Some ‘Home Grown’ Tips on Culture Part 1

Tip # 1

If you want to know the culture of an organisation, the last place to look is at its company Vision; Mission; and Values statements.

Culture is all about behaviours, not words on a page or wall. The best way to assess true culture is to notice ‘the way we do things around here.’ i.e. What does the organisation reward, punish or condone? Who are the inner circle and what got them there? Are there any ‘sacred cows’? How did executives rise to their positions? Are there any unspoken rules? What are the behaviours of the leadership team? Start there, because the culture mirrors the leader/s. Attend the executive meetings and observe behaviours around the table. Do the company values only apply to ‘the rest of them’ – not ‘us’ the chosen few?  This is a critical aspect of ‘due diligence’ that often gets overlooked with M&As, and one which we often find we should have been called in to advise on at the beginning of the Merger or Acquisition, not after the deal is done. There is untold value in assessing the ‘cultural model’ of a target organisation and the motivational factors driving its executive team and this should be given equal weighting to the financial assessment being undertaken.

Tip # 2

It’s not enough to just have values or talk values… you have to do values!

Values as they stand, are a nice set of words which people aspire to ‘have.’  Like… “We have Honesty; Integrity and Respect as three of our guiding company values.” But you can’t really have a value. It is an intangible concept, not something you can observe and photograph. For values to be effective they need to be turned into behaviours. Then we can observe them in action or not. For example… “In our company do our policies treat people with respect?  When we do business with our suppliers do we act with integrity. Do we tell the truth to our customers when the news is not good?” The best advice I ever heard, was from a CEO of an award winning auto dealership in the USA named Carl Sewell. His one rule for his people was the following… “Never do anything today that won’t bear scrutiny in the front page of the newspaper tomorrow.” Now that says it all I believe.

Tip # 3

If you focus on improving their weaknesses to develop well rounded employees they will just end up with a bunch of strong weaknesses.

If you want to develop a high-performing culture do not work on developing people to be more ‘well-rounded.’ Instead, support your people by focusing on their natural talents and find the right fit for them.  Don’t waste your time trying to strengthen them in areas that they struggle with. Instead, leverage their innate talents and surround them with colleagues who have complementary talents and behaviours to match. Aim to create a work environment where everyone can grow and blossom according to his/her own skills and talents. All you have to do is channel their own motivations, not try to change them and mold them. This is precisely what we focus on helping companies to do with their staff development – helping to avoid the ‘square peg, round hole’ syndrome that afflicts most company cultures.

Look out for more Tips next week…

Precision Profiling — What Makes You Tick? Revealing the hidden secrets about yourself and your staff that even you didn’t know, and how to leverage what you discover for the benefit of you and your company.

About Brian Clark

Brian Clark is the principal director of Precision Profiling®.

He is a renowned practitioner, writer and speaker on building total customer cultures; values driven leadership and world best practice strategy and implementation.

He has been a guest lecturer on world best practice for the executive management programme at Monash University’s business college (Mt Eliza campus); an adviser to and key note speaker for the Singapore Productivity Association and a consultant to many major Australian and overseas corporations and government departments.

Read more about Brian Clark Here

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