Understanding Company Culture - 6/16/2010


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  • WELCOME First Time Attendees Missouri Career Source, Frank Alaniz
  • A few months ago, when I first started conducting these sessions, someone told me that no one was talking about corporate culture. Having come from a company where the culture is so strong and unique, I thought it would be a great topic to address. When looking at companies for a new position, finding that right fit is as important as the day to day responsibilities you are given on the job. Tonight, we will explore corporate/company culture, how to uncover a company’s culture and why it is so important. One of the greatest aspects of exploring a company’s culture is that you begin understanding more about yourself, your values, your beliefs and the type of environment you enjoy working in day to day. How many of you have worked in a company where you didn’t like going everyday as the boss and people in the company just drove you crazy? If you haven’t experienced this before, trust that it can drain your energy immediately and you spend more time trying to get you job done than necessary. As a job seeker, uncovering and researching a company’s culture will help you get hired. As you look at job openings, understanding how a company operates and is organized makes those openings more understandable. During an interview, it allows you to ask deeper questions about the position and address how you would accomplish the responsibilities ensuring that you are aligned with the goals and objectives of the company. The more knowledgeable you are about a company’s core believes and values, the higher probability you will connect with the person conducting the interview. NOTE OF CAUTION: Don’t fake a connect! All of this research shouldn’t stop while in a job. Employees who understand the overall goals and objectives of the company will ensure they are working on the right things to make the company successful. Creating a connection with how the management thinks, works and bases their decisions allows you to understand the direction of the company. A key thing to remember is that every person and organization is unique. There isn’t a right or wrong culture (with the exception of those doing something completely illegal). Ethics and morality are individually gauged and one persons beliefs and values is not another ones. Listen to what others have to say about the company culture, but don’t judge based solely on what others have said.
  • So what is corporate culture? (NOTE: I am interchanging corporate and company. This is really any organization.) If we look at an individual, they behave based on their personal beliefs, values, ethics, morals, experiences and education. These all help form a personality that reacts and works in certain ways based on how they have developed over the years. An organization or company is comprised of people who all have their individual beliefs, values, ethics, morals, experiences and education. When they work together, their shared traits come together to create an overall culture of an organization. A culture is the shared values and practices of the employees. The longer people work together, the more ingrained their practices become. They behave in a way to accomplish what they jointly believe needs to be accomplished. Interestingly enough, when you look at a company’s mission, vision, values, beliefs, goals and objectives these may or may not align with the actual culture of the organization. The Meridian Group defined it as: A company’s culture is its personality. It tells people how to do their work. It takes signals from leaders. It underlines motivation, morale, creativity and marketplace success. A company is a culture. Culture sets how we behave; what to do and what not to do Gallop Poll in USA Today (5/20/01) 25% of employees are actively engaged 55% of employees have no enthusiasm for their work 19% are so uninterested or negative about their work people who work for employers that are hiring new workers tend to have a significantly more positive outlook on their lives than people who work for companies that are laying people off.  August, 2009 Gallup While 50% of Americans employed full- or part-time are completely satisfied with their job security today, this is the lowest level seen since 2003, and is down from a high of 56% in 2007. As a result of these shifts, some of which are quite small, workers are now registering the highest satisfaction levels Gallup has seen with respect to their vacation time (56% completely satisfied), health insurance benefits (43%), workload (54%), opportunities for promotion (40%), safety conditions (76%), and personal recognition (50%).
  • The larger an organization, the more likely that sub-cultures will exist. http://www.itstime.com/aug2000.htm#models This can happen in departments, divisions, regions or operating units. Corporate culture starts when the organization begins and develops as it grows. Over time, the culture changes as people come and go. Culture reflects the values, ethics, beliefs, personality and traits of the company's founders, management and employees. In a well-established company, the culture is so strong that even new top management may not be able to change it. Or, if they try, it may take 5, 10 or 20 years to change. Employees who feel comfortable and compatible with the company culture will stay; those who don't will leave or will not perform as well as they can Values – beliefs of a person or group in which they have an emotional investment (either for or against). These are usually a collection of guiding, usually positive principles. Ethics – motivation based on what is right and wrong; typical moral values and rules Beliefs – a cognitive content held as true Personality traits – Openness (or Intellect), Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism
  • One of the first things to understand about a company and its executive team is their perspective on Leadership versus Management. This is a key to understanding some of their culture. Leaders recognize that meeting an individuals’ needs are key to ensuring that you receive their highest levels of performance. Managers tend to be more fact and procedural oriented. The right balance of leadership and Management are key to the success of an organization. A good leader can also be a good manager and a good manager can be a good leader. It is important to remember though that these decisions still go back to an individual and company’s values and belief system. Your definition of your personal needs may not be the same as someone else’s. Keeping things in perspective is key to helping move organizations forward without sacrificing the individuals nor the overall company goals. Corporate culture is highly influenced by the individual personality styles of the company founders in the early stages.  Later stages are defined by the executive management team.  . Where many of the top management come from the same company or the same industry, they unconsciously bring that old culture to a new company they start. When exploring a companies culture, you should research the current executive leadership team and the leaders of they department/division where the position resides. When doing so, understand who really makes the decisions that are critical to your position. How does that person make their decisions and what is the process. Identify the critical success factors for yourself and begin asking questions as it relates to those success factors. If you like a fast paced, quick decision environment but it takes six months for key project approvals to take place, that might not be the right company for you.
