Best Practice Or Sincerely Wrong?

By: MarkWeaver Tuesday May 26, 2015 comments

ou’ve heard it said that, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”  I guess that means that the one being copied should feel flattered about having their original ideas copied.  But what does it suggest about the flatterer?  When it comes to your organization’s culture, imitation can make you sincerely wrong.
Employers love a good best practice.  When an organization creates an enviable employment brand and culture, others read about it, pay good money for books and seminars about it, and then try to replicate it hoping to get the same results.  It often doesn’t work as expected.  Here’s why:

  1. Great Cultures Are Unique.  Culture is a shared set of attitudes, values, goals, behaviors, beliefs, knowledge, and traditions that distinguish one group of people from another.  That commonality drives what works for an organization, and what doesn’t.  If you try to replicate some other organization’s commonality, you risk creating a dysfunctional clone of someone else’s success.  Learn from the methods; not the specifics.
  2. Great Cultures Take Effort.  The effort is part of what creates culture.  When you skip that and try to implement the results of someone else’s effort, it doesn’t carry the same message.  It carries a message that the culture you want and need is not worth the effort it took the successful organization to do.  Learn from the effort, but then expend your own.
  3. Great Cultures Have a Common Vision.  You can create this from the start of an organization or anytime thereafter.  When you help others see what you see as the leader, it brings a degree of unity just based on focusing everyone the same direction.  Most other organizations will not have exactly the same vision yours does.  Everything form the way you pay to the way you play needs to be aligned with that vision.  Some other organization’s methods based on a different vision will rarely translate well into your own.  Learn how to translate others’ ideas into your vision; to see their methods through your own eyes.
  4. Great Cultures Have a Shared History.  You get that internally over time, with or without trying.  You can’t lift another organization’s culture or methods and get the same results unless you have the same history, complete with the same obstacles you had to overcome.  You don’t.  Learn how they got their results, rather than trying to imitate the end result of those results.
  5. Great Cultures Are Built on Great People.  Culture is what makes organizations seem like a living breathing organism rather than just a corporate structure.  But it’s the people that make it come alive.  The people either personify the values, or discredit them; see the vision or are distracted by a different agenda; resonate with the mission or make it pointless.  No two people are exactly the same.  Therefore no two groups of people are.  Therefore no two organizations are.  Therefore no two cultures are.
    There are great ideas out there.  They work in context.  But that doesn’t mean they will work as a template for your organization.  Effort, creation, and customization make everything you do fit your employment brand rather than looking like an easy imitation of someone else’s success. 
    At Open Door HR Solutions, we honestly believe that the right team, united around a compelling vision, can change the world.  We help organizations create vision, culture, and an enviable employment brand.  And we help them find and keep the right team members, part ways with the wrong ones, and get everyone on the team focused on the compelling vision.  But we leave the change the world part up to you.
    Mark Weaver, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, QES
    [email protected]

About the Author: MarkWeaver


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