Company Culture – What is it?

There is a lot of discussion about company culture these days.  Often the articles focus on the success of giant multinational corporations and their seeming success in having great work place cultures.  On occasion there is focus on these same gigantic companies and their failures in having a functioning and articulated company culture.

Whether praising or decrying a company culture the proposed solutions focus on adapting what worked someplace else to your own workplace.  On the surface that may seem like a reasonable idea.  It is not.

Company culture is dependent on the people who are part of the workplace.  It may start out as an informal set of guidelines that employees at all levels align with it.  Or it may be a more formalized approach setting out the parameters for the tolerance of risk and out of the box thinking.

Your company may have an atmosphere of casual dress, a games room, onsite child care, or well stocked kitchens accessible to all employees at no cost.  These are not cultural features.

Culture is deeper – it is what has formed over time and is based on surviving downturns, upturns and everything in between.   Shared assumptions leading to shared values, and historic data along with people who are rooted in the experience of sharing that data, are company culture foundations.

What is your experience and perception of a finely tuned company culture that employees chose to be a part of?

Need greater clarity – contact me to discuss.

Business & Change Specialist, Marie-Helene Sakowski at info@effectiveplacement.com.

 

 

Resistance to Change is Normal

 

It is quite normal to resist what appears to be occurring especially in the workplace where the changes have the potential to lead to some type of loss.

Four additional factors that cause resistance during a change initiative follow.

 

  1. Loss of Support System(s)

Changing organizational structures usually shakes the workplace up and support structures are viewed as being eroded.

  1. Previous Change Experience

Attitudes toward change are determined in part by the way we have experienced changes in our work and personal life in the past. Those employees who have lived in the same neighbourhood, driven the same route to work, and done the same job over many years are likely to be discomfited by any change.

  1. Peer Pressure

Employees tend to resist change as a form of protecting one another and thereby demonstrating workplace loyalty.

  1. Lack of Trust

When employees trust that a change process will have them be treated respectfully there is a marked decrease in resistance to change.

All sources of resistance to change need to be acknowledged.  As people our emotional response to change requires validation.  It is a change agents’ role to try and foresee objections.  Doing so may save you valuable time and effort in having fewer if any fires to put out.

Business Change & Transition Specialist, Marie-Helene Sakowski at info@effectiveplacement.com

Hidden Factors at Work Determine Your Actions

A deeper dive into the aspects that shape behaviour, and therefore action, points to areas that operate below the surface. The “iceberg” analogy is useful here in that it describes processes operating beneath the surface that shape everyday action at work. What truly determines your actions in a work setting has little to do with the words on a wall or the quarterly goals set before you.

Behaviour at work is shaped by perception yours, and your coworkers, as to what is safe to do, and what is deemed dangerous, or not safe. The role of the unwritten rules plays a significant part in forming the actions taken.  Shared assumptions produce a realm for action as well. Tradition exemplified in the phrase “we have always done it this way” has a significant role where behaviour is concerned.

To shape or influence an organizational culture requires that the areas that are hidden, and which are in play in manipulating behaviour, do need to be brought up and fearlessly addressed.  The question that arises is the method for doing just that.

What have you found that works to bring about cultural change taking into account the above areas?

Business Change & Transition Specialist, Marie-Helene Sakowski at info@effectiveplacement.com

Change Management Steps from Strategy to Action

Having worked for several different industries in a change management capacity the heavy lifting comes about in engaging management and the remaining workforce to move from talking about change to taking action towards change. Following are some suggestion to engage everyone into purposeful action that leads to the strategic change desired.

  1. Take a close look at where things are currently.

The strategy for the change initiative has been communicated.  Managers, employees, and the champions for the process are in place.  It looks like all systems are ready to go. Something is missing as despite the communications process, daily, and weekly updates the process is seemingly stalled. Begin with asking your team what appears to be the blockage point. Listen closely to what is or is not being said.  It may be that there is a fear of losing autonomy, scope, or simply fear of the unknown. Ask outside of the team for input as to what it would take to have change be accomplished and embraced. Once you have identified the common element to the resistance of change set out clear action steps that involve various stakeholders throughout the process. Keep revisiting what is going on.

  1. Revise as necessary after implementation

It is not unusual to have a process stall once an of implementation has occurred. The workforce may even revert to previous models of doing or completing tasks. Take the time to schedule refreshers and feedback sessions. Continue until the changes are part and parcel of the day-to-day routine. Once again ensure that stakeholders have clear actionable areas and that they continue to have buy-in.

  1. Hold a team meetings 6 – 12 months later

Team meetings are a perfect place to celebrate the successes and lay claim to the action areas that are still outstanding.  Perhaps the areas that remain incomplete are no longer relevant and can be discarded.  Or there may be some additional initiatives that are relevant and timely as a result of the changes that have occurred.  Devise action steps to have the desired outcomes take place.

Change management is ongoing. Clearly new strategies and action are required. Having inspired a company to go from talking about something to doing something about it is good news. It is also a step towards ensuring additional changes have a better chance of being more readily implemented and embraced.

Business Change and Transition Specialist, Marie-Helene Sakowski at info@effectiveplacement.com

5 Leadership Steps in a Change Management Journey

 

It occurs to me that we as a global community are embarking on a journey of change management and leadership where traits from each area overlap and offer a way to move forward with initiatives.  As a leader you may for example be involved in several initiatives that require change in your business or organization. As you navigate your way through the change process you will likely benefit from some key leadership traits.

  • First be purposeful.
  • Second have the changes have meaning.
  • Third keep it simple.
  • Fourth recognize the success.
  • Fifth follow-up on the feedback and track what needs improvement.

