Organisations are emotionally-charged places. But little of this ever reaches the boardroom. This means that directors cut themselves off from some of the most important knowledge they need to hear.
Some organisations have a knack for creating great places to work which get the best out of their people.
John Timpson, the chairman of the Timpson chain of shoe repair shops, swears by his system of “upside-down management”. He believes the people in his shops have the best knowledge about the business and that it is his job is to get management out of their way. He insists on as few rules as possible and gives staff the freedom to set prices, deal with complaints and decide their own training needs.
The John Lewis Partnership makes everyone in the company an owner, conferring on each of them a responsibility not just to do their jobs but to contribute to the leadership of the firm. One John Lewis employee – quoted in The Guardian – speaks of:
The “passion and commitment” that come from “being engaged, because you have a vested interest in making sure it works, for you and for the people you work with.”
These companies – both doing well in difficult economic circumstances – are successful examples of what the writer, Bob Garratt, calls the emotional climate of an organisation. They make the emotional climate a source of competitive advantage, by ensuring that employee behaviours deliver excellent customer experience.