How to Not Let Your Company’s Limiting Values Hold You Back

Don’t let your company’s limiting values hold you back

“There’s gold in them thar hills.” – Mark Twain

Did you know there’s gold dust scattered all through your company?

So many leaders miss it, though, because they’re too busy digging for the big vein that will guarantee a lifetime of harmony, wealth, and success for their business.

Stop digging and start thinking.

Start thinking about the limiting values that have become an invisible barrier to your company’s success…start mining your company culture and reveal the gold dust that’s been there all along.

You won’t find them behind an engagement survey…you have to look much more deeply at your company’s culture…and its flaws.

Identifying and understanding limiting values

Every organization has its own unique company culture DNA.

Using values to describe your company’s DNA is a quick and efficient way to understand how work gets done. Many of your values are positive and contribute to your company’s success. Others, however, are limiting. They’re barriers to success.

The limiting values can be broken down into categories such as:

  • Bureaucracy
  • Information hoarding (silos)
  • Cost reduction
  • Confusion

Here’s a chart with some sample industries and the most common limiting values that are identified by employees.

Limiting Values in the Workplace Graph

Do any of these limiting values look familiar? Is it possible that they’re active in your workplace? Are they creating barriers that are preventing you from achieving the success you know is possible?

What’s stopping you from breaking down those barriers?

Cultural entropy: measuring the problem, making it manageable

Every single organization, no matter the size, can identify with at least one of those limiting values, and acknowledge that they result in a negative impact on performance.

But it’s tough to solve a problem when you don’t really know the size and scope of it…

In a world of culture measurement, we determine limiting values – and the pent-up frustration that comes along with them – 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:

1. The elements that slow an organization down.

  • Bureaucracy
  • Hierarchy
  • Confusion

2. Factors that cause friction between employees.

  • Internal competition
  • Blame
  • Manipulation

3. Things that prevent employees from working effectively.

  • Micro-management
  • Excessive caution
  • Job insecurity

Here’s the bad news: if an organization has a 40% entropy level, it means that the equivalent of 40 people out of 100 are not working at full capacity.

And now for the good news…

You can cut the costs of your limiting values

How many times have you attended a budget meeting with your colleagues and been informed of a department-wide initiative to shave 5% off the bottom line.

It’s soul-crushing, isn’t it?

You go back to your office and try to trim your department…and a battle of needs and wants for your team ensues.

These siloed attempts to shrink costs ignore the cost of cultural entropy and cause misalignment between how work gets done across the organization and within departments…

This leads to higher costs, lower morale…and the unprofitable cycle continues.

These limiting values are creating small inefficiencies in your organization that add up to disproportionately steep costs. And it doesn’t have to be that way.

With a small investment in time and the guidance of an expert, you can get to the root cause of these entropy-causing factors and either minimize or eliminate them.

As with most large companies, payroll is probably your biggest single expense. So, what if you could shave just 1% off that cost by improving your employees’ productivity? In a company with 2,000 employees, at an average wage of $50,000/year, that 1% represents a savings of $1,000,000!

Taking away limiting values…the gift that keeps on giving

By identifying and mitigating the limiting values that serve as barriers to your company’s success, you don’t just create a more productive workforce. You also reduce turnover and sick leave, and increase your ability to recruit top talent.

We’ve all walked into that office…you know the kind. The energy is palpable. You just sense that everyone is working hard, and enjoying themselves in the process. There’s a sense of harmony and common purpose in the room.

That atmosphere is achievable.

You just have to stop digging for the gold nuggets, conducting engagement surveys, and launching stop-gap cost-cutting measures. They won’t get you the returns you’re after…the ever-present, underrated layer of gold dust.

Even if your workforce is working remotely, you can still explore the level of cultural entropy in your company…in fact, this is an ideal time to start the journey. Your team is already in “change” mode…it’s the perfect time to dive in.

If you’d like support in identifying your limiting values contact me and we’ll get started.

Did you enjoy this article? You might find these helpful, as well:

How to Inspire a Winning Culture through Story
5 Top Tips You Need to Know in order to Change Company Culture
Why Motivating Your Employees Only Gets You Half Way There

This article was originally published in 2017, and has been updated in 2020 just for you!

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