I’m A Member

 A Critical Doer is willing to lead


In a previous Critical Doer post, I wrote about the importance of establishing a strong organizational culture.  Blogger Victoria Young recently weighed in with a post in reflektive.com that echoed my sentiments.

In the blog, Young cites research that showed 95 percent of Americans prized culture over compensation.  The data also suggested that disenchanted employees are costing businesses roughly $450 billion annually in unrealized productivity.

Assuming the data is accurate, this is an overwhelming response that sends a clear message to anyone leading an organization.  The message is that people find greater fulfillment from being part of an organizational culture that reflects sturdy values than the amount they are paid.

So how do you know if your organization is one to which your people are proud to belong?  The answer…listen to how they describe their affiliation.  If they’re employees, workers, etc then you may have work to do.  If they describe themselves as members or part of a team…you may be onto something.  For an example of folks who get this right, look no further than your United States Armed Forces.

Have you ever heard someone in uniform refer to themselves as employees of a branch of service?  No, you haven’t.  They refer to themselves as members…or they say they joined rather than were hired.  The salary of service members is a matter of public record and you can use your favorite search engine to peruse the military pay charts.  Given what they are asked to do, it’s clearly not about the money…it’s about the culture and belonging to something that has true meaning.

To emulate what the military has accomplished, here are a few tips you can apply to establish the same winning culture in your organization:

  1. Establish challenging standards for performance and conduct. World class organizations perform their duties at a high level and conduct themselves at all times in a manner that instills trust, pride, and confidence.  See my previous post on training and discipline for more information.
  2. Never sacrifice those standards for an individual. When the standards of performance and conduct are sacrificed for a poor performer, the character of the organization changes along with it as a new set of de facto standards are established.  An individual can be replaced fairly easily…an organization’s culture is far more difficult to repair.
  3. Celebrate the heroes. Finding ways to celebrate exceptional performers and great team accomplishments go a long way as they highlight examples of what everyone should strive to achieve.  Never pass up an opportunity to celebrate success.
  4. Climate of mutual respect. Healthy organizations are made of healthy individuals that are treated with the utmost courtesy and respect regardless of their role or position.  When folks in the mail room are treated with the same level of dignity as those in the board room, your organization will be healthy.
  5. Make the work meaningful. Constantly communicate how your organization contributes to the benefit of society and the individual’s contribution to that benefit.  Everyone takes pride in making life better; mining the good to make sure people understand how they do that isn’t hard and will pay huge dividends,


Your challenge is to reflect on how you can apply the principles that our armed forces use to build strong cultures that stand the test of time.  If they can build cultures that sustain them through battle, you can do it to gain a competitive advantage.  The data clearly shows the organizations with the strongest culture are the most productive and consistently win over time.  Be willing to lead and establish a winning culture that leads your people to identify themselves as members; it’s what a Critical Doer would…do!


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Updated: July 9, 2015 — 9:16 am