I recently spoke with an investment group individual about some of their recent acquisitions. They invested in a survey of the employees of the new companies. Theoretically, they could then see the areas in which they were weak, attend to those and voila, emerges a new company ready to increase profits and generally just be stellar.
However, he said, they consistently rate low in culture and communication issues, but are miffed as to what to do about it. It’s akin to someone saying you don’t have style. What do you do about that? Soft skills feel a lot more intangible and are more challenging to address than say, logistics or sales. Yet we now realize that they influence the bottom line of the organization as much as hard skills.
First of all, the human element is beginning to get the attention and value it deserves. There are a whole lot more options in the world now that we are all united through the world wide web. That competition has rapidly changed the way people do business, and one of the few things that differentiate the desire to choose one business over another is relationships with the people there.
Secondly, whether it is a shift in consciousness, which I would like to believe, or just natural evolution, people of all genders and races are expecting to be treated with equal respect, be that owner vs. employee or manager vs. production line worker. This shifts the way businesses are run too. Everyone believes they have a right to happiness.
Thirdly, the world is getting smaller. One investment group can own multiple companies all over the world, merging them because of their inherent resources, not because of geography. What this means is the culture of each of those companies is not likely to simply change because it’s done differently in the corporate office. Culture is ingrained, it is embedded and many people identify so strongly with their culture that they would choose that over the job.
There are many more reasons, but these are some of the main reasons they are suddenly in our faces.
So now, what can be done about these issues?
It really boils down to a shift in perception more than implementing rules or procedures. That shift has a lot to do with those exact reasons culture and communication are becoming issues. People are demanding to be treated equally, with humanity and presently there are enough other options to choose from that people can demand that. Let’s see: would I rather work from home, make my own hours doing something I love like writing e-novels for romance readers or work for some tyrant in degrading conditions and unpleasant hours?
Many people trash the values and work ethics of the Millennials, but I think they bring a whole new way of looking at how we spend our valuable life-giving energy day after endless day. Why wouldn’t you rather blog than work in a factory? Why wouldn’t you want to go home at 2pm instead of 6pm? You get my point.
What are some of the perception shifts that might help in addressing communication and culture issues?
1) Everyone is a unique, creative potential, no matter what their external package looks like. Inspire and enhance that potential and your company will profit.
2) Everyone has a different way of communicating and now that we all want a voice, to learn those different methods falls upon the managers and leaders. Understand, accept and appreciate others in their language and your company will profit.
3) All cultures have something to offer. Consider blending as opposed to codifying, allowing as opposed to restricting and your company will profit.
4) Do not underestimate anyone. As Lincoln said, “Expect the worst in someone and they will rarely disappoint.” Encourage and challenge, expect the best in others and your company will profit.