I have some friends who run big businesses and they work really hard for their paycheck month after month with hard work. Yesterday as I was talking to one of them he told me of a problem he has. The employees of a department don’t want to work there any longer. All of them want to go to other jobs, look for new opportunities or even retire. I couldn’t believe the story, I’ve never seen something like that. I began to wonder what was going on there, what could make 20 or 30 people want to quit a job that pays well at the same time. The answer was simple: Culture.
Culture is very important and it is not created during a board meeting by 13 to 35 board members writing down a mission statement. It’s not created by employees in a company retire either. Culture is created by the people who work everyday and culture is created everyday and from that we can elaborate a mission statement, values and all the documents we need to make it “official”.
What is the problem with this department?
The culture sucks. The business is so big that every department has it’s own culture and it’s own mission statement. So you have a boat and every area is trying to push their way and to make the boat go in the direction they think is right which ends up in a very frustrating battle inside the company.
How can you spread a positive culture in a big business?
That’s a tough question to answer. One of my friends told us his experience.
To ensure a positive culture the CEO should be fully committed to the culture and so all the Vice Presidents and area managers. This is important because whether the culture comes from the top positions or the bottom positions (and there shouldn’t be so many levels between them anyway) the CEO and the VPs are the ones that will make sure that every department follow suit and will finally make the decision to decide which new hires fit the culture of the company.
Empower the champions. You’ll find some champions who are perfect culture fits and live it everyday. These champions are the ones that will embody the culture and set the example to most of the employees. It’s far more motivating to have someone other than the board members and this will make the right attitude expand across the employees faster.
Finally what will spread the positive culture is to ensure that every interaction that we hace with each person inside the company follows certain values and guidelines that are small in number and easy to remember. To make them easy to remember you need to relate these values to human actions such as humility and pursuit of learning and improvement.
If you do this you’ll make sure you have a well oriented and committed team. Change has to be total and made fast. Slow change will probably won’t lead to the desired results in the needed time because many big organizations are well behind in this matter.