As any business expands — either domestically or internationally — it can be a challenge to maintain a consistent company culture. Communication might suddenly need to bridge time zones, and messages will need to stay consistent despite language or cultural barriers. An expansion can affect organizational design and the centralization of resources, potentially making employees feel detached.
Building a business is like raising a child. We see them grow up over the years, go through hard times and good, learn from each success and failure, and eventually blossom into something more wonderful than we ever could have imagined.
One of the more challenging stages of the process is a business’ adolescence. It’s no longer a scrappy startup but not yet a full-grown business with established and consistent processes.
I recently read an article about our individual ignorance (Why We Believe Obvious Untruths) that made me stop and think about the current state of our union. To say that we are living in two Americas is a gross understatement. And for society’s sake, we have to bridge this divide and learn to listen to each other (notice I didn’t say agree with).
What does the name Thomas Wilson mean to you?
Probably not much. But over a decade ago, this young man created a groundswell of change in a massive Federal organization that altered thousands of lives for the better; including mine.
How did he do it? And what can we learn from his story about creating large-scale change from the bottom up?
If you’ve been in the workforce for at least three years, you have likely had at least one annual performance review (unless of course, you work for a firm that has abandoned the practice). As I began to draft this article, I was curious about what my colleagues had experienced in their annual reviews. Their stories are below:
Newsflash: People aren’t possessions. So why do we insist on treating workers like commodities?
Once upon a time, employees and companies enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship. Workers stayed with one company for their entire careers, taking pride in their output and putting their noses to the grindstone for the sake of the organization. In return, companies offered pension plans, training, development opportunities, and reasonable work hours.
While those days might seem like distant memories, the churn-and-burn mentality of the modern workplace isn’t sustainable.
Let’s face it: For many workers, the annual Employee Engagement Survey is meaningless.
Once a year, employees throw their opinions onto a form that goes…well, somewhere. They see no real changes as a result of their participation. The next year, the same questions appear on a survey and the same thing happens. The experience feels transactional and shrouded in mystery, then wildly disappointing as any hopes for change fade quietly into the middle of quarter two. This “traditional” Employee Engagement Survey process actually ends up provoking more disengagement.
Poor Employee Engagement Survey experiences seem to be a part of a bigger problem: In its most recent report on the State of the American Workplace, Gallup shared some troubling data: only 33% of the American workforce reports feeling engaged at work. These “engaged” folks feel valued, enjoy their work, and are motivated to take part in improving their organizations. The rest are either not engaged (just “going through the motions”), or worse, actively disengaged (actually working to subvert or destroy what others at work build).
In other words, American organizations are failing two-thirds of our workforce. The report makes one thing very clear: If organizations are going to rise to meet this challenge, they are going to have to transform the ways they are used to managing people, and quickly.
Written by Paula Mulford
Letting your guard down basically boils down to one thing… being appropriately vulnerable in your communication, which in turn promotes a culture of trust. This diagram is a simple visual showing a different way to achieve effective management and stronger leadership.
Today, organizations must delight customers, beat competitors to market, and pivot quickly when needed. The increasing rate of change in today’s complex business environment demands more value in less time. And quite often, the ability to deliver quality software quickly and reliably is what drives success in this new world of business value.
In finance, the most innovative banks have developed technology that allows us to deposit and manage money from our smartphones. Apple and Pandora help us discover and purchase music within seconds of release. Successful retailers are finding innovative ways to eliminate friction in the customer experience, allowing us to purchase, make returns, and offer recommendations, all without stepping outside our homes.
When organizations keep up with the velocity of technological change, they possess an undoubtable competitive advantage over their peers. And many of these innovative organizations are adopting a DevOps methodology to reach the velocities they need. But this methodology isn’t just about improving technology and revamping processes. Organizational culture plays a critical role in promoting the behaviors required to safely sustain the faster pace.
We’ve all read the stories about startups making waves in their industry, and how they’re doing it from a once-destitute warehouse on the south side of town. We’re prone to conclude that these companies are sustaining high performance because they’ve broken down the (cubicle) walls that bind our ability to collaborate, innovate, and achieve our full potential.
Unfortunately, misconceptions about high performing culture develop from these stories, and many well-intentioned business leaders have tried to emulate these startups in their quest to improve their culture and performance.