Imagine with me this situation. It’s the weekend and it is a beautiful sunny day. You want to use this opportunity to disconnect from work and to have fun. You call your friends and decide to go outside and to sit in an open-air restaurant.
After a lot of research, one of your friends proposed a specific restaurant. The reason for his nomination was that the restaurant is in a very beautiful area and also it is very famous for the quality of food that it serves. He even told you that you will be lucky if you find a spot there.
You accept his proposal and you go together to this restaurant. And because you are lucky, you find an empty spot in a wonderful area. The weather is beautiful, and everything is moving perfectly until you decided to order your food. The waiter took so long to bring you the menu and was speaking in a fast-unfriendly manner, which made you feel stressed and as if someone is running behind you.
The food came and you loved it and now it is time to pay and leave. You ask for the cheque to find out that you must wait another 15 minutes and again, he treated you with unfriendliness.
So, you pay the money and leave the restaurant with one image stuck in your head. No, not the beautiful sunny day. No, not the beautiful food. But the unfriendliness and carelessness of the waiter.
It affected you to the extent that you decided that you will never go there again.
Have you ever passed through a similar situation?
Now I want you to remove the restaurant from the story and to replace it with any other entity that you want. A company that you worked for, a customer, a supplier, a supermarket. The examples are a lot in our lives and unfortunately, these employees not only damage the reputations of the places that they are working for, but they also waste the efforts of their colleagues.
Like the waiter when he erased the effort of the cooker who cooked an amazing food by his behavior.
Choosing the right employees in a company is crucial for any company’s success. They are the first layer that the people deal with and decide to do business with this company or not, no matter how unique or extraordinary this company’s products are.
The right employee in the right company that provides him or her with the required tools to do a great job becomes automatically an ambassador.
So how can a company ensure that they hire and maintain the right type of the employees that can act as ambassadors and improve the company’s image? That’s what we will discuss in this article.
There are a lot of things that companies can do to create and maintain a great internal culture, and now I will share with you 6 tips and you will be impressed by how easy there are.
1-Define the internal culture that you want.
As I mentioned in my previous article, Company culture refers to the set of beliefs and behaviors of the employees and management inside a company.
And same as I advised the employees in the last Episode to first define their set of beliefs and values and what they stand for before joining a company, Companies must do also the same.
The leaders of a Company must define what values they want really inside the company and what type of employees exactly, and to do everything possible to maintain these values and not only to just write them on the Company’s website.
2-Repeat and mention your mission statement and values again and again and again.
If you think that writing your mission and values on your website or hanging them on the wall of the company is enough, then think again.
If hanging your values and mission on the walls or in the employee’s offices is enough, then every person who had a goal would have achieved it by merely hanging his new year resolution on the wall.
It is a good strategy but never enough.
Your employees need to absorb the mission and values. They need to get used to using them in their meetings and discussions. They need to feel that it is important and not only something that is good to have.
As a leader in a company, you need to mention your mission and values in almost every meeting. Not as if they were rhetoric words that you are repeating over and over in the same way and style, but in different ways and in different contexts during the meetings. You must use every opportunity possible to remind your employees and team about what your values are and what the company stands for.
Several years ago, I attended an event where the main speaker was an investor and the co-founder of Delivery hero Company as well as several other companies.
During his speech, he mentioned that they never considered the company culture as a crucial point when he and his co-founders were starting their previous business. In fact, they thought that it’s something that comes automatically, and they should not even think about.
He said in his own words ‘’We thought about winning and making revenues and focused on the most important KPI’s, and we said to ourselves when the business goes well, and we make good revenues, maybe we can hire someone and put him as the head of cultural activities or development or something. As a nice to have. And that was a mistake.’’
He added that what he discovered later with his co-partners is that creating a great company culture was one of the things that must have a priority and should drive their choices and decisions from the beginning. Because what he discovered was that, in tough times, great company culture is what makes the people stay strong and pull each other to function as one unit together in the face of hard challenges.
In summary, your employees will be the first people to protect the company in tough times, and the first people who will convey the company Beliefs and values to outsiders.
So, help them. Make the internal culture something that they feel proud of belonging to. Give them social currency and help them to brag about working for your company in front of others.
3-Hire Employees who are sharing the same values.
When you hire employees, a big mistake that most of the hiring managers do is to hire a candidate based on the CV and experience only. The problem is that the CV does not include lots of information or reflect some skills that are urgently needed in today’s working environment.
For example, a new report published by the World Economic Forum showed that Five years from now, over one-third of skills (35%) that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed.
The top 10 skills needed by 2020 which the forum labeled as the fourth industrial revolution, will be as follows in sequence:
- Complex Problem-Solving
- Critical Thinking
- People Management
- Coordinating with others
- Emotional Intelligence
- Judgment and decision making
- Service Orientation
- Cognitive Flexibility
Can you tell me how anyone can discover if a person possesses these skills by merely checking the CV?
Each year, thousands of qualified candidates get rejected without even being interviewed based on the 30 seconds view that the responsible hiring person dedicates to check their CV’s to see if they are appropriate for the job role or not.
So, the first solution here is to see between the lines in the CV and to give a chance to the people who show potential.
