Culture is not an Org Chart
Human capital is a phrase that we support wholeheartedly.
As a service based organization, we don’t sell widgets. Instead we rely on our greatest assets to make our company successful. This is part three of a three-part series on who Sage is. In part 1, we covered Sage as Wisdom. In part 2, we talked about Sage as an organic element for change.
PART 3 OF 3: SAGE AS HUMAN CAPITAL
We work with projects and portfolios of clients totaling billions of dollars. When you ask about an organization’s investment in their assets, they talk about their corporate real estate portfolio, their new construction, their ongoing improvements. When you ask executives about their highest cost to operate, they usually talk about staff. A holistic view of operations and projects is important to removing silos, but understanding the human element of that relationship will make or break a company. Working with a diverse set of clients helped us form who we wanted to be… a human capital focused company. But more than that, our clients and our employees were to receive our attention equally.
CULTURE IS CULTIVATED THROUGH PEOPLE
Every company has a culture and you can usually recognize it within one week spending time with staff. You recognize the symptoms much more quickly than the causes. When you seek to understand the culture, it is amazing how much the few in upper management influence the many on the ground. It isn’t just about having a great vision, it is investing in enabling and empowering your business through investment. When a company is rules-based, the organization puts more emphasis on the 100 line managers to keep a company operating effectively. When the company empowers the lowest level to address a problem, the organization receives the benefit of thousands. Why isn’t this done? It requires the right processes, tools and investment to cultivate. Changing a culture doesn’t happen through management training, it happens through engaging the whole company.
UNDERSTANDING THE TEAM
Two years ago I purchased a copy of The Motivator’s Assessment for everyone in my team. We each took the test and shared the results with each other. Similar tests like the Enneagram or the popular Myers-Briggs tests serve two purposes. First, they help you understand yourself but more importantly, they help you understand your team and direct reports. These exercises are important in operating effectively with each other. Exposure to conflict ultimately will occur within a team environment and understanding the team dynamics before this conflict occurs helps others to understand the basis for actions and reactions. Any re-organization should be focused on strengths and motivations versus the traditional organization chart. This is also a focus we have in a new program team or the implementation of a project management office (PMO).
INVESTING IN EDUCATION
The culture of change requires a strong internal investment. Some companies offer standard online training as their main method for meeting ISO standards. Sage invests in its brand through an emphasis on classroom education and company-paid interactions in industry events and conferences. As a small company, our business advisor recommended we cut this program to be more aligned with industry standards. We chose instead to reduce our profits to owners as we see our people and their continuing education as one of our main differentiators. The positive side of this is the many research articles that show companies that emphasize their people first tend to see higher profits anyway. In the same way, we encourage our clients to include training and education that is effective in their own budgets.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Human capital should be a phrase that is used within each company that fully understands that their people are there greatest asset. Culture is created by management and executed by the employees. Changing the culture is a slow process that relies on trust and transparency.