Michael Beer, professor emeritus at Harvard Business School and co-founder of the Center for Higher Ambition Leadership, is among the most prolific contributors to the body of knowledge around high commitment, high performance organizations. He recently shared his latest thoughts on employee engagement on HBR.org, the Harvard Business Review website. Noting that transactional environments lead toward lower levels of trust and engagement, he said:
On the other hand, a sense of purpose, real responsibility, meaning, caring, fairness, and authenticity have been shown to increase commitment. To create a company culture that evokes these human emotions in your employees, you can’t simply copy policies and practices from another company – though knowing about them is helpful. They must be consciously designed to your business’ values and cultural objectives.
Nevertheless, there are some key principles that are common to companies that engender the commitment of all those who work for them.
The principles are:
- It starts at the top — the CEO must be committed to a higher ambition culture;
- Throughout the organization there are high standards for behavior and performance — along with high accountability to meet them;
- Employees have a true voice in the organization — and the noise-to-signal level is low so that senior management hears them and responds;
- The company is diligent about sustaining a great culture.
Beer draw on examples as diverse as Becton Dickinson, Essendant (both Center for Higher Ambition Leadership member companies), Campbell Soup, and Whole Foods. He notes that each of these companies has taken a distinct path to achieve highly engaged cultures. There is no one-size-fits-all prescription but every company can get there if it leaders have the desire and commitment.
Read the full post at HBR.org