Mind Your Ps and Qs

June 9, 2021

Father’s Day is coming up soon. My dad was a man of few words, but lots of wisdom. One of his favorite cautions to us was, “make sure you mind your Ps and Qs.”

He meant that we should be minding our manners, watching our behavior, and doing things right. We were to be acting according to our principles and values and contributing to the common good.

That’s what company culture is all about. When the culture in a workplace is positive, the company and the employees thrive. On the other hand, a toxic or dysfunctional culture shows up in high turnover and low profits.

Culture doesn’t happen by accident. It’s something that’s carefully cultivated and maintained. And, according to Sheila Margolis, President of the Workplace Culture Institute, it is literally about minding your Ps.

According to Margolis, organizational culture is the Five Ps of an organization:

Purpose – the reason why you are in business, why that work is important and what contribution it makes in the world

Philosophy – the fundamental principles and values that guide and define your work; the personality of your organization

Priorities – the strategic goals of the organization; the criteria used to assign importance to particular actions or decisions

Practices – behaviors and actions of the team and members of the organization, both internally and externally. Internal practices include organizational structure, communication, and human relations functions such as hiring and training. External practices include choosing a target market, customer service and business alliances.

Projections – the image the company presents to the public including marketing, brand identification, and leader visibility.

From the time your company is created, it’s your job as a leader to create and convey these five elements to your employees and to your customers. It’s not just about what you say, it’s also about what you do…and about how those two things match up.

When a leader “walks the talk,” the rest of the team follows more willingly and consistently. When everybody on the team “minds” their Ps, the organization is more likely to be successful.

When the Ps are not consistent with one another or when some members behave in ways that are not congruent with one or more of the Ps, problems can arise.

About now, you’re probably asking, “what about the Qs? Where do they come in?”

The Qs are the critical questions you ask to make sure that the five Ps are clear, consistent, held in common by all participants in the organization, and consistently demonstrated both internally and externally. When something is wrong in an organization, or when the organization is facing change either by choice or by chance, asking the right questions will help get all those Ps back in alignment.

So…are you minding your Ps and Qs?

If so, you and your team will be ready to…

Go forth and do great things,

Martha & Chris