Laying the foundation for a strong organizational community begins with understanding how behavior affects employees and customers.
Companies benefit from creating and maintaining a resilient community within the workplace. When you build community, you form an enduring foundation for your business. This foundation influences all aspects of your organization to include customer service, communication and trust. These attributes ultimately affect the success of your brand.
Building community within your organization gives you the groundwork to support human capital in a way that is not unlike reinforcing the foundation of a house. When you construct a house, you start with a base of concrete, which for your company includes the business plan and product. Within the concrete hides an added strengthener in the form of rebar. Rebar helps to fortify the concrete and maintain resiliency of the foundation. Without rebar in the foundation, a house becomes more at risk for breaks and fractures as you create the structure.
For your organization, the behaviors of your employees and company culture become the rebar that offers this added support to the foundation of your organization.
Without an active community showcasing proper behaviors and building an ideal culture, you increase your risk of fracture within the organization. By including this second layer of reinforcement, you give more support to the company you are building. Three key behaviors help support the foundation of your business.
1. Set behavioral expectations
Construct a clear statement of the behavior you want to see within your organization. A clear statement of response gives both employees and consumers clarity for what type of behavior the company will offer when dealing with any situation. For example, if you choose the word friendly, even when you are presented with a challenge you want to focus on actions supporting this word. Yelling at someone when you are challenged does not promote a company aiming to exhibit friendly behaviors.
To establish this behavioral foundation, choose two or three adjectives that relate to behaviors you can control, such as helpful, friendly or compassionate. These words become your personal intentional mission statement, or statement of response for how to deal with situations. Employees who align with these words help to improve your organization as they share the same behavioral values as the company and bring continuity to the actions of the organization.
The personal intentional mission statement (PIMS) names the behavior you are hoping to achieve when presented with any situation. Instead of using reactionary behavior that can often cause damage, your company’s foundation strengthens as each person within the organization maintains actions aligned with these intentional mission words.
A television commercial featuring former NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw humorously represents what it's like to act by following intentional mission words. In the advertisement, Bradshaw opens an account at a bank and becomes “part of the family.” Bradshaw spends much of his time at the bank, encouraging both employees and customers. For example, he wishes a couple good luck as they apply for a loan and shouts joyously at a ribbon cutting ceremony. In short, he becomes a positive force at nearly all bank activities. Words such as friendly and supportive develop Bradshaw's PIMS.
The PIMS is a way to focus your behavior on the things you can control. When you focus your actions on your PIMS words, you encourage a cycle of balanced actions, which help you keep your goals in sight. The value added to having a defined foundation of behavior includes increased trust, enhanced customer service and reduced fracturing of an organization.
2. Match your words and actions
If your PIMS identifies your company as friendly and efficient, let your mission and behaviors align with these words. Define what each word means and the behavioral expectations for reinforcing these words. You also want to match words and actions for commitments that are made, both personally and organizationally. If you commit to completing a project on time, then complete the task when designated, or communicate changes when necessary. The saying "under promise and over deliver" offers a good rule of thumb for how to keep words and actions aligned. The value added to matching words and actions includes increased authenticity and accountability for the service and support of your organization.
3. Separate human value from observational actions
There is a subtle difference between the narrative that an employee is bad at their job or an employee just did not get the work done on task. Defining the employee as good or bad drives discussions and behaviors into the past. A review of the past usually dissolves into griping sessions about a person or complaints about the situation. When you keep the focus on the observational actions, you make an environment that moves into the future. For instance, the narrative that Bob is bad at his job invites individuals to discuss Bob and his inadequacies. Whereas the story that the job wasn't completed on time encourages people to focus on ways to solve the problem, rather than focusing on Bob's shortcomings. The value added to your organization for this behavior is increased focus and forward momentum of your business.
As an example, Bonfyre App, a human resources technology business, emphasizes words such as trust, care and empathy. They have found that employees who align behaviors to these values tend to excel within the company framework. The words become actions that the employees live out in a way that does not judge situations as good or bad, or wrong or right. The reinforcer becomes the cycle of behavior. The intentional use of these words as part of the construct of the company gives this organization a little added support to the business process.
The best way to build community in organizations is to limit fractures in the life and work of your employees and your organization. The fewer fractures you create in your organization, the stronger foundation you construct. Keep these three behaviors as integral activities in your company to maintain strength and support of the structure you are building.