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“Contagious Success: Spreading High Performance Throughout Your Organization”

Posted on July 14, 2005 by Sarah Eaton.

By Susan E. Fisher

Business books are a lot like self-help books: They make some pretty obvious points telling you to do things you already know in your gut that you should be doing. Just as the hottest books making the self-improvement rounds counsel you to take control of your life so you can lose weight or make money, today's popular business books urge businesses to empower their workers to raise productivity and profits.

“Contagious Success: Spreading High Performance Throughout Your Organization” by Susan Lucia Annunzio provides no startling revelations; the basic premise tells you what you know instinctively. Boil down her 256-page tome into a sentence and you get this prescription: “Value people, and you’ll get better business results.”

Yet, the book is a fresh departure from the hollow analysis of the too-many formulaic volumes cramming the self-help and business books shelves. Its clearly articulated points are backed by considerable analysis and hard numbers.  Annunzio’s Hudson Highland Center for High Performance studied more than 3,000 “knowledge workers” from Georgia to Shanghai in companies from Abbott Laboratories to Zurich North America.

The hard data alone would make the book worthy material for any managers or entrepreneurs eager to up their organization’s performance. Annunzio takes the book to the next level by serving up the lessons provided by the study as a simple, easy-to-digest guide.   

The management consultant identified the characteristics that make high-performing workgroups soar: valuing people, optimizing critical thinking and seizing opportunities. “For the first time, quantifiable proof that there is a direct correlation between how you treat people and financial results,” the author claims.

Certainly, it is sad to think that businesses actually need quantifiable proof to realize there’s a meaningful link between how you deal with employees and financial results.

Still, the point should be well taken and used as a springboard for the other useful guidance Annunzio offers:

  1. The workgroup (defined as a unit that works together on a temporary or permanent basis with common goals and shared experience) is the core unit of the company, not the individual.

Business, the book notes, is a team sport. If you have a great player in a lousy squad, chances are better that the failing team will bring the great player down, rather than that the great player will convert losers to winners. Focus on developing great workgroups.

      2.    Great workgroups are made, not born.

Organizations must deliberately create environments for workgroups that can sustain high performance. The right environment is much more about providing respect than resources. “Treat smart people as if they are smart people,” the book counsels. High-performing groups create a “learning environment in which people can take risks, generate new ideas, make mistakes and learn from them.”

     3.     Don’t clip the wings off high-flying groups.

Nothing sends great performers sputtering to mediocrity faster than micromanaging and hording information, leaders who act in their own self-interest and companies that have short-term, rather than long-term goals. Give high-performing groups the support they need.

In short, “success is contagious,” as Annunzio writes in the opening sentence of the book. But, success does not spread like the stomach flu in a nursery school class. Instead it has to be nurtured in something of a corporate Petri dish. 

To take the analysis that direction, Annunzio and her able team of researchers would have to take a slightly different tack and segment the types of workgroups they study.

Of course, Annunzio and their team are happy to help with the task. The Hudson Highland Center for High Performance will benchmark your company against the findings of the study. Their experts promise to pinpoint “the three aspects of your company’s work environment that require immediate attention.” Check out the company’s offer on the Web.

So create a work environment that lets smart people act smart, and your company will reap the benefits.

Learn how to spread high performance throughout your organization. BeTuitive Marketing invites you to a special question and answer webinar session with “Contagious Success” author Susan Lucia Annunzio at 1 p.m. Central on July 26. Just let us know by emailing us. You will receive instructions with more details.

July 14, 2005 in award winning magazine, award winning newsletter, Award winning publications, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, build credibility, Business editorial, Business newsletter, Business relationships, Corporate newsletter, Corporate publications, create a newsletter | Permalink


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