June 1, 2011

Stop Killing Your Corporate Culture

According to Waterstone Human Capital and their 2010 Canadian Corporate Culture Study Results:

  • 71 per cent of respondents say their organization’s corporate culture drives sales and revenue

In a series of interviews in 2010, Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn/Ferry International, surfaced the following:

  • JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is known for promoting openness and accountability in his organization
  • Michael Thaman, chairman and CEO of Owens Corning observed: “Make sure that the DNA of your company is right. Ultimately, that shapes the way you operate.”

Knightsbridge found the following, in their 2010 report entitled “Engaged Employees and the Bottom Line”:

  • Only 30 per cent provide managers with formal career management processes, tools and training to support employee career development.
  • Only 26 per cent indicated managers have ongoing career conversations with their employees.
  • Only 22 per cent hold managers accountable for supporting employee career development and internal mobility.
  • Only 11 per cent reward managers who support employee career development.

To cut to the chase, it’s my opinion that the culture of many companies is being ruined by clueless executives.

Those executives are missing out on several key criteria that should be deemed critical in today’s corporate jungle and implemented as organizational disciplines throughout the organization:

  • Focus on the Employee
    • Failure to invest in the future of the employee is naïve and short-sighted
    • Why should we care where he/she works inside the company; stop hoarding the talent and start investing in their career at the organization as a whole and help the individual(s) grow and/or find new roles in other teams that furthers their experience, knowledge & potential for retention
    • Address engagement as well as an employee’s career development aspirations
  • Focus on Open Leadership
    • Why the ‘white ivory tower’? Why the rigidity? Why not have some fun?
    • Some of the organizational attributes I’ve written before concerning open leadership include engaging & exploring with the organization before executing, being mobile, flexible & always supportive, as well as demonstrating a knack for social technologies
  • Focus on the CODE
    • CODE = Clear Objectives & Demonstrable Empowerment
    • The yin-yang relationship of CODE may not be evident at first, but it’s unfortunate leaders and organizations don’t apply it whole heartedly
    • Clear Objectives is both at an organizational level as well as at an individual level — ensuring the employee is clear with the direction of the company and what should be mutually developed as personal objectives
    • Demonstrable Empowerment is the absolute opposite of micro-managing — once the individual is 100% aware of the strategy (and thus has clear objectives) get out of the way and allow the employee to be fully empowered to sort out how to achieve the goal and perhaps innovate new ideas along the way

If an organization and its senior leaders were to a) Focus on the Employee, b) Focus on Open Leadership and c) Focus on the CODE, I truly believe its culture would improve, its employee satisfaction would rise, and its corporate performance would begin inching forward more positively over time.

This would definitely help stop many corporate cultures from being killed.

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