segunda-feira, 16 de agosto de 2010

How do we reform a bad culture?

Inc. Magazine June issue writes us how to deal with toxic organizations. Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford’s graduate business school, tells us about energy. «How do you know the people at United Airlines are unhappy? They don’t smile. How do you know they’re having fun at Southwest? They smile.» As a mather of fact, you can feel at first glance if you are in a toxic environment or not. People facial expressions, furniture, decoration, that are all atmosphere signals.

But how can we reform a bad culture? From my experience, if you don’t have the support of your chairman or CEO, forget. It will be a huge and bad fight. On the other hand, as professor Pfeffer tells, if you want to change, «Decide why you want to reform (…) Companies with loyal customers outperform their competitors. And loyal customers come from having loyal employees, who want to provide a high level of service and creativity».

It’s easy to understand the idea, but what happens in most of situations? All the efforts are worthless if the organization structure is based on status quo and power games. On contrary, of course it is possible to change. First of all you have to tell people that something is going to change in that right moment. Then, take note, you must give example… By action. You have to make changes, starting from you. You have to take charge and be responsible. It’s a hard task. You are going to find cynical staff to undermine your intentions.

According to Pfeffer, there are some effective practices:

«1) Let people make decisions. 2) Share economic results with employees, through profit sharing or gains sharing. 3) Share information. Secrecy breeds fear. It also signals to people that you don’t trust them or think they are competent to use the information. Give people data 4) Invest in people. Spending money on training is a great way to say “you are important to me”»

You will see, by the end of some days your staff will be like the Marine Corps.