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Tenacity. Perseverance. Grit. Determination. These are all words synonymous with Persistence. And yet, persistence is often negatively connoted. As was the case recently on the U.S. Senate floor, when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shut down Senator Elizabeth Warren as she challenged the nomination of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” McConnell said. McConnell intended this as a criticism and justification for keeping her from speaking. And in return, the world seemed to “take back” persistence as a valued attribute.
Cultural values are foundational, even for the entrepreneur.
When we started The PEAK Fleet back in August 2016, we had an idea of the type of company we wanted to create, and the values we wanted as the foundation of our company culture.
It was important to both my partner Brian Stinson and me to emulate the best practices that we planned to recommend as best practices to our clients. We could see that even as a workplace consulting start-up, creating this foundation could get lost in the midst of so many competing tasks required to get a company up and running.
So, we made a long list. We cut it down. And on that list, we had Empathy, Authenticity, Love, Kindness, Passion, Integrity. And Persistence. As we combined and narrowed further we created PEAK Values: Persistence, Empathy, Authenticity, & Kindness. And of those, Persistence was the most hotly debated…was it too negative? Are persistent people frustrating? As we debated the alternatives, all the dictionary definitions and our intuitions led us back to that word. We stuck with it (unironically).
We knew being entrepreneurs was going to be hard. Starting up a company is not easy, and it takes persistence to see your vision through, in the face of adversity or nay-sayers. After about 6 months of starting something new from the ground up, I would say persistence has been a necessary value!
Employee Engagement critical to future organizational success
We founded The PEAK Fleet because we believe the Future of Work begins with people. Our mission is to help organizations succeed by creating an engaged workforce that thrives together. Employee engagement is critical to not only maintaining a happy and healthy workforce, but it is essential to business value and results as well. Gallup just released its latest State of the American Workplace, and the results show that only 33% of employees are actively engaged in the workplace. That leaves a lot of productivity, value, innovation, and employee satisfaction on the table. They estimate that actively disengaged employees cost the US $483 billion to $605 billion each year in lost productivity.
The money lost on employees that lack engagement is only likely to grow. Employees value engagement as much as other benefits and perks, and those that are disengaged are likely to view some perks as “empty gestures” rather than valuing the investment made in them. Younger generations, making up larger portions of the workforce, are valuing sense of purpose and opportunity more and more than “just a paycheck”, and as those expectations become more prevalent, lack of engagement becomes an even bigger issue.
Organizations must work to improve employee engagement. Many organizational leaders know this and are well-versed in the research. However, creating and delivering an actionable path forward that delivers results is still elusive. Over 15 years of Gallup research, the engagement numbers have improved, but not radically.
Cultural Transformations takes Persistence
Creating an engaged workforce requires often significant culture changes within organizations, and these changes can take a long time. Many of these efforts fail in part because the organization struggles to follow through with plans long enough to make a measurable and permanent difference. These efforts also are up against difficult odds, as change is hard for anyone. (I’m reminded of the 2006 Study by Johns Hopkins Hospital, where 90% of people who have heart-related surgeries go back to exactly their old lifestyle choices within two years of surgery. Even when it’s life or death, we don’t like to change.)
Organizations can expect culture change initiatives to take at least one year, up to 3 years or more if a large organization or culture shift. Without strong leadership champions, a clear understanding of motivators, and structured radical transformation programs, seeking measurable improvement in employee engagement will be at risk. Persistence is vital. Persistence is exactly what it took to improve the way my former IT department met customer needs. While short-term goals and the status quo often have heavy weighting in decisions, so it was important to put emphasis on long-term strategy and tactical delivery planning. Working step-by-step toward that long term strategy resulted in implemented service management practices, and improved end-to-end user experience coupled with modern information systems. The payoff was significant both in terms of customer relationships and user satisfaction, which connect to improved productivity and business value.
As The PEAK Fleet, we have assembled a collaborative team of thought leaders, activators, analysts, and innovators that are working passionately to fundamentally improve organizations. If you’re ready to take the journey to improve your employees’ experience, to increase innovation and invention, cultivate inclusion, and hire and retain top talent, contact us for an introductory conversation. In our experience, you’ll walk away with new insights providing value from even that initial discussion.
Jen Coyne is the CEO & Co-Founder of The PEAK Fleet, which she built on a foundation of two decades leading organizational transformations. Her passion is helping people and organizations thrive, and she believes revolutionary transformations are required to prepare companies and the workforce for the future.
This blog is the first in a series about PEAK Values established by The PEAK Fleet: Activators, Revolutionaries, Inventors, & Artists who believe The Future of Work begins with people.
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