Sustainable company performance is built on more than a profitable balance sheet. Karim Benameur, a professor at Grenoble Ecole de Management, has worked for the past 20 years on developing the importance of efficiency and meaning in the workplace. His effissens management model is based on a reversal of traditional models. Instead of starting with an objective, what if we began by thinking about the meaning? Why does our organization exist?
A classic organizational model starts with an objective, which is generally followed by an organizational structure to achieve said objective. "However, the meaning behind a company's goal is often considered as an afterthought. Or worse yet, only considered when a company hits a bump in the road." says Karim.
Social responsibility: a company's raison d'être
When you start by asking why, the structure of an organization changes completely. Karim highlights that traditional perspectives generally start with economic goals. On the other hand, the effissens model sees economics in terms of constraints. "When you understand why you are doing something, the economic results of your company become a constraint you have to overcome, instead of being the guiding principle behind your work. This flips the paradigm upside down."
Understanding the role a company plays in improving the common good is the key that unlocks the door to discovering its raison d'être. "Social responsibility is the first step in the effissens model. When I work with companies, we start by identifying how they contribute to society. From there, we can work on understanding the specificities of their activity and highlighting the distinguishing factors that make them unique." explains Karim.
Combining meaning and efficiency
Company performance is based on the combination of two key factors. Karim suggest that "Giving meaning to your work is not enough. You also need to be efficient. We work on the concrete principle that good performance is essential for company survival. The effissens model provides tools to measure a company's efficiency vis-à-vis its fundamental reasons for existing. "
To work on various levels of an organization, Karim advises companies to use tools that provide practical information. "You can work on overall meaning and strategy thanks to the effissens five levels of organization (define your social responsibility, field of activity, uniqueness, paths for development and economic constraints). Other tools such as XYZ and SELF help address individual efficiency and motivation, while MTO and 360 degree consulting provide measurements on an organizational level. The key is to go beyond theory and collect information you can use to build concrete solutions."
Meaning creates reliable employee engagement
As employee and manager burnout becomes an increasing problem for companies around the world, Karim explains that the effissens model helps companies create the right kind of employee engagement. "There are three types of engagement. When employees understand why they work and have the correct means to implement their work, that's ideal. However, we often see employees who might understand why they have to do a task, but don't have the right means to carry out their work. And even worse, some don't understand why and don't have the means to achieve the results expected of them. In the last two cases, these situations generate stress and can lead to burnout."
By reorganizing a company's vision to start with the understanding of why a company exists, leaders and managers can create an environment where employee engagement is more reliable. "When your company lacks direction, employees have no guiding force. Giving meaning to work does not guarantee employee engagement, but it's essential to achieve reliable overall engagement. It's only once you have earned employee engagement that you can work on optimizing the means to achieve a company's vision." concludes Karim.