How Process Drives Culture – The Big Three

October 17, 2012

By Keith DeFreitas

An earlier blog post, Selling, Not Yelling, described my experience with a team of car salespeople. I told the story of shifting from “motivating” them to building a consistent sales process. As the team focused on process, they dramatically improved the hard must-have goals. The General Manager went from pounding to praising them for rising revenue and decreasing operating cost.

Alongside the financial benefits, the team saw a dramatic increase in morale. What is morale?  We all have an intuitive and experiential understanding. Morale is often referred to as an intangible or soft benefit. It’s also a key attribute of an organizational culture.

I know what you are thinking, culture is a big vague word tossed out by consultants. So let’s take a minute to define what I mean by culture. Culture is:

  1. The work environment
  2. The emotional climate
  3. The look of and what it feels like to work within an organization
  4. The personality of an organization

Morale is part of the emotional climate and the look and feel of a place. It’s the heart of a culture.

What is the impact of making the work better? Of helping people to work more easily? Are there some observable changes in morale that come with ongoing process improvement? Yes, there are some observable ways to measure the culture shift. I refer to them as The Big Three.

  1. Engagement: The strength of employee ownership and commitment to an organization
  2. Productivity: The quality and quantity of an employees’ work product
  3. Discretionary Effort: The intentional, happy to, want to, willingness of employees to go the extra mile

Now let’s cut to the chase. What did we see at the car dealer? What changed as a direct consequence of a focus on a sales process?

  1. Arriving early and staying late to prepare themselves and the facility for the day’s work
  2. Choosing to engage in cross functional communication and collaboration to solve problems
  3. Interacting with each other in a more collegial, trusting and teamwork manner
  4. Increases in accountability and pride to maintain the sales floor in pristine condition
  5. Asking, when problems occurred, what is broken in the process? Not, what people are broken?
  6. Willingness to help others make sales

Employees experienced a BFO, Blinding Flash of the Obvious. They had dozens of good people stuck in bad processes. The solution was to improve broken processes, not broken people. Changing the work changed the culture while achieving business goals.

Believe it, been there, done that. It works!

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