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What’s your company’s corporate culture? - November 03,2007
Over 50% of failed mergers, acquisitions and alliances are due to organizational
culture mismatches.- Melcrum Report, ‘Driving A High Performance Corporate Culture’.

A lot can be said about the corporate culture of Jamaican businesses. And by corporate culture I mean, organizational culture and the way employees ‘do business around here’ , from ‘Mr. Big’, the CEO straight down to Mr. Mac on the shop floor or Mr. Riley, the Security Guard.

And you and I have seen this corporate culture at work, haven’t we? Many of our private sector companies exhibit such a ‘don’t care’ as a part of their corporate culture that it is absolutely mind-boggling how they stay profitable. Being business-like is a part of our collective corporate culture that is sadly missing in many of our businesses. Yes, the employees will turn up for work but the attitude towards the customer stinks as there is clearly no line of sight between what the employee does on a day-to-day basis and the company’s bottom-line. Or perhaps the message being sent is that the customer is not key to us. Service with a smile? You would be lucky. Going the extra mile? ‘For who? I’m clocking out at 4:30 p.m. on the dot.’

Battalion of security guards
Equally astounding is how much revenue is lost by Jamaican businesses because of the impact of a new cadre of front-line staff – that great battalion of security guards, who once they are assigned to your company, believe it or not. are a part your company’s corporate culture. There is no greater turn-off than a rude security guard who does not know how to talk to customers. He will size up the make/year/cost of your vehicle, relegating you to the bottom or top of the social ladder and dole out common courtesies to you because of his perceived notion of your social status. God help you if you drive a late model Corolla and turn up at ‘his’ gate. It is clear that these new adopted employees need to be trained in the very basic of communications skills.

Although the corporate culture in many government offices seem to have evolved positively over the years with the coming of performance measures, unfortunately there are still vestiges of the past in some of them. They operate more like places where employees come to lyme, catch up on the latest episode they may have missed of ‘The Young & Restless’ and to intimately dissect the selection process of rising or dancing stars.

Gross deception
You, as the customer, coming to do business with them are a blot on their otherwise cloudless day as they reluctantly take a break from their running commentary to ‘pay you mind’. Don’t go to some of these offices too early as the 8:30 or 9 a.m. opening time on the door is merely a suggestion and often a gross deception, as although the doors are open, they are definately not ready for business as the employees are inevitably tardy. Thankfully, not all government offices exhibit this corporate culture of liassez faire attitude, there are some where the customer receives efficient service.

Heart and soul
Melcrum defines culture as “the heart and soul of an organization that shapes how its people behave. It’s a body of knowledge, beliefs and attitudes. It guides the way employees think and behave around issues like quality, customers, teamwork, innovation and decision making – all things that directly impact an organization’s performance and how it works with – and is perceived to work with – its stakeholders.” Some Jamaican companies say that they have a family-like corporate culture that is supposed to be fun and supportive of team members. But you and I well know that some of the fiercest battles are fought within the family unit. But that is another story.

According to the research most organizations recognize instinctively that corporate culture deserves attention and can no longer just rely on their particular product or service to set them apart from their competitors – corporate culture is a key source of competitive advantage. Research shows organizational culture drives employee behavior, therefore just about every business measure in a company will be affected by it – costs, productivity, revenue and
external brand.

Naturally, communication is an important tool for shaping corporate culture. It is certainly not the only the tool but one that can be used effectively to communicate and interpret in a practical way for employees a company’s values, mission and goals. With advancing globalization Jamaican businesses must operate strategically and pay attention to best practices and issues such as corporate culture and its impact on the bottom-line. Does the corporate culture of your company enhance it?


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