All summed in Culture

An organizational culture is the sum total of all I have discussed in my previous posts. It is the product of your people, your policies, and the way your organization does business.

Before you can define your organization’s culture, you must understand what a culture is. While there are many definitions, this is mine.

On the surface, a culture is how your company does things. As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” This behavioral measure of culture is important because it’s the demonstrable result of all you do. But is not the only metric.

Culture is also the sum of the underlying values and beliefs that mold your organization. Those values and beliefs have been the subject of my prior posts in this series. Rolled up, they form the underpinning of your culture.

In a Meta sense, these values and beliefs provide a “reality” that is unique to your organization. It provides a basis for purpose and action. It serves as a means of mainstream … and provides a baseline to evaluate people and decisions.

Every organizational culture is different. Competitors can copy your products, mimic your strategies, and hire your people, but they can never duplicate your culture. It is a living, breathing, changing thing that defines your organization like a fingerprint.

This my readers marks the last post of my “Managing People” series. I hope you enjoyed reading them as I’ve enjoyed writing them. Organizations always plan for business strategies and technology solutions, but seldom do they seriously considering how they manage their people.

Please share the series or posts with your friends and colleagues if you find them of benefit.

Until I write again.

Saud A.

Employee Burnout

Everyone agrees that employee turnover is disruptive and expensive. The Society for Human Resource Management estimates the total cost of turnover can be as high as 200 percent of annual salary.

Then consider that half of employee turnover is due to burnout. It’s a problem worth solving.

Many factors contribute to employee burnout. Among the most obvious are heavy workloads, short deadlines, and the ever-present mobile phone, which makes employees available around the clock.

But HR leaders say that burnout is also fueled when employees don’t see a connection between their role and their organization’s purpose.

Another top cause is a negative corporate culture, which I will address in the next post.

If these are conditions that describe your organization, more focus is needed on the fundamentals of community, engagement, and living the organization’s purpose. Providing employees with the foundation I introduced in the first post — belongingness, self-esteem, and self-actualization — is the best defense against burnout.

Promotions

Promotions may be the most misunderstood aspect of management.

While promotions create motivation and engagement, and demonstrate recognition of individuals, they are not just a reward for good performance. A promotion is the process of adding more responsibility to an employee’s role in the organization.

Following this logic, the best candidate for promotion is not necessarily your team’s top performer. While the criteria for promotion will differ for every job, there are some common trails to look for.

Perhaps the most important is skilled communication. While good communication is desirable in every position, it is a prized asset in a manager. The ability to handle conflict, give feedback, and manage difficult people makes a strong manager in any situation.

Not to be overlooked is a person’s ability to handle failure. While some employees look for excuses and scapegoats, other will accept responsibility and use the setback as a platform for learning and growth.

Finally, remember that promotions groom your organization’s future leadership. Choosing candidates who understand – and demonstrate – your mission and values ensure the seamless continuation of your organization’s culture.

In summary, promotions are an incubator for leadership. While competency is important, always consider the skills and talents your candidate will need in the future, as part of your leadership class.

Value of Training & Development

Training may be the most obvious, but most overlooked strategy for greater productivity.

Why?

Training can be expensive, in terms of both time and money. Every hour employees are training they are not directly, immediately productive. Projects can be delayed. But if you think of training as an investment, rather than an expense, you can reap substantial rewards.

A properly trained employee gets work done faster, is more productive, and makes fewer errors. But training also inspires employee confidence. Well-trained, confident employees are more likely to suggest process improvements and work beyond their job description.

Training also creates a company-wide baseline of knowledge. Team members can help new employees get up to speed faster, and can easily fill-in at other jobs when needed.

In addition to training people for specific jobs, consider classes in general industry knowledge. Your employees want your business to succeed. Their livelihood depends on it! Helping them understand how their job fits into the bigger picture of the company and industry will connect them to your mission and goals.

A Sense of Community in the Workplace

Much of what we believe about management has its roots in the Industrial Revolution. The concept of the organization as a “well-oiled machine” with a rigid, almost military hierarchy, is leftover from a time when jobs were simple, repetitive, and mindless.

In fact, organizations of 100 years ago mimicked machines… and many still do. The manager sits at the top, pulling levers to cause specific actions. The employees become replaceable parts, fueled to do repetitive tasks with ever-greater efficiency.

Today, in the light-speed digital age, anything mindless and repetitive is already done by a machine, or soon will be. You need people to contribute critical thinking, creativity, and judgement to your business.

This is best accomplished by dropping the machine metaphor and viewing your company as a community of individuals.

While the community has a purpose of its own, it is supported by a foundation of people, each with their own unique hopes and dreams.

Creating a sense of community in your workplace is essential to satisfying two basic employee needs I described in the first article: belonging and recognition.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “This is great theory, but how do I create community in my workplace?”

First, you must discard the myth that the needs of corporation are greater than the needs of the individual.

I know, this is heresy by Industrial Revolution standards. But we all instinctively know it’s true.

Saying it out loud — and displaying it through your company’s behavior — has an almost magical effect: it allows your employees to shed their “you versus me” thinking and embrace the purpose of the company.  By recognizing them as individuals, they will know their needs are, to at least some degree, important to their employer, as well as themselves.

Job Hunting Strategies

I’ve been delivering speeches and presentations about job hunting strategies and career planning for years now. My audiences were a wonderful mix throughout this journey; ranging from grade school students all the way to junior position staff.

The most common thing about all of them was: they didn’t have a career plan and didn’t know how to find jobs that matched their skills, and didn’t know how to approach employers.

Bahrain is a small country, and we joke about how everyone knows each other. This prompts a challenge to job seekers because networks play a major role in filling those vacant positions. Some call it networking, others call it pulling strings. I say if you have the right skills, attitude, and strategy, you’ll be able to get that job interview and impress the potential employer.

I’ve recently compiled my experience in this field in a short eBook: Get the Job You Want. In it, I’ve included how job seekers can plan a straightforward strategy to job hunting. Here is a link:

Get Your Copy

So what job hunting strategies do you follow, and what stories do you have about interviews and job application success?