Hello. Today I'd like to talk about pinpointing corporate culture. Here’s a major lesson I learned about #changemanagement: If a company’s culture is difficult to identify and characterize, the culture is going to be impossible to move.
Typical roadblocks are a lack of documented company history (often the case with newer companies that grew quickly), frequent changes to the vision-mission-goals (watch for CEO turnover), or functional groups behaving more like factions than allies. I’ve found that researching and highlighting stories about the company’s origins and history can build a solid, trustworthy identity. In my opinion, it's a necessary foundation before I’d begin to introduce the strategic changes needed to move forward.
Looking for a job? You’re already assessing a company’s culture during your interviews for an #employeecommunications position. Take notes! This is your only opportunity to see the company’s culture with fresh eyes. Of course you’re doing the usual job-seeker research, but you can also analyze the company’s character. Is it clearly perceptible? What are your impressions, and are they being conveyed similarly by multiple interviewers? All of the messages you receive during the hiring process can be useful to you, not only as to whether the job's a good fit, but also as the beginning of your ongoing communications research if you join the company.
During interviews in the past, I wish I'd paid more attention to the communication team’s tools and what they say about the job. I once worked for a giant multinational that had no database of all employees’ physical or email addresses, negating effective “push” communications. Another big question: is there a flagship publication? (I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that sometimes “push” print pieces are a wonderful addition to the online “pull” emails and links. Print pieces last, and you can place them in your lobbies. They can be meaningful keepsakes. Employees can take them home, where their families can read them, too. Maybe I'm dreaming, but could an online magazine be supplemented with a print version, if only once a year?)
In what countries does the company operate? Do onsite managers have input on translations and cultural sensitivity? As to content, what strategic campaigns are currently in place? How is the style--is it boring? In my experience, the most engaging internal stories aren’t about products or services. They’re about the employees who make the products, solve the problems, deliver the services.
Once you’re hired, make note of how new employees are welcomed. Is it smoothly done, or chaotic? What does orientation (if any) look like? All of the elements that make up an employee’s experience with the company communicate something, be it good, bad, or indifferent—and the experience drives employee satisfaction.
Thank you for your time today, and have a great week.
Past travels with a trusty camera; current work on James E. Brewton Foundation research and memoir
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