Culture Is A Work In Progress

Work in ProgressI do believe, in many cases, the level of business success contributes to the decision on whether or not a high performer is let go because their style is detrimental to the culture. In the case of a high performer in a business that is barely making it, that high performer probably stays. This situation works for the immediate time being but not for long-term growth. It’s difficult to build a team in this scenario. A high performer with a bad attitude in an environment with other high performers, probably should go. But not without trying to get the person in line first. Bad attitudes are detrimental to team building. However, often times a bad attitude actually develops as a result of how people are treated by management, or by a particular manager. There are various other scenarios as well.

Culture lives and breathes in all organizations. It must be nurtured – fed and taken care of. If sick, the virus causing the sickness must be addressed. In the case of cancer, it must be identified, isolated and removed – making sure to properly treat closely affected areas to be sure of total elimination. If healthy, it must continue to be fortified – an immune system built and new well-being programs developed.

At the end of the day, Culture is a work in progress! It must be fluid. It must fill in the cracks and gaps, and reach it’s own level. It must be understood by all. It must be allowed to grow. But, it must be managed. The key is whether you do so reactively or proactively!

Recently, I read an interesting article about strategy and its affect on culture. Key paragraphs and link to the article follows…

Does strategy matter?

If you do not think that it matters then you are in good company. There are many who question the value of strategy. And I see many companies where there is no formal strategy; the informal strategy is to keep doing what has worked in the past or to chase what is fashionable today.

Strategy v Execution

When it comes to questioning strategy there are two schools that are particularly prominent. First, there is the school of execution. The execution school which says that strategy is waste of time. Why? Because strategies are generic-obvious and what matters is execution. The ability to turn strategy into the daily live of the organization. Clearly, there is some truth in this school. Strategy which cannot be operationalized is waste of time-resource.

Strategy v Culture

Then there is the school that says “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Yes, culture is powerful. Culture determines what gets done and how it gets done. A strategy that does not take into account the fit with culture will meet lots of resistance. Getting people to enact such a strategy will be like fighting a guerilla war with an enemy who is patient and cunning. What is forgotten is that culture can be and is influenced-shaped-shifted through strategy.

To see strategy and culture as being separate and distinct is a gross misunderstanding. This misunderstanding arises due to our reductionist-analytical thinking. Strategy and culture are interlinked. Put differently, if you change strategy, you will take actions that will influence the culture. And if you change culture it will eventually influence the strategy.

Read more HERE.

Thoughts on Developing Corporate Culture

Corporate CultureAccording to author, Kris Dunn in her blog post, Keys to Developing Corporate Culture, “Corporate culture is all about really what you value as a company, what you value in terms of how you serve your customers, how business gets done, and what you value from a performance perspective across your talent base.” Although he concedes that there is no single definition that could be overlaid across all of corporate America, Dunn stresses that, at its core, culture represents the manifestation of the guiding principles that underpin every part of your company.

“Like style,” Dunn says, “you kind of know good culture when you see it.”

Culture is less about “free soda and ping pong tables” and more about performance, Dunn argues. Keeping a fun workplace atmosphere may be part of the image that your company presents, but what culture should actually be built on is an unrelenting focus on factors that “create a DNA map of the type of employee that a company looks for.” Find the characteristics that lead to high-performing team members, and your company becomes stronger and more successful.

Recently, I shared Dunn’s blog on within the Franchise Executives group on LinkedIn and posed the questions, “What are your thoughts on developing corporate culture? Would you be willing to let go of top performers if their management style is detrimental to your culture?” Here’s what various members of the group had to say…

“There is no question that any company is only as strong as their weakest link. Too many leaders wait too long before they let poor performers or those with poor attitudes go. They are afraid of legal repercussions or more commonly, those “difficult conversations.” The biggest error is not clearly knowing and expressing the caliber of work expected from the team, giving the team the tools to be successful, and them holding them to account. Leaders don’t consistently document performance. They wing it. Just because someone is in charge doesn’t mean he or she has the knowledge or training on how to create and implement a company culture that endures and helps the company thrive.” – Nancy Fox

“In our business, not one person can be above the values or culture that we have established.  Most franchises, good ones at least, have that culture built into the fabric of their operations and in everything that they do. It’s one of the reasons that people invest in therm. It is what helps make them successful.  I have had to relieve some top performers before because their method or interpretation of our culture was not in alignment with what was important at the client level and the staff/store level.  It looks on paper like it may be painful to the business, but in each case it was the best decision for the business.  Ours is an owner/investor model so day to day is run by an on site manager so it isn’t always apparent at the 5000 foot view.  To answer the question above, if members of our management teams at the store level is not in alignment with our culture and they are successful, it is generally in spite of themselves and our stores and staff are bigger than any one individual or leader.  Make the move and upgrade.” – Bob Chelberg

“If the answer is no, then you have no culture, and culture doesn’t matter to you. Being a top performer is a part of our culture. Diversity is part of our culture. Acceptance of diversity is part of our culture, but style isn’t culture. If style is part of your culture, maybe your culture is superficial? We used to call that an office full of empty suits. If diversity, acceptance of diversity, and being a top performer aren’t important cornerstones of your culture, you may have a dysfunctional culture. The answer has to be yes. It’s a trick question, Right?” – Steve Davidson

There are many more interesting comments in the LinkedIn discussion that may be accessed HERE.

True Social Media ROI – Relationship & Community Building

Social-Media-ROICertainly, return-on-investment (ROI) is important but too many miss the boat by trying to make social media a line-item on their financials. First, social media is not advertising. So to think there will be a definitive ROI based entirely upon revenue generated against dollars invested is absolutely off-base.

One needs to look at social media as the glue that can hold several key functions of the business together such as bringing the customer experience to marketing complete with sharing operations role in making the experience positively memorable, and letting the end-user know about its objectives. Complicated? No, but not without proper planning and a long-term vision. Further, social media is vehicle that transports information from one function to another – it’s a conduit.

Social media is the communications tool that should lend itself to truth, trust and transparency in establishing or strengthening the business relationship. Last, social media is the tool that enables a brand or business to earn the right to “ask” for business from customers, clients and investors alike as it provides the platform for them to virtually see how your business operates, how it communicates and how it is perceived. The key here is in establishing community. The necessary steps are relatively simple to follow… Share, Interact, Engage and then, only then have you earned the right for a Call-to-Action. Yes, that’s when the right has been earned.

It does take training for social media to be utilized effectively at any level. But even more so at the local level as franchisees typically cannot afford the luxury of adding human resources to handle their social media. So, training and guidance is paramount. As is open communication and interaction between franchisor and franchisee in managing and monitoring social media. Yes, working together with common goals and objectives, as should always be the case in the franchise relationship. This is just another component of what I believe should be the everyday goal of working towards a truly interdependent relationship. The same should be said about all relationships in a business [and franchise] environment – franchisor/franchisee, employer/employee, business/customer, etc… Yes, it should be the norm, and not the exception.


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