Recognize This! – Creating a strong culture requires careful focus and intention.
What’s your ambition for the culture of your organization? If you
intend to create and preserve a strong company culture of recognition –
one that drives engagement, productivity and performance – how do you
1) Focus on Your Culture
If culture is to be central to how the people who make up your
organization work and behave every day, then culture cannot be an
afterthought. It must be a primary area of focus. Kyle Zimmer,
president, chief executive and co-founder of the nonprofit First Book,
put it this way in a recent New York Times “Corner Office” column:
“It became very real to me that you have to really focus
on the culture of the organization. You can work very hard to build the
culture of an organization, and it’s a fragile thing — it’s much easier
to lose it than it is to build it.”
The fragility of your culture is something I regularly speak to,
comparing it to a bonsai tree. It takes many years of careful attention
and focus to prune and bend a bonsai tree into the desired shape, but
only one chop to kill it entirely. The same is true of your culture.
2) Hire Intentionally
One important factor to ensure you don’t destroy your culture over time is to hire intentionally. Ms. Zimmer offers this advice:
“If somebody comes in, and has had a 30-year career where
they’ve been the boss, and they are not used to being questioned or
having their ideas kicked around and challenged, it’s not going to be a
fit. It’s also important to avoid hiring those people, because if we do,
it’s going to change who comes to the organization.”
Additionally, this article
offers some good tips for hiring for cultural fit, including how to get
around a candidate’s tendency to say anything to get hired.
3) Make the Values behind Your Culture Real
Part of hiring intentionally is hiring to your values. But it’s not
enough to stop focusing on values during the recruiting process. Your
values must become central to the daily, ongoing work of all employees.
Another CEO featured in the “Corner Office” column, Chris Barbin of Appirio, suggests:
“We have three values that we hire against and three that
we run it against. The three that we hire against are trust,
professionalism and gray matter — as in, how smart are you? The three we
run it against are customers, team and fun.”
This is an interesting approach. Once you know the people you hire
have the core personal values you desire, you can then refocus their
efforts through daily values focused on organizational success.
What are your recommendations for creating a preserving a strong company culture?
11 Jun 2012 4:12 PM
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