The Road Map You Need to Get to One of the Best Workplaces on Earth

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Aug 28, 2013

Suppose you wanted to design the best company on earth to work for. What would it be like?

For three years, Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones of the London Business School explored that question and found six (6) imperatives that can serve as a road map for leaders aiming to create the most productive and rewarding working environments possible.

Here are the six imperatives:

1. Let people be themselves

People need to be authentic to do a good job. When companies try to accommodate differences, they too often confine themselves to traditional diversity categories.

These efforts are laudable, but having a culture where differences in perspectives, personalities, work styles, and core assumptions can thrive and work cooperatively is even more powerful.

2. Unleash the flow of information

The best company on earth does not deceive, stonewall, distort, or spin. It respects its employees’ need to know what’s really going on so they can do their jobs properly.

Think not about how much value to extract from workers but about how much value to instill in them.

With trust levels for management at all-time lows, leaders must communicate openly and frequently with employees if they are to be heard, believed, and followed.

3. Magnify people’s strengths

An ideal company makes all its employees better. People want to do great work — to feel they matter and to work in a place that magnifies their strengths rather than their weaknesses.

The employee-employer relationship is shifting from how much value can be extracted from workers to how much can be instilled in them.

4. Stand for more than shareholder value

Set a compelling vision for your organization. Employees want to be a part of something bigger than themselves — something they can believe in.

Create shared meaning — forging and maintaining powerful connections between individual and organizational values. When you do that, you foster individuality and a strong corporate culture at the same time.

5. Show how the daily work makes sense

Meaningful work fosters engagement and personal growth.

Deliberately reconsider all work tasks. Do they make sense? Why are they what they are?

Employees should be responsible for the results of their work, but be freer to choose how, where, when, and with whom to carry it out. Managers need to trust subordinates more, and employees must become more entrepreneurial and collaborative.

Shared meaning is about more than fulfilling your mission statement — it’s about forging powerful connections between personal and organizational values.

6. Have rules people can believe in

The ideal workplace is free of arbitrary restrictions and gives you powerful reasons to submit to the structures that support its purpose.

Systematization doesn’t have to lead to bureaucracy if people understand the rules and view them as legitimate. However, employees are skeptical of purely hierarchical power and need a sense of moral authority derived from the importance of the ends they produce, rather than the efficiency of the means of production.

As you strive to create an authentic organization and fully realize human potential in the workplace, don’t shrink from rising to the challenge. If you do, creating the best workplaces on earth will remain an aspiration and we won’t have anyone but ourselves to blame.

What are your ideas for how to create the best workplace on earth?

This was originally published on the OC Tanner blog.

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