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Mi Casa Es Su Casa: Achieving Positive Corporate Culture

How to achieve positive corporate culture in a group company.

Greg Morris

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According to management consultant Peter Drucker: ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’. And there’s a good chance of this being true, especially since studies have shown a direct correlation between a strong, positive organisational culture and a business’s financial success.

The importance of culture

Prof JL Heskett writes in his 2011 book, The Culture Cycle, that a positive culture can make as much as a 20-30% difference in company performance, when compared with “culturally unremarkable” opponents.

Culture is also a form of protection – strong competitors may be able to copy a strategy, but can’t duplicate a culture. Indeed, when things go wrong in the economy, public opinion, or even the strategy itself, a company’s culture can serve as a safeguard against these, because employees are faithful to it.

But… while culture is a remarkable thing, it’s difficult to define and attain.

Related: A Culture Of Discipline Critical For SMMEs To Thrive

The definition of culture

Company culture is traditionally interpreted from a corporate perspective, to include the principles, opinions, basic assumptions, and mindsets that are shared by a group. But these don’t hold any value if they aren’t entrenched in a company’s processes. This is why culture is also about action.

A company can’t create an intelligible culture without people who a) agree with its core values or b) are prepared to commit the time needed to.

Further, those employees who succeed in a company are generally those who most closely associate with the culture. If the principles and ideals of an organisation are shared, a strong culture can even support recruitment through self-selection.

As a result, leaders should spend as much time determining, collaborating on, and communicating culture as they do on strategy.

Culture in a group company

With different and broad-ranging companies working together, the goal of building and sustaining culture in a holding company can be trickier than in other organisations.

In cases like this, it’s critical for every company in the group to hold onto its own distinct culture, in ways that fit the greater business.

Simultaneously, the parent company should create a culture for all of the holding companies to attach to. Because, without a uniting mechanism, real integration can be difficult to accomplish.

The problem is: which culture is the priority? The composition of a group company evolves as it acquires and sells different companies, so a root culture is necessary; one that current and new subsidiary cultures can buy into.

Related: The 7 Culture Pillars That Will Skyrocket Your Start-up To Success

Where to start

  1. Develop a set of principles, behaviours, and motivators for culture, and define what these mean practically.
  2. Write a positioning statement to share what the organisation stands for, both externally and internally. For example, Google’s is “organising the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful”.
  3. Generate a motto that summarises your culture. Google’s is: “Don’t be evil.” In other words: do positive things for the world, even if it means letting go of some short-term wins.
  4. Communicate these messages widely and repeat them continuously. (As obvious as this sounds, many group companies make the mistake of not communicating values to subsidiaries.)
  5. Invest time and resources into smoothing out the cultural differences every time a new company is acquired. This is important because an implosion of combined cultures can cost valuable talent, customers, or worse.
  6. Teach the culture. Not just through induction programmes for new employees, but through ongoing events, reminders, collaborations, and other ways that remind people what the culture looks and feels like.
  7. Share and ingrain the group’s root culture, as an element of unity.

The heart of the matter?

Peter Drucker highlights a potent triad in organisational transformation: Strategy, capabilities, and culture. He says that all three must be created together, aligned, and designed to be supportive of one another. This is more complex in group companies but, with strong communication and high levels of collaboration, a clear and productive culture is possible.

Greg Morris is the Chief Executive Officer of MICROmega Holdings Limited. Greg joined the group in 2000 and was appointed CEO in January 2011. Responsible for the day-to-day operations, management and corporate finance transactions of the Group, Greg holds a Bachelor of Accounting Honours Degree and is a qualified Chartered Accountant.

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Increasing Productivity

How To Build Organisational Wealth Through Increased Efficiency

Using the right business systems can allow your staff to become more efficient through best-practices and better process flows.

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As your business grows, the demands of running and managing all its parts increase. Fortunately, technology can help you standardise, streamline and adapt your operations in order to meet these increased demands. Let’s have a look at some of the ways in which you can increase efficiency to build your organisational wealth.

Integrated business units

It can be difficult to get a holistic view of what is going on in your business if information is floating between different departments and/or locations. Manually pulling data together can be very time consuming, causing delays and leaving greater room for human error.

Related: How To Improve Your Business Productivity And Efficiency With Help From Tech

By implementing an integrated business management solution, you can significantly increase efficiency among all your business units, allowing departments to easily share and access information. This real-time, inter-departmental integration allows you to get a birds-eye view of the performance of your business at the click of a button.

Business process automation

You can significantly save time by automating key business processes with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Accounting, for example, is much easier when details of all transactions are quickly and automatically shared between departments (no need to manually upload or download information).

