For decades I have accompanied as a management consultant both managers and the organizations they lead, and again and again I am thrilled to find out that organizations look just like the management at the top!It makes me always, on the one hand, deeply appreciate our customers – the managers – and on the other hand, it reminds me how important it is for the benefit of all stakeholders – that managers do their job effectively – since they make a living out of the work of others who depend on them including their families.
For a long time, the state of the art in management thinking has been that the prevailing management culture over the last century is no longer effective.Culture consists of beliefs, values and norms of behavior derived from them.In a world, where the pace of change is growing every day all around us – especially because of ICT technologies that transformed the world beyond recognition in all areas of life – reducing the gap between what is happening and our ability to adapt ourselves to what is happening – is the critical path to success – both in personal lives and the lives oforganizations.
Here is a fresh example.In one of our client companies there emerged an urgent need to adapt and cut costs following a drop in the level of sales.The decision was not to lay off workers but to ask them to give up a certain percentage of their income and a certain percentage from their vacation.The organization is agile – quick and flexible – responding quickly to changes in the external environment and such a request is not new there.Over the years there had already been two crises the organization faced and successfully coped with by appealing to the employees to participate in the effort.In conversations I just had with the managers who implement the process now I heard, that employees ask that we assure them, that there would not be a fourth time in the future, in which they will be required to contribute from their wages to the organization.Of course, this cannot be guaranteed! We live in a world so turbulant and unpredictable that all you can promise employees is fairness.In good times – sharing the profit and in bad timed participating in the cut.It is necessary to explain to employees, why one can no longer promise anything beyond that.It’s the manager’s first task – to explain to them what happens and why the company turns to them for help.
This is a good example in my humble opinion for the topic of this issue of the Status magazine on organizational culture.Everything depends on the manager.The manager’s role is to help employees get rid of obsolete beliefs – in our example – the belief that you can ensure success in the future, but make sure to maintain the healthy organization’s core value – fairness, the link between the fate of the individual and fate of the organization in good times and bad times.From this value a norm of behavior can be derived – the organization will respond quickly to changing realities – cutting and expanding as needed – thus acting as a healthy family.
This requires managing organizations as families.This demands a warm and loving management culture: managers setting the example, a joint fate of managers and employees.Some organizations already do this – like this example I have told you about here – there are many which have still to adopt the beliefs, values and norms of healthy families – and everything depends on the parents – it is their responsibility.And likewise It is the responsibility of managers to help employees understand the new reality, to learn to live with uncertainty, learn to accept with understanding both bonuses and cuts, learn to appreciate that the fair enterprise is home both in good times and in difficult times.This kind of leadership, organizations need at this time and only managers who are leaders – those who pass on such a culture – its beliefs, values and norms of behavior – only those will succeed.
Organizational culture, based on faith what does not work (bureaucracy) and what does work (agility) the central value derived from it (fairness) and norms of behavior that stem from this value (wealth and savings as conditions change) – this is the corporate culture necessary at this time.It is a culture that builds robust organizations, which last over time for the benefit of both owners and employees, surviving in periods of recession and thriving in times of prosperity.