Culture Shift

Since culture seems to be quite the buzzword lately, I found myself wondering if it’s actually possible to change a company’s culture. There is such an emphasis put on good company culture, but what does that mean exactly? And if a company has a bad culture can the leaders and employees actually change it?

I think a good culture depends on what the organization is trying to achieve. I tend to believe Patagonia has a good company culture because they take care of their employees, have a strong focus on the environment and are committed to their values. However, this type of company culture isn’t for every organization nor would it be possible to replicate since Patagonia’s culture is really its brand.

While I believe that an employee-centered culture will get a company further than anything else, there are many different focal points an organization can choose. For example, a tech company may offer a culture centered around innovation or a non-profit may focus on giving back not only to its area of expertise, but to the community as well.  Culture works best when an organization is not spread too thin and can focus on creating a purposeful, deliberate culture.

I think that it’s possible to shift a company’s culture, but it’s not an easy feat. Leadership must be dedicated and follow-through with the new plan while employees must be flexible and open to new ideas. Here is a thorough path of suggestions for successfully altering a company’s culture.

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Also, a company should be leery of biting off more than it can handle when changing a very tenured, engrained culture. People have a tendency to be stuck in their ways and may see this as an over-haul of traditions and style even if it may not be the most effective or efficient way.  Companies should focus on the critical aspects of change they want to achieve and be able to create small wins within those aspects.

Culture is based on behaviors, so changing will take time. Companies should look for pieces of the culture that are currently working and celebrate the wins.  Organizations can be successful with a culture shift if it is willing to put in the work and encourage all team members to change for the better.

Has your company tried to improve its culture? Let me know the process in the comment section below.



The Best Way to Incentivize Employees

It’s challenging for organizations to get employees to complete tasks and accomplish goals up to set standards. Either there’s a miscommunication or employees don’t feel like the task is worthwhile or important. Businesses have the responsibility of creating solid systems in order to hold their people accountable.

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Incentives are a great way to encourage employees to exceed expectations, but incentives have to be used in the right way. Most organizations have annual reviews that tie performance to budgets or goals, and provide a standardized incentive; however that’s not always the best way.

I’m currently reading Good Profit by Charles Koch, who says that incentives should be tied to value instead of the more traditional route. Koch’s companies even go as far to suggest, “when individual employees create more value than their leaders, they are compensated more than their leaders, no matter their title” (195).

This then encourages every employee to perform beyond the set standard and their potential.  The company also positions its employees to take risks that are inline with the companies values and reward employees as long as due diligence is applied even if the project fails. Koch does not put limits on compensation and bases monetary incentives strictly on value creation.  They encourage employees to work as if they were entrepenuers in order for the employees to be committed to the organization.

In order for incentives to work, leaders have to use them to encourage behaviors that are tied to the values and goals of the organizations. Leaders must provide honest feedback with their employees and show their commitment to success by rewarding those that deserve it and coaching those that don’t.

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Another idea Koch brings up is those employees who are self-actualized. This means that “work becomes part of how [the employees] define themselves. They need to feel they are working for a worthwhile cause” (197). While this is harder (if not impossible) for companies to create, they should try to create a workplace where employees feel important and hire based on personality.

The culture of the company should drive its incentive strategy.  Koch encourages employees to own their performance by incentivizing the value that is created, which is ultimately good for the company as well.  Whatever the company wants to achieve and accomplish is what should be measured and incentivized in order for employees to exceed expectations.

What types of incentives do you have at your company?  Let me know in the comment section below.

The Dreaded Mission Statement

Mission statements are hard. They are hard to write and they are hard to live by. Even just writing an “About Me” statement was challenging, and I know exactly who I am. I sat down, typed a bunch of words, read and re-read, edited and edited some more, and then realized I wasn’t quite sure that’s how I wanted to describe myself to the world… Let’s just say I’m still editing.

Businesses can struggle the same way because it’s hard to expertly put into words why customers and employees should choose them over their competitors.  A mission statement is “a written declaration of an organization’s core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged over time.” Out of several examples that I’ve read, it seems that the most important part starts with “To.” To provide great customer service, to cause no destruction, to create a great place to live… The mission statement is not only an action, it creates a feeling.

golden-circleIn the TED Talk How Great Leaders Inspire Action, Simon Sinek expertly demonstrates how some organizations and people can motivate people to act. He calls it the Golden Circle and it simply goes through the process of why, how and what in that exact order. He asks, “Why should anyone care?” I think this is where mission statements must start. Why should I do what I do and why should I do it for this company?

Sinek continues by mentioning the idea that if you hire people just because they can do a job, they will work for money, but it you hire them because they believe what you believe, they will work for you through blood, sweat and tears. This type of passion has to come from inside an individual. It can’t be a canned mission statement that is memorized and repeated. Leaders and organization creators must truly believe in their cause in order for talented employees to live the mission. They have to believe whole-heatedly in the “why” that it oozes out of the company effortlessly.

Then, the how and the what come naturally. As humans, we are able to figure out how we need to accomplish tasks in order to complete the desired outcomes. Businesses can encourage the motivation of employees if they have a clear idea of their commitments. Mission statements don’t have to cause eye-rolls or misguided attempts at camaraderie, and they won’t if they start with a purpose. Find the passion, find the “why” and you will be able to find the people who will passionately work for your cause.

Do you know your company’s mission statement? If yes, does it align with your values?  If no, learn it today and see how it aligns with your values, your “why.”

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