Cracking The Organization’s Culture Code
Don’t Manage, Understand and Maneuver Instead.
Here’s a part of letter doing rounds on the internet. A new HR had sent this to her company’s employees.
It is advised that you come to work dressed according to your salary. If we see you wearing Prada trainers & carrying a Gucci bag, we assume you are doing well financially and therefore you do not need a pay rise. If you dress poorly, you need to learn to manage your money better, so that you may buy nicer clothes and therefore you do not need a pay rise. If you dress in-between, you are right where you need to be and therefore you do not need a pay rise.
Entirely too much time is being spent in the toilets. In the future, we will follow the practice of going in Alphabetical Order. For instance, all employees whose names begin with ‘ A’ will go from 8:00 to 8:20, employees whose names begin with ‘ B’ will go from 8:20 to 8:40 and so on. If you’re unable to go at your allotted time, it will be necessary to wait until the next day when your turn comes again.
In extreme emergencies, employees may swap their time with a co-worker. Both employees’ supervisors must approve this exchange in writing. In addition, there is now a strict 3-minute time limit in the stalls. At the end of three minutes, an alarm will sound, the toilet paper roll will retract, the ‘ trap’ door will open and a picture will be taken.
After your second offense, your picture will be posted on the company bulletin board under the ‘ Chronic Offenders’ category.
Skinny people get 30 minutes for lunch as they need to eat more so that they can look healthy. Normal size people get 15 minutes for lunch to get a balanced meal to maintain their average figure. Fat people get 5 minutes for lunch because that’s all the time needed to drink a Slim Fast and take a diet pill.
If that sounds like fiction, then here are some real stories:
Genelia (fictional name) worked for an employer who wouldn’t remember her name and would throw pen, pencil, stapler or anything else that came handy to get Genelia’s attention. Martha worked at a company who couldn’t afford to buy a toilet paper and she had to pool in her own money for it. One employer threw hot rice at his employee in the restaurant because he wanted fried rice and not white rice.
These horror stories can go on and on and on. And though they might seem like a one-off incident, they are pandemic and indicate a much deeper problem. The problem is of unhealthy organizational cultures.
The truth is - If you do not manage culture, it manages you, and you may not even be aware of the extent to which this is happening. — Edgar Schein*
For decades we have put feelings on the backburners and have managed to do well without them. We almost accepted abusive bosses and foul-mouthed colleagues. Sometimes in our helplessness, we jibed about them as we did about bad marriages. Offices became a synonym for hell and bosses became their Satan. Then came the millennial 180-degree turn. Call it a rebound of our touchy-feely sense or greater availability of options, we now shun our previous ways. Happiness and peace once again rise in our priority list and we are paying utmost heed to them, sometimes more than our pockets.
All said and done, it isn’t easy for managers. To be frank who really wants to indulge in intangible, mushy, inconsistent and obscure issues especially with those deadlines and target swords hanging on their necks? Leaders often cringe while talking about feelings. But people are driven by their feelings and unless you influence how they feel, you wouldn’t be able to engage them.
The good news is, we have begun to understand this and are also working toward it. The bad ¾ They are still intangible, mushy, inconsistent and obscure. But little concern paves way for great rewards. Studies show that companies that succeed in engaging employees: outperform the ones that don’t by 202%(Tomas Kolafa, n.d); reduce the turnover rate to 14% from 48% (Christine Mikhail, 2016) in non-engaged organizations; increase operating income by 19% (PDR, 2016); increase earnings growth by 28%.
Talk about a choice of building a great organizational culture. We have none. Unhappy employees these days can shed a poor employer like dead snakeskin. You’ve got to nourish the life in them for them to stick around longer.
So what drives organizational culture?
Company culture is a qualitative measure. Quantitative monetary rewards will only introduce the employee to the organization. A mere handshake. Beyond this ‘a sense of belonging’ will be required. Heads seek refuge, hearts go for wars. Here’s how you as an employer can build a solid army, invested in its heart, ready to wage an undefeatable war for you:
- Invest time and energy on your employees. Know them personally.
- Regularly communicate with employees. Bring up your organization’s vision, mission and values and their role in them. Organizations that have been able to successfully communicate with their employees have seen 750% (Shawn Overcast, 2015) growth in their profits.
- Introduce an apt mix of monetary and non-monetary incentives. Monetary incentives may include company ownership, annual bonus, performance incentives, vacation pay commission structure, etc. Non-monetary rewards may cover skill training, parties, snacks, gifts, team building activities, entertainment or sports outings.
- Hire the right fit. One who is not only technically but behaviorally fit for your organization.
- Encourage and empower employees to take up leadership roles and suggest new ideas. Give them opportunities to learn and improve. Support their individual goals.
- Ask questions and listen to their responses. Provide feedback when necessary.
Do you know if you have a healthy organizational culture? Here are the signs to look for. Take a deep breath and put a hand on your heart and ask yourself:
- Do the best-qualified applicants want to join you?
- Are your employees invested in improving themselves?
- Do your employees know what your organization stands for?
- Do they stay?
- Do they speak up and resolve their differences without bitterness?
- Do they avoid gossip, backbiting or favoritism?
- Do they feel trusted?
- Are you are making solid profits?
Yes? You are doing great. Keep moving forward.
No? Here is the time to begin. Figure what needs to change. Align your business goals with set values and nudge your profit margins.