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A recent piece from McKinsey Quarterly, Encouraging your people to take the long view, examined the question of how to strengthen the capabilities in your company that can help you thrive in the long-term. The problem many companies come up against is that traditional “hard” performance measurements, including financial, keep employees focused on the short-term. The other challenge is how can you truly assess how well an employee contributes to corporate health or culture; and even more problematic, how can you reward them for improving it?
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Of course, I can see the importance and value of implementing performance measurements that drive the long-term health of an organization. But as the article notes, there’s a careful balance that has to be struck between not tracking long-term health at all, and having so many measures that no one will bother to pay attention.
In the end, the long-term health of an organization is driven by its culture and how it develops and builds a team that wants the organization to succeed. Distributors need buy-in for any initiative that will affect the company over the long haul. In its article McKinsey provides an example of an airline that went about improving its safety record by introducing a more collaborative, non-punitive approach to unearthing potential problems. The result: a culture shift that contributed to the long-term health of the company and improving something that was critical to success.
I went into the MDM Archives to find commentary on maintaining a healthy culture that will contribute to long-term growth. Here are some examples of what distributors we've spoken with have said on the topic:
“We’re looking every day for talented people to help us grow the business. That’s probably the No. 1 thing we’re focused on is protecting that culture and communicating and emulating that to the rest of our team.” – Doug Ruggles, MSCO Inc., in MSCO Profits from Investment in Downturn
“Other than sleep, people are spending the largest part of their life in work, and they need to enjoy being there. What our culture is about is looking for an opportunity to celebrate something and looking for an opportunity to help people... We believe strongly that if a company takes care of people, then the employees will take care of the customer, supplier and business.” – Mike Rowlett, Womack Machine Supply, in Womack’s Priority: Company Culture
“(Werner’s health and wellness program) gets people motivated and gets a little camaraderie going in the office. Overall, people just feel better. You come to work, you’re not tired and you don’t have the aches and pains.” – Chad Dailey, Werner Electric Supply, in Werner Electric Builds Loyalty
- “The concepts of strategic planning and succession management are really ingrained in the culture of the company. All of the important ingredients of success, they’re in place. The fact that we’ve announced Erik (Gershwind)’s appointment (as CEO) years before he officially takes the position we really think is a testament to the process.” David Sandler, MSC Industrial Supply, in MSC Positions for Long-Term Growth
How do you track the factors that contribute to long-term health in your organization?