Best Places to Work Provide Optimal Financial Results
Over my forty years in Business, and having grown up with a CFO father, I have observed the characteristics that
make a company a “Best Place to Work.” Putting this in place is driven from the
top, but reinforced from the bottom. The right approach is like a recirculating fountain, as this ensures the long-term viability
of the system. Effective change has to be carried out, in parallel, at top and bottom. Initially, it needs some pressure to keep
it working, but over time, it becomes self-perpetuating. Often, family owned companies have an advantage, as they can be so much more
In many years advising Perdue Farms, Inc. with Frank Perdue as my client, I saw how he built a culture and approached
doing business that was based on stories about himself. Rule books and policy manuals were not as important as the living example he
provided. Yet, I also saw at the Coca-Cola company a strong culture based on its history, which was widely shared throughout the
company. Now, while I have seen many companies that are good places to work, or good performers, I have noticed that few are the
best that they can be.
A company can be a “Best Place to Work” whether it is democratic, such as W.L. Gore or run as a benevolent dictatorship,
such as Google. It can have fine food served at all hours in its cafeterias, as many Silicon Valley companies do, or expect
everyone, at all levels, to punch a time clock, as does Mars, Inc. These are surface factors. Achieving such recognition,
internally and externally, at such a company is based on a deeply held belief system from top to bottom. I have driven these kinds
of changes in a number of companies, and have seen that there is a right
way and a wrong way to meet the objective. I have seen the CEO of a Fortune 500
company make it clear that while he expected everyone to change, he was not going
to. It was obvious to all around him and the company failed to change and,
ultimately, to succeed.
However, a CEO and top management team that is genuinely prepared to make the
changes necessary will be rewarded, not merely in accolades, but in dramatically
improved performance., This is confirmed by hard evidence across all industries and size of company. The above examples are all of excellent, better workplaces, but they are
not necessarily the best that they can be. Most companies benefit from outside help. This may take the form of people who understand organization
and process dynamics, but who are not expert in “Best Places to Work,” or people
with actual experience in transforming organizations into optimal organizations.
In getting to be a “Best Company” it is essential to address the underlying patterns
of thought, not just the symptoms. So, how do we get there without addressing the
elements piecemeal? This is how I have learned that Optimal Thinking, when
applied from top to bottom, leads to the kind of performance top management
seeks. The process trains people to think in Optimal ways and apply Optimal
processes. This is far beyond mere “Good,” “better” or “improvement.” The process
is the only one focused on achieving Optimal Results in the company.
So, while historically, a company became a “Best Place to Work,” through accident or
piecemeal changes, it is now possible to make this transformation in a deliberate,
planned and cost-effective way.
Best Places to Work from the Perspective of a Fortune 100 President
Optimal Thinking in Creating a Best Place to Work
What I Learned about Best Places to Work from P&G and Mars