Culture is not HR woo-woo magic; it is a tool defining who makes it and who doesn’t in the business world. Why it matters and how we did it in Augmenta.
Culture: noun, the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society. That is one of the definitions available in the modern bionic library of Alexandria: Google. The even more specific term “Organizational - or company - culture” does not stray far away from this definition; after all, we are still talking about ideas, customs, and behavior of a group of people that come together to serve a cause. And whether we like it or not, all companies have their own unique culture, spanning throughout a vast spectrum varying from toxic to great with an infinite number of variations. Which is why Culture is so important, complex, interesting, and a determining factor of whether a company will thrive or perish.
If a company wants to be among those who thrive - and let's work with that assumption here -, it needs to define the Culture it wants. How is a culture defined? Well, a great way to do it is to try and explain what the company expects from its employees regarding how they work and behave towards each other. And that can happen through outlining a Mission, a Vision but most importantly, Values; these values must be written, clearly communicated, and elaborated so they convey a meaningful idea to anyone interested in what they are expected to be like and - vice versa - what they can expect in return. These Values will have to apply everywhere – no exceptions – and be enforced as mandatory. Why? Because if you do not take care of your culture, it will “take care of you”. This means that these Values, or “the Culture”, will serve as a compass that will help everyone in the company navigate during good and hard times, as a set of expectations applying everywhere, as a homogenization engine, as the harmony that will prevent entropy from entailing the organization and dragging it down to toxic chaos.
How can values and culture be enforced? This is where it gets really interesting as the organization (usually HR) needs to take something intangible and render it tangible, measurable, and objective; good luck with that! And let’s not forget that whatever they do, they need to “train” people on it, create a consensus that will (hopefully) lead to acceptance, and from that point on, the ball is rolling. And it takes time... LOTS of time, effort, and resilience against doubt and scrutiny coming from stakeholders that can’t see, touch or feel this “Culture fugazi”. But you must keep your course steady!
Throughout the years and having seen multiple organizations struggling with these matters all around the world, I have come to believe that simplicity is key and that too much elaboration and complication will create another portal for entropy and chaos. Therefore, I tend to focus on two major, simple aspects: who you hire and who you keep on board. This directly translates to your recruitment process and your performance management process. How? Well, you make sure your values are there as a factor to be assessed, in a measurable manner, and that whoever is assessing the candidate/employee knows how to do it. And yeah, it will be subjective, it will not be perfect and sometimes it might even be used unfairly, but that applies to EVERYTHING else in life and business. That’s again where values come in: you put the right people in the right places, based on your subjective assessment of their alignment with your values, and trust in them that they will use this compass in a fair and meaningful manner. It’s not a circle, it’s a spiral towards a destination that you choose as the company’s vision and mission.
That’s exactly what we have done in Augmenta. We defined our values through our Leadership workshops and agreed among ourselves on what matters the most for us and our future colleagues, creating the compass that would help us navigate through the uncharted waters of changing Agriculture and Tech. These Values determine whether you make it through our recruitment process, and if you do, your performance will also be relying on how much you embrace them. Go check them out on our website and if you find yourself aligned, share with us your CV; we would be more than glad to talk to you; we will need a lot of help on our journey!
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