“People are our greatest asset” is a blanket statement that has been the mantra for so many years that we have come to accept it and even believe it. True, people are a great asset for an organization, however, it really should be said: “The right people are our greatest asset.”
The “right” people must possess the right skills to do the right job. More importantly, they must possess the right attitude. It is the attitude that makes people the right people. Skilled people with the wrong attitude will be the wrong people. Look around your organization to see who has technical skills yet does not quite fit in. You will find that it is the attitude that makes the difference.
The wrong people will hurt the organization, sometimes in minor ways, yet they will still cause damage. They may be a demotivating factor, a stressful drain on the energies of others, or a negative influence that tends to reduce the oxygen in the room. Worse, they can affect customers’ perceptions of the organization and negatively influence external relationships.
The above describes the effects of the wrong people in an organization. So what does it mean to be the right people? The right people fit well into the culture of the organization. The key is to create a well-understood and accepted organizational culture. Although the different departments of a larger organization may have separate and distinct cultures of their own, it is important to have an overall corporate culture that is well-defined and understood. The departmental culture must not clash with the organizational culture.
Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” In other words, all the strategy in the world will fail if the organization has a flawed culture. Some of the elements contained in the culture are vision, values, norms, systems, beliefs, patterns of collective behaviors, assumptions, etc. In short, culture is how members of an organization think, behave and feel about the organization, each other, and clients. It is a way of life within the organization. The corporate culture must be carefully created around the value system and the mission and vision of the organization.
So how do we ensure that our people are in tune with our organizational culture? First, make sure that the culture really is well-defined and understood. Second, make sure that all the people in the organization have a sense of ownership of the culture through continuous training and education. Only when all people are “on board” the culture, will the organization run smoothly (assuming good practices in the other aspects of conducting successful business).
When hiring, leadership and management must be sure that prospective employees possess an attitude that will fit the defined corporate culture. Since attitude is a choice, we must make sure that the people are of the appropriate mentality to make the desired choice. We normally hire for skills, I’m suggesting we hire for attitude and train for skills. Attitude goes a long way toward success.
It is a courageous supervisor that will admit to making a bad hiring choice, especially if the issue is attitude, not technical competence. Yet the people with the wrong “culture attitude” cause the most damage. We just say that there are personality conflicts, accept the damage, and move on. The right person will hit the ground running. The wrong person will not only fall but will also trip others on the way down.
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