Corporate Culture Element 3: Education and Training
Education changes what people think, and training changes their ability to do. Both are about learning and are important in shaping culture, but I’d put my biggest bet on education.
Hiring the right people who fit your culture doesn’t help much if they don’t understand how culture impacts their work. How overtly do you talk about culture in new employee orientation and training? Most companies don’t spend any time on it because they aren’t clear on what they want their culture to be. So they can’t very well teach it.
Education, as cited in all the case studies of this book [The Intention Imperative], is always at the top of the list for getting people up to speed quickly. Not just on what they do but also why they do it—and how culture needs to direct their efforts.
Corporate Culture Element 4: Incentives and Reinforcements
In the world that was, salary and benefits were the twin pillars of any organization’s incentive structure. The calculus was simple: people will work more if you give them more. A good salary and decent benefits still top the lists of what employees value most (things haven’t changed
that much), but they no longer suffice. A survey from Johns Hopkins University found that 95 percent of candidates believe that a company’s culture is more important than compensation.
This is eye-opening, if a bit vague. Each one of the candidates probably defines culture differently (although, I think that for many they mean the atmosphere or personality of their place of work), but the point is clear: for a company to attract and retain good people, compensation isn’t enough. So what is enough?
Let’s look at Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” survey. According to the results, when asked what attributes were most important in deciding whether to work for a company, respondents picked “the ability to do what they do best” as their number one response. The second most popular response was “greater work-life balance and better personal well-being.”
Again, employees are looking for a culture that allows them to succeed, not just on the job but also in other areas of their lives. A job that gives them satisfaction while there, but also gives them the ability to achieve success in their personal lives…People want to find success on the job. They want to know their contributions make a difference and that they are valued. Rather than throwing money at the problem, the intentional leader looks for ways to get out of the employee’s way. There are two words for this: autonomy and acknowledgment.
Corporate Culture Element 5: Communication and Meetings
“You’re on a need-to-know basis and right now you don’t need to know.” This little military-inspired cliché was the modus operandi of the world that was. The thinking at the time was that employees only needed to be let in on matters that concerned them. Everything else was “above their pay grade.”
Except no one likes to be playing the violin while the Titanic sinks. The idea that workers will be content to continue their work without any information regarding the true state of affairs is, like the Titanic itself, from a different era. Today’s intentional leader strives for a culture of transparency within the organization, one that communicates where the ship is headed (and why the destination might be different than it was). This doesn’t mean that all information should be made public—in a world of Twitter, that is just asking for trouble. Rather, it means that organizations should try to keep their employees informed as much as possible…This requires transparency and a commitment to effective and constant communication between all levels of the organization.
Design Culture Around Success for Everyone
Culture stands as the first imperative of the intentional leader because it is the one that most affects all the others...While the changing expectations of the consumer have affected the way a business operates, it’s the way a business operates that can lead to a better consumer experience. And it starts with building a culture that is designed around one idea: success. Success for you, success for employees, and success for the organization. Success starts with a grounding of philosophy and values and ends with a team working as one for a common end.
Adapted with permission from The Intention Imperative by Mark Sanborn, copyright Mark Sanborn.