Thursday, February 14, 2013

Workplace Culture

Office Space
Arguably one of the most important facets to brand/business building is developing a consistent and noticeable workplace culture.

I came across this article about how to build a "culture of excellence." Let me tell you, it's absolute crap for the most part. Let me explain why.

Okay, as far as the first point, I agree it's important to consider customers. Surveys are cool and all, but studying analytics in general is useful, and you don't need to pay for it. Just set up Google Analytics. Seriously. Also, use social media. Customers these days are happy when their concerns are addressed via social media channels. They don't have the patience to listed to an automated recording and push buttons on the phone for ten minutes. They expect to be treated with respect and like a human being. The emphasis these days is on relationship building, not treating consumers like mindless automatons. We've all heard the story of the hammer-wielding grandma who taught a lesson to Comcast.

On to the next point...."create high quality workers." Um, I don't know that you can create such workers. You hire them. Ever read Good to Great? The right people will be motivated and determined to do great work. This point should instead be - get rid of low-quality workers and hire high quality people and with a little work a great culture should develop.

Point 3 - ok, setting new goals is good. But you can't just randomly set higher goals and automatically expect employees and going to work hard. The goal should be encouraging quality over efficiency and working with employees to figure out what goals to set.

Lastly....uh, really? Some of the most "excellent" workplaces with great cultures don't have "sophisticated" interior design. Look at successful creative agencies. Lots have pool tables, lots of color, basketball hoops, you name it. If you want a hierarchical and stereotypical corporate culture, sophistication and stuffiness may be good. But a more serious dress code is not going to equal excellence for some places. In fact, a lot of employees are comfortable in their "free dress" (the comments on this post are really great).

My suggestions? Make sure the right people are hired, make sure they know the culture and identify with company values, and think critically about what type of culture you want and how to create it.