Automation will enable your teams to respond to customer enquiries with alacrity and maintain optimal stock levels. Through automatic alerts and responses, relevant managers will be notified when stock reaches predetermined minimum levels. When these levels are reached, purchase orders for replenishment stock are automatically generated.

Automation also enforces consistency in your business’s day to day operations by following local and industry best-practices built into the system.

Synchronised customer data

The success of any small to medium sized business depends on getting new customers and providing excellent products and services to existing customers. Collating and sharing customer data across all departments is essential for effective customer service. SAP Business One, for example, provides the tools to track and manage the entire sales process, from initial contact and invoicing through to project management and after sales support – playing a pivotal role in customer retention management.

This complete view of past, present and prospective customers, along with historic purchases will help you to better understand your customers’ needs, behaviours and preferences. This will enable you to respond to clients effectively in order to boost satisfaction levels, increase sales, maximise profits and ultimately promote client retention. In addition, your marketing team can better plan campaigns based on insights from accurate data about prospective and current customers.

Related: 101 Efficiency Hacks For Busy Entrepreneurs

Instant access to information

You have to be able to plan properly to stay ahead of your competitors. Having access to up to date, relevant and accurate business data removes the guesswork and empowers employees to make informed business decisions. With an integrated business management system, you will be able to better manage your cash flow and stock holding with a real-time overview of current stock levels, orders in process and outstanding payments. This, in turn, will save time and allow you to better manage your procurement process and help build organisational wealth.

Who doesn’t like it when a plan comes together and things are working well? Working smarter and better – not harder – is what increased efficiency is about. Your teams will share the benefits of increased efficiency as you grow your organisational wealth together.

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Increasing Productivity

Why Deadlines Aren’t As Great As You’d Think For Creative Work

Be careful about how much time pressure you put on yourself.

Nina Zipkin

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Do you ever find yourself staring down at a deadline and just freeze? There is something to be said for setting a schedule for yourself and following through, especially when you are first starting a business, but recent research from Harvard finds that when you are dealing with creative pursuits, you need to give yourself enough time to breathe, otherwise you’ll just be doing busy work instead of actually building something that is truly innovative.

In an interview with Harvard Business Review’s Working Knowledge podcast, Professor Teresa Amabile said that during a hectic day, it’s possible to get a mistaken sense of creative energy powered by adrenaline simply because things were being crossed off a checklist.

“People who are under a lot of time pressure on a given day, actually feel very productive, they tend to feel very creative,” she said.

“But, here’s the interesting thing; they were actually significantly less likely to come up with creative ideas, or solve problems creatively on those days. They got a lot of stuff done, but they weren’t necessarily creative.”

Related: Follow These 8 Steps To Stay Focused And Reach Your Goals

She noted that in her research, people came up with the most creative solutions when they were working under low to moderate time pressure. So the next time you think about imposing an arbitrary deadline on developing new ideas, you might want to go easier on yourself.

Because feeling like you’re on a treadmill doesn’t only make your thinking more fractured, Amabile says that it also makes it tougher to find meaning in your work. So what can managers do to make sure that their employees always have time to innovate? Start with providing spaces where they can be quiet, focused and away from distractions.

“Let them understand the importance of what they’re doing, their own individual actions, and how that translates into something that will contribute to a customer need, to a societal need, to something that the company really needs to move forward,” Amabile said.

“Try to give people enough time for projects so that they can explore, so they can do that background research to get the information they need, and then so they can play with it somewhat. That doesn’t mean indefinite time frames, but it probably means longer time frames than people are usually given in most companies for most projects.”

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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10 Ways To Make Your Employees 10x More Productive

Good managers help each member of the team bring out their inner superstar.

John Rampton

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As a manager, one of your biggest responsibilities is to inspire other people to be the best versions of themselves. If done well, everyone on your team will not only be more productive and efficient, but also happier with their jobs. One of the hardest challenges, especially for new managers, is to balance this leadership mindset (focusing on helping other people) while still finding ways to get your own work done.

Whether you have read countless leadership books, have been managing others for a long time or got thrust into a position ill-prepared, leading employees and empowering them to do good work is an art that can be learned just like programming skills or riding a bike.

While there is no prescriptive and guaranteed method to become the “best leader ever,” there are many actionable things you can do to ensure your employees are constantly headed in the right direction.

Here are 10 tactical ways to help your employees be more productive – a great foundation for future leadership success.

1. Be yourself

There is no replacement for authenticity. People can sense fakeness! Having to put on a face with your employees every day can not only lose their trust, but it also makes work less enjoyable for you.

