We all will experience crisis and adversity. While this is inevitable, how we respond remains a choice. We can become depressed, retreat, and even give up. On the other hand, we can be resilient by addressing the problem, learning from it, and moving on productively.
Some people are naturally optimistic and bounce back readily from setbacks. For others, the good news is that resiliency traits can be practiced and implemented.
Your ESOP company is composed of many individuals, all with their own measure of resiliency. Building a workplace culture that maximizes resiliency will allow your company to respond more effectively to ongoing business change and challenges. There are many self-help books for individuals to enhance personal happiness and achieve success. Think of this book as a self-help manual for enhancing the culture and results at your ESOP company.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction to Resiliency
2. Embedding Engagement
3. Vision, Mission, and Values (on Purpose)
4. Servant Leadership
5. Trust, Transparency, and Open-Book Management
6. Employees Are Your Greatest Asset
7. Hiring for DNA (Desire 'n Attitude)
8. Running Effective Meetings
9. Building Contingency Plans
Bonus Chapter: Business Lessons from The Wide World of Sports
About the Authors
About the NCEO
From Chapter 3, "Vision, Mission, and Values (on Purpose)"
You may not have had a purpose statement, and you may think it sounds much like a mission statement. Nonetheless, every organization and its employees need to know why it exists. This statement is different than your mission, which is outward-focused toward your customers and the public. An example of an ESOP company’s purpose statement could be “We provide meaningful work and financial freedom for our employee-owners.”
You might say this statement sounds generic and does not really differentiate your company. Not so. First, aside from a small group of companies using other ownership plans, only the 6,500-plus ESOP companies in America have employee-owners and this special purpose. Second, the statement serves as an overall guide for your work environment and goals. Third, you ultimately choose the exact words to describe your purpose. In the above example, using the term “financial freedom” means an emphasis on providing benefits beyond the ESOP along with financial education.
The purpose statement is simple and should rarely change. This means that if you manufacture jet engines and you then also start making bubble gum, your reason for existence doesn’t change if it doesn’t change why the organization exists.
From Chapter 4, 'Servant Leadership" (footnotes omitted)
If servant leadership is not being actively practiced at your organization, here are five tips to get started.
Tip No. 1: Define the Traits and Characteristics of Servant Leadership
Form a cross-functional team from all levels of the organization. List the key characteristics and behaviors your organization wants to see in its leaders. Explain and define how each characteristic and behavior would apply at your company.
Tip No. 2: Assign Characteristics to Each Leader to Determine Strengths and Weaknesses
Create a matrix spreadsheet listing the leaders and the agreed-upon characteristics. For each characteristic, assign a value on a 1 to 5 scale (1 does not possess this characteristic, 5 always exhibits it). Have each leader complete this list for the leaders reporting to them. The leader can get feedback from peers to help complete this task. For the CEO, have the board of directors do this. All reports would then be reviewed by the CEO for a “rule of two.” The results should then be shared with leaders since their performance review will include their exhibiting these characteristics.
Tip No. 3: Implement a Training Program for Leaders
A development plan should be put in place where improvement is desired. The plan may involve internal or external training, or assigning a mentor. You may need to bring in an outside facilitator. The training needs be to participatory and engaging. For example, it could consist of baseline classroom training, assignments to complete, and a follow-up classroom meeting with leaders reporting back to the class. More in-depth, one-on-one training may be appropriate for those needing further training.
Tip No. 4: Incorporate Servant Leadership Requirements into Hiring Practices and Performance Management
Make this part of your HR processes. When hiring for senior positions, design your interview questions around servant leadership. Include it in leader performance reviews.
Tip No. 5: Review All Leadership Levels
Servant leadership must include all levels of the organization. Don’t only look at lower-level management and ignore senior-level executives.
Early in my career I (John) was a frontline supervisor in a manufacturing company. The company had issues keeping supervisors. The company had numerous meetings trying to understand supervisor turnover. They blamed it on the hours, the pay, lack of training, the younger generation, the older generation, etc. Every excuse you could imagine. The only supervisors that would stay were the bad ones; the good supervisors eventually left, as did I.
The real problem was the plant manager, who was a poor leader. It was all command and control. If something went wrong, he blamed the supervisors. If everything went great, he took the credit. He was the reason good supervisors and good employees left.
Good employees stay because they have good supervisors, good supervisors stay because they have good managers, and so on. The higher the level of your problem leadership, the bigger the problem for the organization. Thus, focus this coaching on all leaders, particularly those at the top. If senior leadership has many servant leader qualities, then you are well on your way to building your desired workplace culture.
We’ve seen and been a part of companies both with and without servant leadership. The servant leadership culture wins every time.