Is there a Great Divide in Your Firm’s Culture?
In December last year I attended a conference in San Diego on succession planning. The week long program was most interesting and beneficial, again reinforcing the significant need for this type of planning and preparation. This will be a further area of development in our firm over the months to come.

I arrived in the US on the first day of December. As a visitor you couldn’t help but notice the Christmas decorations, the Christmas lighting on all the trees, the carols constantly being played in hotels, shops, restaurants and the funny get ups that locals are wearing. As is generally the case in the US, everything is on such a larger scale than what we see and experience here in Australia. The mum shopping in the Mrs Claus Santa suit, people walking and driving around with Santa hats on, the ridiculously bad Christmas shirts and jumpers. Generally speaking, I had always thought that Australia and the US were culturally quite similar; clearly this is one aspect where we differ greatly. Culturally, I just don’t see our population acting the same way; yes we celebrate, but not to the same extent.

However, an interesting statistic that came out of the conference was that something like 73% of employees were completely disengaged with the businesses they work for and in. Wow, almost 3 out of 4 employees are not attune at all with their employers. It would be very interesting to see what Australia’s stats were like on this topic. Do we run at similar levels? I would certainly hope not.

Now, there is more and more evidence highlighting the benefits a business can gain from achieving employer/employee alignment in culture and values. It can make for a far more harmonious workplace and enable some terrific results to be achieved by the business in having engagement with its employees. An engaged employee will be more creative, productive, responsible and show more initiative. Google and Microsoft are excellent examples of showing that the size of a business is no barrier. However, the converse is also true, in that where many of these aspects are lacking in a business, day to day engagement and culture is often problematic, if not, dysfunctional.

So as we ponder this concept, look around your firm. How does your firm fare? Is cultural alignment and employee engagement positive or is this a major issue for you? I don’t doubt most firms have at least one staff member who just doesn’t really fit in. Would you go so far as to say they were culturally wrong for the firm? Perhaps. Are they engaged in your firm’s vision, values, goals and objectives?

We have all had a staff member who didn’t or doesn’t quite fit in, the one in the terrible jumper that stands out a mile, if you like. The trick is how to manage this person and the potential impact that they can have upon the ongoing operation of the firm, As most will attest, having that one who is determined to cause trouble and disrupt culture will continue to have a significant impact upon the firm until they are finally stopped from doing so. We can only avoid addressing such issues for so long, perhaps the New Year represents a good opportunity to reassess and address such issues within your firm.

Remember, as many wise people have told me, hire on culture and train up the required skills.

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