May 10, 2019

It's the Behavior, Stupid

Vince Bianco

Vince Bianco
CEO/Senior Sales Executive/Vince Bianco LLC

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I was asked recently, what is the most effective thing an organization can do to improve performance, assuming it has a reasonable operating strategy and a product or service that there is a market for. I’m certain many people might say that “people” are the most important thing, to take the time and hire the best and brightest talent. Others to make sure to always put the customers first, be “customer-centric,” etc.

I have spent the last 27 years entrenched in office cultures. I co-founded businesses and went through my personal evolution and growth in leading and managing them all. I spent many of those years in venture capital-backed companies, which taught me a tremendous amount of managerial discipline, especially on corporate governance, cash management, financial reporting, and identifying critical company performance metrics. For the last 13 years, I have operated in the capacity of President/CEO and have evolved into a top-line revenue growth executive, which I learned was more in my DNA than what I had done on the operating side the first 14 years. That means that I have experience leading and managing all business functions, which brings me to the point of this article.

Behavior is what I’ve learned is the biggest difference-maker for improving business performance. I mean the way we act, from senior management on down. We hear a lot these days on how important employee engagement is and how important it is to have a good company “culture.” What is really being identified is that behavior effects company performance, both positively and negatively. Meetings that staff members are not engaged in, or worse, valuable time being wasted on agenda items that are not important. Staff talking about one another behind each other’s backs, politics, others saying that they are team players, but not acting like one. Staff thinking about themselves first at the expense of their teams, fellow staff member, and clients. Undermining behavior to sabotage corporate initiatives that although we agreed should be undertaken, we never really bought in. This type of behavior undermines company performance, and more than most think.

It’s not hard to identify management approaches that encourage negative behavior, for example, not listening to staff, top-down management approaches, a culture which only encourages bottom-line results at any cost, etc. Conversely, how does company leadership influence behavior in a positive way? There has been much written on compassionate management, servant leadership, corporate culture, for example. It seems to me what these very worthwhile approaches encourage is:

  1. Engaged staff caring about the work they do.
  2. Staff caring about the people they work with.
  3. Staff believing what they do has a purpose.

An organization can accomplish these behavior objectives and significantly improve productivity and morale by, among other things:

  1. Identifying and sharing why the organization exists and what it believes.
  2. Publicizing a set of behavioral values and publicly rewarding staff who exhibit those values.
  3. The leader building trust by modeling positive behavior.
  4. The leader repeating the company’s purpose and values often when addressing staff.

All of this leads to a healthier organization, which translates directly into top- and bottom-l ine performance improvement.

Patrick Lencioni says a healthy organization is the last competitive advantage in business, and I agree.

Comments? You can contact me directly via my AdvisoryCloud profile.

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