Thursday, April 10, 2014

I want to write a book on company culture. Good idea, yes or no?

Culture fascinates me. Regional areas have common quirks and ideas, and the same goes for organizations. During my travels and different jobs I've encountered everything from high-spirited corporations where employees take pride in their employer and their work to more depressing versions where employees want to run for their lives after just one week.

My first real job was with a small business consultant firm. I spent a few years there and this laid the foundation to how I see organizations to this day. I just never had an urge to do anything with the observations until now.

I believe that a sustainable, positive company culture is vital to any organization, small as well as large. It will determine whether employees are happy and productive, taking pride in what they do, or if they're miserable, spending their days looking for other jobs or dreaming of whatever's outside the wall.

Bigger organizations generally have an HR department with people trained to handle employees and employee matters, and odds are they have someone well versed in company culture and its impact. I firmly believe that company culture starts at the top, but having someone aware of the phenomenon certainly helps. Smaller organizations - anyone with one employee besides the owner or more - need to think about it as well, and I bet my sunglasses that it's the last thing on the owner's mind.

Don't laugh; sunglasses are important in Florida.

Or, well, go ahead and laugh all you want. I recently had someone point out to me that a sense of humor wasn't an asset, but I disagree. Everything is better with a sense of humor, especially in the office.

The owner of a smaller business has a million things to think about. How should the business grow? Are employees performing up to standards or messing around with their blogs, pretending to work? Do we have enough money for payroll? Should I do accounting in-house or outsource the paperwork? Should we be local or international, do we have enough funding to purchase the new equipment we need, how many employees can share an office, how do we reach new customers... The row of questions is endless, and company culture often falls far down on the list. Too far down.

Many organizations are built around one person, and he or she is a workaholic by necessity. If this wasn't the case, they probably wouldn't have started a company in the first place. They certainly wouldn't keep running it. But, how does this fact affect the employees and their performance?

Company culture is elusive, but I claim that it is something you can see. It shows itself in employee behavior and retention.

I imagine my book as a discussion with examples and tips on what to look out for and how to improve.

What do you think, is this a good idea, or should I tuck it back under the pillow and focus on something else?

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