“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Peter Drucker
In the current talent starved markets, where hiring the right talent has become a huge challenge, attracting & retaining key talent, which includes top performers & potentials, has acquired a new science altogether. While organisations experiment with various methodologies based on experience & surveys, an organisational culture is the key to retaining key talent against the pull of their restlessness & newer opportunities.
Culture is defined by those shared beliefs, values, and norms that guide organisational behaviour. Well defined organisational culture is important as it unites employees by providing a sense of identity with the organisation, enables organisations to differentiate themselves from others, generates commitment superseding personal interest over the organisations, sets norms, rules & standards for proper functioning of employees & guides their behaviour & is the guiding light towards achieving goals & objectives.
The first step is to create the right culture using employee feedback from exit interviews, talking to new employees on their expectations at the time of hiring, studying employee behaviour pattern & through personal experience of running an organisation. Culture today needs to be dynamic as newer generations enter workplace & expectations change far more rapidly than one can create changes.
Doug Conant of Campbell Soup has rightly said “To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace”. A great & conducive work culture therefore becomes critical for successful employee engagement.
My personal experience has been that to retain employees, a great work culture today must focus on the following:
- Clear Vision & Mission: Organisational vision is critical to set the organisational direction. Employees need to understand what the company aims to achieve & how. While Mission answers “Why we exist?’ Vision defines “What we will become if we fulfil our mission”. While the Mission is for now, the vision is the future. A clearly defined Vision & Mission helps align all employees in one direction & is critical for setting expectations.
- Values: Organisation values are principles & ethics that guide the behaviour, perspective & actions of the organisation. They form the ethical foundation of the organisation & define what is right & what is wrong. Employees love working for organisations that have listed out clear values & adhere to the same
- Compassion: Today employees have more personal issues than ever before. These could relate to family & children, health, long commuting, work related anxiety, depression etc. It is important for organisations to be compassionate & stand by their employees in creating flexibility which allows them to attend to their problems without fear of being penalised or loss of job.
- Communication: Two way communications with employees is absolutely critical. Employees must be able to express themselves without fear & see the management as responsive. Management must be able to communicate their vision, policies, feedback with clarity & straightforwardness. A face to face communication on a one-to-one basis is far more effective than written & mass communication. The tone & tenor of one’s words can be mis-communicated when done remotely
- Continuous Feedback: Employees today expect a regular feedback on their performance & areas of improvement. Organisations must have a system of regular & honest feedback designed to improve employee’s performance on a continuous basis. The feedback must focus on an employee’s strength & attributes he/he possesses followed by areas of improvement. The feedback must be given fearlessly, without lowering an employee’s self- esteem, as that can lead to extreme de-motivation. Subsequent feedbacks must monitor improvement over previous feedbacks. More important than success is the feeling of gradual improvement
- Seamless Operations: An organisation must operate seamlessly across teams & departments. Employees should be able to reach out to anyone, including the top management, for any support or help. There should be a spirit of cooperation, collaboration & support amongst all. People must think organisation above self. This helps in reducing office politics & groupism & ultimately stress.
- Transparency: An organisation must be seen to be transparent in its dealings- internally & externally. Employees must have access to all information & must know what the management is thinking & how the organisation is performing. All facts must be accessible. Transparency leads to trust & trust leads to loyalty.
As important as it is to have a good culture, it is important to hire people for one’s culture-fit. A wrong hire can hugely damage the culture. For this reason it is critical to run a proper Socialisation & induction programme which will help employees understand the culture faster & help settle-in quickly in their new environment.
At the end of the day there are 3 things employees seek that can help improve their loyalty & longevity in an organisation- continuous learning, a clear line of professional growth & happiness at work. An organisational culture must strive to attain all these to be effective.
The Author, Mr. Rajeev Thakur, Founder CEO of Grassik Consultants was a Chief Engineer at Merchant Navy. Mr. Rajeev, with resourceful experience of more than 42 years, incorporated one of the most reputed Executive Search Firms of the country Grassik Search Pvt Ltd in 1993 along with his wife, Mrs. Geeta Thakur. The company provides the best talents to clients for mid and top level positions across industry and functions.