Organizations can boost profits with employee strategies Managing

March 04, 1991|By Gerald Graham | Gerald Graham,Knight-Ridder

Between 1964 and 1989, the Marriott Corp. was able to achieve a "double-double" with 20 percent annual increases in both sales and profits. This performance made Marriott one of the most successful corporations in the world.

During these years, Marriott chased its vision of becoming the provider of choice in the hotel industry while effectively managing its financial assets. In the late 1980s, Marriott added employee strategies to their financial and customer service strategies.

In their book, "Organizational Capability," authors Dave Ulrich and Dale Lake identify four critical elements of employee strategies, which they call organizational capability.

* Shared mindset. "Shared mindset represents the harmony or unity of mind that helps gain a competitive position," according to Ulrich and Lake. Organizations such as Disney, Nordstrom Department Stores and Wal-Mart are prime examples of organizations that have created common mindsets of serving the customer.

* Management practices. Management practices include policies, procedures, work practices, communication systems, training, traditions, and the like.

Effective organizations integrate these practices so that they are consistent with and reinforcing of one another. Unified management practices become an effective tool for building a shared mindset.

* Capacity for change. Capacity for change indicates the ability to reduce cycle times.

For instance, can you reduce the time for: processing a loan application, responding to customer complaints, changing to meet customer needs, moving from design to implementation?

* Leadership. Leadership throughout the organization requires creating and sharing a common vision among all managerial levels and with all employees. Ideally, all employees should feel empowered to think and make decisions as a leader within their domains. Employees need to understand and accept the vision of top management.

It is crucial to tie all four of these components into the organization's environment. Mindsets, practices, changes and leadership decisions should be consistent with what the environment requires. For instance, if customers require great service, the reward system should recognize employee efforts in providing service.

Keeping employees on track


Answer "yes" or "no" to each of the following:

* Do all employees understand your No. 1 objective?

* Have your people internalized your key organizational values?

* Do all employees believe in your mission?

* Are all of your policies consistent with your mission?

* Are all of your procedures consistent with each other?

* Do all employees know what is expected of them?

* Have you reduced your response time to employee requests within the past six months?

* Have you shortened your decision process within the past six months?

* Do all employees feel empowered to make decisions?

* Do all employees understand and share the top leader's vision?

Seven or more "yes" answers suggests the adoption of employee strategies are likely to help gain a competitive edge.

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