From a values perspective, success means effectively achieving what an organization has set out to do. It is a fundamental rationality for why teams are formed. For this reason, it’s essential that team members clearly understand and commit to organizational values and to the organization’s vision, mission and goals.

Copyright TIGERS Success Series

By Dianne Crampton

For some people success is everything.  Winning at all costs defines the rules of the game. Deviations from truth, honesty and trustworthiness become justifications for winning.  What matters is getting from point A to point B from the most direct route possible and if that means obliterating an obstacle to get there … then so be it. 

Collateral damage is calculated – a logical outcome.  If employees or customers are diminished in the process it’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it is. 

You will hear their leaders say things like, “You are either with me or against me.” There is no middle ground.  Some people call these leaders good business people.  Others call them short sighted, rash, uncompromising and incapable of interdependent solutions. Loyal followers abandon ship when it is clear the collateral damage includes them or when their personal values and integrity collide with business practices as usual.

For other people success is the quality of the journey.  Getting to point B from point A is sometimes a meandering route.  The goal is often obscured by side trips.  Relating to others and enjoying work is often more important than the goal.  Loyal followers abandon ship when they are uncertain that success can be achieved or when their personal values and work ethic require achievement rather than continually mucking through process.

Other people know success involves achieving goals, building and maintaining relationships and improving processes.  Success is a matter of balance.  And, when goals are reached, there is time to celebrate, evaluate, fine-tune and lay the foundation for future success.  This is the TIGERS way. 

From a values perspective, success means effectively achieving what an organization has set out to do. It is a fundamental rationality for why teams are formed. For this reason, it’s essential that team members clearly understand and commit to organizational values and to the organization’s vision, mission and goals. If people resolutely believe that goals aren’t achievable, they often will demand a change in leadership or look for a better organization to share their time, talent and commitment.

Likewise, success is the second of two TIGERS collaborative core principles that are highly correlated with the other values.  This means that if people believe and have confidence that their organization will be successful, then the core values trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy and risk can also be positively influenced.  Building core value supported behaviors that lead to successful outcomes and support positive relationships is facilitated by employees who understand how their work and work relationships support the organization’s success. 

The first correlated value is interdependence.  By definition interdependence means if “we win I win.”  Success is in the definition, but instead of suggesting one person wins without the mutual success of others, collective success defines the optimum goal.  If people believe that their efforts will be successful in a balanced way, they will dig in and make the sacrifices necessary to achieve success – for everyone.

For example, Michael Hoseus, co-author of  Toyota Culture, the Heart and Soul of the Toyota Way, McGraw Hill 2008, autographed my copy of his book with the inscription, “Always take care of the people.”  When I asked him to give me a Toyota business example of this he shared the following scenario. 

Work teams and their accomplishments at Toyota are put at risk when people fail to show up for work.  Maybe family issues cause the absence.  Maybe illness is the reason.  Maybe people call in sick and spend the day at the beach.  For what ever reason, other team members must pick up the slack or production goals fall, ultimately putting Toyota at risk. 

As a result,Toyota establishes an annual zero absence goal and supports it with a family-wide incentive.  If an employee has no unexcused absences during the year (an aggressive advance notice of excused absence is required), then the entire family is brought to California for an opulent celebration that includes travel and lodging for the family, and activities for children and adults of such a grand scale that families look forward to it every year. 

As a result, families do their own problem solving to plan in advance for important school functions, and build their own family support networks to address unexpected life issues.  This includes taking care of their health and working safely to minimize the risk of absence. 

The bottom line is that there are employees with a formidable work ethic who are proud of never missing a day of work.  Yet, in some organizations, employees look for excuses to stay home or outright lie to take a day off.  From the Toyota perspective, this hurts the company, fellow employees, the integrity and trustworthiness of the employee, and the success of the company.

Success as a collaborative core principle strikes a balance between how work is done and the people doing the work. When the six TIGERS collaborative principles are recognized and held as important, the resulting behaviors produce greater harmony and improved communication among people, which results in less strife. The payoff is increased creativity, productivity, commitment and improved morale.

In those organizations where behavior standards are spelled out and expectations of how people are to treat one another are commonly known, both group harmony and increased productivity follow.  And, it takes a more talented and savvy leader to lead a collaborative effort than one invested in winning at all costs.