Invite them for an interview and switch the interview from a very professional meeting style to a friendly normal chat between two or three people with the intention to really know each other more on a human basis.
Ask them normal human questions and give them the chance to express themselves.
Learn more about them by knowing what motivates them, their values, their hobbies, what they want to achieve in their lives, their families, their backgrounds...etc.
Do not only ask about what is written on the CV and relevant to the job opening. Ask with the interest to really learn about this candidate, because he or she is not being interviewed by the FBI, he is just a human being interviewed for a job.
If you did this, you can easily see some immediate things such as if this person is expressive or communicative or not for example.
Ask questions that reveal how he or she handles conflicts, how they will work or handle a colleague whom they must work with and dislike, and how do they express their disagreement. Because all of these are real-life situations that will take place inside the company later.
4- Give more authority to the Human Resources department.
The power and authority of the human resources department vary from one continent to another.
While the HR department enjoys huge power, authority and responsibility in a lot of companies located in the Middle East, for example, this is not the case in a lot of the companies in Europe and the US.
I mentioned it 100 times before. The role of the human resources department should not only be posting a new job opening, preparing the contracts and administrative documents, and negotiating compensations and benefits.
Human Resources departments in companies should be empowered to play a more significant role in selecting the correct leaders. They must work with the upper management hand in hand to identify potential leaders. After identifying them, they should monitor the behavior of these potential leaders for some time, to be able to judge things such as:
-How is this possible leader dealing with or influencing the people around him?
-Is he or she a resonant leader who affects the people around him positively and can help facilitate collaboration between different departments?
-Can he or she promote the values of the company in the future?
What happens usually is that the management of a functional area nominate a person for a leadership position because of his good performance on his daily job, and the Human resources department most probably just approve this nomination or interfere only to negotiate his new benefits package.
And let us be honest with ourselves, when was the last time you saw or heard that, someone from the upper management nominated an employee to fill a leadership role, and this nomination was rejected by the HR because the nominated person is lacking the core leadership skills or is not prepared still to lead?
5- Reward Employees who help the company to achieve its mission while keeping its values.
If you see an employee who is performing good and his behavior is aligned with the values of the company, then automatically reward this employee. Just reward him without he or she even asking for it. And reward him or her in front of everyone.
This will have 3 benefits:
-Employees will understand that their behavior is being noticed and watched and not only their performance.
-Employees will have more faith in management and leaders, as every employee will stop showing up and trying to look cool in front of the management to get rewarded and will focus more on his or her own behavior.
-Other Employees will get the message that this type of behavior is what helps the company and what will be rewarded.
6- Get rid of the employees whom their behavior is destructing the internal culture and who are not sharing the same values, but only after helping them.
If you have an employee who is a super performer and achieving great results, but his behavior is not good and destructing the company culture, then his direct supervisor should do the following:
-First, warn him or her behind the closed door and make it clear that his or her behavior must change immediately. One of the big mistakes that Managers do is just to say ‘’Your behavior is not good, and you have to change it.’’.
No, it does not work this way. You must mention exactly what is the wrong behavior and what is the good behavior that you are expecting to replace this wrong behavior. Generic terms don’t work in these cases.
-Second, if his behavior did not change, then make another meeting with this employee and ask him or her about the reason why his behavior did not change and ask if he needs help and give him a deadline. For example, you can say something like ‘’You have 3 months to change this specific bad behavior and to show us improvements. During these 3 months, we will meet weekly to check the frequency of this behavior, or in other words how many times this bad behavior occurred each week.’’
-Third, if the behavior did not change during these 3 months, then discuss with him or her the reasons in a transparent way, and if the employee asked for help because behavior change is hard, then offer him or her help. The company can hire a private coach to work with this employee and to help him change his behavior.
-Finally, if all of this did not work to change his or her behavior, or if his attitude did not show that he really wants to change, then fire him.
Yes, I know, if you are a manager and reading this article, you will get a heart attack and say ‘’Fire my best performer? I can’t’’. No, you can, firing your best performer now and losing temporarily, will be far better than keeping him and losing each day and in the future. Because this type of employees really destructs the work culture and makes the people around them feel demotivated and very eager to leave, especially if they saw this person getting rewarded because he achieved his goals.
Unfortunately, what happens in most of the companies, is that if an employee is a top performer and his behavior is bad, then they will keep him or her no matter what. And even if the situation got worse and a lot of other employees protested this employee’s behavior, then the maximum that the management will do is to tell him ‘’please improve your behavior’’ in a very kind way.
The employee with bad behavior can already sense that the management is not serious and that he is irreplaceable because of his or her results, so why should he change his behavior?
These 6 simple tips are not complicated, they are very simple, but they are not easy. And nobody will apply them inside of a company until he or she is truly convinced deep inside of him or her, that a true changed is needed. In fact, most of the Leaders who will watch this video will neglect these simple tips as long as the target yearly revenues are achieved.
And why should they put the effort into focusing on improving the company culture if the company is winning and the employees did not complain?
Share with me your thoughts in the comments section below. Tell me if you agree or disagree with what I said. Also, share with me if you have more tips that we can share with leaders and management inside organizations in order to improve work culture and make our workspace a better place.
See you in the next article.