Tag Archives: organizational

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building workplace culture

Building Workplace Culture Takes Time

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Every organization has it, and it wasn’t built overnight. It’s difficult to know exactly where it started, and it is never finished. Building workplace culture is a fluid process, not one single event.

You assume everyone knows. You assume everyone is on the same page. Is it true?

What is Culture?

Culture is different from environment. Culture is not about the lighting, the color of the paint, or the size of the leather chair. It’s not about break rooms with X-Box, or fruit and vegetable offerings instead of candy bars.

People often confuse workplace environment with culture. While they may cross paths, they really are quite different.

Culture is has something to do with the rules of the game. It is the language, the tone, and the demonstrations of role models. You can describe the culture you want, yet it will still largely form on its own.

Actions and reactions will guide culture. Tolerance, or a lack of it, will play a part. And yes, in some ways the physical environment will either support or detract from the path of culture.

Money probably doesn’t buy culture, yet it may become a part of it.

Culture is about a vibe. It is about what you see, what you value, and what you believe. It involves socially accepted norms.

The big picture of culture is often hard to describe. You often feel it before you can see it.

Building Workplace Culture

The government has a culture, so does General Motors, Harley Davidson, and SpaceX. Institutions of higher education have a culture, and so does the family restaurant down the road, and the hardware store across the street.

Every person, every day, contributes. It shifts and people navigate. Everyone plays a role.

Sometimes the hard part about a plan to build a culture is that the plan itself becomes an obstacle.

A plan to fall love can’t really be built, it develops.

Its similar with culture. You can love the idea of what you want it to feel like, but it always takes its own shape.

You’re a part of it.

Do your part.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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service expectations

When Service Expectations Get Set

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Who decides about the quality of service? Hint: The customer. When do service expectations get set? Hint: Usually long before the product or service is received.

Are you conscious about expectations and outcomes? They matter for service, they matter for workplace change, and they will matter for everything connected to your culture.

Service Expectations

Traveling on Interstate 80 you can go from New Jersey to California. If you take this journey, or only some of it, and you’ll see road signs and billboards. Some of those will be for rest stops, food, and fuel.

If you make a choice to eat at a restaurant franchise, you have an idea of what to expect. You’ll make your decision to enter the establishment with your expectations already set.

If you make a choice to eat at an unknown restaurant, perhaps a mom and pop, upon entering you may not be sure what to expect. You’ll decide on your expectations quickly though, it often starts with the sign along the highway.

This is true for nearly everything about service.

It is why we decide we’ll trust some websites and others not so much. It is how we’ll make decisions about the shoes we buy, the clothes we wear, and the car we’ll drive. The expectations are set long before the sale.

Beyond products and services, it applies to your workplace too.

Connecting Service Internally

Certainly, in the workplace there are internal services. We know we can trust Sally with the project, yet we’re still not sure about James.

We’ll use our senses, our intuition, and our life experiences to decide.

The change handed down from the C-Suite will feel safe or it will feel conflicting. Work teams will decide to embrace it, move it forward, or perhaps slow it down.

It is true for the exit we’ll take from the highway. It is true for the change we need in the workplace.

Service expectations are the best predictor of outcomes.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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sticky culture

Sticky Culture is about the People.

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In branding or marketing, we sometimes talk about, “sticky.” We want to make our information, our products or services, sticky. Have you considered the concept of having a sticky culture?

Sticky implies, something that lasts, it hangs around, it stays or sticks.

Organizational culture is the foundation of our reputation and brand. We often hear about the great cultures of organizations like Google, Microsoft, or Aflac.

One commonality about culture, or even change, is that we want it to stick. Should it last forever? Probably not, it should be fluid, because at the same time successful organizations will need to navigate the ebb and flow.

Has the culture changed at Ford Motor Company, Harley Davidson, or IBM? All are more than 100 years old?

I’m not a historian, yet I believe it is safe to suggest that they have changed. Perhaps they are still grounded in some long-standing roots, but societal changes, or even government regulations may require some shifting to survive.

Sticky Culture

What makes a culture sticky? It probably isn’t about material things. Think of the start of Microsoft, HP, or Harley-Davidson, they all started in a garage.

Buildings and infrastructure may give the historical perspective. They help to tell the story; they are certainly noteworthy. The cities and towns where they emerged, also noteworthy.

However, across time the buildings change, the locations typically broaden, and the number of employees grows larger.

People create the feeling and atmosphere inside and outside of those buildings and infrastructure. People create the legacy, the history, the stories, and make things sticky.

There are many components that make up the culture. Perhaps the most important component is the people.

What is the importance or value of your culture? Is it sticky?

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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Your culture

10 Reasons Why Your Culture is Unique

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Workplace, organizational, and corporate, it goes by many names. Your culture is always something special. The culture of your workplace is unique. Would you agree?

Your Community

In your workplace you have standards and norms, you have policies and rules, and you have all of the concepts that define who you are and what you are about.

It is your World. It is the place where people who join, and stay, follow the cultural norms. Certainly, there are rule breakers, exceptions, and those who make a choice not to stay. Largely however, it is a space of community. Everyone fits somehow.

Your Culture

Every culture is unique and here are ten reasons why:

  1. Behaviors. Those that are observable by others. Not opinions but factual observations.
  2. Standards. The standards of work flow and work process become group norms. They are connected to values.
  3. Values. What are the published values? What do people feel and see?
  4. Philosophy. You have a mission. In most cases this is published for everyone to see, including customers and vendors.
  5. Rules. There are always rules of the game. These apply to everyone.
  6. Climate. How individuals and groups interact. What is the protocol and the patterns of behavior.
  7. Competencies. Skill requirements, the unique ways of doing things that no one else may do exactly the same.
  8. Habits. Inclusive of how the group thinks and acts. Repetitive acts are often habits.
  9. Meanings. Your language. How you speak. What are the acronyms and other lingo associated with you? You may hear it everyday, yet outsiders don’t know what it means.
  10. Symbols. Could include everything from your logo, to a statue, or the architecture of your building. Even dress code, or the lack of one could apply.

