Tag Archives: Organizational culture

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Labour Day

This coming Monday September 2nd is Labour Day, a national holiday in Canada and the U.S. This day is the workers’ holiday celebrating their labour efforts.

You can thank some union workers who worked in a printing shop in Ontario in the 1800’s for this annual long weekend.

English: Toronto Globe newspaper office (with ...

Toronto Globe newspaper office (with a globe on top) on King Street East, Toronto, Canada, early 1860s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1869 the union petitioned their employers, requesting a weekly reduction in working hours. Their request was refused outright by the owners of the printing shops, and by the founder of the Toronto Globe, which later became the Globe and Mail.

In 1872 the Toronto Printers Union went on strike and fought for a 9 hour work day. Previously the employers expected their workers to clock in a 12 hour work day.

After that year, almost all union demands included the 54-hour week. The Toronto printers were pioneers of the shorter workweek in North America.

Celebrating the workers’ successful striking efforts, Labour Day became an annual celebration. By 1894, it became the official national holiday that we continue to recognize today.

Here’s an ironic twist. For the first time ever, The Globe and Mail newspaper will not be publishing a Labour Day edition of their paper this year, due to lack of advertising revenue. According to a note to subscribers from the publisher and CEO of the Globe & Mail, the revenue is “needed to cover the costs of formatting, printing and delivery of the paper, and the number of vacation stops by subscribers”.

Enjoy your long weekend, and of course, this Labour Day.

A Toxic Workplace

I was talking with a friend of mine recently who brought up the topic of the corporate culture in her current workplace. toxic-300x269

She said that every day she comes home from work, she just wants to “shower off her day”. For the past 2 years she has worked in an environment that does not make her happy. Why does she stay? She is a highly specialized C level employee where good jobs with her specific skill set are hard to find. She likes her job, she likes the actual day to day work that she does. But it is the work environment and culture that repels her.  Unfortunately, the CEO of the company defines the culture, and therefore little can be done to change it. Most of the employees are in their early 20’s, and sadly, they are looking up to this CEO as an example of how people should treat each other in the workplace. Needless to say, my friend is on the search for a new job, but in the meantime, she feels stuck.

Great People Make A Great Company

It is known that great people make a great team and great teams can overcome huge obstacles. Companies that work hard to find the best team members to join them and work equally hard to provide a challenging and rewarding environment to motivate and bring out the best in them are setting themselves up for success. My friend feels that the company culture is being poisoned.

When a leader of a company believes that their business is about the people, it is their duty to foster that success. Building the relationships between those people builds the business. Losing incredible talent due to poor leadership will not make a company an employer of choice.

What a Difference a Culture Makes

fork in road

Fork in the road

I recently met a friend for lunch, and asked him how he was enjoying his current job he has been in for the past year.

Let’s take a step back in time. Several years ago, my friend took a job working in Human Resources for a small company that seemed liked a great place to work. But, sometimes we realize that perception is so much different than reality.  About two months into his role, he started to question if he made the right move to this company. Shortly after, what he felt was validated.  The corporate culture was not what he had perceived it would be.

My friend tried his best to like where he worked, and stuck it out for over a year, but it was too much of a struggle. Among many other faults, the leaders and managers did not make an effort to meet with the HR department. How the company had originally presented themselves was not the case at all. Working in HR, it was difficult to promote the company to potential candidates.

Another opportunity with a company in a completely different industry came up. Unhappy in the current job, my friend was hesitant at first to take on a role in an industry he was not familiar with. All his friends said ‘if it is out of your comfort zone, maybe you shouldn’t take the job’. He started to think hard about his choices. His partner simply said ‘don’t question yourself’. With that simple piece of advice, he moved forward with the application process and the potential manager reassured him on the phone in a long conversation, showing his support.  That care and attention and human touch is what made all the difference, even prior to the official job offer, my friend knew this was already an environment and culture that he could feel comfortable in.

And one year later, he is so very happy that he made that change.

