The Right Culture.
By Dr. Rick Johnson
Tuesday, 7th February 2012
Almost every Human Resource expert will tell you that employees must enjoy their work to be effective doing it.

Enjoying work is not limited to the task itself. What this really means is simply "enjoying work is exceptionally dependent upon the culture which the works resides in."

In other words, the company must build a culture that the employees embrace. One that encourages self-development, empowerment, social interaction, accountability and recognition. If your employees don't enjoy working for you and at your place of business, retention will become an issue.


Empowerment is a common trait used by most effective leaders. The rewards of empowering your employees are far greater than the risk. Give them some independence in choosing their work schedules or other factors that won't affect overall objectives. Employees must take ownership in the success of the organization.

This means they must become part of the strategy employed by the company. Acknowledge their presence and contributions, and praise them at every opportunity. Empowering employees allows them to use their own initiative and creativity to accomplish things you never imagined they could. It is a baseline for building the right culture.

Allow room for a few Mavericks to exist in your organization. Empower your employees so they will take calculated risks. The worst thing you can have happen in your organization is for all your employees to do exactly what they are told to do – exactly how they are told to do it. Release the initiative and creativity in your employees by empowering them.

Management at all Levels Must Lead

Building the right culture is a primary responsibility of leadership at all levels in the organization. This includes front line supervisors and all managers up to and including the CEO of the company. The reality is so simplistic that we often overlook it.

" Employees cannot maximize their effectiveness if they don't feel comfortable. Employees won't thrive if they don't feel like their work environment makes them feel at home, confident, secure and appreciated.

The culture of your company is under rated when it comes to success drivers. It has tremendous weight on virtually every decision that is made within the organization itself

Test Your Management Teams View on Your Culture

Don't make assumptions strictly based on your personal values, your personal views and your personal opinions. Call a meeting with your management team to discuss your culture. Don't impose your views.

In fact it may be beneficial to have an outside facilitator treat this exercise as a fact finding focus group event. This will allow you to either validate how effective your culture is and how it contributes to the company's success or it can provide you with area's that need improvement with ideas and action plans that will help you create a culture that improves company retention and contributes to recruitment success.

Often times a Management Team Retreat or workshop can provide tremendous dividends by energizing the group to such an extent that they not only identify key issues but they recognize the need to create and embrace change within the organization.

Challenge the team to address the following questions:

1. Describe what you believe our current culture to be in four words or less.

This question accomplishes several goals. First, it's creative. Hopefully it will spur spontaneous thought that often is more honest than long drawn out analysis.  Second, it challenges each manager to boil down the essence of their workplace in only a few words. Look for consistency between actions and words to get the true description of the culture. .

2. If we were to give tours to the local college for recruitment purposes outline what you believe to be our key points of interest to attract new employees.

This is a creative question to challenge your management team. The answers to this question should represent the "greatest advantages" of the company's culture. This delivers invaluable insight into what they perceive as the leading attributes of the company. Chances are no manager would focus on any attribute that didn't symbolize a core component of the company's culture, right?

3. If you were asked to write a 750 word article about our company culture, what would be impossible not to include?

This should be creative, challenging and counterintuitive. This challenges your management team to put the company in the best light. The secret is, by suggesting an article it reveals the parts of the company's culture that you would want the public to know about. However, transparency is key; so you might also want to ask them to write at least one paragraph detailing a minimum of one negative about the company culture as they view it.

4. What are the most common complaints employees make about our company culture?

Although you want to keep this exercise as positive as possible, our objective is to improve the company culture for retention and recruitment purposes. This should be an unexpected question open for honest discussion and debate.  Discovering any negative aspects of the company culture is critical to establishing action plans for improvement.  This should not be a "Hall Mark" moment and honest opinions should be encouraged.

5. Explore any past issues that are not directly related to employee confidentiality that can become a learning exercise.

Every manager may not be aware of specific cultural issues that have been apparent in the past. Reviewing some of the more prominent ones will help to stimulate thought, ideas and discussion.

Set Your EGO aside

We all have egos but effective leaders control their own egos and understand how to utilize their understanding of people to inspire peak performance. They are confident and have high self-esteem without demonstrating arrogance.

Check out Rick's new CD and Workbook -- Real World Leadership Kit --- "Learning to Lead So Others Will Follow" www.ceostrategist.com/resources-store/real-world-leadership.html

Rick Johnson, expert speaker, wholesale distribution's "Leadership Strategist", founder of CEO Strategist, LLC a firm that helps clients create and maintain competitive advantage. Need a speaker for your next event, E-mail rick@ceostrategist.com.

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