Last month I wrote about the dilemma many food and beverage processors face in finding and retaining skilled workers, and the significance of the Food Processing Human Resources Council’s Raising the Standards initiative that will hopefully help to change that situation. But as one reader pointed out, sometimes the corporate culture of a company simply does not make it easy for employees to fully embrace its values and behaviour, and therefore stay in that organization.
To food manufacturers struggling with rising input costs, tight margins and constant competition, taking the time to evaluate and shift the internal culture of your organization may seem like an overwhelming and non-productive exercise. Yet consciously creating a more positive corporate culture can improve performance, reduce employee turnover, boost job satisfaction, and actually encourage growth.
It starts at the top, says Deborah Henderson, a consultant with the U.K.-based Centre for Inspired Leadership, who notes “a culture is a reflection of the attitudes, actions and behaviours of the leaders.” Over time, she says, the culture “needs to be aligned with and support the vision, mission and strategy of the organization, irrespective of the personality of the founder. If a culture is not managed consciously it will naturally develop its own unhealthy attributes – which are usually based on not enough or too much focus on certain needs – often a reflection of the unconscious and potentially unhealthy attitudes of the founder/leader.”
Henderson notes that positive cultures are designed rather than created by default, and that the values and behaviours are “full spectrum” in that they meet the physical, relational, self esteem and spiritual needs of employees. Feedback is regular, healthy and transparent, and there is a “healthy appetite for learning and personal growth through feedback, mistakes, sharing best practices, innovation, reflection and mutual support.” In fact, she says, in our service-driven economy, “there are three key areas that motivate people more than anything else: meaning – am I making a difference; mastery – am I learning and growing as an individual in this workplace; and autonomy – am I given enough space that I’m able to put my creative juices to work? When people have meaning, mastery and autonomy in their workplace chances are their productivity goes up, their performance levels go up, and their sense of reward goes up.”
Next month I’ll look at just how companies can go about evaluating and changing their corporate culture.