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Tuesday, February 19 , 2019, 9:30 am | Fair 52º


Have You Encountered Culture Shock in Your Company?

Gee! I didn’t know … Beware the unspoken and inconsistent policies that demoralize you.

Ever just want to bop yourself on the head at discovering what you should have known before?

Wondered how you missed a point and are now paying the price for it?

When do you raise the questions — fourth or fifth interview?

Eric Canton
The chairman and CEO of a company I know once told me that he expects his sales people to look after their customers. “It’s my job to look after the company,” he said. Thus are born policies and cultures that affect our work experiences — both the limits and the opportunities.

Another company founder once told me his job was to preserve and enhance the company’s assets. His view is shared by most leaders, regardless of industry. After all, if the organization is to function and prosper from the efforts of its people, it must show the greatest possible return on investment.

So why do I make these points in the context of “Gee! I didn’t know…”?

It may surprise you to learn that organizations where you hope to work may not have all the policies in place that they should have. Smaller organizations may be more seat-of-the-pants than is legally correct. Large organizations may be insensitive to employee needs regardless of how a small gesture can sometimes go a long way.

Often those exceptions to pretty tightly defined rules are part of the culture of these organizations. So culture matters. The role of the human resources department at the leadership table instead of in the back room matters. When someone says, “People are our greatest asset!” you better verify that if it is one of your real priorities.

A way to look at finding out what you didn’t know going in is to prepare a series of questions that will help you know the culture you’re entering. If possible, read the organization’s policies and procedures manual. Ask about the way management has handled unusual and extenuating circumstances.

Put the company’s hat on for a minute to see how organized and detailed the team is in its preparation for hiring someone. Rick Johnson, Ph.D. and owner of CEO Strategist LLC, asks clients for whom he consults on the subject if they have a human resources strategy. He believes that just such a strategy is the key to becoming an Employer of Choice.

Far from the Baby Boomers, the Generation Nexters look to a culture that respects them going in, works for a mutually beneficial environment of growth and stimulation, and expect the company to work as hard as they are willing to work to stay forward-thinking and energized. If not, these younger workers just move on.

My point here is that by wearing the prospective employer’s hat, you can do your best to understand its human resources planning process as Johnson spells it out:

1. Clearly define the HR role in the strategic business plan. Set specific objectives, assign accountability and develop time lines for becoming the employer of choice.

2. Follow the planning-process map:

• Develop performance drivers

• Develop recruitment and retention strategies

• Create a scorecard

• Define policies and practices

• Career counseling

• Coaching and mentoring

• Internship program

• Education and training

• Creative employee support (day care, job sharing, etc.)

You’re in for a much happier situation where rules are respectfully defined and you can be comfortable getting answers to every element of the process map, including the sensitivity to the unforeseen along the way. Open eyes and open ears will be a sign that you are committed to doing great work, but you’re not one to be taken for granted.

You will know, not wish you had known, and the fun, and, yes, the passion you feel will be greater by far. You and your new employer will build a relationship that will endure longer and be vastly more rewarding because of the professional relationship going in and the personal and sensitive relationship that will sustain you both.

Eric Canton is president of Career BreakThrough! Inc. Click here to contact him.

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