Article: Belief Systems in Organisations

How can you grow your business successfully and maintain the culture and values that inspired the organisation in the first instance?

The success of any business is dependent on the extent to which the beliefs of the individuals within the organisation support or antagonise the business objectives. Within the partnership based professional services sector the effects of conflicting beliefs has an even greater detrimental affect as each partner has a right to be represented in the corporate strategy. This can mean that the organisation becomes paralysed as it tries to satisfy all stakeholders and consequently the frustration of inaction erodes morale.

A harmonious culture and congruent values are the keys to sustained success in business today. Historically profit has been king and many partnerships and businesses have been happy to leave a trail of casualties in the pursuit of bonuses for high-level executives. However, the time has come to consider sustainability as a prerequisite to long-term profitability.

A long line of do or die corporations have ignored sustainability in favour of short-term gain. In the land of professional services, firms that have grown exponentially chasing emerging markets are now suffering the results, culling partners and support staff alike. Without balanced relationships with clients all business is unstable, without balanced relationships within the organisation, the organisation itself is unstable. The firms and businesses that are surviving the economic downturn are without doubt those with the strongest relationships.

If we commissioned the services of the best transformation coach in the world to transform our troubled global business attitudes, the coach would need an outstanding resume with an infinite list of successful, sustainable, ventures that demonstrate adaptability and a proven record of ROI, ( return on investments). Only one such coach exists, and that is nature itself. There are many examples of how nature despite the shortcomings of her customers, delivers outstanding services every time and still has plenty left over. There are many principles of nature that provide clear guidelines for a global business culture that works in harmony with our environment and provides profitability and sustainability for long-term growth. The principle of Balance in business relationships is one of the most important.

So how do we get balance in our internal and external relationships? On a micro level and for the benefit of professional service organisations this translates to business leaders building businesses with cultures and values that engage the whole of the workforce holistically and encourages alignment with business objectives that are of themselves aligned with natures principles.

Using the scientific study of nature in the form of magnetism we have a very useful metaphor. Within every magnet are small regions in which the magnetic direction of all the atoms are aligned and pointing in the same direction. These regions may be likened to an individual within an organisation.

As all organisations have many individuals, the magnet contains many domains. When these domains are fully aligned, the magnet has its most powerful attractor factor. However, if the direction of each domain is random, magnetic power is drastically reduced. Similarly, when the individuals within an organisation are at cross-purposes, the organisation itself loses the capacity to attract the right people as professionals, staff and clients.

Business is all about inter-relationships.

In the most successful businesses you will find an engaging culture and common values at its core. In a typical organisation it is possible to drive this as management can handpick employees to ensure they are a good fit. However, in professional services the challenge is greater as a potential partner may have the skills and gravitas to be perceived as an asset, however their core values may conflict with that of the partnership. This is not always evident at the outset and is not easily tested. Partners, associates and individuals are consequently recruited and the conflicting beliefs are only fully evident months or years down the line when it is too late.

Oftentimes a partner or employee may consciously subscribe to the vision of the organisation and yet exhibit behaviours that are in conflict. We know that 95% of our thoughts and activities are conducted by our subconscious mind, which is why, when we eat, we do not need to worry about how our overindulgence will be digested. It is therefore highly likely that an individual who acts in conflict may have the desire to contribute positively but due to programming from the past, behave in ways that contradict their intentions – we are all guilty of this.

However, there are ways to address and eliminate this type of conflict and to move individuals into alignment for the benefit of the individuals themselves and organisation as a whole. It is now possible to have it all – the skills, knowledge, experience and client base of an accomplished professional and hold onto the culture and values of the partnership that is its raison d’être.