  • One of the hardest things I have done in my career is terminating leaders who thought they could come in and change how the organization worked overall. One of the more frustrating things that occurred was when my leaders brought people in asking them to change how the organization worked without starting with changes at the top. There is a reason that a company will bring in Management Consultants to help change how organizations work. Making organizational change without understanding the culture or while fighting the culture will lead to failure. Managing change while working with the culture will allow for individuals to see where procedural, process changes can occur without damaging the company’s core beliefs and values. The deeper the culture, the more emotional it will become. The longer the leadership team has remained together, working in the same culture, the strong those beliefs, values and traits become. Before you can understand this though, you must understand your core values, beliefs and principles. One book I recommend you read is Steven Covey and Roger & Rebecca Merrill’s book, First Things First. Who has read the book and applied it to their life? Or done a similar process? The beauty of maturity is understanding yourself. Some of us begin this process at different stages of life. Others never explore themselves. The goal is to feel confident in YOU, so that you can know why you make decisions that you make and how you make decisions in your life. What are your collection of guiding, positive principles that you have an emotional investment and make up as your values? What beliefs (what you hold as true) are these values based on? What are your moral values and rules or how do you determine right from wrong? Have you written these down? Have you conducted a personality test or looked back on previous tests? There are numerous test available (link for Personality tests under resources). Understanding how you relate to others, your level of extraverted ness, level of anxiety and level of agreeableness will help you make sure you find that right fit. You can adjust and make changes in your personality, but realize you need to identify strengths in your personality and look at how that makes you stronger as an employee. Helping the company understand why you are the best match, will help you get into the right company.
  • Management by Objective Common goals Effort and measurements Stonecutters analogy “ I am making a living” “ I am doing the best job of stonecutting in the entire country” “ I am building a cathedral” All must relate to whole and not for the sake of being the best Management by Crisis or Drives Is there Self-control Do best rather than just enough Push decisions to lowest level Pay for results What tools are they using
  • The Individual Be Effective Get the right things done Focus on Contribution Stress on responsibility Know your strengths and values Know your time Record Manage Consolidate Effective Decisions Concentrate on important ones Impact rather than technique Sound rather than cleaver Functioning Communications Is perception Is expectation Makes demands Communication and information are different and opposite – yet interdependent Leadership as Work Performance A means Is not charisma Is not personality traits Responsible rather than rank and priviledge Do not blame others Not afraid of strenghth in associates and subordinates Earn trust; to trust a leader is not necessary to like or agree with Consistency Innovation Success=opportunity focused and not risk focused
  • St Louis Business Journal Best Employers lists Working Women
  • Understanding Company Culture - 6/16/2010

    1. 1. Understanding Corporate Culture June 16 th , 2010 Sheila Burkett Tuxedo Park Management, LLC
    2. 2. Agenda <ul><li>Welcome & Introductions </li></ul><ul><li>What is Corporate Culture? </li></ul><ul><li>Research A Company’s Culture </li></ul><ul><li>Questions to Ask </li></ul><ul><li>Resources </li></ul><ul><li>Breakout & Networking </li></ul><ul><li>Wrap-up </li></ul>
    3. 3. Why Explore Corporate Culture? <ul><li>Helps you understand yourself </li></ul><ul><li>Increases your potential of getting hired </li></ul><ul><li>Ensures right match with skills and personality </li></ul><ul><li>Greatest opportunity for success when in the job </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone is unique so don’t go with others perception, create your own! </li></ul>
    4. 4. What is Corporate Culture? <ul><li>Shared values and practices of the employees </li></ul><ul><li>May not match published culture </li></ul><ul><li>The company’s personality </li></ul><ul><li>How people do their work </li></ul><ul><li>Culture sets how we behave </li></ul>
