Laurie Barkman works with entrepreneurs, closely-held companies, and family businesses to develop innovations that create enterprise value and facilitate transition. Drawing from over 25 years of experience, Laurie hosts the Succession Stories Podcast speaking with CEOs and experts about how to create and transfer business value.
Employer brand and work culture are vital factors that impact organizational success. Above all else, having a well-developed employer brand will ensure you not only acquire new talent but also retain existing employees and do so in a manner that allows both them and the organization to grow.
Fostering a strong and healthy work culture goes a long way in ensuring that everyone at work relates in a positive manner. Such an environment brings out the best in people which then translates into productivity, employee satisfaction, and creation of value for stakeholders.
But in times of uncertainty, change and disruption, we find ourselves in a state of "business unusual" as evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the same way that other aspects of our lives and work have been realigned, so too must our work culture adjust.
To explore this, I sat down with Tiffany Castagno, CEO of CEPHR Consulting, a driven Human Resources professional who believes that organizational success is a collective responsibility. In that regard, she believes in the power of nurturing relationships and appreciates the need for mutual trust.
In our conversation on the Succession Stories Podcast, we explored how culture can be cultivated and employer brand built to effectively respond to the current landscape.
1. Don’t Firefight
Amidst a crisis much like what we’ve faced due to the pandemic, it’s easy to make decisions hastily. However, as a leader, you should avoid firefighting and instead consider the long term implications of any move before you make it. While it was easy to rely on snap decisions in the past, now more than ever, they can easily do more harm than good. Tiffany recommends collaborating and connecting decisions with your business strategy.
2. Normalize Checking In
Given the changes we’ve had to make with regard to how we connect and interact with colleagues, the importance of checking in on your team can’t be overstated.
Taking time to find out how employees are getting on and to offer support goes a long way in making them feel valued.
This gives them the requisite confidence to put their best foot forward, as they know you’re booking out for their well-being. Incorporating this into your HR framework will help:
Establish communication lines
Offer employees motivation to succeed
3. Stick to Your Company’s Core Strategy
The ability a business has to weather storms is pegged on how firmly rooted it is. As you adapt and realign, you may find yourself unsure of the next move.
Go back to what defines you. Keep your mission and key strategy in mind even as you make changes.
As Tiffany said: "Organizations that do well are the ones who are focused on the long term, who do have a mission, and stick to their strategy. Those are the organizations that have done well during this pandemic, and they have been able to quickly shift.”
4. Break the Pot When Necessary
Change is harder for some businesses than others. This is true especially for businesses that are more well-established. For newer companies, there’s time to shape and mold them. You get your clay and you make you make a nice pot.
With a well-established business on the other hand, you may need to break the pot altogether. Starting afresh may prove far more beneficial that implementing surface level changes while underlying causes for concern go unaddressed.
One of the main reasons to break the pot is expunging any toxic elements in the business environment. Whether these are persons or mechanisms that have been allowed to continue operating due to the revenue they bring in for instance, they must be done away with so as to cultivate a positive culture that benefits the organization and its stakeholders.
5. Engage in Succession Planning
Uncertainty adversely affects your employer brand as well as your organizational culture.
If there is uncertainty and a lack of clarity about where your business is heading, employees are likely to have concerns on what the future holds in store.
Now more than ever before, this is a critical determining factor on the success of your business.
In this regard, you should make it a priority to evaluate where you are at presently, identify gaps and lay down clear plans to help the company have a smooth transition.
Your employees will not only have more peace of mind but also know how to direct their efforts towards the outlaid course you’ve set.
Tiffany recommends conducting succession planning on an annual basis at the minimum: “You have to know the organization, you need to know where the gaps are, so you know where to fill them. You have to assess your talent. What's your team like at an individual level and as a team collective? What is their readiness for? Succession planning is always a priority.”
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