From the CEO: Culture isn't a fool's errand

AME | April 1, 2022


You might expect a joke letter today — it being April Fool’s Day after all — but I’ve decided to play it straight in my weekly message. That’s because I didn’t want to waste your time with a joke message when I know how valuable your time is. Instead, I wanted to use your precious time to talk about company culture and how to maintain it during a time of transition like many of us are experiencing.

We know that standard work, a knowledge sharing system and succession planning can help create organizational stability during unstable times. But how do you create a long-lasting company culture in the face of employee turnover?

One way is to have a clearly defined onboarding process where employees are brought up to speed and allowed to learn about the organization and its mission, vision, and values — not just their specific department and their personal work responsibilities. Make people feel part of something bigger so they understand that the team dynamics go beyond a single department.

Beyond that, give employees an opportunity to participate in the culture and shaping it. As those on a diversity, equity and inclusion journey know, it’s important that people have agency in both their personal and professional lives. When you give them an opportunity to participate in the culture and add to it, your culture becomes richer.

I also find training to be an important culture builder. I’m not talking about training specifically on your organization’s cultural norms. Instead, I mean giving people an opportunity to develop the skills and expand their knowledge in the areas that your organization values. For example, if your organization values 2 Second Lean innovations, kata, gemba walks, kaizen or any other facet of a lean, continuous improvement workplace, send your new employees to trainings in those subjects. They’ll catch on to that element of your culture much faster if they see that you are spending resources to get them trained.

Lastly, if there are organizations that you admire or who have a similar culture, find an opportunity to send your employees to see how that organization functions. This might be through an informal tour that you set up directly with the model company, a consortium event, or a formal tour or workshop. In May, for example, AME is hosting an in-person event at O.C. Tanner — an organization that many other organizations admire. The culture at O.C. Tanner is really something you have to see and experience, and when you send your employees to the O.C. Tanner tour and one-piece flow workshop, they will come home with both practical knowledge on the topic at hand (one-piece flow) and a firsthand understanding of a model culture. We’re excited that O.C. Tanner is offering this opportunity to experience the culture while also coming away with actionable training. Space is limited for this event, so if you would like your employees to experience this invaluable event, please sign up now.

As always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.