Every time I write one of these I look at the subject and ask myself, what does that really mean? This time I ask myself what really is “company culture?” A quick check on the internet gives me three options for what culture means. One is the arts, i.e. “pop culture,” another is “the cultivation of bacteria” and the third is “the customs, arts, social institutions and achievements of a particular nation, people or other social group, i.e. ‘Caribbean culture.’” Some would say (not any of you) roofing is like the growth of bacteria, but that is a post for another day. I will ignore “pop culture” altogether.
I am going to apply “the customs, arts, social institutions and achievements of a particular nation, people or other social group” to company culture. So the customs, arts, social institutions and achievements of each company are different and unique.
Let’s start with customs. When you dig deep into your company and its customs you start to see how the people make things happen in an unspoken tone. This is something that happens over a period of time and really develops on its own. Do people enjoy sports do they talk about the game, do they show up on Friday with their favorite NFL jersey on? Do crews like to be competitive with each other? Is the last truck back to the shop in the afternoon going to have to buy?
Arts. This can be defined as “way of doing.” How does your company do things? How does it do roofing? Every company does things a little differently. Focus on the art of you company and improve it where it needs improving and embrace it where you are happy with it.
Social institutions. This can be defined as “a system of norms to achieve some goal or activity that people feel is important, or more formally an organized cluster of folkways and mores centered around a major human activity. In most of our cases the goal is roofing. But think about the institutions or norms that organize us to do the work that our companies do and think about how each of our companies are a little different, some a lot different.
Achievements. The process or fact of achieving something, i.e. what drives your company. All companies, no matter how altruistic some might want to seem, profit is the goal. We can want for people to be happy and fulfilled, we can want to be known for giving back, but without profit happiness is tough and there is nothing to give back. That said, we can differ as to how we see the road to this achievement. Profit at all costs is not good for some and no one wants to lose money just to lose money.
So now the question that we started with: “How important is culture in recruitment and retainment?” The answer? It is everything. If you don’t hire people that fit your company culture you won’t retain the people you have. Little things matter in this here’s a little example, you have a custom that as your crews leave the yard or shop in the morning they stop at the donut shop and get a cup of coffee and visit for a minute each other and other trades people that are local to you. You think it’s good a good custom. However you hire a crew leader with lots of experience and great skills and he says "No way! Get your coffee on your own time before you show up to work.” The apple cart is upset and will need to make an adjustment.
Here's another one, you and your team pride yourselves in giving back 5% of the profit on ever job to a local charity. You are confident that doing this has paid you back many times over. You hire a new CFO and they don’t see the return and start to talk down the program and say that money should go to the employees instead.
Find your company culture and live by it. Hire by it. And you will retain good employees because you did.
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