From Susan M. Heathfield
The keys to financial success and a profitable business are not the strategies or the systems of the firm. The character and skill of individual managers, who practice what they preach and recognize the manager's role in coaching employees are what count. “It’s about character and courage,” and according to David Maister, a well-known consultant to professional service firms, “it’s very, very scarce.” Learn more about the manager's role in employee motivation and operating a profitable business.
In a recent survey, Maister determined that successful organizations score better on virtually every aspect of employee attitudes. In fact, employee attitudes cause financial results and not the other way around.
If a business wants its people to make a lot of money for them, then it must set high standards and give employees something they can get excited about.
These employees must be managed by someone who is trustworthy, cares about people as well as the business, and acts with integrity.
Maister, a former faculty member at the Harvard Business School and a best-selling author, recently surveyed 139 professional service firm offices worldwide. His study results from 5,589 respondents were analyzed to determine which of the 74 survey questions were most predictive of the positive financial performance of the business. Maister’s results are truly eye-opening.The Most Important Truths for Employees and Profitability
Maister found nine of the survey questions together explain over 50 percent of all variation in profit performance from company to company, despite the country, the size of the practice and the line of business. These are the nine statements, for the sake of your profitability, with which you want your employees to agree.
- Client satisfaction is a top priority at our firm.
- We have no room for those who put their personal agenda ahead of the interests of the clients or the office.
- Those who contribute most to the overall success of the office are the most highly rewarded.
- Management gets the best work out of everybody in the office.
- Around here, you are required, not just encouraged, to learn and develop new skills.
- We invest a significant amount of time in things that will pay off in the future.
- People within our office always treat others with respect.
- The quality of supervision on client projects is uniformly high.
- The quality of the professionals in our office is as high as can be expected
In Maister’s book, Practice What You Preach: What Managers Must Do to Create a High Achievement Culture
), he emphasizes that managers who believe their job is to ensure that a strategy, vision, or mission is developed are sadly mistaken.
Instead, the manager's most important value-added is to make sure the strategy is implemented. They ensure implementation by others when they walk the talk
and lead by example. Organization staff members do hold managers to a higher level of commitment, integrity, and doing the right thing. The most successful managers know this.
I am so excited about Maister's books, thoughts, and research that I asked him to participate in an email interview with me. Following is our discussion: David Maister's Wisdom