Gallup: Cultures That Promote Strengths & Engagement = Better Products & Services

18 09 2007

Yet another study on what makes innovation work this time from the folks at Gallup to confirm that management must develop strategies to enhance one’s intangible assets – our people (staff and volunteer leaders).

In the past we posted about how intangible assets can make or break your organizational strategy (See customer intimacy post here) as well as its impact on building winners, turning around a loser to a winner, or sliding into a long term losing streak (See Confidence post here).

You Need to Walk the Talk

The Gallup Management Journal (GMJ) surveyed U.S. employees to determine the effect on individual creativity and workplace engagement when employers emphasize developing employee talents and strengths.

Here are some highlights on what they found:

  • Organizations that emphasized strengths development were more likely to demonstrate innovation and creativity than those who did not. So training to one’s strengths can be a powerful factor in creating and sustaining a workplace culture that allows innovation to grow and employee engagement can intensify this effect.
  • In contrast, organizations that were not committed to building the strengths of their people demonstrated significantly less creative ideas.
  • Managers play a significant role (plus or minus) in strengths development and people engagement by making sure that job roles leveraged these strengths properly or not at all.
  • Management receptivity to new ideas were significantly higher (65%) among organizations with a culture supported by programs that built strengths and people engagement versus those that didn’t (2%).
  • This was also true in the degree to which managers fed off their teams creative ideas. Stronger cultures had more confident managers who promoted creative exchanges.
  • This in turn led to a higher degree of employee friendships and a very high degree of job satisfaction within teams due to the more positive and engaging culture in which they worked. In contrast, organizations that didnt support this culture exhibited far fewer on the job friendships and far less job satisfaction. For instance, Eight out of ten engaged employees (83%) who strongly agreed that their organization is committed to building the strengths of each associate also strongly agreed that they have a friend at work whom they share new ideas with. This number drops to 5% among workers who are actively disengaged.

What Kind of People Do You Have?

If I had a dollar (or maybe a Euro since they are worth more these days) for every manager I have known who didn’t feel the need to worry about this “culture” thing I could have retired long ago. But the good old days of making easy money are gone for most of us. That means we need to cultivate the kind of organizations we hope to become or remain.

So as you look at your overall strategy:

  • What kind of leadership development program exists within your association for staff and volunteers? Is it competency based? Do they map to the core competencies you need to create compelling product and service experiences? Tell me you have one…please.
  • Does your staff or volunteer leadership performance evaluation process reward for idea creation, collaboration, staff development, teamwork, or taking risks?
  • Do you have systems and practices to promote knowledge sharing and best practices?
  • How aware are your people of the strategic goals and core strategies of your organization? How well aligned is the work of your boards and committees to your core strategy?
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