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Dec 18, 2015

There’s an interesting post over at strategy+business that takes a look at the barriers that large companies have in achieving one deceptively simple goal: Becoming truly integrated across geographies, product lines, and functions.

The post points to three basic issues that get in the way:

  1. Visibility;
  2. Complexity; and,
  3. Trust.

No doubt these are important attributes for any organization, regardless of size, given the speed and pace of changes many of us face. Despite being tethered to work devices 24/7, keeping up with our immediate work circles is difficult enough, not to mention connections to our larger networks of project teams, co-workers, and customers.

Connecting across a company can be a challenge

A fix is definitely needed, but somehow, trying to implement separate practices to target each of these specific issues seems too piecemeal, especially within the large organizations where such practices might be most useful.

Imagine, for example, the leadership team of a global organization, armed with the best intentions. They can implement changes to improve visibility and connections between employees; make complexity more manageable through guidelines; and build trust through team collaboration.

Paradoxically, the very things they are trying to fix may get in the way of the solutions being successful from the start.

Employees at far-flung locations might not get the memo about the new collaboration summits. Each teams’ processes are complex in their own unique way, requiring layer upon layer of initially simple rulesets around coordination and priorities.

At the very basic level, data from Gallup indicates the high failure rate of large-scale change interventions. You can guess what happens when the amount of change requested of employees is multiplied across these different initiatives.

There is hope yet, though! I would argue that all three of these issues – visibility, complexity, and trust, as well as other human issues a company might struggle with in achieving united execution – can be addressed through a single, foundational concept: A culture of values-based social recognition.

Why recognition specifically?

Recognition aligns values – and a company’s culture

Perhaps the chief reason is that it can deliver a positive impact across the levers that organizations use to develop a “one company” culture: When moments of strong work performance are called out and recognized as aligned with a set of shared values.

Here’s how we do it:

  • Such moments are incredibly visible, transmitting to everyone a clear picture of what desired behaviors look like and why they are important. And everyone knows a picture is often worth 1,000 words!
  • These moments are scalable, with everyone possessing the opportunity to multiply the reinforcement of the company’s values – from top leadership to the new mailroom clerk learning the ropes. This scalability provides an easy framework from which to manage complexity: even though everyone’s contribution is different, they are united by those shared values.
  • Finally, recognition is social, connecting workers with one another to build trust, facilitating complex tasks, and allowing organizations to immediately see where collaboration is occurring, across functions and projects.

Rather than a bunch of small changes to address different pieces of the puzzle, global organizations seeking to become more integrated can leverage the power of thanks to achieve the successes that stem from this positivity-driven culture.

Simplified in this way, the change management process is easier, and the alignment of people behind a single organizational culture is strengthened. That’s how we create more human workplaces. (Learn more about how to WorkHuman: Join us May 9-11 in Orlando, Florida.)

What are some of the ways your organization is bringing people together under a unified banner?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.