Affecting change

So you want to change the world?

You can start a revolution by changing policies within your own company, says C. Keith Cox, a Medina-based management consultant.

Cox, president of Tirawa Consulting Inc., believes that work now plays such a large role in most Americans’ lives that business owners can affect change within their communities — and eventually, the planet — simply by turning their companies into values-driven organizations.

Cox founded his company late last year, after spending the last three years as a senior manager for marchFIRST in Cleveland, and the seven years before that with the organizational change management practice of Ernst & Young. He named his new practice “Tirawa” to reflect the spiritual side of the workplace. The word is Native American for “Great Spirit.”

When Cox started at marchFIRST, the company had just been formed out of the merger of two “very different companies,” he says. His first order of the day was to help form one corporate culture for the organization that everyone could feel part of.

“They needed to create an organization that brought everybody together as one, to help unleash the potential of their people,” he says. “We started by doing a culture assessment. If you’re going to have an organization that reflects the needs and values of the people, you need to talk to them.

“You need to figure out what is important to them. What do they stand for? What do they want to focus on, not just at work, but outside of work?”

Cox now helps other companies create values systems for their organizations. He says it’s more important now than ever for a company’s values to match the values of its employees, because home and office lives have become almost inseparable.

Not only are we spending more time at work, we are almost constantly connected to work through voice mail, e-mail, and mobile phones.

“When your personal values are aligned with the organizational values, your job is just not a job, but it becomes an extension of whatever your personal mission is,” he says. “It unleashes creativity, innovation, all those good things that people can bring to work every day — or they can leave at home.”

He says companies today need innovative employees so that they can react to changes in the marketplace more rapidly.

“The way you get to those things is by having committed people, individuals that really go the extra mile for the company, ” he says.

But he says it’s not just good business sense, it’s the right thing to do.

“We need to become more focused on the common good. If companies become more values-driven, the impact can become monumental.”

He says companies need to become more socially responsible, because many problems in society can be traced back to corporate America.

“As a society, we need to focus more on taking care of each other, our communities and our planet,” Cox says. “If we all just focused on each other and the common good, it would be a lot better than just how much money we make.”

So, how do you become a values-driven organization? Start by finding out what your employees’ values are, then create a set of five to eight core values for your organization that reflect those. When your organization’s values match at least some of the values of each employee, it will be easier for employees to rally around them.

Once you have determined what those values are, follow through by building them into other parts of your company, from HR policies to performance assessments to recruitment.

For example, if work balance is a value, what programs and policies do you have in place to promote that?

“Do you have day care, do you give people time off when they need to take their child to the doctor? Are you having meetings at 6 at night?” Cox says. “You need to make sure that all your actions and all your communications are consistent with what you want to stand for as an organization.”

If customer satisfaction is a value, are you measuring your employees’ performances based on the satisfaction level of your customers?

“For me, this work is important because I can help make the world a better place by changing our collective consciousness one person, one team, one organization at a time.

“For those that think you can’t change the world, you’re wrong,” he says. “You just have to do it one step at a time.” How to reach: Tirawa Consulting Inc., (330) 723-2222 or [email protected]