Leadership Mistakes

Corporate Culture

Kim Olver asked:

Much of the information in this article can be found in the book, How to Hire and Keep Great Employees by Jim Harris and Joan Brannick, discussed in our book review below. The authors make a very strong case for why it is so important, particularly today to have a strong corporate culture and for aligning all levels of your business with that core culture.

I consult with many organizations about bringing Empowered Leadership to their companies and agencies. One of the things they frequently lament over is their inability to find good employees and then the recidivism rate once they hire employees. One of their biggest complaints is that they hire people, train them and after investing in them, the employees move on.

This is the fate of many corporations today. Because of downsizing and outsourcing, people lack the job security that was present through the 80s. Now, employees know they can’t count on putting in their 40 years and getting their gold watch with one company the way their parents and grandparents did. Employees today know they have to look out for number one and make career decisions based on whatever is best for them and their families.

Organizational loyalty is pretty much nonexistent as workers realize that companies have no loyalty toward them. So, given this corporate climate, what can be done to found great workers and keep them?

The authors of How to Hire and Keep Great Employees say it’s in your corporate culture and what they say makes great sense to me. What would keep a person at a job when someone else may be trying to lure them away? It is a strong corporate culture that fits with their personality.

Do you have an identified corporate culture? If you don’t know, then the answer is a resounding no.

When you have chosen one of the following four cultures and align all your policies and procedures toward that purpose, then you have a corporate culture. Without this, you are most likely drifting around, trying to satisfy all four, without ever really reaching a pinnacle of greatness in any. When you focus on one core culture, the rest of business falls into place.

The four corporate cultures identified by Harris and Brannick are: a culture of customer service, a culture of Innovation, a culture of operational excellence, and a culture of spirit.

Customer Service: “The underlying purpose of a customer-service culture is to create solutions to meet customer needs” says Harris and Brannick. The idea is always meet their current needs certainly, while anticipating future needs before the customer is even aware of them. Customers always receive outstanding service and corporations aligned with this culture constantly seeking ways to go above and beyond for their customers. Even though these companies understand the old adage that “The customer is always right” may not necessarily be ture, their reality is the customer is still and always will be the customer and should be treated like royalty.

Innovation: Harris and Brannick state, “The underlying purpose of an innovation-driven culture is to create and shape the future.” People who thrive in this environment are those who can tolerate chaos, competition and making mistakes. There will be no gain without risks and innovative companies understand this and sometimes even reward mistakes to encourage risk-taking. The primary asset in these corporations is intelligent people. They are able to hire and retain the best people in their field by constantly staying on the cutting edge.

Operational Excellence: Harris and Brannick write, “The underlying purpose of an operationally excellent culture is to create processes that minimize costs while maximizing productivity and efficiency.” Most franchises operate within this cultural framework-downplaying creativity for adherence to standard operational procedures. Standardization of processes is critical. These companies are big on analyzing data to determine where improvements can be made and then making them.

Spirit: According to Harris and Brannick, “Sprit-driven companies are obsessed with creating environments that unleash the limitless creativity, enthusiasm, and energy of people.” The idea here is that one takes care of and encourages his or her employees, then business will automatically be taken care of. People working in a spirit culture develop a strong loyalty to their workplace. Sometimes they leave to try out other pastures, but often they return, realizing the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. The leaders in a spirit-centered culture become servant leaders, looking out for the welfare of their people.

When you are aligned with your core culture employee training, employee incentives, hiring, and retention are all centered around meeting your main corporate goal. How do you measure up?

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