Recognize This! – Creating a powerful, positive culture takes work, but strategic recognition makes it easier.
I’m thrilled that more and more I’m seeing the topic of company culture being discussed, critically, as a key contributor to organization success and not a “warm fuzzy HR initiative.” As an example, I strongly recommend this terrific post on TLNT on the impact of culture on the organization and a revolution in the appreciation of culture.
Culture Management Requires Effort
If you’re considering tackling your company culture head on, you need to be prepared to do some work. As S. Chris Edmonds said on SmartBlog on Leadership:
“I’m coaching a senior leader through his company’s culture change. He recently told me, ‘Man, this culture management is hard work!’ We both laughed — and agreed.
“It takes time and energy to tend, monitor, and nurture a safe, inspiring work environment in your organization’s divisions and teams. Safe, inspiring work environments do not happen by chance. Human foibles and temptations, driven by greed and power, can make companies lousy places to work. Only when leaders proactively manage productivity and citizenship do organizations enjoy their desired high performance, values-aligned culture.”
Isn’t that always the case? Mixing humans into anything can cause the best laid plans to go awry. And yet, it can be done. Indeed, it can be done more effectively and efficiently by playing directly to those human “foibles” and very real needs.
How to Proactively Manage Culture
We’ve codified how to proactively manage organization culture in our first book Winning with a Culture of Recognition, which my CEO Eric Mosley has now expanded on in his newest book The Crowdsourced Performance Review.
In short, when you use what matters most to your organization – your strategic objectives (what you need employees to accomplish) and your core values (how you want employees to accomplish those objectives) – as the reasons to recognize employees frequently, specifically and in a timely way, you give yourself the means to influence, manage and redirect your culture through positivity.
Avoid a Hero Culture
But the last thing you want to do is create a hero culture. Why? As explained by Holland Dombeck in Fistful of Talent:
- Heroes always get pulled off of the projects that work exactly as planned to go save the project in trouble. The hero’s original projects then get behind and need saving in the future.
- You pull staff from other unproblematic projects to make up for the hero saving the day, and they often feel fragmented with temporary, random assignments.
- Everyone recognizes and praises the hero, and the staff that plan, resource, and execute their work smoothly (which is ideal) feel left behind and under-valued.
- The heroes are usually very skilled, knowledgeable, and flexible but never able to spend time mentoring or training others.
- You can’t easily scale the ability to get work done unless you hire more heroes. Heroes can only get more work done by working more hours. There’s little efficiency in working as a hero because you are always solving the hardest of the hard problems and can seldom reuse or repurpose any past work products.
Remember, the secret to a strong, effective, positive culture is giving all employees the opportunity to be recognized (and to recognize others) for their heroic efforts – whether those efforts are daily, occasional or rare, indeed. The point is, don’t forget (as Holland says): “the staff that plan, resource, and execute their work smoothly.” Doing that consistently, day in and day out, is heroic, too.
Do you proactively manage your culture?