“The way to get faster, more productive, and more competitive is to unleash the energy and intelligence and raw, ornery, self-confidence of the American worker, who is still by far the most productive and innovative in the world.” Jack Welch from the GE Way.
Corporate Culture: The mood, atmosphere, and attitude of an organization. Culture has an effect on everything that occurs within your company. It is the story you act out for your customers and employees each day.
What Corporate Culture Means for the Industry Member
Culture Principle 1: Teams have personalities and attitudes just like people. The team’s attitude shows up in how we chose to handle our work.
Culture Principle 2: Cultures that are managed never get better, they only get worse.
As a member of the accounting team, you help to create the culture of your team. Take this self-test:
- How much impact does each coworker feel he/she has on the team’s direction?
- How well does your team learn and how does it deal with new information?
- How do your coworkers identify themselves within the larger organization?
Employee Power Test (question 1)
In the best accounting teams, every member knows that every decision he/she makes affects a customer. Members recognize that if they provide good service to their customers then the Ultimate Customer will be taken care of.
In a customer-oriented culture, every employee knows she/he has the “power” in each decision and action to help the customer, the firm, and themselves. Having this internal power means three things: 1) team leaders form a culture of empowerment; 2) accounting team members are consistently nurtured to be self-activated; 3) people who do not accept the challenge and joy that comes with being “empowered” are encouraged to go work for another organization. Your hiring and evaluation processes must reel in people who love to take responsibility for their actions and decisions.
Learning is Valued Test (question 2)
The hallmark of all customer-oriented teams is that they know they don’t have all the answers. Satisfying a customer is like trying to hit the side of a bullet train. What wowed them today becomes the minimum expectation tomorrow. Learning also requires seeking out feedback from our customers.
Team members must continually improve their process and systems. Adopt the motto: “If it isn’t broken, it soon will be.” In today’s environment everything that works today, won’t tomorrow.
Encourage employees to offer their ideas and test new work skills. Recognize them for using innovation in their work. Reward them for taking risks and implementing new methods of satisfying their customer. When mistakes and failures occur (and they will), never penalize but instead help them learn from the experience so it won’t be repeated. Learning to make mistakes with grace builds the confidence to take greater risks.
Blow Up the Silo Test (question 3)
When employees identify themselves as only working for one department, silos form. Where silos exist, what follows are battles and games for power, resources, and respect. None of these unproductive activities benefit your customer.
You must consistently remind team members about the larger organization they work for. How? 1) Tell “corporate stories;” 2) Hold open team meetings; 3) Use cross-functional teams; 4) Rotate duties and responsibilities. All these ensure that employees never get the chance to build silos. You “blow up” silos by proactively preventing them.
A customer-oriented culture is one where the employee recognizes that the actions he takes and the decisions she makes impacts other employees and eventually the Ultimate Customer. We learn how to foster success through the lore of sharing success stories.
Ensure that every employee’s performance evaluation includes a criterion for the amount of time that he/she spends teaming with departments outside of accounting.
The Bottom Line – Satisfied Customers and Higher Profits
Your profitability will soar as a result of your efforts to develop and enhance a customer-focused culture where employees are self-activated, where they embrace new ideas and adopt new processes, and where they see themselves as integral parts of the whole.
An informed employee makes wise and profitable decisions. A smart employee is a valuable employee. And a valuable employee is an asset to your team!