Your Company Culture
By Andrew J. Edelman
5:30 am. The alarm clock rings. You wake up with a smile on your face.
can’t wait to get out of bed. Your job gives you challenge, a sense
of pride, and your workplace is one of collaboration, teamwork, and
respect. In short, you feel a sense of family at your organization.
Does this sound like you? If so, you are very fortunate. For most
Americans, the alarm clock brings a sense of anxiety and dread. The
morning commute is fraught with stress and the day is filled with
to-do lists, meetings and foreboding questions like: “How long will
this job last?” “Who can I trust?” “What impossible-to-achieve
quota will I be asked to accomplish this month?” and “How soon
before my retirement?”
to work has never been easy. Downsizing and instability have existed
within many different fields of employment. These days the
socioeconomic climate has posed tremendous stresses upon
organizations, with expectations to produce twice as much with half of
it is the organizational culture that poses the greatest stress for
today’s employees. Organizational culture is simply the sum total of
customs, actions, attitudes, and ideas that permeate a given
workplace. It consists of the rules, the environment, and the daily
life surrounding those who work and visit within, whether as internal
or external customers. In short, it is the “pulse” of daily life
positive in nature, organizational culture can result in tremendous
output with dedicated team members confidently steering the
organization towards its goals. Turnover is reduced and profits are
achieved. Unfortunately, the vast majority of today’s organizations
are filled with negative organizational culture characteristics, which
can have a dramatic effect on work output and work life.
are some strategies to help nurture a positive organizational culture
and keep your key employees:
Encourage and reward workers who are willing to “go the extra
mile”: As a manager or director, pitch in when necessary for the
greater good of the organization; going above and beyond the call of
duty will not be considered an imposition when members of the
organization are treated as family rather than a number on an ID
Maintain open lines of communication at all levels: Open-door
policies and feedback should be free-flowing and not governed by
organizational hierarchy; authority should be respected but input
should be welcomed from all levels of personnel since the person
closest to the problem usually knows exactly what it takes to solve
Reduce or eliminate micromanagement: Unless the situation warrants
an immediate crisis response, micromanagement is an impediment to
productivity. Hovering over employees and interfering with their
ability to make choices are common leadership blunders used in an
attempt to improve performance. This strategy usually backfires since
micromanagement not only slows down organizational process but conveys
a subtle message of distrust and lack of confidence in one’s team
members. People should be encouraged to grow and evolve with the
understanding that some mistakes are a part of the learning process.
This strategy alone can rapidly transform a rigid, poorly performing
organization into one characterized by ultra high performance.
Maintain competitive salaries and benefits: This,
in addition to ample opportunities for advancement and salary step
raises help reduce turnover. Paychecks should never be delayed, if
possible. Place associates in their “dream job” position whenever
possible and reward superior performance, generously and often.
Encourage ethical decision-making at all levels of the organization: This
applies to internal and external clientele. Ethics and honesty should
be part of daily organizational culture, not just a pretty phrase on a
framed lobby mission statement. Organizational leaders must be keenly
aware of the transparency of decisions and documentation, often
available on the Internet for the entire world to see.
Leadership must be mission-driven rather than ego-driven: Collaboration,
teamwork and win-win relationships are encouraged at all levels. It is
never “my people” or “my program,” but rather “our team”
or “our contribution.” Managers should be “we”-oriented,
mission-driven coaches, rather than “me”-oriented. A powerful
leadership strategy: promote your team with the same level of
enthusiasm that you would promote yourself. Cover your office wall
with a celebration of your team members’ successes rather than your
own and you will always earn their respect.
Downsize with dignity and professionalism: Losing one’s job can
be a catastrophic event, particularly for a long-time valued member of
an organization. If downsizing and reorganization are necessary,
associates should be given ample notice and assistance to acquire
alternative positions or referrals to reduce stress and financial
impact on their families.
Make low turnover rates the goal: Workers should be encouraged
and motivated to stay on the job for the “long term.” Leaders
should ask associates and team members what would keep them at this
job for the next 20 years, and when possible, should do their best to
implement their requests.
Show them the money.., and the freedom: Reward people who
continuously and consistently contribute to the effectiveness and
profit of the organization. Interestingly, this might be as simple as
a more parent-friendly schedule to buffer the stresses of childcare.
Many organizations realize the value of flextime and telecommuting as
a more important benefit than a raise in salary.
Build and maintain a superior reputation for excellence: Your
reputation within the community and within the industry at large
should be held to the highest standards. Customer relationships are
never “closed deals” but instead are “clients for life.” Your
advertising and marketing should reflect this commitment, starting
with each newly hired associate. Think about why customers do business
with a particular organization. It is most likely because of the
individual associate who gave them VIP treatment.
Value people as equally as process: The number one reason why
people leave organizations is because they do not feel valued.
Although process initiatives are critically important in streamlining
and improving the flow of work across an organization and its
stakeholders, task-driven leaders often neglect the motivational best
practices or lack the essential interpersonal skill sets that make
people want to perform and produce at high levels.
Never stop learning: Organizations that embrace training
initiatives and reward education for each of its members will go a
long way towards buffering the challenges and dynamics of our global
environment. When people feel empowered and supported in reaching
their goals and objectives, they are far more likely to stick around
when the going gets tough.
that truly wish to improve their organizational culture need to take
care of their people and support the critical ‘bottom rungs’ of
the ladder. This is in sharp contrast to many corporations where the
line staff earns $9 per hour while the executives earn millions per
year. Change must start at the top. Therefore, when buy-in occurs at
the top of the organizational chart, this win-win mindset will have a
strong likelihood of becoming part of the organization’s daily life.
This in turn will have a myriad of benefits for clients, customers,
and the community.
Read other articles and learn more
Andrew J. Edelman.
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