Steven Cesare, Ph.D.
A landscaper from Maryland called me the other day to talk about his company’s culture. Like most conversations on the ever-amorphous topic of company culture, various references to teamwork, respect, and communication were completely expected, openly discussed, and genuinely appreciated. Make no mistake: company culture is extremely important to an organization in shaping employee actions, norms, and accountabilities.
It was the issue of accountability that dominated the landscaper’s revelation of his company culture. To wit, the landscaper was awestruck at the prevalence of accountabilities, goals, and results distributed throughout the company. Various company goals, charts, and results (e.g., maintenance revenue goals, construction project capture rate, the ratio of enhancements revenue to maintenance revenue, gross margin by revenue streams, Foremen retention rates, maintenance job loss, days since the last recordable workers’ compensation injury, delinquent Accounts Receivable rates) were posted on hallway walls, in the conference room, arrayed in the company newsletter, in the yard on the bulletin board next to those pesky annual employment posters, and periodically included as a payroll stuffer.
The panoramic visibility of stated goals reduced any ambiguity of what was important to the culture, and what the desired outcomes were expected of the team. Thus, in this company, the organizational culture was substantive and specific, not soft and superficial.
Everyone supposedly knows that the business goals represent that compass point upon which all focus must be fixated, guiding all actions to the point of achievement.
You want to make a bet?
I’ll bet you a large pepperoni and sausage pizza with extra red sauce, that less than 15% of your entire company can list four empirical goals your company has, for this fiscal year. Not the topic, not the concept; the actual empirical standard for four separate business goals.
Wait a minute.
Now that I’m thinking about it, I feel lucky.
Let’s go double or nothing: Make it 10% of your company workforce.
The point about organizational culture is that it must be fortified with tangible actions, customs, and plausibility structures that introduce, guide, and reinforce employee awareness onto a unified purpose. Bereft of that tangible support system, organizational culture is merely an ephemeral and obligatory term that we are expected to titularly acknowledge as business leaders.
Like anything meaningful, organizational culture takes a lot of work to do it the right way: thinking, implementing, validating, improving, etc. Kudos to the Maryland landscaping company for emphasizing their company culture the right way.
Now, back to the point at hand. Remember that bet you lost?
I’ll take that large pepperoni and sausage pizza with extra red sauce.
Oops, I mean those two large pepperoni and sausage pizzas with extra red sauce.
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