In two of our recent Solutions Forum meetings, we’ve had CEOs talk about culture, and how to improve it.
When I started with researching the topic, I went first to our SF website, because it has a couple of articles, the most recent of which is 2012, which isn’t much help, because with the explosing of rapidly growing tech companies, it’s an item the founder needs to think about as he/she sails past 25 or so employees, but rarely does.
It also comes up as one generation of family transitions to another: the younger generation is likely to make the culture more aggressive than his/her forbears (I did, and one of my member’s son is, but one isn’t, at least not yet.).
The article I found has some good points, but is pretty sketchy.
1. Cultures change when Leaders Show That They Want Then to Change.
This is important. How does a leader do this? Hiring and firing decsions for one. Just because someone has been employed at your company for 10 or 20 years doesn’t mean they’ll be there for the next five. You have to take the temperature of your direct reporting managers/directors/vice presidents and evaluate for yourself if they’re on board. What would positive actions look like? This is a conversation you should have after your 90-day onboarding time, other than there may be a few obvious direct reports that should be replaced.
2. Results begin immediately. What can/should you do right away? A town hall on Friday afternoon is a good start. Awards and recognition for jobs well done are another good idea. People will get the idea that you’re creating an ‘accountability’ performance culture, not a ‘don’t rock the boat’ culture.
3. The larger the organization, the longer it might take, but it depends on the leader. Both of my clients wanting to change culture are about 150 employees, and the chart says two years. I’d say one. I am always reminded of Alan Mullaly, of Ford, who changed that elephant’s culture in two years by a few judicious hires/fires and a completely new employee/manager evaluation system that stressed innovation, accountability and so forth.
4. In your annual/quarterly meetings with your direct reports, ask them how they made money for the company, and was it more than the prior quarter? This was a favorite question of a former client (former only because he moved to San Jose, where we didn’t have a licensee). He would have made a good one.
5. Encourage opportunistic employees. I once had once dive into a truck to copy a distributor’s name from a box. He got an award. Encourage employees to start entrepreneurial activities. Fold ’em in, maybe sell ’em later.
Well, there are some starters. Think on what you could do next week.