August 10, 2012

How to Foster the Desired Culture

From an article by Rajeev Peshawaria in The Mint.
I define culture as what your people do when no one is looking.

...The first step is to articulate the desired culture in terms of the specific behaviour expected from all employees. Use full sentences that tell people exactly what to do and what not to do. “Excellence”, “passion” and “collaboration” are large, abstract words which mean different things to different people—a clearer way of articulating the cultural principle or value of excellence is to say, “Find better ways of doing things.” Similarly, instead of just saying “collaboration”, a better bet might be to say, “Proactively help others to succeed”. Most companies have prescribed corporate values, but they usually stay on the hallway posters they’re relegated to—because nothing is done to socialize or reinforce them.

The next step, therefore, is to socialize the desired culture. Repeatedly communicate it at every possible opportunity. This sounds easy but there are two common pitfalls. The first is over-reliance on verbal communication; giving speeches about collaboration at town hall meetings is not enough. Leaders must communicate through their actions as well, because employees hear their leaders’ actions louder than their words. In essence, humans are hierarchical by nature and look towards people of authority to get clues on how to behave. A culture of collaboration must begin with the senior leadership team. Companies cannot hope to establish a collaborative culture through their ranks unless they get into the habit of regularly assessing the leadership team culture first.
Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private equity, venture capital and M&A deals in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs reach out effectively to the investing community.