Business culture – why CEOs lie about it
I have recognized that there are three elements to a culture: behaviors, systems, and practices, all guided by an overarching set of values. A great culture is what you get when all three of these are aligned, and line up with the organization’s espoused values. When gaps start to appear, that’s when you start to see problems — and see great employees leave.
Thus argues Melissa Daimler in response to her question in the Harvard Business Review as to why great employees leave “great cultures .
All of us have stories of organisations who talk about delivering something, but end up demanding the very opposite in practice from their employees. I recall one factory in Jerusalem, where the CEO really tried to be in touch with all the workers, yet one shop floor staff member was regularly required to turn out 33% overtime…despite a muscular problem with his hand. Or how about a large public charity, where one of the back office team feels obliged to work until 11.00pm on a frequent basis. Seemingly, no real appreciation is extended.
To summarise Daimler’s argument: So many CEOs preach a set of values and practices, which are just not matched by their own behavior. It is easy to ask why they act in this abhorrent manner. It is relatively simple to throw out a few obvious suggestions. However, in my experience as a business mentor, most of the guilty CEOs are simply oblivious of the dilemma, and which they have created
I was told of one senior employee, who left a multinational after years of devoted service. Their influence had been felt outside their own immediate territory. They were known to the top team, a team that insists on liaising with such employees before they depart the premises for the last time.
And yet, not a word was said, not even a brief email to say “thank you”. This silent message – call it the cold shoulder treatment or showing your back – does eventually reach others.
So what? There is a reason for creating a corporate culture. It drives motivation, which in turn drives sales.
So many CEOs are the very enemy of what they are striving for. From my anecdotal evidence, they have one thing in common. They are surround by ‘yes people’. And maybe that is why they do not realise the need to say ‘thank you’.