Archive for the 'Engagement' Category

Who would admit to having no integrity?

How many of you have come across organisations where one of the company values or leadership values is integrity?

And even if you haven’t explicitly seen this as a value, would you agree that it is often an unstated principle that people will act with integrity?

So how can it be that criticism often comes when the organisation or the leaders within it appear to lack integrity. Do people go out of their way to act without integrity or does conflict occur when one persons version of integrity is different to another?

A couple of definitions of integrity may help to answer this question…………

Integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions
or
The adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

With these definitions it seems that the interpretation of integrity is therefore dependent on each persons map of the world, their own values and their own moral compass. Therefore, when someone is seen to act without integrity, have they really or is it that our version of integrity doesn’t match theirs?

Let’s take as an example the recent actions of Greg Smith, the guy who distributed his view of the Goldman Sachs culture and leadership. Did he or did he not act with integrity? I suspect that some people would say that he absolutely did, that he was honest, truthful and accurate (see definition) whilst others may question his reasons for doing it and question his moral character.

When integrity is so often a characteristic that is highlighted as essential for leaders I question if this is realistic. Surely it means that we must all operate with the same version of what is right and wrong, the same version of what is morally acceptable, the same version of what honesty is.

I wonder therefore, when integrity is put up as a value or principle and when it is seen as an essential part of leadership what is actually meant? Obviously organisations want people to act within a moral framework that is appropriate for that particular organisation, does this need to be defined more clearly so people understand what integrity means in that particular environment? Is acting with integrity the same in every organisation or might it vary if say you work in the tobacco industry, the armed forces, social services, financial services or retail?

It seems that organisations need to dig deeper to interpret integrity more clearly. What thoughts do you have on whether or not integrity can vary and how it can be defined more clearly in different organisations?

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Symbols that create a culture

Whenever I visit a prospective or new client I find myself looking around the place with my eyes wide open. I love sitting in reception areas, watching people – the way they interact with each other, with visitors, with the receptionist. I love looking at the environment and the symbols that begin to describe the culture of each organisation. And as I start my process of observations I wonder how much thought and effort each organisation puts in to these symbols. Let me explain what I mean………

In a series of visits to one client my understanding of their culture has grown, mainly through the symbols that I’ve observed.

First impressions at reception were of a bustling, professional, modern, people focused business. The triggers that created this impression for me were down to the welcome I received at the reception desk, observing the way workers greeted each other walking in to the building, the design of the reception area and the noise and smells coming from the cafe based just beyond the reception area. My first meeting was then held in a bright, modern room and as I walked through the office I noticed bright space, lots of photos, posters and objects that represented the work done by the people on that floor.

My impression of the culture, based on these symbols was of a modern, bustling and people focused business.

Several weeks later, with several visits to different parts of the office, I see symbols of the culture which are very contradictory.

The first contradiction, is the different environments that exist floor by floor, function by function. What I described on my first visit seems to be isolated to that particular area. In other parts of the business I see different desk lay outs – some looking as though they haven’t changed for 20 years and some being incredibly modern. What is coming through in the culture of the organisation is that all these different parts of the business, with their different working environments, work as separate entities. Whilst they are all sitting in the same building, working under the same corporate name there is nothing obvious that holds them together as one company.

Another symbol that has fascinated me in this and other offices, are the kitchens. First impression in this particular office is of a modern area with a space for people to meet and chat and prepare their food – it seemed to reinforce a people culture. On the first day, when I was going to spend some time in the business my client gave a cursory nod of the head as we walked past the kitchen and said “This is the kitchen if you need it” After I settled in to a desk (another symbol of the culture) I went to find a glass of water from the kitchen – only to find a kitchen with no glasses, no cups, no tea, no coffee and no utensils. I asked what this was about and was told that it’s meant to be environmentally better for people to bring their own things. And it would seem that visitors are meant to go thirsty.

My experience of the office layout and the kitchen environment began to create a perspective of the culture of this organisation. My point here is really about consciousness – are the leaders and decision makes conscious of the symbols that communicate? Are they making decisions based on the culture that they want to create or are the symbols contradictory to and therefore damaging other efforts to develop the organisations culture?

Using dollars wisely during onboarding

Whether you are a leader, a recruiter or an HR Manager it no doubt crosses your mind on a fairly regular basis that bringing people in to the organisation and bringing them to an appropriate level of performance is time consuming, energy zapping and costly. The upside of doing it is that a vital gap will be filled and a job will be done, so at some point your investment in time and energy will be repaid. The downside is that you invest and it doesn’t work out. A recent global study on mindset of new and existing employees by RogenSi shows that you have only a limited time to get payback.

The study found that employees with more than one year’s service with an organisation are feeling unenthusiastic, under-appreciated, uninspired and unmotivated by their leaders. Therefore in the first year you need to be doing everything you can to motivate, inspire and grow employees so they perform in year one and beyond. There is only a short window to consolidate new employees’ commitment and align them with the organisations’ culture and vision.

If you add to this a picture of the real cost of hiring someone – adding in recruitment costs, admin, training, management time and their salary; the cost of getting this right for every single employee should be a business priority.

The maths are indisputable and the opportunity to create commitment and alignment is limited – yet so many organisations seem to kick own goals once a new employee is on board.

Own goal number one is the handling of an employees induction process. Hands up to all of you who have started with a new organisation and had a less than enthusiastic welcome in some shape or form? This could be down to the process for getting your pass, a desk, directions to the toilet. Or it could be the often tedious process that you are taken through to learn about the organisation – for many this is usually the mandatory Induction training that comes anywhere between day 1 and day 365 of being in your role.

This is a golden opportunity – the penalty kick with no goalkeeper in the net – when the organisation has the chance to bring the new employee in to the organisation, live the values, display the culture and make the links to the goals, direction and what the organisation is all about. It’s a chance to reach the employees hearts.

And yet, so often, this opportunity is missed. On-boarding and Induction becomes an insipid and cold experience that leaves the new employees enthusiasm fading.

Given the cost to the business of recruiting and then losing your employees, surely a small investment in a makeover of your on-boarding and induction could reap big rewards?