Culturally yours

Culturally yours

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Some years ago Steve Jobs said: “Your work is going to be a large part of your life and the only way to be fully satisfied is to do what you consider is great work and the only way to do what is great work is to love what you do. If you have not found it yet keep looking, don’t settle. As with matters of the heart you will know when you find it. And like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on and so keep looking until you find it, don’t settle.”

Without a doubt people are the ones who make a great company not the machines or products. A great company builds a team of people committed to the same purpose and passion, which we can also call culture.

To build a great company culture is a lot of work. As we said the last time , if you don’t build by deliberate design , the company will take on by default the personality of your most vocal employee.

Define your values and try not to have them include innovation, team work, striving for excellence, integrity and passion. A change management guru once described the above values as very unimaginative, uninspiring and bland. These words don’t work because people don’t internalize these things. A free tip here. Dig deeper, think differently when crafting your culture.

A company once did a reality show experiment to help define and ingrain their culture. They told their employees that they would be filmed every minute of every work day for a month and there would be no audio just actions. They then told them what values they wanted them to be known for. They then chose three people who best embodied these values on film and it was a film that was watched often by all staff thereby ingraining it into their DNA.

Are your values distinguishable, are they different? Are you obsessed with them? Will these values outlive you? Can you actually live them everyday? Are you willing to sacrifice profit to protect your values?

Clearly you need to be hiring for your values. Culture fit must come before skills fit. We always say in the recruitment world that you usually hire for skills but fire for attitude. You have to be careful not to hire complainers and you can know

who these are by careful questioning during the interview.

Have a matrix. High level performers and low level performers. High level performers who live the values and those who don’t live the values. Low level performers who don’t live the values and those who live the values. Obviously high level achievers who live the values are the ideal. Low level ones who live the values can be coached. For sure the high level achievers who don’t live the company values need to be shown the door. They will skew the culture you have taken so much trouble to build

Live your values every day. There is a company that communication and transparency is a value and so they have a meeting everyday at the same time for a short length of time. A selected person gives the report for the unit. Everybody therefore knows exactly what is going on in each department all the time. There are no silos or information gaps. People who need to be celebrated are celebrated publicly.Hmmm I wonder!

There are always benefits to have an element of fun in your culture. Many people thrive with humor and it is good for wellness. Value continuous improvement, imbibe a learning culture.

Also make sure that you give meaningful rewards. So there is the Google example. Most organisations have a bring your children to work day. However Google realized that most of their employees were very young and had not started their own families. So instead of having a bring your child to work day, they instituted a bring your parent to work day.

Create a sub group within the organisation that is the custodian of the company culture. They have their jobs but this will be a committee that sits to decide the suppliers to use that will align with the company values. This committee will be in charge of planning company events and CSR if the organization does any.

The average person spends more waking hours at work than anywhere else. They would rather be in a place that feeds them rather than a place that depletes their energy.

So a five step culture development plan in a nutshell. First is that the entrepreneur or leadership of the organisation should define which type of people they want to be around and a values model with reciprocal behavior.

Hire players who have both competence and values

Develop a very strong model for accountability and reward people who are doing a good job for the organisation.

There must be an understanding that their people are their brand and as I have said before it must be a continuous improvement model.

Leaders drive the values of an organisation. These values drive behavior and the behavior becomes culture.

So there are many stories of amazing cultures. Take one from South West airlines in the United States. A man’s grandson was in an accident and likely to die so his daughter (the mother of the boy) asked him to fly down to see him before the life support machine was turned off.

He rushed but missed the flight but when the airline heard the story, they flew him alone on a plane because they wanted to make sure he got to his grandson on time. The over forty thousand airline staff live the value of the golden rule which says do unto others as you would want them to do to you.

There is another story of a baby that was born missing part of his brain. The young mother knowing that she could not care for him, gave him up for fostering. One of the nurses took a leave of absence to take the baby home to care for him till he died. She was later employed by a company that had the value of compassionate care of people.

Another story was the front desk officer of a hotel chain that took the clothes of a guest home when she closed and laundered them and brought them back in the morning so the guest who had an important meeting that morning but his luggage did not arrive with him on his flight and the shops were closed. This was clearly above the call of duty but the value of the hotel chain was to meet the needs of their guest at any cost.

There are many stories of where the culture of the organisation was well defined and ingrained into each member of staff. Organizations need to know that employees will no longer settle for mediocrity and boredom. When things are not properly articulated such organisations don’t last and are very stressful to run.

What is your culture.? Don’t leave it to chance or luck.

Congratulations on another inauguration week. Where there is life there is hope.

I apologize for inter changing between company and organisation. They mean the same thing.


Olamide Balogun

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