Monday, November 10, 2008

The Positive Business Manifesto

I read another great article at ChangeThis. Jon Gordon wrote a manifesto about Positive Business. He states that you would have to live on another planet not to notice the plethora of business books and articles discussing the importance of developing a positive organizational culture at work. The research is clear, he continues.

Positive leaders, positive work environments, and positive engaged employees produce positive results.

However, if building a positive business is so important and beneficial, then we are left to wonder, “Why aren’t more companies, more positive?” Why are there not more people skipping through the halls, smiling at their co-workers and loving their job? Why do more people die Monday morning at 9am than any other time? Why does negativity cost companies 300 billion dollars and sabotage teamwork, careers, morale and performance?

Successful, positive companies with positive employees and positive cultures are created like anything else—through a set of principles, processes, systems and habits that are ingrained in the corporate culture and each individual employee. Positive companies aren’t born. They are developed by positive leaders. And when you build a positive business, culture drives behavior and behavior drives habits.

To build a positive organization fueled by positive energy, the leader must invite his/her leadership team on the bus and develop a shared vision, focus, purpose and direction for the business. The leadership team must join the leader in making their organizational culture a top priority and be engaged and committed to the process.

In a world driven by stock price and short term results, building a positive, successful company requires leaders to have a long term vision. You should not focus on the fruit of the tree—stock price, profits, costs, etc. You should focus on the root— the culture, trust, people and positive energy of the company. Leaders who run successful, positive companies over a long period of time know that when you take care of the root of the tree you will always be pleased with the fruit it supplies. However, if you ignore the root, eventually the tree will dry up and so will the fruit.

At work you’ll likely face organizational and individual negativity. You’ll have to deal with processes and systems that create poor communication and negative interactions. In other cases negativity will arise from negative co-workers and customers, a group of office complainers and/or a boss who is a jerk. Regardless of your situation or the source of negativity, it is critical that you take action to cultivate the positive and weed out the negative.

Building a positive business always begins with selecting the right people. We must identify who the right people are, make sure they are positive, and create a process that gets them on the bus. We must also make sure we let the wrong people off the bus. Too many leaders know who their negative employees are but they don’t know what to do with them, and so they do nothing, which leads to dangerous consequences.

With the right people on your bus, you want to make sure you communicate consistently and effectively with them so they always know where the bus is going. Peter Drucker says that 60% of management problems are the result of faulty communication. When people feel fearful or uncertain or unheard they start thinking the worse and act accordingly, and negative energy increaces. By designing systems that enhance communication, you allow positive energy to flow through the business.

When you care about your employees and the people you work with, they are more likely to stay on the bus and work harder, with more loyalty and greater positive energy. In turn, they are more likely to share their positive energy with your customers, enhancing service and the bottom line. That’s why I say the greatest customer service strategy has nothing to do with customer service, but rather it has everything to do with how you treat your employees. If you treat them well, they will treat the customer well.

Caring about your employees keeps your people on the bus, but when you drive with purpose they will help you push it when the bus breaks down. The fact is every organization will face adversity and challenges and be tested on their journey. And the answer to these tests is a positive culture filled with purpose driven people.

I've shared a number of principles, strategies and suggestions to develop a positive business. However, he is realistically aware that none of this will do any good unless you and your organization have the ability to take action and execute. The difference between a successful positive business and unsuccessful business is one word: “Execution.” The way the most successful businesses do ordinary things better than everyone else.

To build a positive business, you must be able to not only identify your vision and purpose for your organization, but make it so it is ingrained in the culture, mindset and actions of your people. Having the desire to be a positive business is wonderful, but it won’t happen unless you relentlessly focus on your culture, people, processes and systems.

I wish you all green lights on your journey. Stay Positive,
Jon Gordon

The text above is my short summary of Jon's manifesto about Positive Business.

Jon Gordon is the author of The No Complaining Rule: Positive Ways to Deal with Negativity at Work and The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy