There’s gold in them thar hills. –Mark Twain
Every organization has its own unique culture DNA. Using values to describe your culture’s DNA is a quick and efficient way to understand how work gets done. Some of these values are positive values and contribute to an organization’s success. Other values are limiting and are barriers to success.
When your culture is filled with positive values there is internal cohesion, loyalty, trust and engagement. Whenever I walk through a workplace where there are many positive values in action I can feel the energy coming from the employees. They love their work and their workplace. It’s like they’ve struck gold!
The most common limiting values creating barriers to success
Limiting values come in many shapes and forms. Examples include: bureaucracy, information hoarding, cost reduction, and confusion. The chart below provides some sample industries and the top limiting values that show up within their organizations.
Is it possible that some of these values are active in your workplace?
Measuring limiting values is critical
In the world of culture measurement, we determine limiting values and the pent up frustration that comes along with it through the cultural entropy indicator. This is the KEY metric if you want to know how well you’re positioned for success. Cultural entropy is made up of three components. The first area deals with elements that slow an organization down such as bureaucracy, hierarchy and confusion. The second area looks at factors that cause friction between employee such as internal competition, blame, and manipulation. And, the final area includes those things that prevent employees from working effectively due to micro-management, caution, and job insecurity.
If an organization has a 40% entropy level it means that the equivalent of 40 out of 100 people are not working at full capacity.
It’s amazing how fast the cost of a limiting value can add up when it creeps into the way work gets done. Being able to quantify the extent of how a certain limiting value is operating within your culture is critical when it comes to making meaningful improvements. Knowing which limiting values are in play allows you to target effective initiatives in order to improve productivity and build better bottom line results.
The surprising cost of a limiting value
When it comes to finding ways to improve the bottom line, too often we get caught up in the nickel and dime game. How many times during the annual budgeting process have you asked, or been asked, to come up with ways to reduce the costs by 5%? This results in siloed attempts to shrink costs and can cause misalignment between how work gets done across the organization.
Getting to the root cause of what’s limiting the productivity in your organization is a better process. In most organizations payroll is the highest cost. What if you could shave just 1% off those costs by improving your employees’ productivity? In an organization with 2,000 employees at an average wage of $50,000 that 1% represents a savings of $1,000,000!
Add on to these productivity improvements a reduction in employee turnover costs and the ability to easily recruit top talent. This is what happens with a strong positive culture that attracts people to you instead of you having to sell your company to the candidate.
Finding the gold in your culture
It’s time to stop panning for gold through employee engagement surveys and individual cost reduction exercises. The tiniest bits of gold dust are being discovered through these practices. Make the investment to better understand your culture and maximize the payoff. It’s time to start hitting the large veins of gold in the mine by excavating your culture and finding the limiting values that are sucking the energy out of your people and holding your organization back.