Can Corporate Culture Be Innovative?

James Harwood on the key to innovation in corporate culture – your vision

The short answer to the very complicated question in the title is yes. Company corporate culture can indeed be innovative. In 2017 and beyond, corporate culture will continue to be the hot topic of the day. Why? Because employees are better informed, are willing to leave for a “better opportunity,” and ultimately want to feel good at work.  Executives are finally taking note and need a plan.

Culture-Intended vs. Unintended

Let’s face it, every company has a culture, a feel – intended or not. In my experience, I’ve noticed most companies kind of wing it, go about their day, their creative process and simply hope for the best. It’s typical when a proverbial bomb goes off (a lawsuit, disgruntled workforce, tremendous project load) that C- levels begin to take notice. But by then it may be too late; the genie is now out of the bottle. They try company picnics, hire so called “experts,” and even go to the extreme of replacing their entire human resources department – if they have one. It’s much more difficult to fix a bad culture than start out from the very beginning with a vision, a plan, and a clearly defined roadmap of how to get there.

[To read more of James Harwood’s thought leadership click here]

Have a Culture Vision

Knowing how to create AND maintain a sellable product or service is simply not enough anymore. Creating and maintaining a creative, fun, and productive team is just as, if not more, important than your company’s deliverable. Working with a team of professionals who can help you take care of your employees lets them know you care and have your “stuff” together. Your employees are always watching. They watch what you say, how you say it, and if you back it up with action and integrity.

“It’s much more difficult to fix a bad culture than start out from the very beginning with a vision, a plan, and a clearly defined roadmap of how to get there”

The Cost of a Bad Hire

Hiring talented individuals that embrace your vision, your culture, and your company’s goals is essential to your success. We all know that the cost of hiring the wrong person can be expensive. The cost of turnover is that nebulous thing that we all tend to ignore, but we cannot ignore it any longer. Sure, the “bad hire” may cost us in the traditional sense: a job done poorly, the production line backs up, angry customers; but the cost of hiring negativity is the deadliest of all. Negativity can and does spread like wildfire and needs to be addressed on the front end- not with an HR fire extinguisher. When people apply (I like to call it audition) to work for your organization, do the necessary background screening, personality profiling, and group interviewing to make absolutely sure this individual is a good fit. It takes a little more effort on the front end but always pays off in the long run.

Quick Culture-Vision Tips

  • Create and maintain a positive work environment where people can bring their individuality and contribute to the company’s vision. This can be a good thing if they have a positive attitude, the talent necessary, and the belief in your company’s vision. 
  • Manage above the line by holding people accountable to what they expect of themselves, what they’ve agreed to and the greater purpose – the company vision. This eliminates any surprises during reviews and terminations.
  • People rarely remember what was said, but they always remember how you made them feel.
  • Be present by communicating effectively, setting clear goals and by putting things in writing.
  • Establish regular performance and incentive reviews. Your team needs to be recognized for their contribution and accomplishments to the organization.
  • Champion your team with more than just talking points. Your employees do pay attention to the integrity of your action, not just your rhetoric.
  • Remember that we judge ourselves by our intentions and judge others by their actions and behavior.
  • Notice  you are always “on stage.” Your employees watch the way you walk, the way you talk, and even the way you eat your sandwich. Be comfortable, but aware.
  • Be consistent by sticking to your culture plan, showing your team and clients, you are committed, care, and do have a vision.