Executives Need to “Eat the Dog Food” When It Comes to Company Culture…

Paul Hebert Culture, Engagement and Satisfaction, Paul Hebert, Recognition, Total Rewards

Fishsmall Many companies ask that I help them design and develop programs to reinforce and, in some instances, create a company culture.  Through a reward and recognition strategy, you can highlight and popularize the behaviors that define your company’s culture.  However, don’ think a “program” can create the result you want, if you’re not part of the program.

“A fish stinks from the head down.”

I was reminded of that old saying the other day during a discussion with a consultant at a large firm who was transferring information from one tool into another.  She probably spent a good hour or so taking information from their corporate CRM tool and putting it into another format, because her Manager liked the second format better.  (Pssst… a little secret here…the CRM tool had reporting built into it for managers to see summary data… but you didn’t hear it from me – wink, wink, nudge, nudge.)

When I asked why she did that, she told me that her management didn’t really use the enterprise tool because they weren’t up to speed on the system to the level that would allow them to pull reports.  The result is that she spends at least 50 – 100 hours a year transferring data from one system into another so her managers can see the information that already exists.  Do the quick math – at a couple hundred dollars an hour – each person who has to do this is spending up to $20,000 a year to ensure management doesn’t have to use the tools that they require the consultants to use.  $20,000 here, $20,000 there – soon you’re talking real money.

This is the perfect example of how corporate cultures get sidetracked and damaged.  When the behavior Senior Managers want isn’t modeled by the Senior Managers in a company, the company is on the fast-track to chaos.

Think about the two levels of “culture” in many companies.  To give you a head start, here are a few:

Working from home – VPs do it, CEOs do it, even educated Directors do it – but don’t let that Marketing Manager do it – he may take a nap.

Dinner on the expense account – How often does the VP of “X” get with the VP of “Y” for dinner to discuss organizational stuff and the meal is expensed?  Quite a bit.  But let’s see how fast the expense report for a programmer and an operations person meeting over pizza and beer to work out a glitch in the system gets kicked back.

Cubes vs Offices with Doors – hey – all you people without doors on your office – you’re our most important asset – but knock first when you come to my office – I’ve got a door (neener, neener, neener.)

Assigned parking spaces – I’m guessing this started because top dogs rarely come in early and they didn’t want to walk too far to the front door.  Want a good space – get there early.

Now, don’t take this as a rant on Senior Managers – hey – I’ve been one.  My only point is that as a Senior Manager in a company, you have responsibility to model the behaviors that define your company.  Don’t think little transgressions go unnoticed by employees.

If you are a Senior Manager, and you are unhappy with the culture in your organization, look for the mahogany – in other words – look at your peers.  Are you and your ilk creating a divide in the company between what you want and what you want your company to be.

When Senior Management requires employees to do something that increases their work load without adding value to the business – you’re subtracting value from your customers and communicating that there is more than one company culture.

No recognition program or incentive program can compete with smelly fish.