Advising leadership and management

The Sachs Report: Culture of Personality vs. Culture of Process

As I reflect and review the basic culture construct of companies where I have either worked or consulted, it becomes apparent to me more than ever that those organizations, much like young children, need rules and back it up with the discipline to enforce them.  I believe this observation is as important for company’s today that employs thousands, or only two people.  Which culture does your company encourage?

I have had the opportunity to experience first hand how a company that remains disciplined to it’s processes and guidelines, will manage steady progress even in times of an uncertain economy.  Companies that do not have this discipline, and have few well-defined processes, will struggle to keep top line growth, bottom line profitability, and perhaps more important, will struggle to develop employee confidence and team spirit.

It is not to say that processes and guidelines are to be rigid and inflexible.  Exactly the opposite must be true.  Processes must always be contested with a critical assessments eye towards either cost cutting or efficiencies.  We all understand that guidelines are just that.  Guidelines, which are actually screaming for change and redefinition, need always to be massaged and directed.

It is to say that both processes and guidelines are only as well-functioning, as the organization’s employees desire to accept and engage in both.

In the recently published in-depth study of change, “The 7 Keys to Change” written by William Matthies, we understand that all change is personal.  “…often, an otherwise good employee, one who has repeatedly demonstrated an ability to do his or her job, is not necessarily going to be effective participating in company change initiatives.  The reasons range from a lack of understanding the process to distracting personal issues.  Whatever the cause, he or she cannot contribute to the change process as much as you need and wish them to do.”  And if I can take some license here with Mr. Matthies work, I would suggest that many times the once good employee might be destructive to these change initiatives.  It is at this time, genuine leaders know which employees must stay to manage through the changes, and which employees, regardless of tenure or position, must be cut out from prompting discontent and a malignancy towards the company’s growth.

Small companies, more importantly, need to understand if they are managed either by processes, or by personalities.  As can be the case, companies that have gotten along with a high personality culture operationally, will be able to do well as long as there are no new demands upon accountability to profitability.  Examples may include a declining market demand, or overall economic conditions of the markets they sell.  They have managed by making daily decisions on operations, marketing, finance, accounting and sales.  In some cases I have observed more than one meeting in a day to discuss what necessarily should have been understood policy.  Companies managed in this manner, should eventually find a need to bring more discipline, process, and guidelines to the culture, or they will be unable to manage past poor economies or diminishing markets.   During such difficult times, companies then will waste time and energy fighting personalities rather than bringing the necessary discipline to the corporate culture.  At this point strong leadership must rise to the challenge.  Without leadership, the downward spiral will grow stronger thus hastening the inevitable.

To the counter point, companies that are well-disciplined in process and management will spend more of their time working on growth and expansion.  Employees will understand their role in the growth of the company and more importantly their responsibilities.  Employees will feel free to convey relevant ideas that will bring about positive improvements to the companies overall health and growth.

It is easy to understand which path your company may be following.  Does every employee understand their job, their responsibilities, their authority, and the global growth focus of the company?  Or, are managers of different departments wasting time in meetings to solve issues that should be managed by the individual department members?  These meetings cause constant shifting of policy and procedure that confuse and frustrate employees.

Does your company give employees the authority to make decisions that affect their performance or does all decision-making reside in the hands of a few executives?  Do you always hear about the open door policy of top management yet find every time you go to that office the door is metaphorically closed?  Or even in some cases, actually closed!

Does leadership inspire you or do you find yourself with more questions than answers?  Do you hear more of, “that is how we have always done it,” or do you hear; “that is a good suggestion, can you flush it out further with your team on how we may implement the process?”

Companies that depend mostly upon a few personalities to survive are sure to falter and fail.  It is just a matter of time.  Usually that time comes when some either leave or retire, but mostly the decay is apparent while they are working.  Yet those companies that have the discipline to manage process correctly, will not only survive, but will as well prosper.

The best problem solving advice I ever received was to eliminate the personalities from an issue, and deal strictly with the issue itself.

Consider an evaluation of your organization by contacting Associate Marketing Partners, Ed Sachs at edasachs@gmail.com.

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