Livin' it Featured

12:05pm EDT March 11, 2004
I've seen it all too often. Companies -- often very large ones -- dictate and train one culture and live another.

For example, a valued employee at a very large company was asked to take a management training class. He was pleased to participate. However, he was soon astounded by what he was learning.

He was being taught how to communicate with, listen to and show appreciation of the employees that he would be managing. What surprised him was that this methodology had never been employed in his part of the company.

Quite the contrary. Supervisors and managers were encouraged to push employees to do more, to be tough, and if employees were unhappy, they were expendable. This employee felt the company's corporate culture began and ended in a training manual.

No matter how large or small a company is, it is very easy for those in charge to lose sight of the ideals and culture the company wants for its employees. When you preach one culture and live another, you are sending confusing messages to your employees and undermining trust and morale, even causing some people to look elsewhere for work.

With the costs of employee turnover and recruitment continuing to rise, the last thing a smart manager wants is to lose quality people. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your company doesn't fall prey to this potentially dangerous pitfall.

* Hire managers who share your management philosophies. As simple as this sounds, it can be easy to overlook this factor when you are considering so many other facets of a person's qualifications.

* Advertise your culture. Does every employee know the company's mission, goals and philosophy? Ask employees -- a different one each day in various positions throughout the company. If they cannot answer your questions, you need to do a better job of communicating your culture. Make sure your culture is reflected in all company materials, policies, procedures and training materials.

* Are your employees happy? Are they motivated? When you have an effective corporate culture that is communicated and lived, it shows in employee morale and turnover rates. And the old adage that a happy employee is more productive has never been truer.

So don't just talk the talk. Live your culture, and make sure everyone else is living it, too.