If you think the company down the street, across the hall, or three floors above you has the same culture, you are probably incorrect.

Culture may change but not until the people do.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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scaling side effects

Scaling Side Effects and Cultural Impact

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Scaling works both ways. Organizations scale up, or they can scale down. It happens with leadership changes too. Sometimes they are mutually inclusive. Are you aware of the scaling side effects?

Changing Organizations

Recently, I spoke with a middle management employee of a rather large software firm. He was in touch with me because he was looking to make a career move.

When I asked why, his short version answer was connected to problems arising from a recent merger. His firm was bought by a larger firm and now scaling was threatening his otherwise long-term position.

I’m not sure if this gentleman is a star, or below par extra weight, either way his time is being spent on an exit strategy.

In another case, I’ve had communication with an organization that has been forced to scale down. Prior leadership is gone. Temporary leadership is installed, and many employees have, as we often say, “jumped ship.”

This organization prepared to make some cuts, but they didn’t appropriately prepare for the attrition that would result from a mismanaged scale up that then resulted in a mismanaged scale down.

Scaling Side Effects

One scaling side effect is losing people. Sometimes good people.

Boards of directors and organizational leadership often like to believe that in times of turmoil, the worst will go. Unfortunately, this depends largely on the leadership.

My experiences across several decades leads me to believe that often good employees go while the weaker and less effective employees stay. Leadership sells this as a culture of loyalty. In reality, it is often a sign of the side effects of mismanaged scaling down.

In contrast, when scaling up, if the leadership assumes that all the good and well needed talent is external, then they too have a problem.

Bad scaling up choices lead to bad scaling down consequences.

Your best employees have the most choices. They have more options and are very marketable. Certainly, some will hang on for a long time because they are committed, others will hang on because they lack choice.

On either side of the scale, up or down, culture will play a significant role.

The Other Premise

There is one other premise. The organization that is stable, not scaling.

I’ve met a few of these self-proclaimed stable organizations. Often the culture felt in the trenches is different from the culture described by leadership. The trenches culture is more representative of employees who have given up trying to make things better.

Scaling may be a plan, but how will you manage the side effects?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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culture distinction

Culture Distinction or Extinction, Which Should You Choose?

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We sometimes don’t know how things started, or perhaps worse, what caused them to end. What is the culture in your organization? Do you have culture distinction or is the culture headed for extinction?

The More We Learn

It seems like the more we learn, the deeper the questions become. Archeologists and anthropologists continue to dig up (sometimes literally) more details of a past that we often know little about.

There is of course the Inca civilization of South America in Southern Peru and Northern Chile, and the ancient Egyptian civilization of Northwest Africa in the Nile River Valley.

Both civilizations and geographic areas have interested many. The studies of their cultures, buildings, and activities are astonishing.

Stories, artifacts, and in some cases written or pictorial reflections give us some hints of the cultures that once were abundant and thriving.

What happened to them?

We may shrug our shoulders and say, “Who knows?”

Do you think the ancient cultures had a warning? Did they know that something was undermining their existence? Was it rules, greed, or even an overuse or abuse of resources?

What about the culture of your workplace? What is it about your culture or your environment that may go down in the history books? Is there a legacy being built or what picture (metaphorically or literally) will be left behind?

Culture Distinction

Most businesses today would suggest that they are building a culture of distinction. They want their story to be the story of success. The artifacts and pictures that line the walls of the lobby, the trophies in the showcase, and the press releases that put it all to a timeline.

For all existing organizations, the culture is their definition of success, failures, and the tenacity to withstand it all.

In all other cases, it is the case of extinction. Only the possibility of some artifacts remain. What will be the story?

What is the threat knocking on the door of your culture? Is anyone looking? Is there a warning that no one is considering?

Better not give it a shoulder shrug.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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culture drives decisions

Culture Drives Decisions, Does Your Team Get It Right?

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It is Monday, or Tuesday, or any day of the week. You’ll make some decisions today, everything from what to eat to your next big purchase. In the workplace, you’ll make decisions too. Everything from how you’ll navigate the environment to the timeliness of your work. Culture drives decisions, are you getting them right?

Organizational Culture

Your organization has a culture. It is hard to imagine any assembled group of people who over time do not develop a way of doing things, how to interact, and what the rules are. When hiring, many organizations try to find someone with the required skills, but they must also fit their culture.

Is this a good idea? In many regards, yes it may be. However, when the organization is trying to build something, grow, develop, change, and inspire, more of the same is exactly that, the same.

It isn’t a secret. Culture, and its associated density, is driving the organization or team where you do your work. This is especially true for how you make decisions.

Your Way

You have a way you build brand, a way you schedule and hold meetings. There is a dress code (formal and informal) and a proper way to interact. There are hours of operation and expectations on how you’ll accommodate those. Organizational hierarchy is strict or loose.

You’ll manage relationships according to the flow of the culture. This is true for the customer, the vendor, and your co-workers.

All of these things and so much more guide what choices you’ll make today. They will guide the workflow, the pace, and who has the final say in any matter.

Culture Drives Decisions

Organizations often pride themselves on being unique. Unique can be interesting, diverse, and compelling.

If your organization or team is stuck, stalled, or just can’t seem to get out of its own way. You may want to check your culture. It is the way you do everything.

It is probably the most important decision that you get right.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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