Sunday, February 7, 2010

"Culture and values count too much." - Jack Welch

Why did Jack Welch, a man who was once called, "Neutron Jack," worry about the culture and values of GE? Why did he spend the entire first half of, Jack: Straight from the Gut, discussing how he had to create a philosophy of excellence based on transparency and by asking challenging questions?  It's simple, the culture of your organization reflects your beliefs. If you believe in challenging people and encouraging them to be their best, you company will reflect that.  If you believe in command-and-control, bullying people into submission, your company will reflect that as well. So the question is, How do you change you in order to manage your business? 

Welch outlined key ideas that  he implemented at GE in order to make it a success during is 20+ year reign as CEO. A few of the key components included, quality training at all levels of the company, encouraging open dialogue between labor and management and constantly questioning and improving upon their core values. 

The first time a new employee learns about your company is at the interview.  The interview has to allow the potential employee to get a long-term view of the company and their role within it.  The interview has to relay the goals and core values of the company.  After the contracts are signed, the company has an obligation to nurture their new hires and indoctrinate them with your organizations core values and beliefs.

Think about it, What catch phrases? Tracking sheets? Routines and procedures have you implemented to ensure that every employee is invested in the success of the community?  Welch did this by creating evaluation systems that reinforced their common goals.  For example, when the company embraced globalization as a mission and some members of the GE team were resistant, regardless as to their performance on the balancesheet, they were fired due to their inability to find ways to think globally. This sounds harsh, but when you turn a blind eye to a key component of your mission, the others will see it and then standards begin to slide. 

A similar thing happened to Nick Sarillo, owner of Nick's Pizza & Pub.  In Inc. Magazines, February 1st issue, Bo Burlingham makes a slight incision into the core values of Nick's Pizza & Pub.  Sarillo hired a General Manager that was a friend, but bullied the staff and didn't follow the systems that were already in place.  He started to notice that the numbers didn't gel, the staff was unhappy, and the core values that he espoused weren't being honored. Sarillo's decision wasn't easy, but it had to be done. He had to remove the bad tomato.  In order to reinforce his core values, he had to hold steady to his standards.

Maintaining a culture of trust, hard-work mixed with high standards is an ongoing process. There has to be buy-in on all levels.  Learning how to express your vision and maintain a company culture begins with you.

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