I asked him, “When did you know it was the right culture?” he simply said, “I never questioned it. I knew since day one”. He continued, “The corporate culture is consistent with the messaging they present publicly.  When I recruit for the company, I can honestly tell candidates that I’m happy working there”. He also added that having a supportive manager makes all the difference.

He described his state of mind at the previous employer as  “unhappiness to the depths of my soul. For all the misery, it was a huge learning experience – learning about myself and my limits”.

And to that, I say, what a difference a year makes. What a difference a corporate culture makes.

photo credit: Newtown grafitti

Does your Corporate Culture attract Top Performers?

Top performers are most often the true indicators of a company’s culture and are part of the integral root system of the company’s success. The biggest risk for a company is in failing to create an environment that supports their abilities. Developing a culture that attracts top performers is one of the most important tools for a company’s recruitment process.

  • By understanding the nature of top performers, you can take their energy and inspiration and use it to grow other future top performers.
  • Take top performers for lunch on a monthly basis. You’ll not only know what’s on their minds, but you will most likely come away with valuable insights into the business.
  • Make your top performers mentors. Everyone can benefit from a mentor. These power employees know this value and seek out mentors for themselves. Their thoughtful communication style attracts teams around them. Stack power employees together, and you get phenomenal teams and powerful collaborators. They thrive on one another’s energy, provide high-level strategy and show boldness in trying new things. They are innovators and executors.
  • Conduct team behavioural assessments. These tools help identify the dynamics within a team. Not all top performers are ‘drivers’; some are ‘influencers’, and others are combinations of both.

Questions to ask your executive management team and line managers:

  • What messages from our team are we not listening to or not confronting?
  • If there were two things to change in our current style of management or corporate mandates that could greatly affect employees’ motivation and job satisfaction, what would they be?
photo credit: ChrisM70

Making Flexible Scheduling Work

I’m writing this blog post from home today. There are a lot of aspects of my job that does not require me to be in the office. Like many employees these days, a certain amount of my work can be done online.  Although I like the flexibility my employer provides by allowing me to work from home occasionally, I do prefer to be at the office. There is that interaction with my co-workers, bouncing off ideas, and overall atmosphere and energy of what McNak is all about.

If I wasn’t at the office on a regular basis, I wouldn’t get a feel of our company’s corporate culture. However, after working at McNak for nine years, I have a pretty good idea…so working from home every now and then certainly doesn’t hurt. Working from home does not work for all professions.  I believe that I wouldn’t be an effective salesperson if I worked from home, but I’m not in sales.

The truth is, I get a lot more work done when I work remotely. No distractions. If I meet my deadlines and produce results, then I know I’m on the right track, and the flexible schedule works for both me and the company.

Companies that have open communication about a flexible schedule policy can have a successful and engaged workforce. Just keep in mind that expectations must be clear. Does your company have a policy set in place for employees who work from home?

photo: workspaces.tumblr.com

Hiring right, the first time.

People responsible for hiring often find themselves hiring in a panic. A vacancy occurs, a job description and employment ad are hastily pulled together and the HR department starts recruiting.

Unfortunately, they have missed the point. It is not just about filling the void with a qualified individual; it is about determining exactly what your company needs to be great and finding someone who will go above and beyond that. A great employee is as much about fit as it is about skill.

True, companies will usually spend more time finding the right person for senior vacancies, but the same level of attention needs to be used for all positions, from entry level and administrative to marketing and customer service.

“Finding someone who fits your corporate culture is, in some ways, more important than finding someone with the right skill set.”
~ Sarah McNeill

It’s in the best interests of every company to hire the greatest person for the position; the flip side is the tremendous cost of hiring the wrong person. There are the obvious costs of re-advertising and re-interviewing, but that isn’t all.

You’ve invested time in orientation and training for the new employee, not to mention the time spent recruiting. If you have to let that person go, that time and money have just walked out the door. Making the wrong hiring decision affects everyone in the company; it reduces productivity, and causes internal turmoil.

If you hire the right people, they can hit the ground running. Bringing them on is virtually seamless. Not only do they take less time to train, but they bring passion for their new job.