Every day, employees make decisions about whether they are willing to go the extra mile in ways that contribute to their organization’s success. These are important decisions because research shows that when employees are willing to go beyond their formal roles by helping out coworkers, volunteering to take on special assignments, introducing new ideas and work practices, attending non-mandatory meetings, putting in extra hours to complete important projects, and so forth, their companies are more efficient and effective. As a result, a critical task for successful managers is to motivate their employees to engage in these extra-role behaviors, which researchers refer to as “citizenship behaviors.”
Although the benefits of citizenship behavior for organizational performance are clear, the implications for employees are more equivocal. On the one hand, many employees perform acts of citizenship because they feel committed to and connected to their peers, supervisors, and
When my company was young, we worked with two contractors who played key roles in client services. As we grew and defined our core values — singling out accountability as our top priority — it became clear that these contractors did not meet our newly defined standards. They were often difficult to catch on the phone, noncommittal about deadlines, and understandably had more of an individual, not team-based, approach to their work.
Because they were such strong performers and clients liked working with them, I tolerated their behavior. However, when other team members pointed out the double standard in expectations, I realized that I had let the situation go on for too long, inadvertently placing our managers in a no-win situation. Ultimately, we decided to cut ties with the contractors — not because their work wasn’t strong, but because they weren’t aligned with our values.
This probably isn’t surprising. In Britain and North America, the suit is the most culturally accepted form of office wear for men. But what do we make of the men who reject the solid-color suit and opt for, say, an embellished jacket and sequined leggings? This question is not as trivial as it may seem. I have found that the way we answer it has important implications for how men feel at work, and also influences organizational cultures in ways most managers might not consider.
Over the past three years, I conducted a research project on men, masculinity, and fashion. Fifty men between the ages of 22
Music industry veteran Julie Greenwald shares her thoughts on corporate culture, brand management, and talent retention.
Having the best talent in the world is crucial to success for a music label, but what keeps Atlantic Records at the top of its game is more than simply the talent it signs. Chairman and COO Julie Greenwald spent the formative years of her career digging into each department at Def Jam Recordings. In doing so, she learned the importance of understanding the cultural significance of the brand one represents.
When Greenwald moved to Atlantic Records, she was faced with the challenge of rebuilding a struggling brand in a rapidly changing industry. What was the key to navigating Atlantic back to the top? In addition to signing only the best talent, Greenwald encouraged a culture of openness and shared ownership among her employees.
More and more companies are realizing they must reinvent their cultures by infusing innovation into their DNA. Unlike startups that get to shape culture from scratch, established companies must transform existing norms, values, and assumptions in ways that inspire everyone to innovate — not just at the top of the organization, but at all levels.
One company that’s making headway on that goal is CSAA Insurance Group (CSAA IG), one of the insurance companies affiliated with the 55 million-member American Automobile Association (AAA). With almost 4,000 employees, CSAA IG has embarked on a systemic approach to create a pervasive culture of innovation. The tactics being used by CSAA IG are all ones that leaders in other companies can apply to their own innovation culture change efforts.
Early on, CSAA IG’s executive team recognized that to create a culture of innovation, the organization needed to do more than embrace individual innovation projects.
During nearly every discussion about organizational change, someone makes the obvious assertion that “change is hard.” On the surface, this is true: change requires effort. But the problem with this attitude, which permeates all levels of our organizations, is that it equates “hard” with “failure,” and, by doing so, it hobbles our change initiatives, which have higher success rates than we lead ourselves to believe.
Our biases toward failure is wired into our brains. In a recently published series of studies, University of Chicago researchers Ed O’Brien and Nadav Klein found that we assume that failure is a more likely outcome than success, and, as a result, we wrongly treat successful outcomes as flukes and bad results as irrefutable proof that change is difficult.
For example, when participants in one of the studies were presented with a season’s worth of statistics for a star athlete who had logged worse numbers than
Phil Knight, former chair and CEO of Nike, tells the story of starting the sports apparel and equipment giant after taking an entrepreneurship class at Stanford and teaming up with his former track coach, Bill Bowerman. Together (and with the help of a waffle iron) they changed how running shoes are designed and made. Knight discusses the company’s enduring culture of innovation, as well as the succession process that led to former runner and Nike insider Mark Parker becoming CEO.
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