BOTTOM LINE—YOU HAVE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY TO CREATE THE CULTURE YOU WANT
By Jason Richmond, CEO and Chief Culture Officer at Ideal Outcomes, Inc.
MYTH #1: IT’S HR’S JOB
The infusion of culture has to be embraced through all levels, from the top down, because it’s a business problem, not a people problem. In particular, it’s imperative that the CEO and managers exhibit the culture’s values because the workforce follows the everyday actions of its leaders. “If those actions are toxic, you’re going to have a toxic culture. If they’re engaging, you will have an engaging culture,” says Stephen Hart, Vice President of Human Resources for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
MYTH #2: PERKS CREATE GREAT CULTURES
It boils down to how people are treated. You develop a first-class organization by winning hearts and minds. People rally behind their leaders when they feel their leaders believe in them, not because they’ve been manipulated with freebies and bonuses of one kind or another.
MYTH #3: HIRING FOR CULTURE DOESN’T MATTER
When you’re recruiting, make sure your new hires are a cultural fit. “If you just hire the smartest or the brightest, it may not work,” says Chris Baggaley, Senior Vice President of Sales for the Auto Club of Southern California.
Keeping your culture at the forefront is even more important when you merge with or acquire another company. Charles Lilly, Program Manager, Talent Acquisition for Hub International, a network of more than four hundred insurances brokerages, knows that all too well. As a one-of-a-kind aggregator of insurance entrepreneurs with close to eleven thousand employees, Hub is constantly integrating new companies. Because of that, “We look at organizations that could be a good fit so it won’t be a huge culture shock to them,” Lilly says.
One thing you can’t do is import another company’s culture in the belief that you can make it your own. “It’s tempting to think that because a company is known for its great culture you can simply hire one of its senior executives to bring that secret sauce with them. At some point, your culture has to organically manifest itself,” says senior HR professional and executive coach Kerrian Fournier.
MYTH #4: GREAT CULTURE IS EXPENSIVE
If you redefine the new workplace to embrace and celebrate individuality and empower people to achieve their full potential, you will be rewarded many times over—without having to invest a dime.
MYTH #5: CULTURE IS A PASSING FAD
Boards see the negative impact of a culture crisis on the value of their companies. Consider the recent sexual harassment crises at Uber and The Weinstein Company. These are just two instances of companies failing to take appropriate action. Uber’s pre-crisis value of $60+ billion plummeted to $48 billion. A planned fire sale of The Weinstein Company collapsed when investors deemed the business’s debt to be higher than they had been led to believe. Lawsuits, investigations, and financial woes abound. As boards across industries assess the staggering costs of ignoring failing cultures, they will lay accountability at the feet of the C-Suite, and the CEO in particular.
MYTH #6: CULTURE IS CREATED ON ITS OWN
Left to its own devices, culture often bubbles up negatively, hurting the growth and success of the company. As David Katz, Chief Marketing Officer for Randa Accessories says, “Culture is one of a company’s biggest assets—until it isn’t. Then it’s one of its biggest obstacles.
”Leadership and direction from the top are essential, but just as important is the need for leaders to collaborate with the workforce to create the right culture. No successful corporate culture has been built only from the top down. A grassroots foundational build is just as important.
The bottom line is that you have to take responsibility to create the culture you want and not let your culture develop and evolve by chance. Your role is to ensure that your culture has been planned for and developed purposefully and intentionally. Leaving things to chance or hoping a newly introduced leader might solve all your problems is a quick path to failure or disappointment.