Magazine article Communication World

A Winning Culture Beats the Competition

Magazine article Communication World

A Winning Culture Beats the Competition

Article excerpt

You're in the most important selling situation of your life. All's going well. Then, the prospect asks, "What makes you different from your competitors?" What do you answer? Your products? Your technology? both may be true, but current conventional wisdom states that the only truly sustainable competitive advantage your company may have is its people.

This means that culture, leadership, and commitment elements most CEOs are not used to addressing - are now critical to your success. Does this mean the demise of the corporate world? Not for those companies who know where to look for help. And, most will not have to look beyond their own backyards.

Getting assistance with the qualitative aspects of corporate culture won't be hard to do, however it will require corporate leadership to allow and motivate their communication and human resource departments to set aside their tasks, don their strategist hats and help leadership create a culture that plays to win. But, don't we all play to win? you might ask.

In fact, most people (and, therefore, most companies that employ them) play not to lose. This sort of culture is highlighted by:

* fear and anxiety,

* victim mentality, and

* compliance.

Employees and leadership appear satisfied with the status quo. Few new ideas, products or processes come out of these companies and even fewer have any kind of effect on the marketplace.

A culture that is playing to win, on the other hand, breeds trust, and rewards courage, growth and learning. It encourages and, more to the point, expects creative thinking, innovative problem solving, and high voltage results on a daily basis - not just during the occasional brainstorm session or strategy retreat.

The help senior management needs to breed this kind of culture resides in their human resource and communication departments. Maybe not as they exist today, but as they must exist tomorrow. These professionals know the audiences, they know the issues. But, in many organizations, they have not been invited to lead this charge. In tomorrow's successful companies, HR and communication will be developing strategies to ensure change resilient employees who act as business partners with their employers. The basics administrative tasks and employee advocate roles can run themselves, and the technology exists today to allow employees to take more responsibility for self administering these tasks.

A number of strategies have successfully reinvented internal HR, not the least of which is outsourcing. With outsourcing you have several options, including:

* Large HR consulting firms,

* professional employer organizations, and

* smaller, specialty firms.

Activities that can easily be outsourced include payroll, benefits management, and most special communication projects. Each outsourcing option has its own advantages, depending on your company's needs.

Another way to move your HR and communication folks away from day-to-day tasks (leaving time to lead the cultural charge) is through automation:

* interactive voice response systems to provide employees with answers to questions,

* online employee handbooks with fax-on-demand forms,

* e-mail suggestion boxes and feedback channels, and

* Internet sites to assist with marketing and recruiting efforts. …

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