ASK ALAN: How the Culture of YOUR Business Defines Success?
Individual generations affect business cultures
In a previously published article about the millennial generation, I reported how understanding millennials better is critical to attracting them as customers. Research demonstrates that core values of individual generations, particularly the millennial generation, can affect business cultures.
Tensions arise from generational diversity
Businesses, regardless of size, risk being overwhelmed by tensions arising from generational diversity. The problem is made worse having Millennials, Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers, in the same workplace—all trying to advance an agenda relevant only to them.
The credibility of the leadership
“Faced with such tensions, many organizations fail to comply with their own mission and vision statements,” says my colleague, Dan Kensil, a business coach certified by Duke University. “These failures destroy the credibility of the leadership,” he says. “Mission, vision and value statements are only effective when they’re grounded by promised behaviors, coupled to accountability.”
Values influence personal performance and business profitability
In the ideal business culture, personal agendas are replaced with business agendas. “Which includes behavior,” Dan adds. “Generational membership nearly always lays the foundation for individual values and how those values will influence behavior. Suggesting that through conduct, values will influence personal performance and, ultimately, business profitability.”
Test your company’s alignment
Dan suggests business owners test the strength of alignment between your company’s culture and its objectives. Ask yourselves these questions:
- Does every member of your stakeholder chain, benefit equally from your commitment of support?
- Does your organization adhere to, and not simply “maintain,” its published mission, vision and value statements?
- Does your company’s value statement include promised behaviors?
- Are your company’s job descriptions well-documented?
- Has your organization eliminated the fear that prompts wasteful acts of self-preservation?
- Is management working to remove hurdles in the way of performance excellence?
How a business coach can help
Many business owners don’t like the culture of their organization. However, they struggle to describe or explain how they would change it. Fortunately, organizations today can quantify and qualify their culture by engaging a business coach who can apply the right tools.
Toyota defines its culture
Automaker Toyota exemplifies the value of defining culture with precision. It views itself as a manufacturer that “builds cars better,” not as one that “builds better cars.” This major distinction drives everything the company does.
Another of Toyota’s cultural features is demonstrated in its “way-of-life suggestion plan” that generates more than 1 million suggestions per year. Unlike most U.S. manufacturers, Toyota does not reward employees for suggestions with large payments. Nor does it seek the big-breakthrough idea. Instead, Toyota vigorously pursues constant, incremental improvements. And today, at least in the auto industry, it seems the tortoise is winning the race.
Former GE CEO recognizes the importance of culture
Former General Electric Corp. Chief Executive Jack Welch states the importance of culture each time he advises organizations to “never hire people (or acquire companies) whose corporate culture doesn’t match your own. No matter how good the numbers look, culture matters as much as financial profile.”
Pay attention to your culture
So, whether your company is large or small, you would be wise to pay attention to its culture. If for no other reason than your competition may have just gotten interested in the topic.
Alan Adler is an Executive Coach, Business Consultant & Speaker. He’s worked for Westinghouse Broadcasting, as a producer/director and with senior management at AT&T, as a corporate spokesperson. Additionally, Alan has been an entrepreneur, creating and growing his own business, Alan Adler & Associates. As a result, he knows management, media and marketing. Alan specializes in helping entrepreneurs through prominent corporations, solve problems and improve profitability. He lives in Huntersville, NC with his wife Mindy. They have two grown children, two adorable grandchildren, and a rescue dog named Bentley.