Safety and the Soul of an Organisation: Imperatives for Economic Potency (1)

By Julius Akpong.

The soul of man is the centre of all mental activity, it dictates the pace and manner in which all acts are perpetrated. It is the determinant of his values which shape his interaction with humanity and approach to problem solving.
The soul of an Organisation would mean the psychological air around that organisation occasioned by its values, belief system, cost strategies, value for life and business principles.

In Gallagher’s book; the soul of an Organisation, he demonstrates that it is an organisation’s values, and not their business practices that drive success. In a world where 98 percent of organizations are fixated on the mechanics of their businesses, knowing this secret is perhaps the most strategic competitive factor in today’s marketplace.

These values, which nowadays we often refer to by the moniker “corporate culture,” are not just sterile, 20,000-foot-high concepts for upper management; they are the keys to empower workplaces of any size to succeed at a level far beyond what most people imagine.
It is easy to see one organisation spending much more money on human capacity development, Safety trainings, PPEs, allowances, employee loans, etc. while some others, not necessarily that they are smaller in size, spend little or nothing on training, hardly purchase PPEs, and rarely ever discuss motivation; they assume that it is your job and you should just go ahead and execute what you have signed for since you were employed because you were assumed competent.

These two scenarios demonstrate the differences in the soul of these Organisations which would characterise the work environment, external client relationships, organisational outlook, and above all profit making. The principles of some founding fathers are either exterminated by successors or advanced by others to become better or worse and these usually say whether the Organisation is on a downward or upward direction.

The Chinese proverb says “if I have seven days to cut down a tree, I would use 4 days to sharpen my knife”. The organisation has a job to do to make profit, the employees are the knife, and it is simple logic that if we sharpen our knives well, our jobs would be made easy, especially when we have the right type of people, with more care, we can only achieve better results.

Having the “right” values sounds like the most natural thing in the world, but in reality, managing around values rather than business processes succeeds precisely because it runs counter to what most of us call human nature. For example, let’s compare some common misconceptions about daily business life with the best practices of strong corporate cultures:

You can’t create great service simply by urging people to be nice, but when you design systems around responding directly to customers, like Dell Computer does, you create industry-leading customer satisfaction levels. Let the advice to be nice not be communicated in words, but in professionally planned mannerisms that communicate distinctive delivery.

You can’t create productivity by constantly holding a stopwatch to people, which in fact breeds little more than hostile compliance. But when a company like Southwest Airlines instills a near fanatical devotion to teamwork in everything it does, it breeds a level of productivity that is nearly double that of its competitors.

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