Define corporate culture… is part one of a series on culture. It’s one of the reasons I love where I work (and we have almost 100% retention over the life of the company). I’m hoping to shed some light on my philosophies when it comes to culture and its role in the workplace.
One of the quotable quotes from HRevolution this year was in response to someone asking what HR does to create culture. I think the role for HR is not to create it, but to communicate and reinforce it at every possible opportunity. At least that’s what I do on a daily basis. I see every opportunity to interact, whether internally or externally, as a way to share what makes us different. Some people like what makes us different and some people don’t, but that’s another post for another day.
A few areas to communicate your unique culture (just in the areas of recruiting and selection):
- Job ads-talk about your company and what makes you different. But don’t do it in a corporate-sounding way. Be as different as you are able to be. Some companies are strict and others are not so much when it comes to this stuff. I include snippets in our job openings about our high performance culture and the fact that we actually expect greatness from our people. If appropriate, I also mention that we hold people accountable for the work they do. That scares some people, but for others, it’s a relief to know what we really want from them. (See also how to write job postings that don’t suck.)
- Interviews-some time should be devoted in the interview to explaining what it’s like to work at the company in a more in-depth way. If you spend the entire time focusing on the person’s skills and how they fit, you’ll probably skip the culture aspect, so try to squeeze it in first. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and it could be covered in a very short phone interview as well. I just like seeing the look on someone’s face when I tell them our expectations. We are a little different here. See, we expect a lot out of our people, but we also pay them fairly, offer a great benefits package, and have flexible work schedules so you get the time with your family that you need. But we do expect a lot out of you. When we put “unequivocal excellence” and “deliver on time, every time” in our list of corporate values, we mean it. We hold you accountable for aligning your work with those values (or not), and we aren’t afraid to call you out if you’re not doing it right. This isn’t a place where you can sit in a back cube and collect a paycheck. But it is a place where you get a lot of access to senior leaders, have a team and manager that cares about you, and get rewarded for your efforts. Still sound like something you’re interested in? Okay, let’s get this interview started.
- Orientation-Okay, so you’ve got them past the first hurdles. Now we get to the orientation and it’s time to turn it up a notch. If you have slides or a presentation for new hires, make reference to the culture aspects of your company multiple times. Offer a cheat sheet within the new hire packet with info on what to expect. This is your first time to talk about it to the person as a fellow employee, so it’s less about selling the idea and more about getting their mind ready to start conforming. I know we talked about our culture some in the interview, but I wanted to take a minute to explain a few things that you really need to know if you’re going to be successful here. You might want to take a few notes just so nothing is missed or forgotten... And from there go into a few of the areas I talked about in the interview section and give some hands-on tips about how to put those to use into their daily work.
- Onboarding-This is an extension of the orientation process and a great opportunity to continuously reinforce the tenets you explained early on. For example, I just did a two week follow up with a new hire and spent fifteen minutes talking about how work was going. I made sure to mention a few of the culture tips I’d given early on and the person was so thankful to be given a “head start” on getting on the right track in those areas. Most people learn about the company culture ins and outs by making a misstep. I want them to be aware long before that happens.
- Everything else! Keep it up. It’s tough to do it continuously but completely worth it when you have a culture employees are rabidly in favor of.
I know it might sound simple, but it makes an amazing different in the quality of the people you hire and how they perform their work. So many employees just want to know what is expected of them. It might be because a supervisor isn’t great at communicating that. Whatever the case, take some of the responsibility on yourself and make sure it gets done.