How Stability Can Bring Organizational Excellence CEO Insights 10-31-2023 By Jim Steinlage President & Chief Executive Officer How Stability Can Be the Blueprint for Organizational Excellence In a recent post, I examined the benefits of creating a family-like work environment, highlighting how important it is for team members to achieve good work-life integration. One way to do that in the home is by creating stability, establishing predictable routines, and developing a supportive environment that fosters a sense of security and belonging. The next logical step is for organizations to foster the same feeling in the workplace. Workplace stability isn’t just an organizational aspiration but is an extension of a core desire team members have to maintain a predictable life in and out of the office. Ensuring team members are happy, safe, and productive should be a priority to any organization’s leadership desires. Creating a stable and predictable work environment is challenging, but it is also key for organizational excellence and success. Workforce Stability: How it Fosters Agility In the bestselling book Strengths Based Leadership, co-authors Tom Rath and Barry Conchie explain how their research found that people have four basic needs for feeling secure and engaged at work: trust, compassion, hope, and stability – all words that are dear to me. Integrity and respect are also a priority. As the authors shared, leaders who can meet these needs are better equipped to navigate change with clearness and purpose while keeping team members engaged. In a volatile business such as ours where the landscape is marked by technological advancements and socio-economic shifts, we are constantly challenged to adapt and reimagine our strategies for organizational excellence. This constant shift creates an interesting challenge for us: how do you craft workplace predictability and stability in an environment that demands agility and flexibility? Here are some ways to build a stable climate that still encourages innovation, adaptability, and growth. Why Stability in the Workplace Matters Team members do their best work when they’re in a calm environment that allows them to focus on the task at hand without worrying about external disruptions, job security, or inconsistent management practices. To create such a surrounding, organizations should focus on: Mental safety and productivity. A stable workplace fosters trust and ensures team members that their roles and contributions are valued. Team members can rely on their colleagues for support and know that leadership will be there when they need direction. Establishing trust creates a ripple effect on innovation and creativity, with team members more inclined to present innovative ideas and take calculated risks. In safe and trusting environments, fear of failure, criticism, and reprisal are minimized, and team members are empowered to explore new solutions. Leaders should also be sure to give sincere praise and recognition where deserved. Predictability. At the heart of workplace stability are consistent internal processes and procedures and predictable team coaches leading the way. By developing structures and processes that promote predictability, you enable teams to set longer-term objectives and shape paths to achieve them without the need to continually respond to internal disruptions. The benefits of a stable environment extend externally, too, shaping interactions with customers, manufacturing partners and other stakeholders who perceive team members’ positive morale and productivity as a reason to put their confidence in your partnership for products and services. Your team as well as your customers need to know you’re looking long term and not looking for the next big offer to sell or merge but are focused on building a future where they can proudly share in the organization success. Reducing turnover. The correlation between team member satisfaction and organizational stability is evident. Some reasons for low satisfaction can range from problems with coaches to co-worker friction, a lack of purpose, fear of losing one’s job, or poor open and honest communication. However, we’ve found that when team members trust their organization’s stability, they are more likely to fully engage and remain loyal. High team member turnover can have a substantial impact on your organization’s bottom line due to recruitment, training, and onboarding expenses, especially in our technology business. Intangible costs like loss of organizational knowledge, team dynamic disruption, and reputational damage can affect customer and client trust and deter top talent. A stable work environment allows an organization to preserve and build upon existing skills and knowledge, ensuring continuity in operations and enhancing its reputation as a desirable place to work. The Declining Effectiveness of Performance-Based Approaches Three years ago, we moved our organization from a utilization/performance-based approach that focused on results rather than a focus creating a stable environment where team members can produce those results. What we saw is that the constant push for results eventually fosters a fear-based culture where team members were stressed about performing, more consumed with the measuring vehicle and process, and leadership was more consumed with focus on goal achievement and measurement. Here are some reasons why you may consider