Great idea? Focused market? Good financial backing? Skilled employees? You’ve got it all, right? Maybe not. None of that matters one whit unless everybody holds the same core values. The numbers don’t lie – culture is the number one priority if you want to go the distance.
65% of all mergers fail and the #1 reason is because their culture’s clashed. Forget the merger – I believe even a higher percentage of small and local businesses fail because of this issue, without ever getting much past the first employee stage. We almost never pay attention to the things that matter. Why would culture be any different?
We at the Crankset Group always look at culture fit long before we look at skills. And if someone is a clearly better culture fit, I’ll hire them instead of the much more highly skilled person. It’s a no brainer. But most of us still go right to the resume’ (what I call “the tombstone”) to find out all the great things somebody did in their past lives, and never ask, “Will we want to be together 9+ hours a day for years to come?”
The Industrial Age left us with a terrible cultural legacy some have labeled the “allies” model of company culture. It was supposed to be the most evolved, but it doesn’t work.
Here’s six views of “employees” that are common in local (and giant) businesses. See which one is yours:
1. Employee as enemy – all processes are set up to box them in and treat them like prisoners/numbers. Inmates, I mean employees, are to be mistrusted on the way in.
2. Hired hand – a necessary evil; we give away tasks to them reluctantly, even though nobody can do it as well as me. We never want them to think, just do tasks.
3. We are family – the parent/child approach – good luck with that! Do you really want more kids? Some business owners apparently do.
4. Friends – everyone is on a level plane. Everyone is in charge of everything, therefore, nobody is in charge of anything – “we’re all friends here, right?” Anything with two heads belongs in a circus. Where does something belong with no head?
5. Allies – The dominant Industrial Age culture. The focus is on the task. Like England, Russia, France, and the U.S. in World War II, we don’t have to like each other; we just need to focus on the task at hand. This is the worst and most advanced form of Industrial Age thinking. Most companies still live here. Let’s just hire for skills. Culture is woo-woo crap.
6. Business as COMMUNITY – The great companies are already doing this. They believe strongly in why they exist, what they are doing here and where they are going. And they don’t hire people who don’t want the same things. Committed Community is the basis for getting the task done in the new company.
Community has hierarchy – somebody is in charge. But it emphasizes collaboration and true “team” – using agreed upon methodologies to achieve an agreed upon goal. Community imputes trust and creates an environment where everyone is encouraged to take ownership and make a contribution. Community members play clearly defined roles as part of a team, not behind cube walls.
Hire for culture. You can teach anybody a skill, but if they don’t believe in what you do, it’s a short-term gain with long-term pain.
What’s your company culture? And by the way, if there is only one of you right now, that’s the best time to answer the question.
Who WE are is so much more important than who people want us to be. Who are you as a company?
by Chuck Blakeman, Author of the #1 Rated Business Book of the Year, Making Money is Killing Your Business