What is organizational excellence?

The American Society for Quality (ASQ) defines organizational excellence as the ongoing efforts to establish an internal framework of standards and processes intended to engage and motivate employees to deliver products and services that fulfil customers’ requirements within business expectations. It is the achievement by an organization of consistent superior performance.

To get those ambitious terms embedded in any organization culture, many awards and frameworks have been introduced in the past few decades in both private and public sectors.

Theoretically, these frameworks and awards address various attributes that are subject to evaluation and continuous improvement in many areas such as leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, information and analysis, human resources focus, process management, and business results. Of course, organizational excellence is dependent upon gaining sufficient commitment to embrace and apply positive changes in those areas.

It’s practically proven that there is no single shortcut to organizational excellence; we need to take a multi-channel approach to improving and optimizing business performance. In this article, I introduce a holistic model for achieving it, which I refer to as The MAGIC Code for Organizational Excellence.

Motivational practices

Increasing motivation in the workplace can help improve performance, boost productivity, and raise morale. Also it can be thought of as a continuum, with values and rewards depicted by intrinsic factors at one end, and by extrinsic elements at the other. However, such categorization is only a (useful) starting point in explaining what is essentially a very complex and personal issue.

Some people get motivated by tangible benefits, such as salary, incentives, promotions, and the like. Others may be motivated by self-satisfaction.

Intrinsic motivation comes from within, which triggers the question on how managers can promote and support intrinsic motivation in their people which could be accomplished by ensuring the value and achievements of employees is fully, fairly, and explicitly recognized.

Different motivators work for different types of employees. Research shows that employees can be motivated by offering an upbeat, positive work environment. Encourage teamwork and idea-sharing, and make sure staffers have the tools and knowledge to perform well. Eliminate the destructive conflict as it arises, and give employees freedom to work independently when appropriate.

Regularly survey employee satisfaction. This will help you catch potential morale breakers before they get out of hand to continually improve working conditions. When employees have favorable perceptions of their work situation, their organisation, and the support they receive from their managers and supervisors, they are motivated to work more diligently and identify with the mission of the organisation.

Finally, a good corporate culture enables employees to combine their strengths with the attitudes and values of the organisation. The leadership skills of the managers are critical in providing an atmosphere where employees will be motivated to perform and remain loyal to the organisation.

Awareness enhancement

Nothing is worse than a situation where employees come to know their corporate news from the media or clients. Communicating strategic planning frameworks to employees at all levels of the organization is inevitable, and not just once, but over and over again so that people never lose sight of the goals. They will also prefer to hear this information directly from line managers.

There is almost no limit to the simple things you can do to communicate the most important messages in the company. Also, change it up every month so that people don’t tune out those messages because they look like the same old stuff they always see.

Pausing to communicate frequently will save hours attempting to correct the myths, half-truths, rumors, and inaccurate information that spring up when lack of communications exists. More importantly, it will increase understanding of, and commitment to, the goals that the management team worked so hard to create.

Goals oriented culture

When the people involved could see the end product they felt they were sharing a collective goal and were therefore more willing to trust and cooperate with their colleagues, managers, and subordinates. Studies found that trust and clear goals are indeed crucial ingredients in any successful cooperation between people in all types of settings. 

From a business perspective, goal orientation is a type of strategy that affects how the company approaches its revenues and plans for future projects. While all businesses are naturally goal-oriented in some way, goal orientation plays a significant role in focus and fund allocation. Goal orientation also plays a part in management styles and information technology projects and the like.

Strong goal orientation advocates a focus on the ends that tasks are made for instead of the tasks themselves, and how those ends will affect either the people or the entire enterprise. Those with robust goal orientation will be able to accurately judge the effects of achieving the goal as well as the ability to fulfil that precise goal with current resources and skills.

Internal communication skills

Most businesses cascade information top-down through their chain of command. The resulting trickle of information often leads to delays, limited feedback, and a dependence upon the efforts of individuals along the chain of communication.

Plenty of information is going out – the problem is that most of it isn’t reaching the people who need it most, i.e. the ones actually doing the work.

Putting responsibility for internal communication into the hands of employees at every level of your organization can make this chain much more effective. Providing middle management in particular with robust and mobile communication tools will enable them to be better leaders.

Dispersed, two-way internal communication presents a valuable opportunity for companies to better understand their workforce, ultimately leading to better-informed managers and more effective management decisions.

Employees put a premium on transparency in their interactions with different levels of management, going so far as to name it the top factor in determining their happiness and satisfaction in the workplace. Providing a transparent, rumor-free environment is a must for a generation of employees (and customers) who are skeptical to the core.

Continual improvement

The terms continuous improvement and continual improvement are frequently used interchangeably. But some quality practitioners make the following distinction:

  • Continual improvement: a broader term preferred by W. Edwards Deming to refer to general processes of improvement and encompassing “discontinuous” improvements – that is, many different approaches, covering different areas.
  • Continuous improvement: a subset of continual improvement, with a more specific focus on linear, incremental improvement within an existing process.

Moreover, continual improvement is an endless effort to improve products, processes, or services by reducing waste or increasing quality. This continuous effort drives a competitive advantage for organizations that get it right but, as with many things in life, consistency is not easy to achieve. 

In general, improvement comes in one of two forms for businesses, either Incremental: Occurring slowly, in bits and pieces, over time


Breakthrough: Occurring all at once, in a burst of change

Large changes often feel frightening and destabilizing to organizations. By approaching change in small, incremental steps, the continuous improvement model reduces the fear factor and increases speed to improvement. When following this principle, the organization does not need to wait for a strategic shift or a new product release to begin to advance.

When people come up with the ideas to improve their own work, they intrinsically see the value of the changes. Knowing that improvements come from their peers inspires faith in the necessity of the changes much more so than does a decree from anyone in senior leadership who has never actually done the process in question.

By engaging staff in the continuous improvement model, we empower them to take charge of their own work. They’re able to identify problems or opportunities for improvement, follow through on implementing their ideas, take credit for the work, and see a measurable impact from their efforts. In this way, the sole burden of improvement is lifted from managers, who can spend their time more effectively coaching staff on improvement techniques and removing barriers to implementing changes.

Because the continuous improvement model relies on employees for ideas for improvement, they become more invested in the outcome of the change, and employee engagement increases. This increases the chance of successful, sustainable improvement.

Nevertheless, it is not enough to simply make a change and call it improvement. To achieve real improvement, the impact of change must be measured. This makes it possible to determine whether or not the change can be applied successfully to other problems.

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