I always tell my clients; culture will eat processes for breakfast. They
look at me as if I just told them the meaning of life, to which they proceed to
profusely agree with, and move onto the next question.
Corporate culture is an abstract concept that reminds me of the heydays of
“Big Data”. It was a buzz word that had no real meaning. Everyone and
their mother were talking about how they were using big data to
“leverage” insights and “move the needle”. Too many
buzzwords…I feel dirty now.
Ok, back to the post. I want to draw your attention what in my experience is
Corporate Culture. Corporate Culture is closely related to the way employees
visualize their company. Allow me to explain. If the employee thinks of his or
her job as a means to make money and not as a personal fulfilment and goal
satisfaction machine, that employee would view the company as an ATM machine.
They put in the pin number, and money comes out. Do the time, get the money, go
home. Processes and SOPs are just merely a set of rules to follow so the pin
does not get rejected at the moment of withdrawal.
If your employees see the company as a social club, or a place where their
friends are, most likely they will be happy and cheerful at work. Things like
performance, financial goals, targets and hard-core sprints would take second
place, and in some cases, productivity could decline.
So where is the balance. How do we strike the right
“visualization” so the right mixture is achieved? Human beings are
funny creatures. We crave recognition, respect and power. Yet, most people
would shy away from responsibility. A good friend once told me that you reward
people with money, or more responsibility. An odd concept, unless you fully
understand what drives corporate change.
You see, people value ownership and a sense of belonging. The right person
will relish more responsibility, which in turn creates a sense of ownership,
and that is where you want to get to with your employees. I’m not talking about
stock options; I’m talking about feeling able to make a difference. I’ve had
multiple conversations with different people about burn out. The human mind has
an incredible capacity to work. Burn outs are not from working too much, real
burn outs occur when the mind feels that it doesn’t matter what we do, the
result is the same, and we are not going anywhere. Its the sense of helplessness,
not the busy schedule.
A true and healthy Corporate Culture is a little bit like a Potluck meal. It
has a bit of humor, a strong hint of ownership, a pinch of accountability, a
healthy doze of recognition, and a bland flat hierarchy. It doesn’t matter how
much money you throw at it, if these ingredients don’t blend, you will find
your self constantly loading the ATM with a dwindling source of cash. Strike
the balance, and your teams will fill the ATM for you with their innovation,
passion and ideas.