09/29/2015 05:47 pm ET Updated Sep 28, 2016

Here's The One Change Your Company Should Never Make

Business today can feel like being transported to the pages of the Louis Carroll classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The potential solutions for meeting today's challenges are just as confusing as the problems: Change your computer systems, become more customer-centric, start doing social media; stop doing social media; change your processes; build a culture of service ... commitment ... accountability ... or fun.

No wonder you are left repeating the words of Alice, "It would be so nice if something would make sense for a change."

The truth is there is no one single change that will ensure your organization's long-term success. And even if there was one today, it will most likely be different tomorrow.

There is one change, however, you should never make if you want to thrive in today's chaotic world: You should never change your focus on treating your staff as valued partners. Doing that one thing builds and sustains trust and engagement to achieve your vision.

What it Means to Feel Like a Valued Partner

Valued partners look out for each other's success. They hold each other accountable for performance and behavior that energizes the organization. They consider others when making decisions. Their positive energy helps everyone focus on how to make a change work rather than why it won't. They can turn a mediocre plan into a smashing success.

Most important, they contribute to an environment where every person at every level can be trusted to do what they are supposed to do when they are supposed to do it the way it is supposed to be done.

Feeling like a valued partner is not the same as being happy and upbeat about your job. Morale can fluctuate based on the situation. It would be normal, for instance, for people not to have a high level of enjoyment about the job in the face of a severe business downturn. But, they can still have the high degree of trust and engagement that comes from knowing that you are a valued partner.

Likewise, there is no guarantee that an organization's values will or should not change over time based on the business model, new leadership, or even where the organization is in its life cycle of maturity.

Trust in where the organization is headed, how they will be treated, and the recognition of contribution should never be in doubt. You want everyone to see themselves as crucial members of a committed, engaged team that is willing and able to execute in pursuit of the vision - regardless of the type of change you are experiencing.

Here are three things you can do right now to ensure that every person feels like a valued partner who is engaged to achieve success:
  1. Examine and adjust every process and system. Most organizations say something about employees as their most important resource in their value statements - and then they implement human resources processes and systems that communicate just the opposite.
  2. Train supervisors and managers and then hold them accountable. It doesn't matter what the company policy says if your boss treats you as an enemy not a partner. A skill set that includes coaching, feedback, recognition, and effectively holding difficult conversations is a must. Supervisors and managers must be held accountable for modeling behavior that demonstrates a partnership.
  3. Be as open and transparent as possible. Nothing contributes to partnerships based on trust more than open, honest communication. There may be a few things that you cannot share because of business or legal issues, but minimize those as much as possible and be transparent about your inability to share confidential information.

Once you treat people as valued partners, you earn the right to expect them to act that way. And, there is nothing more critical for your success that in a world where nothing is what it is because everything is what it isn't than knowing everyone is in it together.

Randy Pennington is an award-winning author, speaker, and leading authority on helping organizations deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. His keynote seminars and workshops are informative, engaging, and memorable. To learn more or to hire Randy for your next meeting, visit, email, or call 972-980-9857.