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What is it like to work in YOUR organization?
How are you stacking up against other organizations competing for the same talent pool?
Last week, I attended an interesting event hosted by HR Alliance DC: Create an Engaging Employee Experience presented by Shaara Roman and Jennifer Ives. Captivated by a talk about organizational culture and HR strategies, I was taken by surprise by a compelling argument for organizations to shift their thinking and strategy around hiring and staff retention strategies towards seeing employees and job seekers as consumers.
Let me unpack that bold statement: The generational demograhic of the labor market is changing considerably with already more than a third of the current workforce being comprised of Millennials, defined as (34-22-year old) and Gen Zs (21 years and younger as of 2015). Those age groups in particular are looking for personal career development options, a good fit for their individual talents around purposeful work, and they want the organizational culture of their place of work to be compatible with their personal values.
With further diminishing job security and dwindling employment benefits, the younger workforce generations generally feel little loyalty towards the companies they work for. More than half of the younger workforce is looking for opportunities to work for themselves. Furthermore, as highlighted in a previous post, 75% of all employees are disengaged and are one foot out the door at any given time, looking for more appealing job opportunties with the help of employee experience-transparent jobsites such as glassdoor.com.
From the organization’s perspective, successful hiring strategies, employee engagement and retention are essential factors for organizational success, especially in the professional services industry. Specialized jobs are very expensive to staff and a high employee turnover can cause serious project delays and blow deep holes in the budget.
The idea of viewing employees and potential hires like consumers with distinct behaviors, preferences and expectations makes sense and may be a sensible business practice for many organizations. Creating a positive employee experience is therefore becoming increasingly important for organizations looking for a competitive edge in today’s business climate. This does NOT mean high-end espresso machines, ping pong tables and nap rooms.
The most important employee experience differentiators are:
- Inspiring Leadership + Empowering Culture
- User-friendly Technology
- Flexible, People-centric Workspaces
In response to changing employee expectations and upon seeing positive ROI upon investment in organizational culture improvement, traditional management models are being turned upside down and inside out. Performance management is shifting from formal annual review models to frequent informal feedback coupled with mentoring and coaching. Intrapreneurship, an entrepreneurial mindset within the organization, is encouraged and traditional top down management is taking a backseat to servant leadership approaches.
Companies will have to take an honest look at the attractiveness of their organizational culture if they are looking to hire and retain top talent in today’s competitive job market.
- How does YOUR company measure up?
- How are you relating to your staff?
- What does your employee engagement strategy look like?
Butler Communication’s SOAR Leadership Lab gives you an opportunity to take a closer look at your leadership skills, to practice new communication patterns, to experiement with collaborative management styles and to strengthen your resilience and flexibility capacity.
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With best wishes for bold and courageous culture shaping,
A client shared a great article about the importance of organizational culture awareness for job seekers as well as organizations wanting to attract top talent. Rather than asking hiring companies about the uniqueness of their organizations, the author Adam Grant suggests asking and listening for stories will reveal the organizational culture and the hidden shared beliefs that drive behaviors at a work place.
Recently, I have been playing with 5 of Gerd Hofstede’s 6 cultural dimension indicators to see whether they may be useful to assess and compare organizational culture.
- Low or High Power Distance
How accessible are the leaders in the organization and how do they relate to the frontline staff? How complex is the organizational structure? How short or long are reporting and project approval paths?
- Individualism vs. Collectivism
How does your organization celebrate success, for the individual, the team and the organization? Are employees essentially competing against each other or is team effort valued over lone wolf mentalities?
- Uncertainty Avoidance
How quickly are decisions made? How much information is required and how complex is the approval process for new initiatives? How risk averse is the organization?
- Masculinity vs. Femininity
In a cultural context, Hofstede defines masculinity as “a preference in society for achievement, heroism, assertiveness and material rewards for success.” Femininity is defined as “a preference for cooperation, modesty, caring for the weak and quality of life.” (Weak in this context may mean a less experienced team member or a person requiring or simply benefiting from special accommodations.) While the labels may sound dated and may have to be modified to reflect the current climate for work place discourses, the concept of conquering versus integration is nevertheless an important marker for corporate culture and behavior.
- Long-term vs. Short-term Orientation
Are traditions valued and implemented in long-range plans? Are quarterly results the main decision drivers? Is institutional knowledge valued or does the organization put innovation front and center?
Additional dimensions came to mind when inquiring about an organization’s culture that are not captured by Hofstede’s traditional culture model, which was original developed for national cultural assessments:
What does the on-boarding process look like? What does the organization do to encourage continuous learning at the organizational level as well as at the individual level? How are mistakes handled?
Generative vs. Critical Feedback
How do employees know that they are successful? How is feedback given and received in the organization? Is up-chain feedback encouraged? Is feedback used as a constructive personnel development tool or is it usually used to reprimand staff? An easy gauge is to ask whether employees are usually looking forward to receiving feedback and performance evaluations or if they dread it.
Level of Internal Cohesiveness
How would the front line staff answer these questions? The manager? The leader of the organization? Vastly differing responses indicate internal disconnects.
Why are these important considerations for job seekers? While salary and benefits are important to meet your needs for your life outside of your workplace, the company culture will be the driving factor for long-term job satisfaction and professional growth and most importantly, “culture eats strategy for breakfast” (Peter Drucker) – every day and all the time.