The Wall Street Journal CEO Council recently created a task force on what would restore confidence in business. The CEOs of Eastman Kodak, Verizon Communications, WPP Group and the Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School all agreed that the leading recommendation is for companies to focus less on shareholders benefits and short-term profits and more on the professional development of its workforce, its customers needs, and sustainability.

“We talk too much about benefits we provide to our shareholders,” the CEO task force recommended in a Wall Street Journal article on November 22nd. “We should be talking about benefits provided to our employees, customers and the public.

Why don’t businesses do this? Because they can’t see how it will pay off. Very short sited. Their culture – the harmony of their work force – then becomes focused on the company instead of the individuals who contribute to the good of the company. The leaders then communicate only the values of an increased bottom line and market share which leads the employees to feel dehumanized instead of inspired and motivated. Productivity suffers immeasurably and no one seems to understand how to improve it. So they start shuffling job responsibilities and doing employee engagement surveys and nothing really changes.

Listen to these successful CEOs. Start by examining your own corporate culture.

How to Build a Productive Culture of Organizational Excellence

1. Define very solid company values that include the enrichment of your employees as part of the statement. Research the values of other companies that you admire.

2. Create a no-blame environment so that issues are brought to light.

3. Have managers ask each employee what they value personally and how they can better put those values to work in your company.

4. Give the employees an anonymous cultural survey and use the results to help restructure your corporate values. Give the survey again in a year and track the results.

5. Demonstrate to your employees that you care about their well being by providing fun programs on stress reduction, time management, team building, management development, meeting facilitation.

6. Create a culture of accountability by asking employees to report back how they have altered their behaviors based on what they have learned from enrichment. Continue to track the progress.

7. Prove professional coaching for leaders with potential who are stuck or need development in a certain area.

8. Allow the employees to create their own task force to address issues that are of importance to them. Give them a voice. And listen don’t interrupt.

9. Sustain customers or clients by knowing who they are. What do you need to measure to gain and retain customers/clients? Communicate and update it regularly for your employees so that they know what is being measured. Include their development in that measurement.

10. Keep a dynamic demographic record on your customers such as how many there were in total from the last quarter. How many were new? What is your economic indicator – cost per customer on what? How many clients increased their purchase from the same time last year? Their age? The trends in zip codes that hold most of your clients? Were referred? Gave you a referral?

11. Keep in touch with your clients not just to ask them for more business but to give them information that will make their life easier. This is a free information society. What information can you share in an e-newsletter or program that will be of benefit to them and qualify your company as an expert when they do seek the product or service you provide?

12. Keep in regular communication with your employees with information that may help them. Do you want to give free flu shots to keep them healthy but also keep absences down? Is there traffic information that they may find helpful? Banks offer programs on identity theft and others consumer issues free of charge.

13. Celebrate your company’s successes and that of your individual employees! An internal announcement? Cake? Lunch? Party? Can you give everyone an afternoon or day off to volunteers in a charity?

Leaders within the organization are responsible for the culture. Communicate that you care about your employees as more than a vehicle to advance the mission of the company. They ARE the company Start now!

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Author's Bio: 

Mary Lee Gannon is the president of Gannon Group - a full service executive coaching, training and consulting firm that provides productivity solutions for people and organizations by improving team performance, executive leadership skills, board performance, planning and project execution. Mary Lee’s personal turnaround came as a stay-at-home mother, with four children under seven-years-old, who endured a divorce that took she and the children from the country club life to public assistance from where within a short time she worked out of that to the level of CEO. Her book "Starting Over - 25 Rules for When You've Bottomed Out" is available in bookstores, on Amazon or on her web site. Visit Mary Lee’s web site at or email her at