I am sure we can all relate to the concept of having a “meeting place”. The one place we all feel at home and where we love relaxing and hanging out. But what motivates our return? Do we frequent the proverbial drinking hole for the flavour of the month or do we seek out the full-service experience?
Similarly, our organisations represent a potential experience to prospective and current employees. What motivates them to join or stay with a specific company? Is it that they just don’t have a choice, need a job (so anyone will do) i.e. “the drinking hole” or do they seek out the flavour of the month, i.e. “the now trending” or do they review the company and look for a full-service experience by ensuring they know what the organisation stands for and what expectations the organisation will have of them?
Potentially most employees would prefer the Full-Service Experience. So what exactly is it? It is the non-tangible-can’t-put-a-price-next-to-it CULTURE of the company. Organisational culture can be defined as “the behaviour of the human resources within an organisation and the association that people attach to those behaviours. Organisational culture affects the way we interact with each other, with our clients and with stakeholders.”
What do we do if our organisation is stale? Stuck in the: “I have no other choice but to stay at the drinking-hole syndrome”. Ask yourself what do you want the company to stand for? Excellence, Quality or Value for money; the “what” needs to be defined and you need to take the time to define it! As the leader, you are required to set the pace, guide the way and provide resources that enable success. Therefore ensuring that you have a clearly defined organisational culture that transcends through your brand, staff, clients and stakeholders is a critical deliverable as a leader.
Think about Apple for the moment. When Steve Jobs passed away, Apple did not disintegrate. Why not? As a leader, Jobs was inherently building a brand and products that stood for something beyond the here and the now. When we think about Apple’s products, what words come to mind? Perhaps; simple, sophisticated, and innovative are some of the considerations. This is no accident. These were values that were critically important to Steve Jobs, and he instilled them into the Apple organisational culture. The benefit of this philosophy is that Apple now transcends beyond his leadership.
Staying with the metaphor…let’s consider the leadership aspect of the Organisational Culture as a “Cocktail.” What is your flavour, mixture and taste that enhances the full-service experience of the organisational culture? Jobs brought a certain mix that was just the right blend for Apple’s specific needs. What leadership mixture does your organisation need to help it transcend from stale to renowned?
Maybe a ‘Long Island Ice Tea’: great mix, but no one strong flavour? Or could it be a ‘Strawberry Daiquiri’: sweet, but no real consideration of the consequences? Then there is the ‘Bloody Mary’: leading by fear, it’s my way or you out!
Hopefully, as you read this you can sense how absolutely ridiculous and damaging this type of leadership mixtures will be for an organisational culture that wants to move to a full-service experience. As leaders, you help form the way people think and perceive the organisation. People look to the leaders to evaluate if their behaviour is consistent with the organisation’s advocated values and principles.
As mentioned before, leaders set the pace. We influence the organisation’s culture and in turn the long-term effectiveness of the organisation. Therefore our behaviour needs to transcend beyond selfish gain and we need to adopt a servant-approach; after all, as leaders, we are here to serve the company and the people (employees, clients and stakeholders).
A company’s culture, particularly during the start-up years, is inevitably tied to the background, principles and values of its entrepreneur(s), as well as their vision for the organization. When we (OMNI) started our business, we had one common thread: quality no matter what and making a lasting difference in the communities we serve.
As we matured our cultural principles was refined and strengthened. OMNI’s early guiding principles which formed the culture has exercised influence over our current principles. Our principles have become the guiding force that protects us from external forces that do not align with our intent and approach in doing business.
Organizational culture, therefore, influences the types of people appointed, how people are introduced to the organization and how decisions are made around stakeholder relationships. Organizational culture thus influences the attraction, selection and attrition processes and we as the leaders help maintain and shape the organizational culture for a sustainable future. Is this not at the very heart of every effective leader? ensuring you have the right mixture to create the full-service experience?
Author: Lize Moldenhauer, Managing Director at OMNI HR Consulting
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