Last week I talked about hiring diversity and how people have a tendency to turn their organizations into the equivalent of a high school clique where
everybody in the company is a jock, or fashionista, or one of those kids who hangs out on the hill, smoking.
Employers don’t do it on purpose, it’s just that the most of us don’t know how to create a culture. We mostly know how tap into one by finding people who like what we like and think how we think. Unfortunately, that doesn’t build a company with a specific culture. It builds a cyborg. Culture, in the organizational sense, is built on completely different things that allow for a lot of diversity.
Culture is how people in the organization treat each other and the organization’s mission. If you’re in a nonprofit and your focus is helping homeless women get on their feet, it’s fine to want all your employees to be passionate about that. But they don’t also have to be passionate about indie girl bands. Culture can also be something you all agree to, like operating a zero waste company or the idea that everybody gets to bring his or her dog to work. Even the dog thing can be tricky, excluding people from employment who are allergic. Culture is inclusive. If you’re hiring a diverse group of people to get the most well-rounded, strongest company, you maybe can’t have your organization’s retreat be paint-ball, because not everyone is physically able to participate.
Most importantly though, culture is about core values. How transparent is the company? Do managers have an open door policy? How do you handle conflict? Are people expected to listen respectfully to one another and consider many options? In other words, does your organization subscribe to the idea of “Yes, and….” building on one another’s ideas rather than tearing them down? What’s expected in terms of teamwork and supporting other members of the organization? And if you have a clear set of values that covers all this, do you reward people for demonstrating them? As I mentioned in another blog about culture, if you don’t reward employees for things like teamwork and supporting diversity, you can’t really say they’re part of your culture.
One central issue is, how has your company defined what what makes a great employee? In my experience, a great employee is a lifelong learner. But that doesn’t mean you’re all learning mahjong. One person might be learning to ski, another to speak Chinese and another piano. The point is, they’re curious and motivated. A great employee works enthusiastically, with a good attitude and pitches in when the mission requires it, even on tasks that aren’t normally his or hers. A good employee can admit what he or she doesn’t know. And can making a mistake rather than blaming someone else. These attributes don’t have an age, a race, a socioeconomic or educational background.
Hiring a diverse group of people is the best way to bring fresh ideas and a balanced perspective to your company. And creating a culture and set of core values that aren’t based on age, race, gender, etc. is the only way to build a company on a solid foundation that can grow, no matter where you expand. Happy, functioning companies are built by happy, functioning employees. And if you’re not sure how to manifest that in your organization, we can help.
We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business. Contact me at Caroline@valentinehr.com or call (512) 420-8267.