Although Asian engineering firms have the skills to deliver and the intellectual capacity to craft feasible solutions, they spend far less time codifying their know-how and coaching others within the firm. This creates knowledge gaps when veterans leave.
Build Like an Engineer
The solution to these issues is to build organisational culture like an engineer. We have used the following approach in client companies and found that it works:
1. Define the root of the problem
As with any engineering problem, research and data gathering are essential to finding a solution. Seeing the business problems in terms of numbers and statistics makes it easier for engineering firms to connect with the issues at hand. One CEO told me that they have always been aware of the problems in the company, but having all the data put together and shown through statistics made it easier to point out the problems at hand. The research data not only helps in determining the root causes of the problem but also shows them where to start in building a tangible action plan. types of organisational culture
2. Focus on tangible results
After the problems are identified, steer clear of half-baked solutions that stop at the conceptual level. When we build purpose models for our client companies, we take pains to clarify all concepts and plan how to implement them at the individual, departmental and organisational levels. When CEOs say that their companies lack a unique culture, what it usually means is that they have yet to develop and implement a complete system that defines what every person in the company needs to do in order to achieve the right type of performance.
3. Link behavior with performance
Companies that are serious about building a culture that can drive performance should focus on nurturing and recognising leadership within the company. It’s not just about rewarding people when they meet certain targets but also about promoting people who have exhibited the right behaviors. When there is no system to reward desired behavior with career advancement, the organisational culture falls apart.
4. Create useful practices
When staff are asked to suggest action plans to improve company culture, they usually suggest family outings and company dinners. While there is nothing wrong with these suggestions, those types of events do little to build a culture that drives performance. The trick is to work the cultural objectives into daily practices. For example, if a company wants to focus on building know-how, integrating a department lunch with an internal coaching session would be a useful practice. If the staff finds that these practices help in their personal and professional growth and the promising ones are rewarded with leadership positions, things will start to change for the better.