As business people, we’re always looking for ways to improve our methods and enhance our offering. That applies to employees as much as to clients, because without the talented people who make a company work many business owners would be up the proverbial creek.
Last month, we wrote about the global lack of employee engagement and how it has led to low productivity for so many companies. One potential solution to this is to build an outcomes-based culture in your business, which helps to attract top candidates and maximizes the time and talent you have at your disposal.
What Outcomes-Based Culture (OBC) Means
An outcomes-based culture encourages all employees to achieve clearly-defined results in the way that works best for them. The company allows workers a considerable degree of autonomy and independence in their working conditions but assigns a considerable amount of responsibility to them as well.
The OBC manager becomes a type of coach, who intentionally and deliberately “catalyzes” employee strengths to promote performance.
Identifying the Outcomes You Want
You can’t put an outcomes-based strategy in place unless you’re very clear on the outcomes you want to achieve. This requires your management team to shift focus from products and output, to end results that are measurable and quantifiable for customers, according to Forrester.
OBC attributes and criteria include:
- A specific and final end state that addresses practical realities.
- Results that are verifiable through testing and observation to confirm they were achieved. (These are not necessarily always financial tests.)
- Alignment with top-level funding, such as corporate financial goals and earnings.
- Achievements related to the perspective of the person accountable for their success.
- Support from workers across all levels of the company.
Some examples of the types of business outcomes you might want to choose are:
- Better customer retention rates,
- Enhanced client acquisition rates,
- Higher revenue,
- Lower costs,
- Process improvements or efficiencies,
- A change in culture,
- Improved profitability,
- More word of mouth,
- Stronger conversion rates, and more.
All of these need to be measurable and quantifiable, so whether you choose one or several of them as your targeted outcomes, make sure you identify benchmarks for comparing your progress.
Gallup's recent State of the Global Workplace report determines that the information technology revolution demands employees be more adaptable and self-directed to maximize their value to the company. The research indicates one way to transform company cultures to meet this need is to take a strengths-based approach to management.
- Get leadership buy-in. Without this, no culture change is likely to be successful.
- Align your management. Employees leave managers more than they leave companies, so find the right people for management positions and empower them with the right tools to develop their subordinates.
- Communicate what you’re doing. This will help to generate awareness and create enthusiasm for the process, especially if you can include a component of fun.
- Build community. Make focusing on outcomes a part of your company’s day-to-day operations by incorporating and using the right language in meetings and other activities.
- Manage employees using a development and recognition approach focused on their strengths, which improves morale and performance.
- Build a support network of champions and ambassadors to help drive the OBC process, so it’s not all a “top-down” initiative.
- Connect your focus on outcomes culture to your overall brand, so the message gets out to customers as well as to employees. This will help you to become known for great customer service that gets talked about.
Once you implement these steps effectively, you should be able to see the difference in employee engagement and productivity. After that, the challenge is to sustain your new culture over the long term.
Methods of Sustaining the New Culture
Creating a dynamic new culture in your company is a major task, and one that pays huge dividends if you succeed.
- Redefine “Fitting In.” Most companies make a point of hiring people based on their “fit,” which often means people like themselves. Focus instead on building a culture where “fitting in” means hiring people who expand who you are, instead of limiting it. You can do this by thinking about the company you want to build in the long run, not just the one or two open positions.
- Create Flexible Criteria. Prioritize the skills you want before you interview and avoid using a “laundry list” that’s carved in stone. Throw out job description language that might filter out quality people, such as a rigorous expectation of the number of years’ experience, or study or a narrow and specific curriculum. Add a disclaimer to encourage candidates who don’t precisely fit the job spec to apply anyway.
- Avoid Subconscious Bias. Remove any subconscious bias from your job spec, such as the use of words like dominant and competitive, which are seen as good traits for men but not for women. Look for talent in unusual places and use a diverse group of interviewers to give candidates the chance to relate to someone in the team. According to Forbes, one of the main factors that determine whether or not a female candidate accepts a job is if there was a woman on the interview panel.
- Create Staff Incentives. Gallup research that polled 47,000 employees in 116 countries shows personalized feedback and recognition are critical employee engagement and productivity. It also showed respondents least often had received recognition in the past work for doing well. You can change this, by offering multiple staff incentive options that appeal to different types of employee lifestyles and preferences. Make sure access to these is user-friendly, so rewards can be redeemed speedily and without frustration. It shouldn’t be too difficult to qualify for rewards, either, or they become meaningless and lose any attraction.
If the success of your business depends on the performance of your employees, developing and sustaining an outcomes-based culture is a no-brainer business strategy.