All of these new people are killing our company culture!
By Jason Kayzar, VP Sales & Service, Power Test
Your company is growing, revenues are through the roof and there never seems to be enough time in the day. Everything should smell like roses, but instead it smells like… well, not roses. What the heck happened?
You used to love coming to work. Grabbing coffee with co-workers, getting down to business and leaving at the end of the day feeling energized and excited for tomorrow. Then you got the big Jones order. Then the Smith order. HR ramped up the hiring process. New faces every week, and chaos ensued. No one seems to “get it” anymore. You get to work and there’s no coffee left. Worse yet, people meet you at the door to tell you about the first disaster of the morning, and your day goes downhill from there. You’ve been at ABC Company for 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, and it was NEVER like this before!
Welcome to prosperity. Growth brings challenges, and you’re in the eye of the hurricane. How did it come to this, and how can you/we go back to the “good old days”? Here are a few pointers to help you manage the inevitable shift in culture that comes with rapid change:
- Like wine, the “good old days” tend to get better with age. Remember back in 2013 when your company laid off 20 people? Remember the old company President in the 90’s who left a wake of angry people wherever he went? Of course you don’t. Time tends to soften the edges, and we forget that there have always had challenges. Put things in perspective. Find the good in every day.
- Are you (the company) hiring with the same standards that you used when things were slow? Are the new hires good fits long-term, or are they Mr./Mrs. Right Now? Are you involving long-term employees in the hiring process to make sure that the department sees the new hire as a cohesive teammate, or are you sending the new people to the wolves every week?
- Are your company values clear? Are they measurably demonstrated every day? Whether people are sprinting or coasting, values cannot change without having a major effect on culture. Shortcuts can quickly become the norm and erode decades of productivity and employee trust. When hiring new employees it is critical to spend time on company values upfront. What’s really important at ABC Company? It’s tough to blame the new people for violating standards that they are oblivious to.
- Remember “Fun Fridays”? That was when you’d all go out to Jimmy’s Tap after work and have a drink together and talk about your work week, or your kid’s baseball team or whatever. Once things got busy, Fun Fridays went away. Traditions make us who we are. When we choose to bypass them, we lose our identity. We become no different than our competitor: XYZ Company. XYZ Company pays $.50 an hour more, so good luck keeping good your good people. By the way, I hear XYZ is doing this new thing called “Fun Fridays”.
- Recognize employees. You might be the CEO, you might be the receptionist. It makes no difference. People are people. They appreciate recognition. Catch co-workers doing good things:
- “Hey Joe, nice work on the Thompson sale!”
- “Hey Sally, thanks for all your efforts on the employee picnic. That food was amazing!”
- “Hey Sue, I really appreciate the gamble you took on the new line. I know it’s tough today, but we’ve all been talking and we know it’s going to pay huge dividends next year!”
- Email is soul-sucking. The volume of emails that you send and receive goes up by a multiple of 645.7% when you get busy. Or maybe it’s 654.7%. I don’t remember. It’s in an email somewhere. Soon, you have an unmanageable inbox of letters and numbers that mean nothing, and you spend your day all alone, hunched over a warm screen. Blink! Get up! Walk around! Talk to people. Talk to people you don’t normally talk to. Talk to people you don’t ever talk to. Do you know who the new marketing intern is? Why not? Do you realize that he or she may have the most valuable insight into the issues your company is facing today?
Keep in mind, there’s no magic bullet, and these reminders are not a time-tested recipe for success, but they sure can help. The one take-away I would ask you to focus on is that people matter. People, the same new people that are causing your heartburn, are the key to your future success. Do me a favor: close your computer, un-hunch your shoulders and take the new guy to lunch. Talk to him. Listen. You’ll thank me.