Differentiating Your Organization’s Culture by Three Key Words

In today’s marketplace, employers are competing for the highest-quality candidates to join their workforce.  In turn, today’s quality job seekers and recent graduates are carefully interviewing employers as much as employers are interviewing them.  This idea that job seekers are interviewing companies in consideration of their employment selection is a dramatic departure from conventional human resources interviewing concepts of years past. Although compensation and benefits are factors in an individual’s decision to join a company, what I’ve experienced over the past years within our own software engineering corporation has been inquires by candidates about the culture of our organization.  Candidates have focused their attention on how our company supports ongoing professional development, work-life balance, how we promote collaboration, and how our management encourages individuals to exhibit innovative leadership.  Most importantly, top performers ask me how they are able to personally impact the company. During my career, I’ve found that the most competitive organizations successful in attracting and retaining top-quality team members define their organizational culture by three simple words: “Access, Speed and Impact.”  Each and every day, I try to promote this concept throughout our company. A key advantage appreciated by organizations that live by the Access, Speed, and Impact concept is that they truly afford individual co-workers the ability to make a significant impact on the company.  This ability to impact the organization is accomplished by providing an environment where individual creativity is welcomed, co-workers have access and direct interaction with senior management, and the speed of decision making is accelerated, not hindered.

Top performers, whether they are candidates in consideration for employment or current co-workers of an organization, exhibit similar traits in wanting to continually add value, improve processes and better the business. In attracting and retaining these top-performers, a culture that encourages and affords interaction with senior management will be best positioned to effectively leverage the contributions of these key individuals as well as maintain their long-term employment.  When a company provides access to senior management, speed and impact are traditionally products of this formula which creates an entrepreneurial environment conducive to collaborative information share.  In addition, many, if not most organizational “best practices” have been developed from simple, but very relevant ideas thought of by staff co-workers. By breaking down and simplifying traditional organizational chart “tiers” and establishing a forum that allows senior management to easily interact and discuss co-workers’ ideas throughout the organization, the company is positioned to profit from the ideas of the individuals who are likely closest to your customer – your staff co-workers. This access to senior management within an organization may again seem somewhat of a departure from traditional “organization chart” mentality, where a company has multiple tiers of staff and management and information is passed up and down the chain of command.  Ideas that begin at the lowest tier inevitably lose their message or momentum as they are passed along each successive tier.  By the time the ideas reach senior management for consideration, they are likely very different in meaning than when they first began or other managers within the “chain” have made variations to the original idea to suit their own self-serving needs or to suit their own opinion of what the idea should be.   Certainly, not every CEO or President of an organization is able to spend a significant amount of their workdays interacting with staff co-workers and responding to email after email or phone call after phone call.  However, if a process to encourage the organizational concept of “Access, Speed and Impact” is developed correctly and given only a few short hours each week, the time invested will offer a tremendous payback in attracting top new talent, keeping your company’s top performers and creating a culture of continual idea share.  A direct result of interaction with senior management is the ongoing professional development of co-workers who exhibit traits of leadership, ownership and winning attitudes.