abandoning this dated approach in favor of one that emphasizes more overall organizational goal achievement (we call ours WIG’s – Wildly Important Goals) for growth through empowerment and motivation. Attach monetary incentives as well as other rewards to these WIG’s so it becomes more of the carrot versus a stick. There’s no denying that performance metrics are a terrific way to assess output and productivity, especially in a remote work environment. A downside is that they could encourage short-term thinking among team members of trying to figure out ways to beat the system. That’s because when you tie success to hitting specific numerical targets, team members often focus on immediate gains instead of making long-term strategies and goals the priority. This could discourage teamwork, risk-taking, and innovation as team members opt for safer, proven paths. While you might benefit from quick wins, it’s only through sustainable, strategic initiatives that your organization can meet its growth goals. Think long term. Publicly traded companies are challenged with long-term thinking because they work quarter to quarter which can result in well trained and experienced talent turnover. Your teams bring a wealth of intangible assets and experience to the table that aren’t easily quantifiable or reflected in performance metrics. Soft skills like creativity, collaboration, effective communication, critical thinking, and leadership play a crucial role in shaping a stable work culture. Recognizing, valuing, and rewarding these assets can positively impact organizational performance and customer satisfaction. A better approach is to consider collaborative activities and learning that include traits like teamwork, innovative thinking, and leadership abilities. This will result in a more rounded, healthy, and stable organization that values diverse skills and attributes and where team member morale and engagement are lifted. It is a great way to create opportunities for teamwork. Building a Culture of Stability in Times of Disruption There are many sources of disruption that can derail stability within an organization. Increasing customer demands, advanced technologies, greater competition, shifting regulations and compliance, and the mere scale and pace of change are just a few, not to mention in our industry constant ransomware threats and attacks. Here’s how to avoid getting caught in disruption’s headlights and maintain a stable work environment. Leverage organizational principles for consistent direction. Ensure decision-making and strategic initiatives are consistent and align with your organization’s values. Leading with values creates consistency for teams to lean into amid crises and preserves a stable internal culture where team members feel attached and valued. Stay true to your company values. When leaders adhere to the company’s North Star, it provides a stable framework that keeps the ship steady through uncertain times. In our corporate case “Always do the right thing regardless of cost” simplifies decision making. Practice open and transparent communication. Keeping team members in the loop minimizes uncertainty and helps foster stability. By ensuring team members aren’t left in doubt, you reduce the chances of misinformation and speculation which can lead to drama, confusion, and nonproductivity. Changes, challenges, and what you are doing to navigate them should be shared with workers, giving them a sense of security and inclusion. Build trust and clarity. When you openly communicate about your organization’s performance, obstacles, strategies, and operational adjustments, team members feel valued and assured. This openness can reduce stress and encourage trust, creating stability even in times of disruption. Have regular all-team meetings. Get as many departmental team leaders involved in setting goals and communication so departments feel involved and important to overall WIGs. Invest in team member development. Nurturing growth through continuous learning opportunities signals to team members that you support their development and advancement. Investing in training and education will strengthen stability by ensuring the workforce remains skilled and relevant amidst changing demands. It is a win-win investment. You get better skilled team members, and they get personal confidence with a sense of accomplishment. Leading Through Change: Stability as a Leadership Role Developing a stable and predictable culture environment can ensure emotional and psychological happiness by giving team members a safe place in which to grow, adapt, and innovate with confidence. In a world where people often feel variables are constantly shifting, having predictability in leadership can provide a stabilizing effect that individuals, teams, and organizations could sure use more of in today’s world. Leading by becoming a consistent pillar of encouragement, support, and guidance, can help you coach your team members through difficulties with confidence, strength, and purpose. As an organization leader I always felt I should serve as a workplace pillar, leading by example, ensuring our growth plans and strategies move forward efficiently, even when roadblocks and disruptions create obstacles. At our organization we lead with our priorities of faith, family then business, and the rest falls in place. Predictability, stability, and positive results are resulting byproducts.