There’s no need to overcompensate with certain leadership styles based off of how other people lead – especially if it is out of your comfort zone. Behaving in a manner that is consistent with your beliefs and values will give you more energy each day and it will send a message to your employees to be themselves.

Related: 6 Steps To Go From Procrastinating To Productive

2. Create a culture of transparency and feedback

While many managers are afraid to do this, admitting when you are wrong is crucial to building an honest and transparent culture where everyone can feel free enough to be their best at work. For me, this starts at the highest level. So if you’re the CEO, learn to admit when you’re wrong.

Sometimes, as we sit in a leadership role, we think have to demonstrate control and always be right. Yet, it actually shows more courage to admit when you don’t know the answer or that you made a mistake. Doing so will establish a layer of transparency with your employees and promote a culture of learning. In the long view, it will allow you to change your ideas and tendencies without needing to maintain your ego.

staff-management3. Get to know each individual

It’s hard to remember that Jan told you her daughter broke an arm and that Jose’s father-in-law was in town for the weekend. Following up on the little things every Monday morning demonstrates a genuine care for your employees.

Asking about something that you know has been going on in someone’s life or checking in on someone when they seem a bit down can build a stronger connection between you and every team member.

With this connection will come an opportunity to understand what motivates your employees, what they enjoy doing and what they are working toward. When an employee knows that their boss cares about their success, they’ll have more motivation to work and they’ll feel an obligation to work hard for you. Plus, it will make it easier to give constructive feedback when they know you have their best interests at heart.

I personally go on daily walks twice each day during work hours. I typically invite two or three people for each walk. This helps me get to know people with my busy schedule. Make time for it.

4. Appreciate good work

Giving recognition for work that was is lacking can set a bad precedent. While the line can sometimes be hard to draw, being attentive to the effort, growth and output of your employees will allow you to give them proper recognition.

Many employees are so caught up in their own worlds and won’t give each other the recognition they deserve, so being the one to applaud good work can keep motivation levels high and show much needed recognition.

You’ll be surprised how much a “good job” goes with some people. It can make the difference between a happy and productive employee vs. someone who leaves your company.

Related: Your Crazy Erratic Sleep Routine Is Making You Less Productive

5. Empower them with the best technology

People often spend hours on tasks that can be automated or highly sped up with technology. Most of the time, it’s actually cheaper to pay for things like calendar automation than it is to schedule meetings manually. There are solutions for many things today that you might not even know exist.

Take a look at the tasks employees are doing, especially the monotonous ones that bother them. Spending the time to find solutions that can automate or speed up those tasks will not only make them more productive, but also a lot happier.

6. Encourage risk taking

If there were a 40 percent chance that a project one employee could take on would fail and a 60 percent chance it would succeed, then the decision to pursue the project will be largely based on their perception of the risk of failure. In a culture where failure is met with harsh criticism and fear of being fired, these 60/40 decisions that, overall, would benefit a company, won’t be enacted.

Employees face decisions like these daily on whether to try something a bit more ambitious than the norm.

Encouraging this risk taking will not only make employees more confident and autonomous, but it will yield more output within a culture of innovation.

7. Get everyone behind the mission and keep them there

One of the biggest challenges at a company, especially as it grows, is keeping each employee excited about the work that they’re doing. When people are working intrinsically and feel like the work that they are doing is the best possible way that they could be spending their life at the moment, their output is going to be exponentially higher.

If they’re basing part of their self concept on the work that they are doing and they care deeply about it, then each day they will be coming into work with the energy to give it all they have.

Related: 3 Habits of Exceptionally Productive Leaders

8. Give people freedom and autonomy

If people feel like they have to be doing their work in a particular way, have to wear certain things in the office, and can’t be themselves, they are going to be less happy and productive.

Having honest conversations about the type of work they want to do, encouraging employees to take a goal or idea and run with it, and letting them revolve their work around the lifestyle they want can create momentum in the office – encouraging employees to work harder on what they enjoy most.

9. Push people to do what they don’t think they can do

Autonomy is important, but without an overall sense of guidance, people might spend significant time trying to figure out what they actually should be doing.

Checking in and challenging them to ask questions like “why am I working on this particular thing? What else can/should I be working on? Is what I’m doing the best use of my time right now and is there a way to do this more efficiently?” can help accelerate their learning and productivity.

10. Hire the best people

It goes without saying, but in an ideal world you can hire people that are very passionate about the work they are doing, know how to deal with ambiguity, and know how to push themselves.

Often it’s not the case that everyone on your team is a shining star. Part of being a manager is helping to bring these superstar qualities out of normal people. That being said, knowing when the person isn’t a good fit and cutting ties is critical. No matter what tactics you employ, there are certain people that will never be a great fit in certain jobs.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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