I recently changed jobs. I’ve gone to work for a small company that is in the midst of that painful stage of going from a “mom & pop” type business into a full-fledged up-and-coming stalwart in our industry. Anyone who has ever been a part of this type of transition knows it can be painful at times and these companies often struggle with building their identity. As I have been tasked with building corporate structure and putting infrastructure in place, a huge and burning question I’ve had to ask is what type of culture do we wish to perpetuate and how do we get our people on board? So when I ran across the book, ALL IN: HOW THE BEST MANAGERS CREATE A CULTURE OF BELIEF AND DRIVE BIG RESULTS, by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, this was a book that immediately shot to the top of my “must read” list.
Planning a corporate culture is the easy part. I’ve already put together our company mission and vision statements and am working diligently on our new Standard Operating Procedures manual. At the corporate level it is clearly understood that if we are to survive, we must evolve as a company. We must change the way things are done to bring about consistency and continuity. We also realize we have a team of great employees put together that can take us to the next level, however reality gets in the way and warns us that not everyone is going to adapt easily to the changes we are about to implement, so getting employee buy-in is a major concern. That’s where this book comes in.
All In builds upon the principle that employees must be engaged, empowered and energized; the E+E+E principle. Sounds simple, right? What so many companies may not realize is how important each component truly is. I love this example the authors used to illustrate the point. A hamster running in a wheel is definitely engaged is what he is doing and as the wheel turns faster and faster, the hamster is also energized, but he is not empowered. He can’t take a stroll through the woods because his wheel is confined to his cage, so even though he is working diligently, because he lacks empowerment, he will never get anywhere.
To illustrate the many points of this book, the authors cite detailed research analysis and explain in detail the metrics used to compile the data. Then they profile one or more real world corporate examples to explain and drive the point home. For example, under the heading of “energized” the authors profile an Avis / Budget rental car center in Dallas / Ft Worth and the Cathy family empire of Chick-fil-A and what these companies have done and continue to do to keep their many employees energized.
The book is divided into three parts. Part One, Culture Works: The One Thing That Differentiates Your Team and Drives Big Results, is an introduction to the methodology used and the introduction of the E+E+E principle. Part Two, The Seven-Step Road Map: How Every Manager Can Create a Culture That Works, is the heart and soul of the book. As the section title suggests, here the reader studies the seven-step program outlined for building a culture that produces results. Each of the seven steps is its own chapter and each chapter contains a step summary at the end for quick review. I’m not going to go into the seven steps. For that, you just need to read the book. Part Three, Culture Tools: Dealing With Challenges; Ideas to Maintain Success, delves into what to do when you arrive. Take a look at all of the once great corporate empires that quickly fell apart once the culture became corrupted. Think Enron.
The book concludes with an Appendix and a Notes section for each chapter. I am going to tell you that for me, the book did drag a bit at times, but what I learned from the book was invaluable and after reading this, I do feel Engaged, Empowered and Energized to carry out the task of taking our company to the next level. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to help create a new culture, or get employees more involved with an existing culture, this book is for you.
- Is Your Company Culture All In? (sanderssays.typepad.com)