Business Change & Transition Specialist, Marie-Helene Sakowski at info@effectiveplacement.com

 

 

Business Cultural Changes from the 70’s to Now

 

Business Cultural Changes from the 70’s to Now

Over the past few decades a great deal of writing and discussion on the importance of culture in the workplace has been noted.  Just what is corporate culture?  It is has been described as the values, beliefs, principles, and norms of a business organization.  Others have broken down business culture into the areas of retention; work flow processes; and customer satisfaction.

It has been my experience that in an organization or business culture is a complex entity.  It is also my observation that cultural is not particularly well understood and that changes to it often take time.

Having said that a recent meeting with a business associate during which we discussed work culture from the 70’s to the present time brought several noticeable changes to light.  Following are the highlights we noted.

  1. Behaviour in Business Customer Service

Working in customer service in the 70’sand 80’s for a telecommunications companies for example was largely a manual process.  Bills were generated by mainframe computers and sent to a customer.  Service representatives spent time addressing customer who called in with concerns over bills.  Typically each desk was equipped with an ashtray and smoking was permitted at your desk.

Cigarette breaks were common.  Extended lunches were okay.  An alcoholic beverage over lunch was not uncommon.  Work spaces were often open with little if any privacy.

Fast forward to 2018 and most workplaces monitor employees time quite stringently.  Extended or extra breaks for smoking are not permitted.  The days of smoking in an office or any building for that matter are long gone.  Consumption of alcoholic beverages during lunch breaks is no longer an acceptable practice.

Work spaces in some businesses remain open.  Others have cubicles allowing for a modicum of privacy.  For many private offices for managers and executives are no longer found.  Instead meeting rooms are utilized and booked for group meetings and private discussions.

  1. Technology

Mainframe systems and punch cards dominated larger corporations in the 70’s.  Smaller businesses relied on manual records.  The introduction of personal computers in the 80’s made a huge difference to workplace efficiency and streamlining of every area from administration to customer service to the supply chain areas.

Today most employees have a computer of some description, and often a smart phone for their use.  Technology dominates the workplace and automation is everywhere from robots to voice recognition software.  Connection to mobile devices is 24/7 and many people live their lives quite openly in an online world.

 

  1. Business Dress

In the 70’s and 80’s the standard dress for the men was a dress shirt, tie, sports jacket, dress slacks, dress shoes, or a full suit.  Women were typically dressed in dresses or suits, hose, and heels even if they worked in the steno pool.

With the explosion of technology in the 90’s the dress standards for men and women became casual.  Individuals working for tech companies showed up in jeans, tee shirts, and sneakers.

Today some corporate businesses still maintain a more rigid dress standard.  However, it is typical for even bank employees to have casual Friday’s where so called dressier blue jeans may be worn.  There are certainly dress standards in place for most businesses.  They are greatly relaxed from bygone decades with men not required to wear a suit and tie on most days.  Women are free to go to the office without the mandatory hose and heels.

  1. Hours of Work

Hours of business operation in the 70’s and 80’s were typically 9 – 5.  Banks were not open before 9 AM and in some cases 10. Retail hours of operation did not usually include evening or Sunday shopping.  Most employees were expected to be at work at 9 AM and stay until 5 PM.

Somewhere along the way (I first recall this being prevalent in the late 80’s) the hours of work were extended with employees expected to start at 8 AM and work until 5 PM.  Managers were expected to work as required and if that meant no breaks for lunch or coffee so be it.

Today with emphasis on 24/7 connectivity workers and managers alike seem to be expected to respond to queries from the workplace at any given time.  The emphasis on connection at all times has not necessarily resulted in an increase in productivity.  Employees today are highly monitored and workplaces are not as relaxed as they once were.

  1. Gender Specific Roles

In the 70’s and 80’s women were breaking into areas that were once the purview of men.  Women working in prisons as guards, as fire fighters, and as police officers are just some examples of areas where women were becoming more visible.  Men as nurses rather than orderlies were becoming more common place.  Women in executive roles other than HR were also more prevalent.

Fast forward to 2018 and the area that continues to be a common issue is one of pay equity for men and women.  It is a values dilemma that businesses have yet to conquer.  Women remain under represented at the executive level within business.  They are also under represented in the political arena.

Each of the areas mentioned has undergone tremendous culture change over the past 50 years.  Most of the changes have been welcome and have enhanced business operations.  The thorny issues of productivity and gender equity pay remain outstanding.  I wonder if it will take another 40 years for these to change for the better.

Business Change & Transition Specialist, Marie-Helene Sakowski at info@effectiveplacement.com

Phrases That Impact our Lives

Man or woman the way we speak impacts our lives. Words do have power. The focus is on 3 phrases that are disempowering.

  1. I’m Sorry

A confident person readily admits when they have made a mistake and apologies when appropriate.  The phrase “I am sorry” implies feelings of not being adequate or inferior. Carefully consider if you have done something inappropriate or wrong. Chances are you have not.

  1. I’m Worried

Over use of the phrase indicates a focus on what may never happen at best and at worst a focus on the catastrophic for little or no apparent reason.  Worry is an indication of focusing on negative outcomes without provocation.

  1. I Hate to Bother You…

When you use this phrase you give away your power to another person.  You let someone else have control.

It’s never too late to take back your power. Commit to becoming the driver—rather than the passenger—in your life. Decide that you’re going to be in control of how you think, feel, and behave regardless of the situation you find yourself in.  That decision alone may well put you in line for a higher position, or have you strike it out on your own.

Business Change & Transition Specialist, Marie-Helene Sakowski at info@effectiveplacement.com