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Sierra Leone Business: The Executive CIO Part 1- The lifeblood of your Business is Culture

Considering the numerous formal definitions of culture, it can be summarized as the collective beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, practices, and assumptions of a group of people working towards a common goal. In the context of a business environment these beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, practices and assumptions form the atmosphere into which the business is immersed. It can be seen or observed through the social interaction and engagement of employees at all levels, the conduct and examples of organizational leaders, the shared beliefs seen among equals, superiors, and subordinates.
A healthy, high performing and self-sustaining Culture is the most important asset and legacy of any effective business leader seconded to the business strategy. Unfortunately, many business leaders are still struggling to accept this fact either because they have little or no knowledge about the concept of organizational culture or they dodge the challenge that involves in aligning the business strategy and the culture. The key priority of most organizational leaders is building and maintaining excellent business strategies forgetting that the objectives in those strategies can only be successfully achieved through the collective efforts of their employees. Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zippos once said that getting your business culture right is the first step of getting everything else right including enviable customer service, excellent, effective and efficient operations and high productivity. Tony’s view was a match to what the former IBM Chairman Lou Gerstner said “Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game-it is the game. In the end, an organization is no more than the collective capacity of its people to create value”. Yes, granted strategy is important but at the end, the strategy that the organizational leaders strive hard to promote and spend colossal amount of money to develop will be implemented by employees and if these employees are not happy and innovative enough in the execution of their duties and interaction with customers this fancy strategy will end up being shredded and throwing in the dustbin. Your employees matters most because they are the value creators.
Two obvious questions will be worth asking and answering here. Firstly, how does a healthy, high-performing and self-sustaining culture looks like and what are its characteristics? And secondly, how do you build such a culture. The second question will be addressed in Part 2 of this article.
Have you ever asked a question, and your subordinates steer at you as if they do not understand your language? Or have you ever assigned a task to a subordinate and later found that the employee did not understand the assignment but never said anything? Or have you been in a situation where your employees will have to ask you for direction or wait for you to be present in everything they want to do? The aforementioned situations are some of the symptoms of a sick business culture. In an organization where the culture is unhealthy, employees are not encouraged to take reasonable risks thereby limiting the creativity and exploration of new ideas which in turn lower employees’ motivation and productivity.
Healthy cultures stem from an arrangement where values, strategy, and leadership are tightly fitted together and given the highest priority along with a clear vision which has been fully and adequately communicated to employees at all levels. Imagine a workplace where employees are recruited for the culture, encouraged to have fun while supporting each other. Employees are energized and motivated to give their best through their creative thinking and innovation; experimentation is encouraged, and mistakes are expected from subordinates while superiors assume responsibility. These behaviours, norms, values, and assumptions are held at high priority by senior management and are fully considered in decision-making such an organization is said to have a healthy culture. A healthy culture is observed when employees have the flexibility to question and critically criticize existing status quo, rethink work processes and create new ways of accomplishing tasks, challenge stereotype processes and procedures to produce more effective and efficient outcomes.
Additionally, individuals are rewarded and celebrated for upholding and demonstrating consistent actions that promote and drive the desired behaviours.
Therefore, as a business leader if your interest is in results, begin by making deliberate efforts to make your employee happy through your commitment to building a healthy, high-performing and self-sustaining culture to drive your desired behaviours
By Jesse A. Kamara (email:
btlens2017@gmail.com or +23278841546)
Monday October 30, 2017.

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