Local Leaders Share Thoughts on Organizational Culture

Gilman Partners recently hosted a roundtable with local C-suite executives to talk about organizational culture and how it impacts employee recruitment and retention. Here are some of the key takeaways from the conversation with these area CEOs and business leaders:

 

  • An organization’s culture can be hard to define—even by its most senior leadership. As Gilman Partners’ CEO Tom Gilman noted, “Culture is like balls and strikes. I know it when I see it.” But before an organization can assess its culture, leaders and employees first must be able to describe it.
  • Being able to define and assess an organization’s culture is especially critical for international companies with locations in multiple countries. A hierarchical structure might feel natural to employees in one country, but not to those who are used to a more collaborative environment. It’s important to determine which parts of your organization’s culture need to be consistent across the globe and what parts of the culture can be determined based on local customs and expectations. That’s trickier than it sounds. 
  • An organization’s culture is ultimately the responsibility of its most senior leader, but every employee has a responsibility to help maintain it. “Leadership reflects the culture,” one participant noted. Another added, “It starts with the president, but it doesn’t end with the president.”
  • “Every new employee is a statement on your culture.” Hiring for culture fit is increasingly important to organizations that make retaining employees a priority. Several leaders noted they use assessments and behavioral interview questions to help assess culture fit and others have found success by asking current employees to recommend new hires.

Each of the senior leaders at this roundtable event confirmed that building and maintaining their organization’s culture is something they take very seriously. As one CEO noted, “We get to leave a legacy. How do I want them to remember the experience they had with me?”