“People are our most important asset.”
“There is no ‘I’ in team.”
“Our talent is our competitive advantage.”
We’ve heard them all, and (ideally) in every company we’ve been lucky enough to work in, the leadership team truly believes each statement. But rarely do I meet the CEO or head of HR who have taken the painstaking (and worthwhile) time to answer the critical questions about the organizational culture they intend to set:
- WHY should someone work at your company?
- WHAT can they expect from their team and organization?
- WHO are they?
Companies aspiring to be a compelling place to work while simultaneously preparing for scalable and profitable growth spend time asking themselves those questions — and creating a unique career value proposition for talent to thrive. Sure, there may be a poster on the wall with values crafted at an offsite leadership team meeting, but that doesn’t mean the words on the wall mirror the day-to-day reality. And even worse, rarely are those values then used as a foundation for organizational culture decisions.
Why should executive teams take the effort to create an intentional culture?
- If you don’t, it gets created for you. Without clarity of expectations and norms, your team will react to each situation without context. The results? Perceptions of favoritism or special treatment and before you know it, you’re cleaning up people problems that were completely avoidable.
- Culture frameworks minimize mistakes in hiring, promoting and structuring teams. You’re more likely to both attract and select talent that will thrive in your organization, improving retention and likely discretionary effort. The confidence in your hiring process and low turnover then fuels scalable growth — a win-win.
- Clarity is king. Ambiguity is the enemy. In the absence of information, people will make assumptions and handling thorny people issues becomes even more difficult. When there’s clarity around who you are as an organization and how you expect your team to collaborate, accountability is vastly improved.
- Culture frameworks streamline all human capital decisions. Where (and how) you invest in your talent requires thoughtful consideration. For example, Some companies waver for months (or years) on the best approach to something as straightforward as a time off policy or tuition reimbursement. With a framework in place, the decision and tradeoffs become far more clear.
So what should be included in the cultural framework of an organization? Stay tuned in the next few weeks as I’ll share what it takes: values, behaviors, standards of excellence, communication and protocol.
Catherine Malloy Cummings is a breakthrough human resources strategist known for her ability to transform HR teams into champions of revenue and agents of business growth. She is also a speaker and author, serving as a passionate advocate for HR’s potential to drive corporate strategic advantage. Follow her on Twitter at @ChiefHRChampion.