team in improvement efforts.
- Communicate extensively — withholding information is frustrating for everyone. Liberally pass on “big picture” information and vision.
- Offer constructive feedback — everyone wants to know how well they are doing or where they need to improve. Be prepared, too, to receive positive or developmental feedback well.
- Recognise excellence — acknowledge good work and success regularly and reward employees in line with company goals, key result areas and discretionary effort.
Pursue company successes by soliciting what your employees do best. Acknowledging the value that each employee offers goes a long way towards creating the environment where success become a possibility.