    5. 5. What is Corporate Culture? <ul><li>Sub-cultures can exist </li></ul><ul><li>Industries have culture too </li></ul><ul><li>The culture can change over time </li></ul><ul><li>Values </li></ul><ul><li>Ethics </li></ul><ul><li>Beliefs </li></ul><ul><li>Personality Traits </li></ul>
    6. 6. Leadership versus Management <ul><li>Recognize individual’s needs to allow for their highest levels of performance </li></ul><ul><li>Intuitive and people-oriented </li></ul><ul><li>Influenced by the individual personality of company founders </li></ul><ul><li>Current executive leadership team </li></ul>
    7. 7. Understanding Impact <ul><li>Ignoring the culture or working against culture will lead to failure </li></ul><ul><li>There isn’t a RIGHT or WRONG culture, just a right or wrong FIT </li></ul><ul><li>Company Values, Beliefs and Ethics must be compatible with Individual </li></ul><ul><li>A company with unethical or illegal business practices; or sick culture will self-destruct. </li></ul>
    8. 8. Management by Objective <ul><li>Management by Objective </li></ul><ul><li>The Stonecutter </li></ul><ul><li>Self-Control </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do best rather than just enough </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pay for results </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What tools are they using to measure success? </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Drucker – The Individual <ul><li>Be Effective </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on Contribution </li></ul><ul><li>Know your strengths and values </li></ul><ul><li>Know your time </li></ul><ul><li>Effective decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Functioning Communications </li></ul><ul><li>Leadership as Work </li></ul><ul><li>Innovation </li></ul>
    10. 10. So… <ul><li>Many perspectives, many models </li></ul><ul><li>Takes time to research and understand </li></ul><ul><ul><li>YOU </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>INDUSTRY </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>COMPANY </li></ul></ul><ul><li>No right or wrong, just right fit </li></ul>
    11. 11. Research A Company’s Culture <ul><li>Company Website </li></ul><ul><li>Public Relations Materials </li></ul><ul><li>People in your Network </li></ul><ul><li>The CEO or Owners </li></ul><ul><li>Corporate structure </li></ul><ul><li>Rankings </li></ul><ul><li>Public filings </li></ul><ul><li>Wetfeet.com & glassdoor.com </li></ul>
    12. 12. Questions to Ask <ul><li>What is the energy of the company? </li></ul><ul><li>What is your leadership style? </li></ul><ul><li>How do people solve problems in the organization? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the company innovative? How? </li></ul><ul><li>Support for professional growth? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Education Reimbursement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Additional Responsibilities </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Rate of turnover? </li></ul>
    13. 13. Questions to Ask <ul><li>Employee morale? </li></ul><ul><li>Style of dress? </li></ul><ul><li>Length of work day? </li></ul><ul><li>Support for work/life balance? </li></ul><ul><li>Ease and frequency of communication internally? </li></ul><ul><li>Why is there an opening? What happened with the person who previously had my position? </li></ul>
    14. 14. Words that might describe an Organization <ul><li>Driven </li></ul><ul><li>Aggressive </li></ul><ul><li>Friendly </li></ul><ul><li>Engaged </li></ul><ul><li>Defensive </li></ul><ul><li>Passive </li></ul><ul><li>Responsible </li></ul><ul><li>Tough </li></ul><ul><li>Fair </li></ul><ul><li>Active </li></ul><ul><li>Analytical </li></ul><ul><li>Open </li></ul><ul><li>Productive </li></ul>
    15. 15. A Good Fit <ul><li>Think about different corporate cultures discussed </li></ul><ul><li>Write down three words that describe your BEST FIT </li></ul><ul><li>Save these for breakout group </li></ul>
    16. 16. Resources <ul><li>Wetfeet.com & glassdoor.com </li></ul><ul><li>Investor Relations - http://www.irin.com/cgi-bin/main.cgi </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.corporateinformation.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>Personality Tests: http:// www.similarminds.com/personality_tests.html </li></ul>
    17. 17. Wrap Up <ul><li>Read up on Leadership Styles </li></ul><ul><li>Pick a company to research </li></ul><ul><li>Upcoming Sessions </li></ul><ul><li>Continue to NETWORK </li></ul>
    18. 18. Resources <ul><li>Bounce Back St. Louis: Bouncebackstl.org </li></ul><ul><li>MERIC (MO Economic Research and Information Center): Missourieconomy.org </li></ul><ul><li>Bureau of Labor Statistics: Bls.org </li></ul><ul><li>Careeronestop.org </li></ul><ul><li>www.business.gov/industries/self-employed/ </li></ul>